The Children of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth
Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth
Elisabeth Elisabeth and Franz Joseph married on 24th April 1854 and had four children:
• Archduchess Sophie was born on the 5th March 1855 and died on the 29th May 1857.
• Archduchess Gisela Louise Marie was born on the 15th July 1856 and died on the 27th July 1932.
• Archduke Rudolf was born on the 21st August 1858 and died on the 30th January 1889
• Archduchess Marie Valerie was born on the 22nd April 1868 and died on the 6th September 1924.
Archduchess Sophie was born on the 5th March 1855 and died on the 29th May 1857 in Budapest, during a visit to Hungary.
Her mother, Empress Elisabeth adored Hungary and its people and visited Hungary during the early spring of 1857.
In Budapest, Sophie and her sister Gisela fell ill with diarrhoea and had a very high fever.
The younger daughter the ten-month old Gisela recovered quickly but the two-year-old Sophie became weaker and weaker and after eleven hours of fever Sophie died in her mother's arms.
The body of Sophie was brought back to Vienna and buried in the Imperial Crypt.
Archduchess Gisela Louise Marie was born on the 15th July 1856 and died on the 27th July 1932.
Gisela and Leopold
Gisela married Leopold of Bavaria in 1873.
They lived at the Palais Leopold, in Schwabing had four children.
Prince Leopold was field marshal in the Bavarian army and served during the First World War on the eastern front.
During the war Gisela turned her Palace in Munich into a hospital and was involved in a variety of social and political issues.
Archduchess Gisela died on the 27th July 1932 in Munich, Bavaria at the age of seventy-six.
She was interred next to her husband Prince Leopold in the St. Michaelskirche, in Munich.
The young Rudolf
Crown Prince Rudolf
Crown Prince Rudolf was born on the 21st August 1858 and died on the 30th January 1889.
Rudolf was Archduke of Austria and heir-apparent to the thrones of Austria, Bohemia and Hungary.
Rudolf began his education at a very early age and was trained to become the future heir to the throne.
Rudolf's relationship with his father was a difficult one. Rudolf had very liberal views and was therefore never allowed to be involved in state affairs.
Rudolf and Stephanie
On the 10th May 1881, Rudolf married Stephanie of Belgium at the Augustine’s Church in Vienna.
Their only child was the named Elisabeth and was born on the 2nd September 1883.
Rudolf and Stephanie had a difficult marriage and as years passed by Rudolf went his own way and tended to search for other female companionship and soon began his search for the joys of life free from his Imperial obligations.
In 1887, Rudolf purchased and adapted a hunting lodge near to Mayerling.
In November 1888, the Archduke met the young Countess Mary Vetsera and the affair began. Mary soon focused all her attention on the Rudolf and the affair was seen as being foolish and compromising for the Imperial family.
Rudolf on his deathbed
Crown Prince Rudolf and his mistress Countess Mary Vetsera were found dead in the Imperial hunting lodge at Mayerling early on the morning of the 30th January 1889.
Emperor Franz Joseph did everything he could to keep the real circumstances behind the tragedy of Mayerling secret, especially the involvement of Mary Vetsera.
This, together with the cause of death, was a disaster for the very catholic Imperial court. To confess that the heir to the throne had not only committed suicide but also murdered Mary Vetsera, would have brought unbearable shame on the crown.
Slowly, snippets of information leaked out and partially true versions of the tragic death of the heir to the throne were made available to the public.
Mary Vetsera’s name was kept secret for decades.
Time has passed and little is known for certain of the happenings that took place in the small hunting lodge and even less of the events, which eventually had led to the ‘Drama of Mayerling’, are known.
More than thirty versions of the tragedy evolved - suicide, jealousy, political or family disharmony, murder, anarchism and even high treason due to political differences and diverging points of view between the old conservative Franz Joseph and his liberal son Rudolf are cited.
Mary's body was smuggled out of Mayerling in the middle of the night and secretly buried in the village cemetery at Heiligenkreuz.
After the tragedy of Mayerling, the Emperor had the hunting lodge in Mayerling converted into a convent.
Archduchess Marie Valerie was born on the 22nd April 1868 and died on the 6th September 1924.
Marie Valerie was born in Budapest, Hungary. Empress Elisabeth was very fond of Valerie and was able to raise her youngest herself and was Elisabeth's favourite child.
The Imperial couple’s first three children had been taken from Elisabeth as infants and raised by their grandmother, Archduchess Sophie but in 1867, Sophie was shocked by the death of her second son, Emperor Maximilian, in Mexico and withdrew herself from such duties.
Elisabeth was able to take over and started to take more concern in the details of her children's education.
Valerie's was "The Hungarian Child" because her birth was associated with Franz Joseph's compromise ‘Ausgleich’ with Hungary.
Valerie was born just over nine months after the joint coronation of Elisabeth and Franz Joseph in Budapest on the 8th June 1867.
The years that followed were without a doubt some of the happiest of the Empress Elizabeth's life.
Elisabeth favoured the Hungarian cause and chose Budapest for the birth of her child.
A son would have been named ‘Stephan’ after Saint Stephan of Hungary.
Valerie and Franz Salvator
Valerie married Archduke Franz Salvator in 1890 and thereby had to renounce her rights to the Austrian throne.
The couple appear to have had a happy marriage.
They were blessed with ten children who were all born before the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Valerie and Franz Salvator were blessed with ten children.