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Lola Montez: The Scandalous Dancer Who Toppled a King and Turned to Philanthropy | Limerick Gazette Archives

Lola Montez: The Scandalous Dancer Who Toppled a King and Turned to Philanthropy

Lola Montez, born Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert in 1821 in Ireland, transformed herself into a captivating and influential figure who left a lasting impression on continental Europe and beyond. As a child, she lived in India before returning to England, where she began her career as a dancer following a failed marriage at a young age.

Her talent and captivating beauty propelled her to stardom, and she adopted the stage name Lola Montez. In the 1840s, Montez performed throughout Europe, drawing attention for her controversial and erotic “Spider Dance,” during which she appeared to extract spider webs from her clothing. This attention-grabbing performance earned her fans and detractors alike.

However, it was her romantic life that brought her the most notoriety. Lola Montez’s most infamous affair was with King Ludwig I of Bavaria, a liaison that not only thrust her into European high society but also allowed her to wield significant political influence. She was even awarded the titles of Countess Lansfeldt and Baroness Rosenthal. Montez used her sway to promote liberal reforms in Bavaria, which angered the conservative political and social establishment.

As discontent grew among the populace, Montez’s influence resulted in the fall of King Ludwig during the German Revolutions of 1848. The scandal surrounding the affair forced Montez to leave Bavaria, and she eventually moved to the United States.

In America, Montez continued her career as a performer, becoming a sensation in cities like New York and San Francisco. While in California, she married a notable newspaper editor, further cementing her status as a public figure. However, her marriage ended in divorce, and after a period of personal introspection, Montez decided to dedicate her life to charitable causes.

In the last years of her life, Lola Montez turned her attention toward philanthropy, working with disadvantaged women in New York City. Despite a life marked by scandal and several tumultuous relationships, Montez ultimately sought to use her fame for good. Sadly, she succumbed to pneumonia in 1861 at the age of 39. Lola Montez’s fascinating life and impact on society made her an iconic figure of her time and beyond.

Western Times – Wednesday 05 February 1902