Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria and his wife Elisabeth

Wien - Vienna - Vienne - Viena (Austria)

Kaiser Franz Josef I. von Osterreich, 1830 - 1916
(Regierungszeit 1848 - 1916) und seine Gemahlin
Kaiserin Elisabeth von osterreich, 1837 - 1898
Gemalde von F.X. Winterhalter

Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria, 1830 - 1916
(Reigned 1848 - 1916) and his wife
Empress Elisabeth of Austria, 1837 - 1898
Paintings by F.X. Winterhalter

unused, from 2011

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It was generally felt in the court that the Emperor  should marry and produce heirs as soon as possible. Various potential brides were considered: Princess Elisabeth of Modena, Princess Anna of Prussia and Princess Sidonia of Saxony. Although in public life the Emperor was the unquestioned director of affairs, in his private life his formidable mother still had a crucial influence. She wanted to strengthen the relationship between the Houses of Habsburg and Wittelsbach, and hoped to match Franz Joseph with her sister Ludovika's eldest daughter, Helene ("NenĂ©"), four years the Emperor's junior. However, the Emperor became besotted with NenĂ©'s younger sister, Elisabeth ("Sisi"), a girl of sixteen, and insisted on marrying her instead. Sophie agreed, despite some misgivings about Sisi's appropriateness as an imperial consort, and the young couple were married on 24 April 1854 in St. Augustine's Church, Vienna.

Their married life was not happy. Sisi never really adapted herself to the court and always had disagreements with the Imperial Family; their first daughter Sophie died as an infant; and their only son, Crown Prince Rudolf, died, allegedly by suicide in 1889, in the infamous Mayerling Incident. The Empress was an inveterate traveller, horsewoman, and fashion maven who was rarely seen in Vienna. She was stabbed to death by an Italian anarchist in 1898; Franz Joseph never fully recovered from the loss. According to the future Empress-Consort Zita of Bourbon-Parma he usually told his relatives: "You'll never know how important she was for me" or, according to some sources, "She will never know how much I loved her" (although there is no definite proof he actually said this).

On a personal note, they were married on the same date as my husband and me.

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