Empress Elisabeth

The young eleven year old Elisabeth together with her brother
Karl Theodor and their pet dog „Bummerl“ in Possenhofen.
 


Elisabeth's parents
Duke Maximilian and Duchess Lidovika

 


Possenhofen Castle

 


The Duchess Elisabeth


Duchess Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie was born on the 24th December 1837 and was the fourth child of the Bavarian Duke Maximilian and Duchess Ludovika.
Possenhofen Castle, was her Bavarian home where the young Duchess grew up together with her brothers and sisters in a very liberal environment.

In 1853, Franz Joseph’s mother, Archduchess Sophie, arranged a marriage between her son and her sister Ludovika's eldest daughter, Helene.

Franz Joseph had never met Helene but was obliged to comply with the wish of his mother.

The Bavarian Duchess Ludovika and her daughter Helene were invited to Bad Ischl in Upper Austria and Elisabeth accompanied her mother and sister on their journey.

In Bad Ischl everything took a different turn. Franz Joseph did not seem to enjoy being together with Helene and turned his eyes toward the young fifteen-year-old Elisabeth.
Franz Joseph refused to propose to Helene and defied his mother by saying that if he could not propose to Elisabeth he would not marry at all.

After a few days his wish came true and their betrothal was officially announced.

Franz Joseph and Elisabeth married on the 24th April 1854 in the Augustine Church (Augustinerkirche) in Vienna.

 


Empress Elisabeth

 

The Empress Elisabeth


Elisabeth, a Bavarian princess of the house of Wittelsbach, today known by her nickname ‘Sisi’, was sixteen years old when she married the twenty-four year old Emperor Franz Joseph.

From the very beginning she had major problems with her mother-in-law (Archduchess Sophie) and other members of the court and began, as the years past by, to travel away from Vienna to avoid these problems and to escape from life at Court.

Elisabeth and Franz Joseph had four children, Sophie, Gisela, Rudolph and Valerie. Sophie died just before reaching her second birthday during a visit to Budapest. Their only son, Crown Prince Rudolph was unhappily married to the Belgian Princess Stephanie.

Rudolph's relationship with his father was a difficult one because his views contrasted with those of Franz Joseph.

Rudolph had very liberal views and was therefore never involved in state affairs.

Rudolph committed suicide in 1889 together with his mistress Mary Vetsera in the small hunting lodge in Mayerling near Vienna.

The tragedy of Mayerling led to much speculations regarding the cause of his death.
The fact that Crown Prince Rudolph was not alone at the hunting lodge was covered up for a long time.

The loss of their only son was a very great shock to the Emperor and his wife, who from that day onwards only wore black.
 

Geneva, 10th September 1898

 
In 1898, the Empress Elisabeth travelled to Geneva, Switzerland.

She stayed at the Hotel Beau-Rivage, and on Saturday, 10th September 1898, the Empress Elisabeth and her lady in waiting the Countess Irma Sztáray left the hotel and walked along the promenade of Lake Geneva.

As they were walking along the promenade the Italian anarchist, Luigi Lucheni, came toward them stabbed the Empress with a sharpened file.

 


Geneva, 10th September 1898


Lucheni had originally planned to kill the Duke of Orléans, but the Duke had left Geneva earlier and Lucheni having failed to find him, read in a newspaper that the Empress Elisabeth was in Geneva, travelling under the name "Countess of Hohenems".

Lucheni decided to assassinate the Empress Elisabeth as so to say “the next best”.