Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie in Bavaria, this is the full
name of the empress and queen who became known in history
as Sissi. Her family called her Sissi.
Sissi was born on December 24 1837 in Munich, the daughter
of Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria and Princess Ludovika Wilhelmine,
daughter of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria. She was the
Duchess of Bavaria and Princess of Bavaria. At her marriage
to Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1867, she also became empress
of Austria and Queen of Hungary.
In 1853 Elisabeth accompanied her mother and older sister
Helene on a trip to the Austrian Ischl, where it was planned
that Helene would get the attention of her 22 year old cousin,
Emperor Francis Joseph. However, he instead, fell for Elisabeth.
On April 24, 1854 the 16-year old Elisabeth, and the 23-year-old
emperor where married in Vienna in the Augustinerkerk.
The naturally timid and introverted Sissi struggled to
adjust to court life and the strict rules of etiquette. In
fact she never learned to adapt. In 1855 she gave birth to
a girl. Princess Sophie, the mother of the Emperor named the
baby after herself without any consultation with Sissi. She
also took over the upbringing of the child without Sissi.
The same thing happened with her second daughter, Gisela,
who was born a year later. Sissi had to ask permission even
to see her children and Princess Sophie was invariably present.
It was only after a joint trip with her husband that he eventually
gave Sissi more influence over the education of her children.
On a journey through Hungary both daughters fell ill with
dysentery and fever. The two-year-old Sophie died in her arms.
In 1858 Sissi brought a son into the world, Rudolf Franz Karl
Joseph. From an early age this heir to the throne was given
a military education. A fourth child, Marie Valerie Mathilde
Amélie was born ten years later, in 1868.
In 1889, her son Rudolf and his young lover Marie Vetsera
committed suicide together. This was very for hard Sissi,
who from then on, only wore black.
Emperor Frans Jozef - 1865
In 1860 the Empress started to suffer from severe coughing.
She used the official diagnosis of a lung disease and the
recommendation for a course of treatment as a reason to escape
from court life and to travel. Many trips would follow. Besides
Europe, she visited Asia Minor and Africa. From 1867 she often
visited Hungary, Great Britain, Turkey and Corfu. She evolved
over time from a shy girl to a confident monarch with definite
ideas on what she wanted. Her husband became used to her absences.
He met Katharina Schratt who became his mistress. This was
tolerated to a certain extent by Sissi. Sissi spent her time
going on long walks in the most remote areas and taking day-long
cruises on her yacht in the Mediterranean. Her ladies-in-waiting
kept her company and also read Greek, French and English works
to her. She studied ancient and modern Greek and translated
plays, including those of Shakespeare into modern Greek.
Elizabeth at her coronation as Queen
of Hungary - June 8, 1867
For the empress beauty was very important. She watched
her appearance carefully and her hair was very long. It was
so long and heavy that she often complained that the weight
of the extended double braids and pins gave her headaches.
The daily care of her hair took just under three hours. Once
every two weeks her hair was treated with a special essence,
a mixture of eggs and cognac. All other activities and obligations
were cancelled for the whole day. The Empress watched her
weight carefully. If her weight threatened to go over 50 kilograms,
she did a fasting or starvation cure, which basically meant
she stopped eating. She was known for her wasp-like waist.
Newspaper articles of the time mentioned her passion for equestrian,
diet, exercise and fashion sense.
Portrait Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1864
In July 1898 the empress stayed in Bad Nauheim, to be treated
for heart disease. The Empress was reportedly suffering from
anorexia and was very weak. In late August she traveled incognito
to Geneva. She visited Baroness Julie Rothschild in her villa
on Lake Geneva. When the empress left the next day went to
go to her ship for the return journey, the Italian anarchist
Luigi Lucheni fell on her. He stabbed her in the heart with
a small sharpened file. The movement was so small that they
initially thought he had only used his fist. The Empress stood
up, thanked all the passersby who had rushed to help her,
and spoke to her lady Irma Sztáray about the incident.
Aboard the ship the empress suddenly collapsed. Her last words
were reportedly: "But what?'s wrong with me?" She
died soon afterwards in the hotel where she had been taken
to for treatment. This was on 10 September 1898. Lucheni had,
in his own words, intended to murder Prince Henri Philippe
d'Orléans . However, since these travel plans were
changed, he chose Empress Elisabeth as his victim, whose presence
he had learned of through the newspapers. Sissi had been 61
Photo around 1869
They made a very famous trilologie of her life with Romy
Schneider in the title role: Sissi (1955) - Sissi - Die junge
Kaiserin (1956) - Sissi - Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin (1957).
The divine name
Poetry played a very important role in the life of Elizabeth.
She wrote a poetic diary, and in bad times she expressed her
feelings in poems. She did this as a recommendation from the
Romanian Queen Elizabeth. The Romanian Queen herself wrote
under the pseudonym of "Carmen Sylva". Click on
a book by Carmen Sylva HERE. Empress Sissi maintained a friendly
relationship with her.
In connection with the divine name the following prayer
is remarkable. In a biography of the Empress spoke the following
Es steigt meine Seele zum Boote
Und kniet auf den schwellenden Wogen,
Die haben wie dröhnendes Orgelgebraus
Sie unwiderstehlich gezogen.
Jehova! der mächtig Du Meere
Und dieses Atom, meine Seele,
Von Bergen zu Meeren, bis du sie nicht rufst,
Irrt rastlos vom Fels sie zur Welle.
Jehova! Du schufst diese Erde
Drum hat meine Seele kein Bleiben;
Sie dürstet noch schönere Welten zu seh'n,
Die ferne im Äthermeer treiben.
Jehova! o lass meine Seele bald
Auf goldenem, lichten Planeten;
Wenn unten die Meere vorüber dann zieh'n,
Wird jauchzend sie auf zu Dir beten.
(Gebet der kaiserin Elisabeth (Sissi)
aus “Das Poetische Tagebuch” von Brigitte Hamann).