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Princess Sissi
History's Princess Sissi.jpg
Biographical Information
Real Name: Her Royal Highness Duchess Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie
Title: Empress Elisabeth of Austria

Empress of Austria
Queen of Hungary
Queen of Bohemia and Croatia

Coronation: 8 June 1867
Born: 24 December 1837
Death: 10 September 1898
Age: 60
Religion: Roman Catholic
Height: 5'8
Originally From: Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria
Parents: Duke Maximilian (Father)

Princess Ludovikaa (Mother)

Siblings: Duke Ludwig Wilhelm (Brother)

Duke Wilhelm Kar (Brother)
Princess Helene (Sister)
Duke Karl Theodor (Brother)
Queen Marie Sophie (Sister)
Countess Mathilde (Sister)
Duke Maximilian (Brother)
Duchess Sophie (Sister)
Duke Maximilian (Brother)

Husband: Franz Joseph I of Austria
Children: Archduchess Sophie

Archduchess Gisela
Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria
Archduchess Marie-Valerie

COD: Assasination
Burial: Imperial Crypt
TV Character Information
First appearance: Sissi Gets Her Way
Portrays: Princess Sissi
Portrayed by: Terri Hawkes


Empress Elisabeth of Austria (born Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria; 24 December 1837 – 10 September 1898) was Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary by marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph I. She was born into the royal Bavarian House of Wittelsbach. Nicknamed Sisi (also Sissi), she enjoyed an informal upbringing before marrying Emperor Franz Joseph I at the age of sixteen. The marriage thrust her into the much more formal Habsburg court life, for which she was unprepared and which she found uncongenial. Early in the marriage she was at odds with her mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophie, who took over the rearing of Elisabeth's daughters, one of whom, Sophie, died in infancy. The birth of the heir apparent, Crown Prince Rudolf, improved her standing at court, but her health suffered under the strain, and she would often visit Hungary for its more relaxed environment. She came to develop a deep kinship with Hungary, and helped to bring about the dual monarchy of Austria–Hungary in 1867.

The death of her only son and his mistress Mary Vetsera in a murder–suicide at his hunting lodge at Mayerling in 1889 was a blow from which Elisabeth never recovered. She withdrew from court duties and travelled widely, unaccompanied by her family. In 1890, she had a palace built on the Greek Island of Corfu that she visited often. The palace, Achilleion, featuring an elaborate mythological motif, served as a refuge. She was obsessively concerned with maintaining her youthful figure and beauty, which were already legendary during her lifetime. In 1897, her sister, Duchess Sophie in Bavaria, died in an accidental fire at the "Bazar de la Charité" in Paris. While travelling in Geneva in 1898, she was mortally wounded by an Italian anarchist named Luigi Lucheni. Elisabeth was the longest serving Empress of Austria at 44 years.

Biography[]

Duchess in Bavaria[]

Born Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie on 24 December 1837 in Munich, Bavaria, she was the second child of Duke Maximilian Joseph in Bavaria and Princess Ludovika of Bavaria, the half-sister of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. Maximilian was considered to be rather peculiar; he had a childish love of circuses and traveled the Bavarian countryside to escape his duties. The family's homes were the Herzog-Max-Palais in Munich during winter and Possenhofen Castle in the summer months, far from the protocols of court. "Sisi" and her siblings grew up in a very unrestrained and unstructured environment; she often skipped her lessons to go riding about the countryside.

In 1853, Princess Sophie of Bavaria, the domineering mother of 23-year-old Emperor Franz Joseph, preferring to have a niece as a daughter-in-law rather than a stranger, arranged a marriage between her son and her sister Ludovika's eldest daughter, Helene ("Néné"). Although the couple had never met, Franz Joseph's obedience was taken for granted by the archduchess, who was once described as "the only man in the Hofburg" for her authoritarian manner.[3] The Duchess and Helene were invited to journey to the resort of Bad Ischl, Upper Austria to receive his formal proposal of marriage. Fifteen-year-old Sisi accompanied her mother and sister and they traveled from Munich in several coaches. They arrived late as the Duchess, prone to migraine, had to interrupt the journey; the coach with their gala dresses never did arrive. The family was still in mourning over the death of an aunt so they were dressed in black and unable to change to more suitable clothing before meeting the young Emperor. While black did not suit eighteen-year-old Helene's dark coloring, it made her younger sister's blonder looks more striking by contrast.

Helene was a pious, quiet young woman, and she and Franz Joseph felt ill at ease in each other's company, but he was instantly infatuated with her younger sister. He did not propose to Helene, but defied his mother and informed her that if he could not have Elisabeth, he would not marry at all. Five days later their betrothal was officially announced. The couple were married eight months later in Vienna at the Augustinerkirche on 24 April 1854. The marriage was finally consummated three days later, and Elisabeth received a dower equal to US$240,000 today.

Empress of Austria[]

After enjoying an informal and unstructured childhood, Elisabeth, who was shy and introverted by nature, and more so among the stifling formality of Habsburg court life, had difficulty adapting to the Hofburg and its rigid protocols and strict etiquette. Within a few weeks, Elisabeth started to display health problems: she had fits of coughing and became anxious and frightened whenever she had to descend a narrow steep staircase.[6]

She was surprised to find she was pregnant and gave birth to her first child, a daughter, Archduchess Sophie of Austria (1855–1857), just ten months after her wedding. The elder Archduchess Sophie, who often referred to Elisabeth as a "silly young mother", not only named the child (after herself) without consulting the mother, but took complete charge of the baby, refusing to allow Elisabeth to breastfeed or otherwise care for her own child. When a second daughter, Archduchess Gisela of Austria (1856–1932), was born a year later, the Archduchess took the baby away from Elisabeth as well.

The fact that she had not produced a male heir made Elisabeth increasingly unwanted in the palace. One day she found a pamphlet on her desk with the following words underlined:

Her mother-in-law is generally considered to be the source of the malicious pamphlet. The accusation of political meddling referred to Elisabeth's influence on her husband regarding his Italian and Hungarian subjects. When she traveled to Italy with him she persuaded him to show mercy toward political prisoners. In 1857 Elisabeth visited Hungary for the first time with her husband and two daughters, and it left a deep and lasting impression upon her, probably because in Hungary she found a welcome respite from the constraints of Austrian court life. It was "the first time that Elisabeth had met with men of character in Franz Joseph's realm, and she became acquainted with an aristocratic independence that scorned to hide its sentiments behind courtly forms of speech... She felt her innermost soul reach out in sympathy to the proud, steadfast people of this land..." Unlike the archduchess, who despised the Hungarians, Elisabeth felt such an affinity for them that she began to learn Hungarian; the country reciprocated in its adoration of her.

This same trip proved tragic as both of Elisabeth's children became ill. While Gisela recovered quickly, two-year-old Sophie grew steadily weaker, then died. It is generally assumed today that she died of typhus.[8] Her death pushed Elisabeth, who was already prone to bouts of melancholy, into periods of heavy depression, which would haunt her for the rest of her life. She turned away from her living daughter, began neglecting her, and their relationship never recovered.

In December 1857 Elisabeth became pregnant for the third time in as many years, and her mother, who had been concerned about her daughter's physical and mental health, hoped that this new pregnancy would help her recover.

Family Tree[]

   
   
   
   
   
   
Duke Maximilian Joseph
   
   
Princess Ludovika
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Duke Ludwig
   
   
Helena Von Grossberg
   
   
Maximilian Anton
   
   
Franz Joseph
   
   
Princess Sissi
   
   
Karl Theodor
   
   
Maria Sophie
   
   
Duchess Mathilde
   
   
Duchess Sophie
   
   
Duke Maximilian
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Princess Louise
   
   
Princess Elisabeth
   
   
Maximilian Maria
   
   
Prince Albert
   
   
   
   
Archduchess Sophie
   
   
Archduchess Gisela
   
   
Archduke Rudolf
   
   
Archduchess Marie-Valerie
   
   

Family Tree[]

   
   
   
   
   
   
Archduke Franz Karl
   
   
Princess Sophie
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Franz Joseph
   
   
Princess Sissi
   
   
Maximilian I of Mexico
   
   
Princess Maria Annunciata
   
   
Archduke Karl Ludwig
   
   
Maria Theresa
   
   
Archduchess Maria Anna
   
   
Archduke Ludwig Viktor
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Archduke Franz Ferdinand
   
   
Archduke Otto
   
   
Archduke Ferdinand Karl
   
   
Archduchess Margarete Sophie
   
   
   
   
   
   
Archduchess Maria Annunciata
   
   
Archduchess Elisabeth Amalie
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Archduchess Sophie
   
   
Archduchess Gisela
   
   
Archduke Rudolf
   
   
Archduchess Marie-Valerie
   
   

References[]

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