Wittelsbach (vĭˈtəlsbäkh), German dynasty that ruled Bavaria from 1180 until 1918.

The family takes its name from the ancestral castle of Wittelsbach in Upper Bavaria. In 1180 Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I invested Count Otto of Wittelsbach with the much-reduced duchy of Bavaria, of which he had deprived the Guelphic duke, Henry the Lion. In 1214 Otto's son, Otto II, also received the Rhenish Palatinate. After Otto's death (1253) the Wittelsbach possessions were divided between an elder branch, which received the Rhenish Palatinate and W Bavaria, and a younger branch, which received the rest.

The Wittelsbachs reached their zenith under Duke Louis III, of the elder branch, who became Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV (reigned 1314–47). Louis IV temporarily (1324–73) attached Brandenburg to his dynasty and through his second marriage added Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland, and Friesland. In 1329, Louis IV subdivided the Wittelsbach lands; the elder branch, descended from Louis's brother Rudolf, received the Rhenish and the Upper Palatinate, while the younger branch, descended from Louis's first marriage, received Bavaria proper.

The electoral dignity at first was to alternate between the two branches but was settled permanently on the Palatinate branch by the Golden Bull of 1356. Both branches underwent several subdivisions, but in the early 16th cent. Bavaria was reunited by Duke Albert IV, who introduced succession by primogeniture. (For the subdivisions of the Palatinate branch, which is not treated here in detail, see Palatinate.)

In 1443 Philip the Good of Burgundy seized Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland, and Friesland from Countess Jacqueline, his first cousin. In the 16th and 17th cent. the Bavarian Wittelsbachs championed the Roman Catholic cause while the Palatinate branch were the leading Protestant princes. After the defeat of the elector palatine, known as Frederick the Winter King of Bohemia, his electoral voice was transferred (1623) to Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria, who also received the Upper Palatinate. A new electorate was created in 1648 for Frederick's son, to whom the Rhenish Palatinate was restored.

Elector Charles Albert of Bavaria was chosen (1742) Holy Roman emperor as Charles VII; with the death (1777) of his son, Maximilian III, the Bavarian branch of the Wittelsbachs died out, and the Palatinate-Sulzbach line acceded in Bavaria in the person of Elector Charles Theodore, who died in 1799 without issue. He was succeeded by the duke palatine of Zweibrücken, senior member of the Palatinate branch, who thus united all Wittelsbach lands under his sole rule and who in 1806 became king of Bavaria as Maximilian I. His successors as kings of Bavaria were Louis I, Maximilian II, Louis II, Otto I, and Louis III, who was deposed in 1918.

Empress Elizabeth of Austria, wife of Francis Joseph, and Queen Elizabeth of the Belgians, consort of Albert I, issued from a collateral line of the dynasty, and the Wittelsbachs have intermarried for centuries with all the royal families of Europe. A line of the Palatinate branch (see Zweibrücken) ruled Sweden from 1654 to 1741. Crown Prince Rupert (d. 1955), son of King Louis III and claimant to the Bavarian throne (the family never renounced their claim), also inherited, through a complicated succession, the claim of the Stuart dynasty to the British throne.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a southern German dynasty that ruled from 1180 to 1918 in Bavaria. The family received the duchy of Bavaria in 1180; after the death of Henry the Lion in 1214, they consolidated their power in the Palatinate of the Rhine. In 1329 the dynasty was divided into two branches—the older branch, which ruled in the Rhenish Palatinate (electors from 1356), and the younger branch in Bavaria, to whom the title elector was given in 1623. The Bavarian Wittelsbach dynasty ended in 1777; the Palatinate branch united Bavaria and the Palatinate in 1779, after the war for the Bavarian inheritance. The Wittelsbachs were kings of Bavaria from 1806 to 1918. Members of the dynasty who ruled as German kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire are Ludwig IV of Bavaria (ruled 1314-47), Rupert of the Palatinate (1400-10), and Karl VII (1742-45).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
An example is Bavaria, a German-speaking region that for long had a separate existence under the Wittelsbach monarchy.
Home to Bavaria's Wittelsbach rulers from 1508 until World World I, the Residenz is Munich's number-one attraction.
If you're into shopping the nearby streets are home to a vast selection of luxury brands from Louis Vutton to Prada, Omega and Montblanc (with more traditional high street brands located off of the Marienplatz), while culture and history buffs will certainly want to stop in the nearby Munich Residenz, the former royal palace of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria.
(8) Ockham tambem esteve envolvido na disputa entre os Wittelsbach e os Luxemburgo, que lutavam pela titularidade do mais alto posto secular do Sacro Imperio Romano-Germanico.
Home for the trip was the Hotel Wittelsbach, a small and friendly place which is fiercely proud to be family owned and run - even the pet dog had a spot on the picture wall in reception which features every member of staff.
need to know || | HELEN JOHNSON travelled with Crystal Ski Holidays (crystalski.co.uk; 020 8939 0726), which offers a week's half board at the Hotel Wittelsbach from PS540 per person including flights from Gatwick and transfers departing during January 2016.
Home for the trip was the Hotel Wittelsbach, a small and friendly hotel which is fiercely proud to be family owned and run - even the pet dog had a spot on the picture wall in reception which features every member of staff.
Gustav von Kahr came from a long line of Bavarian civil servants who had worked for many years for the Wittelsbach dynasty.
Reviewed by: KE Battig von Wittelsbach, Cornell University, USA