Three divorced marriages, changing lovers and a Bavarian king who fell for her and abdicated in the end. Lola Montez led a dazzling life around the world and didn't put up with anything.
In the Munich Beauty Gallery, her portrait is probably the most famous: With a red flower in her black hair, and a high-necked dress, also black, with a white lace collar – this is how Bavaria's King Ludwig I had her painted. the Spanish dancer Lola Montez into the picture by Joseph Stieler.
When the monarch met her for the first time in 1846, the 25-year-old ignited a volcano in the 60-year-old that had already been thought to be extinguished, as he recorded in a poem. Others could not resist her charms either.
Birth in Ireland…
As Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, she arrives on the 17th of March. February 1821 in the Irish Grange to the world. Her mother is 15, her father a young soldier. The child is two years old when the family moves to India.
After the arrival, the mother is alone with the child, because the husband dies of cholera. A lieutenant marries the young widow and ensures an initially carefree childhood for his stepdaughter.
…Childhood in Scotland
At the age of five, however, she is taken by ship to Scotland to live with relatives. There and in the boarding school in Bath Eliza undergoes a classical education for higher daughters. French, art, philosophy, literature, music and conversation are on the timetable. But the Victorian ideal of the obedient child is not hers.
She turns out to be a rebel. She "threw down the gauntlet to the stronger sex everywhere", Montez notes in her memoirs. When her mother arrives in 1837 to give the 16-year-old to an old widower as a bride, Eliza elopes with the young officer Thomas James. They marry, go to India.
The marriage did not last long
In the end, after two years, there is a turbulent divorce. In London, the 18-year-old reinvents herself. The "adventurous life" of an artist seems to her the only way to earn money.
Eliza wants to become a dancer. Spain is in fashion, so she concentrates on Spanish dances and learns the language. Above all, however, the Irishwoman invents a new biography for herself and calls herself "Maria de los Dolores Porry y Montez", or Lola Montez for short.
Journey across Europe
As a "Spanish aristocrat" she travels through Europe without valid papers. Self-confident and equipped with communication skills, she succeeds in getting performances in France, Poland and German principalities. She presents herself as a spirited, cigar-puffing woman who knows how to defend herself with a riding crop.
She knows how to use scandals, whether true or not, as PR. Well-known contemporaries such as Franz Liszt and Alexandre Dumas are among her acquaintances.
As mistress of Ludwig I.
On 5. October 1846 Lola arrives in Munich. Only two days later, she procures an audience with King Ludwig I.. He allows her to perform at the court theater, but above all he succumbs to her beauty. From then on, the thrifty monarch invests a fortune in his mistress, who allows him to have intercourse only twice.
The monarch, as passionate as a teenager and at the same time feeling guilty as a devout Catholic, makes her the Countess of Landsfeld. The two write letters to each other in Spanish; again and again, his politically interested beloved tries to interfere in official business, which he does not appreciate.
Again 2 divorces more
The ministers and the people are upset. It comes to turmoil. The couple sees the strict Catholic representatives in society as their "opponents" and rails against the "Jesuits". In the end, Ludwig abdicates in 1848, but keeps in touch with her, who lives in Switzerland for the time being. Lola knows how to wrap him around her finger. Nevertheless she marries and divorces again.
Then, however, she ventured to the USA. As a dancer and actress, she causes a sensation on the East Coast and in California with her story "Lola Montez in Bavaria" and her "Spiderdance". In San Francisco, she goes down the aisle a third time, but this marriage doesn't last long either.
Lola and religion
In 1855, she travels to Australia with a theater troupe. On the return trip to New York, her good friend and manager goes overboard. From then on, she reinvents herself again: as a lecture traveler who talks eloquently about her life or philosophizes about women's ies.
Even her last journey, writes her biographer Marita Krauss, she prepares well. Suffering from pneumonia that can no longer be cured, she is now intensively studying the Bible. Lola was convinced God would forgive her and Christ would save her.
On 17. January 1861 Eliza Gilbert dies. Her grave is located in the Brooklyn cemetery.