On September 10, 1898, Europe was marked by the sad news of the death of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, also known as Sissy to her relatives. This was the end of a life full of turmoil, unhappiness and many times misunderstandings.

It also had an important role in the formed myth around her person, a myth that she also supported with her different lifestyle.

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Elisabeth was born on December 24, 1837 in Munich, Bavaria, as Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie von Wittelsbach.

She was the second daughter of Maximilian Joseph and Ludwig, Duke and Princess respectively of Bavaria.

She grew up with her older sister, Nene, in Possenhofen Castle near Munich.

She writes, “I woke up in a dungeon, with chains on my hands. My longing as it goes and grows. Freedom, you’ve gone away from me.”

At the age of 15, in the summer of 1853, Sissy visits the resort of Bad Ischl in Upper Austria with her mother and sister Nene.

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The purpose of the trip is to meet the 23-year-old Emperor of Austria, Francis Joseph, who was destined to marry Nene. However, the young emperor fell in love with Sissy, and their love was officially announced on 19 August. These developments gave Sissi the title of future empress, gaining the interest of European royal houses and the general public. Their wedding took place in Vienna the following year, on April 24.

Sissy is in love, but experiences a constant contradiction between her feelings and the strict protocols and discipline of the Habsburg court. She misses the carefree life in the Bavarian countryside where she was happy. As time passes, her concern for the strict social practices and restrictive protocols of the Viennese court grows. She feels that she has lost her personal freedom and has become part of a world theater. He avoids pompous ceremonies and dislikes the strict, hierarchical structure and holidays of the Viennese court. At formal events, it feels like a mere showpiece.

Photo of Empress Elisabeth with her older sister Princess Helene “Nene” and her younger brother Duke Karl Theodor “Gackel” in Bad Kissingen in 1862.

After Sissy’s marriage to Francis Joseph, they give birth to four children: Princesses Sofia and Gisela, as well as Prince Rodolfo, the heir to the throne, and later Princess Maria Valeria.

Despite the love she feels for her husband, Sissy faces oppression from protocols and her strict mother-in-law, Sophia. He begins to travel abroad to escape court life.

On one of these trips she is accompanied by her first-born daughter Sophia, despite her mother-in-law’s contrary opinion. The little girl dies in a tragic accident, which leads to a confrontation between Sissy and Sophia. Sophia takes over the upbringing of the two youngest children, while their relationship is finally broken up, despite Francis Joseph’s attempts at reconciliation.

Sissy cuts off all contact with her mother-in-law and almost abandons her children, citing her poor health.

From this point on, she is absent from the palace for long periods, and she and her husband, Francis Joseph, engage in extramarital affairs during this time.

Crowds at the Rex Cinema in Wuppertal in 1956 for the performance of Sissy, the Young Empress.

In 1861, Sissy visits Corfu and is delighted with life there, reminding her of her happy childhood. She is extremely beautiful and charismatic, traits that had charmed her husband, Francis Joseph.

She uses her influence to positively influence Francis Joseph in matters concerning the Hungarians, promoting the Hungarian people. In 1867, they became kings of the united Austria-Hungary, while after the union she gave birth to her last daughter, Maria Valeria, and returned to the palace.

Sissy became famous for her beauty and actively took care of her appearance.

She ate healthy and exercised, trying to maintain her slim figure, even with anorexia. Her life was not black and white as she faced many difficult times. Her husband’s brother, Maximilian, was appointed emperor of Mexico but was subsequently captured and executed.

Sissy experiences even more losses. First, she loses her beloved cousin, King Ludwig of Bavaria, who mysteriously drowned. This is followed by the death of her sister Sophia, who died by burning herself during a dance in Paris. Her father, Maximilianos, will follow a year later.

However, the most dramatic event that will shake Sissi and the whole of Austria-Hungary is the episode at the “Mayerling” hunting lodge near Vienna. There, the bodies of her son, Prince Rodolfos, and his mistress, Baroness Maria Vetsera, were found. The reasons for the death remain a mystery, with some believing that it was the suicide of lovers who could not be together freely, while others argue that it was a political assassination.

Tired of constant travel, the empress longs for a quiet and secluded home where she can retire and mourn. She returns to her beloved Greece and buys “Villa Braila” in Corfu, which she renovates. The house follows a unique style, influenced by Greek, Roman, Ionic architecture, and the aesthetics of Pompeii.

Elizabeth wished to create a paradise where the gods, Homeric heroes, and goddesses co-exist. Artists collaborated to create murals, paintings, and sculptures both inside and in the house’s garden. He named the house “Achilleion,” inspired by the statue of “Dying Achilles” in the garden.

In September 1898, Empress Elisabeth is in Geneva, Switzerland at the Beau Rivage Hotel and confronts her assassin, Luigi Lucheni. Lucheni, who has developed a great hatred for the aristocracy and social inequality due to the difficult life he negotiated from a young age, decides to attack the empress. Outside the hotel, he hides a dagger in a bouquet of flowers and waits for the opportunity to attack.

On September 10, at around 3 pm, Elizabeth and her escort leave the hotel, wearing black clothes. As they approach, Lucheni approaches the women with the bouquet of flowers and eventually attacks Elizabeth.

With great force, he stabs her in the chest to knock her down.

The assassination of Empress Elisabeth “Sissy” by Luigi Lucheni in Geneva on September 10, 1898.

Lucheni attacks Empress Elisabeth outside the Beau Rivage Hotel in Geneva, but she initially does not realize the seriousness of the attack.

After boarding a ship to reach her home in Territet, however, she collapses and loses consciousness. After an examination, it is found that he has been seriously injured and it is an attempted murder.

The empress is taken back to the “Beau Rivage”, where she dies in her room.

He was 61 years old. Emperor Francis Joseph embraces her for the last time, and after the autopsy, Sissy is placed in the Capuchin crypt in Vienna.

The castle in Laxenborg in Austria with the big park. Sophie’s children, Gisela, Rudolf and Maria were born in Luxembourg.

“Achillion” passes to her daughter, Maria Valeria, but is never inhabited. It remained closed for nine years, until it was sold, but is kept in excellent condition in memory of Sissy.

Austria and Hungary deeply mourn the loss of the empress.

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