Another of Sisi’s outlets was writing poetry, recounts Hamann, and she often vented her frustrations and regrets in excerpts such as this: Oh, had I but never left the pathThat would have led me to freedomOh, that on the broad avenuesOf vanity I had never strayedI have awakened in a dungeonWith chains on my hands. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. From her hands-on mother, Princess Ludovika, she developed a love of privacy and a fear of public duties—traits that would not serve her well as empress. Sisi was overcome with apprehension. They marry and return to his palace in Vienna, where she confronts not only the stifling, iron-clad rules of court but also her domineering mother-in-law. Another pedestrian bumped into her; she felt a sharp pain against her rib but continued to walk to the ferry. In later years her views on marriage were forthright: “One is sold as a child at 15, and one takes an oath one does not understand but can never undo.”. Born in 1837 in Munich, Germany, Sisi grew up playing in the Bavarian forests with her seven brothers and sisters, riding horses and climbing mountains. I had never before seen her so imposing. Her melancholy and distaste for public life was treated as a childish indulgence by her distracted husband and his mother, the formidable Archduchess Sophie. Early in her reign, Sisi developed a deep interest in Hungary, then a rebellious part of her husband’s empire. In 1874, using the pseudonym Countess of Hohenembs to ensure anonymity, Sisi embarked on a European tour with her younger daughter. “I saw the tears trickling down the faces of the men.”, The empress was fascinated with new innovations in the treatment of the insane, and even toyed with the idea of opening her own psychiatric hospital. When dressing, it took roughly an hour to cinch her waist to a punishing 19.5 inches. Though medical help was called, Sisi soon died of internal bleeding. With her liberal, progressive son dead, she knew that the creaking empire of Austria-Hungary could not last. Her visit was the first in a series of extensive travels in which she sought to escape her unhappiness by absorbing the culture of other parts of Europe. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. A decorated fan belonging to the Empress Elisabeth, with a scene of pastoral merrymaking. In Buda I am a Queen. The situation did not improve as she settled into her new reality. Trembling and overcome with emotion, 16-year-old Elisabeth, known by her childhood nickname Sisi… If the weather is good, we can walk in the garden up to her former stable. :2} Despite her inward misery, Sisi appeared outwardly beautiful, owing to her obsession with her appearance. Composed by Fritz Kreisler, the libretto was written by Ernst and Hubert Marischka, with orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett. She stuck to a meticulous diet, severely limiting her daily intake of food. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images), After a nervous collapse in 1862, Sisi spent as much time as she could away from the “prison fortress” of Vienna’s Hofburg palace (today her life is chronicled in the Sisi Museum there), frequently traveling to Greece, England, Ireland, Switzerland and Hungary. During the wedding festivities, thousands lined Vienna’s streets, eager to catch a glimpse of the new teenage empress. But in her glass coach on the way to her new home in the sprawling Hofburg imperial palace, Sisi sobbed—overwhelmed and afraid. If Franz Josef felt daunted by having to return to the practical realities of power, any fairy-tale notions Sisi may have had quickly evaporated too. Check my availability and I will show them everything! Here, she read poetry, walked, and immersed herself in the surrounding natural world. what a magnificent crown of hair frames her face! The morning after she consummated her marriage, the whole court was informed. :6}, Name: {Name (First):4.3} {Name (Last):4.6} We truly loved this Queen, our beloved Sisi, who played a very important role in Hungarian history. Thank you. Almost immediately, Sisi clashed with her mother-in-law, Sophie. In 1848 their unmarried son, Franz Josef, became Austrian emperor … What lovely soft eyes she has, and lips like strawberries.” Efforts were made to steer his attentions to the older sister. She had little privacy. And as you know, a large part of gossip is often based on truth. We all know what happens to lonely, heart-broken ladies who are abandoned by their husbands. After Austria’s defeat by the Prussians at the Battle of Königgrätz, in 1866, the Prussian armies advanced toward Vienna, and Elisabeth took refuge in Buda (now Budapest) with her children. {Choose the tour! Color Lithograph, 1867. In his diary, a servant recalled walking in on her mid-exercise, as recorded in medical historian Louise Foxcroft’s Calories and Corsets: A History of Dieting Over 2,000 Years: When I saw her, she was just raising herself on the hand-rings. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- She found a place in the hearts of the nobles as well as the peasants. After she became empress, Sisi became fascinated with Hungarian culture and politics, and she mastered the Hungarian language. She was the fourth of 10 children born to Duke Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria and Princess Ludovika, daughter of King Maximilian I of Bavaria. On April 25, 1854, a shy and melancholy bride married into a major European royal house. She subjected Sisi’s habits, clothes, and pastimes to scrutiny and censure. Franz Josef and Sisi are crowned king and queen of Hungary in the Matthias Church, Budapest. With all the airport transfers, entrances, luxury vehicles, licensed tour guide included- if you don’t want to miss a thing during your clients’ time near Budapest. The life of Elisabeth of Austria sounds like a romantic novel: A vivacious Bavarian princess captures the heart of the Austrian emperor. She also took charge of the infant’s care, declaring that the mother was too young to do it properly herself. Her aunt, Archduchess Sophie, recalled in her diary her son’s outpourings of praise: “Oh, but how sweet Sisi is . Although the pet name of the empress was always spelled "Sisi," never "Sissi," this incorrect version of her name persisted in the works about her that followed. Her father, the duke, was a music-loving bon viveur with notably liberal views that filtered down to his children. The young couple had little time to enjoy their union. The future emperor refused to bend to his mother, Sophia’s will, and insisted he would marry Sisi or no one. Phone: {Phone:10}, IN HUNGARIAN: GÖDÖLLŐ ROYAL CASTLE & LÁZÁR EQUESTRIAN PARK. Hours were spent maintaining her looks—three hours a day of hairdressing, and an hour to cinch her famed 19.5-inch waist. Karl von Piloty’s portrait of Sisi, age 16, on horseback shows the comfortable, Bavarian castle of Possenhofen, the adored childhood home of the empress-to-be. Sisi often wrote scabrous poems in her diary aimed at members of her family or the court. Six years before, in 1848, Europe had been rocked by revolutions. Anxious to reunite with her children, she made her way slowly back to Vienna in 1861. Once settled at Vienna’s imperial palace, she was stricken with homesickness, especially when she remembered the carefree life she had enjoyed in the Bavarian countryside. In August 1853 she met her cousin Franz Joseph, then aged 23, and he quickly fell in love with the 15-year-old Elisabeth, who was regarded as the most beautiful princess in Europe. Sisi, on the other hand, was so nervous during the courtship that she was unable to eat. As Sisi and her sisters grew, her mother Ludovika’s thoughts turned to their marriage. With her weight plummeting and dressed in mourning black, she traveled aimlessly across the continent and North Africa, refusing police protection, longing for death, determined to “travel the whole world over…until I drown and am forgotten.” At the age of 51, she got a tattoo of an anchor on her arm. After Rudolf’s death, Sisi traveled frantically, taking refuge once again in Corfu, where she had her summer palace, the Achilleion, built. In 1932 the comic operetta Sissi premiered in Vienna. Her mother, just 19 years old, was consumed with grief. On June 8, 1867, Franz Josef and Elisabeth were crowned as constitutional monarchs of Hungary. Sisi’s maternal aunt, Sophie, was married to the Archduke of Austria, Franz Karl. Above 18 people, please email me through the Contact form on my site. Shy and introverted, Sisi showed no interest in romance. How many of you? On April 24, 1854, the marriage between Emperor Franz Josef and Elisabeth of Bavaria was solemnized in Vienna, and Sisi became the empress of Austria. Famous for her beauty, Sisi devoted much time to maintaining it. This unusual entrance into public life was one in a string of tragedies that marked Sisi’s reign, placing her within a long line of reluctant royal consorts trapped in gilded cages. Empress Elisabeth of Austria, 1857. Unsure of her role in a world where old certainties were being upended, the empress embarked on a lifelong search for a larger purpose outside of the roles traditionally ascribed to women. In the spring of 1857, little Sophie caught dysentery during a trip with her parents to Hungary. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Hanging on the ropes, she made a fantastic impression, like a creature somewhere between snake and bird. “Rudolf’s bullet killed my faith,” Sisi told Marie Valerie, according to The Reluctant Empress. Soon after the three women arrived, eagle-eyed courtiers could not help but notice how the young emperor’s attention was directed not at Helene but at her younger sister. Once again, she was advised by her doctors to seek warmer climes, and this time she chose the Mediterranean island of Corfu. “I loved, I lived/I wandered through the world,” she wrote, “but never reached what I strove for.”. Franz Josef did not interfere, perhaps because he was in debt to his mother for elevating him to the throne through her skillful maneuvering. Years later, after Gisela was married and Rudolf had started his military training, Sisi started another intensive round of travels, this time accompanied by Maria Valerie. She also exercised for hours every day. She survived for a time on only thin broth, while in later years she subsisted almost exclusively on raw milk (traveling with her own cow), oranges and eggs. She believed the Hungarian people deserved greater freedoms and respect, and collaborated with her close friend, the dashing Hungarian statesman Gyula Andrássy, to advance the Hungarian cause. With her ambivalence to public duties and reluctance to marry, the young bride recalled another royal born at the Hofburg almost exactly 100 years before, Marie Antoinette. Sisi’s maternal aunt, Sophie, was married to the Archduke of Austria, Franz Karl. Sisi declined to attend public functions and complained of physical and nervous ailments. In the fall of 1898, Sisi visited Geneva, and on September 10, she walked to the lakeside to take the ferry to Montreux. “Have you not noticed,” she once asked, “that in Shakespeare the madmen are the only sensible ones?”, Emperor Franz Joseph, and his wife Empress Elisabeth, of Austria. And in that palace, I am a mother.’ There, she could spend as much time with her children as she wanted without being under the watchful eye of her mother-in-law, ladies in waiting or even Spanish etiquette. Here she displayed surprisingly down-to-earth behavior for a royal: holding hands with the dying, and speaking to patients about their needs. Or if you prefer a good old Elvis Presley song, they can play that, too. He looked to be a promising catch, and Ludovika set her sights on him. We’ll visit this wonderful palace (Gödöllői Kastély in Hungarian).


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