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Leopold of Poland (Central Victory)

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Leopold
Leopold2 1.jpg
Reign March 17, 1921 – September 28, 1930
Coronation December 9, 1922
Predecessor title created
Successor Kondrat
Spouse Archduchess Gisela of Austria
Issue
Princess Elisabeth
Princess Auguste
Prince Georg
Kondrat, King of Poland
House House of Wittelsbach
Father Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria
Mother Archduchess Auguste Ferdinande of Austria
Born February 9, 1846
Munich, Bavaria Flag of Bavaria (striped)
Died September 28, 1930 (aged 84)
Warsaw, Poland Flag of Poland
Religion Catholic

King Leopold (February 9, 1846 - September 28, 1930) of the House of Wittelsbach was the King of Poland. He was a commander for Germany on the Eastern Front durring World War I.

Biography

Military career

Leopold entered the Bavarian Army at the age of 15, and received his patent as a lieutenant dated November 28, 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, Leopold spent most of his time travelling, visiting Africa, Asia and countries of Europe. He was married on April 20, 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 January 1, 1905. He retired from active duty in 1913.

First World War

Leopold's retirement, however, did not last long. On April 16, 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 August 4, 1915. Following this success, he was put in command of Army Group Prince Leopold of Bavaria (Heeresgruppe Prinz Leopold von Bayern), which was a combined German/Austro-Hungarian force in the central sector of the Eastern Front. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Military Order of Max Joseph on August 5, 1915, the prestigious Pour le Mérite, Prussia's highest military decoration, on August 9, 1915 and the oak leaves to the Pour le Mérite on July 27, 1917.

On August 29, 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. On March 4, 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.

King of Poland

Leopold was once again brought out of retirement when he was offered to become King of Poland. Early on it was descided by the Central Powers to restore Poland as an independent puppet regime. The "Austro-Polish" solution called for Archduke Charles Stephen of Austria and his son Charles Albert, who resided in Saybusch in Galicia and spoke Polish fluently, to assume the throne while Germany controlled the Polish economy and raw materials, as well as any Polish army. However by 1918 all hopes for the Austro-Polish solution had failed and Germany assumed total control of the Central Powers plans for Poland. The German candidates for the throne were disputed between claims from Saxony and Bavaria, and the Bavarian demand presented Leopold who was the Supreme Commander of the German forces on the Eastern front as the future ruler of Poland.

In the end King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony and his second son Prince Friedrich Christian renounced all Saxon claims to the Polish crown and Leopold was elected king. He arrived in Warsaw as king on March 5, 1921 to formally assume the throne and sign the new Polish constitution into law.

Meanwhile Poland's economy was in shambles. Hyperinflation fueled public unrest, and the government was unable to find a quick solution to the mounting unemployment and economic crisis. Leopold repeatedly asked Józef Piłsudski be returned to Poland from his confinement in Germany. Piłsudski began to create a new power base, centered around former members of the Polish Legions and the Polish Military Organization as well as some left-wing and intelligentsia parties. In 1925, after several governments had resigned in short order and the political scene was becoming increasingly chaotic, Piłsudski became more and more critical of the government, eventually issuing statements demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister Witos cabinet. In 1926 the third Witos government was overthrown by the May coup d'état. The coup made the elderly Leopold a shadow figure with real power being left in the hands of Piłsudski.

Leopold died on September 28, 1930 in the Wilanów Palace just outside of Warsaw. He was succeeded by his youngest son who became Konrad II. Although he did not live to see World War II Leopold's rule over Poland did set the early ground work Poland would need to slow and help defeat the Red Army.

Titles and styles

  • February 9, 1846 - March 17, 1921 His Royal Highness Prince Leopold of Bavaria
  • March 17, 1921 - September 28, 1930 His Majesty The King of Poland
Monarchical Styles of
Leopold of Poland
CoA Kingdom of Poland cv
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sir



Leopold, King of Poland
Born: February 9, 1846 Died: September 28, 1930
Royal titles
Preceded by:
Stanisław II August
King of Poland
1921 – 1930
Succeeded by:
Kondrat, King of Poland

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