He was the son of Maximilian I and Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt. In 1810 he married Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (1792-1854), the wedding being the occasion of the first Oktoberfest. He succeeded his father on the throne in 1825 and patronised the arts.
He was the father of:
- Maximilian II of Bavaria (1811-1864)
- Mathilde, Grand Duchess of Hesse and the Rhine (1813-1862)
- Otto (1815-1867), who became king of Greece in 1832
- Theodelinde, Princess of Bavaria (1816-1817)
- Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria (1821-1912)