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Prince Leopold of Bavaria

Prince Leopold of Bavaria

German general
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro German general
A.K.A. Leopold de Baviere
Countries Germany
Occupations Military officer
Gender male
Birth 9 February 1846 (Munich)
Death 28 September 1930 (Munich)
Star sign Aquarius
Mother: Archduchess Auguste Ferdinande of Austria
Father: Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria
Siblings: Princess Theresa of BavariaPrince Arnulf of BavariaLudwig III of Bavaria
Spouse: Archduchess Gisela of Austria
Children: Princess Auguste of Bavaria (1875–1964)Princess Elisabeth Marie of BavariaPrince Georg of BavariaPrince Konrad of Bavaria
The details

Leopold Maximilian Joseph Maria Arnulf, Prinz von Bayern (9 February 1846 – 28 September 1930) was born in Munich, the son of Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria (1821–1912) and his wife Archduchess Augusta of Austria (1825–1864). He was a Field Marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) who commanded German and Austro-Hungarian forces on the Eastern Front in World War I.


Military career

Prince Leopold entered the Bavarian Army at the age of 15, and received his patent as a lieutenant dated 28 November 1861. He saw first combat during the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, where he commanded an artillery battery at Kissingen and Rossbrunn.

In 1870, King Ludwig II of Bavaria sent Leopold to the battlefields of France, where the Bavarian Army was fighting alongside the Prussian Army in the Franco-Prussian War. He served with the 3rd Bavarian Artillery Regiment and saw action at Sedan and Beauvert. He was promoted to major in December 1870. For his bravery against the enemy he received both the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Classes, the Bavarian Military Merit Order Knight 1st Class, the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Max Joseph, Bavaria's highest military decoration, and decorations from several other German states.

In the post-war years, Prince Leopold spent most of his time travelling, visiting Africa, Asia and countries of Europe. In 1911 he ordered a 6m racing yacht "Ralle II" from the great British yacht designer Alfred Mylne, built at the Rambeck yard on Lake Starnberg. He was married on 20 April 1873 at Vienna to his second cousin Archduchess Gisela of Austria, daughter of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria and the Empress Elisabeth. He remained in the Bavarian army and was finally promoted to the rank of field marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) on 1 January 1905. He retired from active duty in 1913.

First World War

Prince Leopold's retirement, however, did not last long. On 16 April 1915, he was given command of the German 9th Army, replacing General August von Mackensen. Leopold quickly proved himself an able commander as he took Warsaw on 4 August 1915. Following this success, he was put in command of Army Group Prince Leopold of Bavaria (Heeresgruppe Prinz Leopold von Bayern), which was a German force in the central/northern sector of the Eastern Front. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Military Order of Max Joseph on 5 August 1915, the prestigious Pour le Mérite, Prussia's highest military decoration, on 9 August 1915 and the oak leaves to the Pour le Mérite on 25 July 1917.

On 29 August 1916, after the brutal summer campaigns succeeded in reversing the Brusilov Offensive against the Austrians, Leopold became the Supreme Commander of the German forces on the Eastern front (Oberbefehlshaber Ost), succeeding Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg. Leopold held this post for the rest of the war. Because of his position, Leopold was a potential German candidate for the throne of the puppet Kingdom of Poland.

On 4 March 1918, Leopold received yet another high honor, the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross, awarded only five times during World War I.

Prince Leopold retired again in 1918 after the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which had ended the war on the Eastern Front. This treaty was highly favorable to Germany, and Leopold ended his career with success. He died on 28 September 1930 in Munich and is buried in the Colombarium in the Michaelskirche in Munich.

Military ranks

  • Sekondlieutenant: 28 November 1861
  • Premierlieutenant: 5 June 1864
  • Hauptmann: 28 April 1867
  • Major: 11 December 1870
  • Oberstlieutenant: 27 March 1871
  • Oberst: 18 February 1873
  • Generalmajor: 1 November 1875
  • Generalleutnant: 16 June 1881
  • General der Kavallerie: 2 March 1887
  • Generaloberst: 9 February 1896
  • Generalfeldmarschall: 1 January 1905


Prince Leopold and his wife Gisela had four children:

Greek succession

Leopold is also, according to the provisions of 1843 Greek Constitution, the heir of the deposed King Otto of Greece. Due to the renunciation by his elder brother Ludwig of all his rights to the Greek succession and since the Greek Constitution forbade the sovereign to be ruler of another country (Ludwig became King of Bavaria), Leopold technically succeeded upon his brother's renunciation to the rights of the deposed Otto I, King of Greece. At Leopold's death his rights were inherited by his son Georg.

Decorations and honors

German decorations
  •  Bavaria:
    • Order of St. Hubert
    • Royal Order of Saint George for the Defense of the Immaculate Conception, Second Grand Prior of the order
    • Military Order of Max Joseph, Knight's Cross (1871) and Grand Cross (1915)
    • Military Merit Order, Grand Cross with Swords
    • St. George Medal
    • Ludwig Order, Honor Cross
    • Jubilee Medal with Crown
    • 1866 Army Commemorative Cross
  • Anhalt Anhalt: Order of Albert the Bear, Grand Cross
  • Grand Duchy of Baden Baden:
    • House Order of Fidelity, Grand Cross
    • Order of Berthold the First, Grand Cross
  •  Bremen, Flag of the Free City of Lübeck.svg Lübeck,  Hamburg: Hanseatic Crosses
  •  Prussia:
    • Order of the Black Eagle
    • Order of the Red Eagle, Grand Cross with Swords
    • Pour le Mérite with Oak Leaves
    • Iron Cross, 2nd and 1st Class (1870) and Grand Cross (1914)
    • Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, Grand Commander
    • War Commemorative Medal of 1870/71
    • Centenary Medal
    • Officers' Long Service Cross
    • Red Cross Medal, 1st class with War Decoration
    • Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Hohenzollern: Princely House Order of Hohenzollern, Honour Cross 1st Class
  • Duchy of Brunswick Brunswick:
    • Order of Henry the Lion, Grand Cross
    • War Merit Cross
  • Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg Saxe-Meiningen Ernestine duchies: Saxe-Ernestine House Order, Grand Cross
  • Grand Duchy of Hesse Hesse and by Rhine:
    • Ludwig Order, Grand Cross
    • Military Merit Cross 1870/71
  • Lippe-Detmold:
    • War Honor Cross for Heroic Deeds
    • War Merit Cross
  • Mecklenburg:
    • House Order of the Wendish Crown, Grand Cross with Crown
    • 1870 Military Merit Cross (Mecklenburg-Schwerin)
  • Kingdom of Saxony Saxony:
    • Order of the Rue Crown
    • Military Order of St. Henry, Commander 1st Class
  • Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach: House Order of the White Falcon, Grand Cross
  •  Schaumburg-Lippe: 1870 Military Merit Medal
  • Kingdom of Württemberg Württemberg: Order of the Crown, Grand Cross

Other countries

  •  Austria-Hungary:
    • Order of the Golden Fleece
    • Royal Hungarian Order of St. Stephen, Grand Cross
    • Military Merit Cross, 1st Class with War Decoration
    • Large Military Merit Medal ("Signum Laudis")
    • Red Cross Decoration 1st Class with War Decoration
    • 1898 Franz Joseph I Jubilee Medal
    • 1908 Franz Joseph I Jubilee Cross in Gold
    • 1908 Franz Joseph I Military Jubilee Cross
  •  Belgium: Order of Leopold (Belgium), Grand Cordon
  • Kingdom of Italy Italy: Order of the Annunziata
  •  Luxembourg: Order of the Golden Lion of Nassau, Grand Cross
  • Kingdom of Montenegro Montenegro: Order of Prince Danilo I, Grand Cross
  •  Ottoman Empire:
    • Imtiaz Medal in Gold with Swords
    • Nichan Iftikhar, Knight Grand Commander
    • Turkish War Medal (so-called "Gallipoli Star")
  • Kingdom of Portugal Portugal: Order of the Tower and Sword, Grand Cross
  • Kingdom of Romania Romania: Order of the Star of Romania, Grand Cross
  • Kingdom of Serbia Serbia:
    • Order of the White Eagle, Grand Cross
    • Serbia: Order of the Cross of Takovo, Grand Cross
  •  Spain: Order of Charles III, Grand Cross
  •  United Kingdom: Royal Victorian Order, Grand Cross

The orders above which were from Allied nations were awarded prior to World War I.


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