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German History in Documents and Images
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Maximilian I, King of Bavaria (c. 1810)
Under Elector Max IV Joseph (r. 1799-1806), Bavaria greatly increased its status and territory. Siding with Napoleon (r. 1804-15), this Wittelsbach ruler joined the Confederation of the Rhine in 1806 and succeeded in securing the elevation of his electorate to a kingdom, at which point he became King Maximilian I of Bavaria (r. 1806-25). Domestically, he and his influential minister, Maximilian von Montgelas (1759-1838) introduced early liberal reforms and centralized Bavarian government, following the French example. Maximilian’s reign also witnessed the beginnings of Oktoberfest, originally a horse race and accompanying celebration in honor of the 1810 wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig with Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Painting by Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858), c. 1810.