Princess Theresa of Bavaria

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Princess Theresa
File:Princess Theresa of Bavaria (1850-1925).jpg
Theresa, photographed c. 1875.
Born (1850-11-12)12 November 1850
Died 19 December 1925(1925-12-19) (aged 75)
Burial Theatinerkirche
Full name
German: Therese Charlotte Marianne Auguste
House Wittelsbach
Father Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria
Mother Archduchess Auguste Ferdinande of Austria

Princess Theresa of Bavaria (German: Therese Charlotte Marianne Auguste von Bayern; 12 November 1850, Munich – 19 December 1925, Lindau), was a Bavarian princess, ethnologist, zoologist, botanist, travel writer and leader in social care.

Theresa was the third child and only daughter of Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria and of his wife Archduchess Augusta of Austria.


Princess Therese Charlotte Marianne Augusta of Bavaria was the only daughter of the Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria and his wife, Auguste Ferdinands of Austria, the granddaughter of Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany. As a child, she was instructed at home alongside her two brothers, Arnulf and Ludwig (later King Ludwig III, the last Bavarian king).

As a child, Theresa showed an extraordinary ability for languages, as well as a keen interest in plants. In 1864, when Theresa was 13, tragedy befell her family when her mother died. That same year, her cousin, 18-year-old Ludwig, became King Ludwig II. He would go down in history through the notorious moniker "Ludwig the mad".

Later, Theresa would fall deeply in love with his younger brother, Otto, later Otto I of Bavaria. However, Otto, like his brother, would be deemed unfit to rule due to mental illness. Despite the fact that her love was reciprocated with equal passion, Otto`s mental illness, as well as the entire situation of her father serving as prince regent, would mean that the two could never be together.

Theresa never married, remaining a spinster all her life. She was considered a confident, independent woman, and one with unusual interests. She was the iconoclast for women of her era. Her interests in geology, botany, anthropology, zoology required her to attain tutors, since women at the time were not deemed fit to study at universities. Neither were girls at this particular time in Bavaria deemed fit to attend school. Women became allowed into universities in 1903, when Theresa`s father, Prince Regent Lutipold, legalized it.

At age 21, she began to tour Europe and North Africa. She learned to both read and write in a total of 12 languages. She would usually travel with a group of people who served her, including a lady-in-waiting, and usually chose to travel incognito.

Throughout her life Theresa made numerous trips to other countries where she collected specimens of local flora and fauna. She wrote a number of books about these excursions in which she described the natural history of the places she visited. Her early works were published under the pseudonym "Th. v. Bayer".

In 1892 Theresa became the first woman to be given honorary membership in the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. The same year she became an honorary member of the Munich Geographical Society. In 1897 she became the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. She was also a corresponding member of the Berlin Entomological Society.

After her death, Theresa's important collection of anthropological materials from South America became part of the collection of the State Museum of Ethnology in Munich.




  • Ausflug nach Tunis (Excursion to Tunis). 1880.
  • Reiseeindrücke und Skizzen aus Russland (Impressions and Sketches from Russia). Stuttgart 1885.
  • Über den Polarkreis (Over the Polar Ice). 1889.
  • Über mexikanische Seen. Wien 1895.
  • Meine Reise in den Brasilianischen Tropen (My Trips in the Brazilian Tropics). Dietrich Remmer, Berlin 1897.
  • Einiges über die Pueblo-Indianer. In: Völkerschau, 2 1902, 4-6, 38-42.
  • Reisestudien aus dem westlichen Südamerika (Study Trips to the western part of South America). 2 volumes. Berlin 1908.


  • I. Hildebrandt. Bin halt ein zähes Luder. 15 Münchner Frauenporträts. München 1995. 43-54, 154-155.
  • M. A. Panzer, E. Plößl (Hrsg.): Bavarias Töchter. Frauenporträts aus fünf Jahrhunderten. Regensburg 1997. 136-138.
  • H. Bußmann, E. Neukum-Fichtner (Hrsg.): Ich bleibe ein Wesen eigener Art - Prinzessin Therese von Bayern: Wissenschaftlerin, Forschungsreisende, Mäzenin (1850-1925). München 1997.
  • Mary R. S. Creese. Ladies in the Laboratory II: West European Women in Science, 1800-1900, A Survey of Their Contributions to Research. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow, 2004.



  1. Author Query for 'Therese'. International Plant Names Index.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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