He succeeded to the throne aged 18. Two years later Bavaria and Austria fought a war against Prussia, which they lost. However, in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 Bavaria sided with Prussia against France, and after the Prussian victory it became part of the new German Empire led by Prussia. Though Bavaria retained a degree of autonomy on some matters within the new German Reich, Ludwig increasingly withdrew from day-to-day affairs of state in favour of extravagant artistic and architectural projects. He commissioned the construction of two lavish palaces and the Neuschwanstein Castle, and was a devoted patron of the composer Richard Wagner. Ludwig spent all his royal revenues (although not state funds) on these projects, borrowed extensively, and defied all attempts by his ministers to restrain him. This extravagance was used against him to declare him insane, an accusation which has since come under scrutiny. Today, his architectural and artistic legacy includes many of Bavaria's most important tourist attractions.
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