On the night of June 12, 1886, a group of psychiatrists drove up the dark road to Neuschwanstein, the fairytale castle in Bavaria on a mission to take the lord of the manor, King Ludwig II (1845-1886), into custody. When they got there, they encountered a bloated man weighing 120 kilograms (260 lbs.), ravaged by the constant use of the soporific chloral hydrate, his teeth ruined by sweets.
A short time earlier, Ludwig, sensing his impending doom, had asked for potassium cyanide. “Hurtling downward from the highest levels of life into nothingness — that is a lost life, and I cannot bear it,” he wrote.
The king was not “incurably” mad, as the medical experts claimed at the time. At most, he was nothing more than a quirky eccentric. The real reason for his arrest was that he had lost control over his finances, and had amassed 14.5 million marks in debt. More than 100 creditors, including foreign banks, were threatening foreclosure. He was arrested to spare the Wittelsbach dynasty the humiliation of having its assets seized.