Elizabeth of Barvaria


The wife of Franz Joseph I, Elizabeth of Bavaria reigned as Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary. She was known for her beauty as well as her fashion sense, diet, and exercise regimen, all of which gained her great popularity. She was both a free spirit who detested royal protocol and a tragic figure who suffered much sadness during her reign as queen.

Elizabeth of Bavaria
At age fifteen, Elizabeth traveled with her mother and older sister to Austria, where her sister hoped to win the affection of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I. Instead, Franz Joseph was infatuated with the young Elizabeth, and the two were wed a year later. The new queen quickly bore her husband two daughters and a son, but the death of her oldest child at the age of two destroyed Elizabeth and eventually led to the collapse of her and Franz Joseph’s once-loving marriage. She fled Vienna after suffering from a lung disease, and returned a year later only to fall ill and retreat once more.

A sympathizer of the Hungarian cause, Elizabeth became queen of the country following national unrest that resulted in a political compromise between the two countries. After her coronation, she was denied any influence on the upbringing of her children, who were instead raised by her mother-in-law, so she continued her travels throughout Europe. Her life was once more shattered by the death of her thirty-year-old son, who was believed to have killed himself. His sudden passing renewed public interest in Elizabeth, but she stayed away from Vienna and communicated with her husband primarily through letters.

Elizabeth died in Geneva, Switzerland, when she was stabbed in the back by a young anarchist and bled to death. She was buried in Vienna in the Imperial Crypt, long a burial setting for Austrian monarchs.

Key events during the life of Elizabeth of Bavaria:

Married Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria
Death of her oldest daughter
Left Vienna after contracting a lung disease
Austro-Hungarian Compromise, became queen of Hungary
Suicide of her son, the Prince imperial.
Assassinated by Italian anarchist

Book Links
Elizabeth - Empress of Austria  by  George Upton

Image Links

Elizabeth as the Young Empress.
 in  Elizabeth, Empress of Austria

Empress Elizabeth in later years.
 in  Elizabeth, Empress of Austria

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