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What's in a Name? Ludwig
German First Names

Ludwig | Lodewik | Louis | Lewis

With the Ludwig Chronicles

Ludwigs have figured very prominently in German history. One of the most famous Ludwigs was "Mad" King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who built several castles that are tourist attractions today. Then there's another fairly well-known Ludwig, by the name of van Beethoven. But there have been many other Ludwigs in history—German, Dutch (Lodewik), French (Louis), Hungarian (Lajos) and otherwise—the royal ones having fascinating nicknames, from Ludwig der Blinde (Louis the Blind) to Ludwig der Strenge (Louis the Stern).

Ludwig photo
Ludwig II von Bayern

Despite the importance and frequency of the name throughout German history, Ludwig has not been a popular German name in modern times. That may have to do with the declining popularity of Germanic names in general and the fact that the French form of the name, Louis (LU-EE) is a German slang word for "pimp" (Zuhälter). But in the 19th century, Louis was a fairly popular "German" name. Both the German composer Louis Spohr (1784-1859) and Louis Ferdinand, Prinz von Preußen (1772-1806) bore the name proudly. The feminine form "Louise"—in its German form Luise—became an even more popular name than Louis or Ludwig.

Ludwig is a venerable and ancient male Germanic name. Beginning in its Frankish form, Chlodwig, the name Ludwig spread across the German lands. Like most names, it has a meaning. Its two Old High German root words are hlut, meaning "loud" (and by inference "famous") and wig, meaning "war" or "struggle." So an approximate translation of Ludwig would be "famous warrior." Besides composers and kings, the name Ludwig has been the distinguished appellation of architects (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe), writers (Ludwig Tieck), politicians (Ludwig Erhard) and philosophers (Ludwig Feuerbach).

Several German cities were named after royal Ludwigs. Ludwigslust (Ludwig's pleasure) in Mecklenburg began as a ducal hunting retreat in the 1700s. Ludwigshafen am Rhein (Ludwig's port), today an industrial city with 166,000 inhabitants, lies just across the Rhine from Mannheim. Ludwigshafen first arose in 1607 as part of the fortifications defending Mannheim. It was named for King Ludwig I in 1843. Ludwigsburg, not far from Stuttgart, also began as a hunting retreat (1699). Around 1715 it was laid out as a town. The city today has a population of 86,000.

Ludwig can also be a surname. Otto Ludwig (1813-1865) was a noted German poet and writer, while the German tenor Walther Ludwig (1902-1981) was known for his Mozart operatic interpretations.

Also see: Glossary of German First Names
   Article: German First Names

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