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Sisi and Diana were often compared. Netflix will show a series about the empress

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“Great love, throne and adoration of the whole kingdom. But the life of Elizabeth (Devrim Lingnau) is certainly not a bed of roses – to win Francis (Philip Froissant), you must defeat the schemers, ignore etiquette and break many taboos. Empress Sisi is already taking power. September 29. Netflix only. ” – announces the website on Facebook. Indeed, the figure of Elizabeth of Bavaria, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, has a chance to conquer the site. There are elements in Sisi’s biography that ask for themselves to be included in the script. Anyway, the creators of Netflix are not the first filmmakers who came up with it – many of us perfectly associate, for example, the trilogy from the 50s with Romy Schneider in the title role.

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Sissi – portrait (left) and Romy Schneider as empress Franz Xaver Winterhalter – public domain / author unknown, public domain /Wikimedia.org

The Empress Sisi charmed the prince, although he was about to marry her sister. “This one or no other”

The daughter of the Duke of Bavaria, Maximilian of Bavaria, and his wife, Ludwika Wilhelmina Wittelsbach, who once hoped for a better game, was called the “Rose of Bavaria”. She did not come from a line that had a chance of being crowned, so she grew up fairly carelessly outside the court, riding horses, fishing and jogging through meadows and woods – her father was quite an eccentric character, a free spirit, traveling the world, appearing as a clown in a built on Circus’s own wish and giving the daughter a lot of freedom. He called Sisi his “because she was born on the eve of 1837.

As luck would have it, Sisi suddenly found herself in the world of strict etiquette, rigor and politics. Everything changed when Elizabeth was 15 years old.

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It was her older sister who was “trained” to play the role of the future empress. Her education, learning manners, was the result of an agreement between the girls’ mother and her sister Zofia, Archduchess of Austria Zofia, mother of the heir to the throne, Franz Joseph. However, when he one day came to the Habsburg summer estate in Bad Ischl to meet his future fiancée, he was charmed by the beautiful and charming Sisi. His younger brother Karol Ludwik, considered as a possible future husband for Elizabeth, wrote:

The moment the emperor saw Sisi, an expression so blissful appeared on his face that there could be no doubt who he had chosen.

The eight-year-old prince even stood up to his mother: This one or no other. The mother, reluctantly, had to succumb. Perhaps a conflict between the future mother-in-law and daughter-in-law has already arisen here? In any case, Sisi was also under the spell of the heir to the throne, but she certainly did not realize what a big change this marriage entailed. However, she quickly got a foretaste of what awaited her. Even before the wedding, she had to master the previously neglected history of Austria and learn French and Italian (she and her sister knew English thanks to a British governess).

wedding of Sissi and Franciszek Józefwedding of Sissi and Franciszek Józef Author unknown – Wiener Zeitung 1854, public domain, Wikimedia.org

Mother-in-law wanted to decide everything

When she arrived in Vienna, she was welcomed by thousands of new subjects who had a positive attitude towards this relationship, and on April 24, 1854, a grand wedding of the 16-year-old girl and the future emperor took place. The young ruler had previously renounced her rights to the throne of Bavaria, and brought a dowry and … love for Hungary, which was ignited by a teacher who prepared her for the role of a ruler, János Mailáth from Hungary. This influenced her further fate, as well as the history of both nations.

Sisi quickly realized how high the requirements for, for example, ceremonial are placed on her. A spontaneous teenager, accustomed to freedom, had a hard time adjusting to it. In addition, her husband had to spend most of his time in Vienna during the honeymoon, and she stayed in Laxenburg with the cool mother-in-law. Later, tensions arose many times between Elżbieta and Zofia, and Franciszek Józef, although in love with his wife, very often sided with his mother. Sisi’s opinion was not taken even when choosing a name for the first child – the girl was named Zofia in honor of the archduchess – or the babysitter. And even during pregnancy, a young married woman had to agree to, inter alia, not to take care of beloved parrots, because, according to the mother-in-law, such involvement could make the newborn look like birds. What, then, was appropriate in the mother-in-law’s opinion? Staring for hours at the mirror, or even better, at the portrait of the emperor. The Archduchess believed that Sisi was too immature and gave herself the right to make virtually all decisions regarding the upbringing of little Sophia, and later also Gizela.

Elizabeth as Diana

In the 1990s, Princess Diana was often compared to Elizabeth. It was influenced by, for example, her spontaneous behavior or the decision, then quite unusual at royal courts, to take William and Harry on official journeys. Meanwhile, at the turn of 1856 and 1857, Sisi persuaded her husband to go with them to Italy and Hungary. Unfortunately, in May, Zofia became seriously ill and died. Franciszek Józef and Sisi returned to Austria without continuing their previously planned journey, and Elżbieta had a hard time surviving this tragedy. In addition, it turned out that she was pregnant again – in 1958, after a very difficult birth, the heir to the throne was born. The birth of Rudolph strengthened his mother’s position at court, but could not completely heal the sadness of losing her two-year-old daughter.

Like Diana, Sisi eventually found a case she deemed worthy of a fight. While in the case of the Princess of Wales it was a charity, Sisi devoted herself to repairing the badly damaged relations between Austria and Hungary (although in general she believed that monarchs should be more accessible – she therefore visited orphanages and psychiatric hospitals). Earlier, she participated in persuading the emperor to sign peace on the Italian front, where even the personal command of the army by Franz Joseph did not bring victories, which resulted in criticism and even voices calling for abdication. In their joint political journey, such situations also happened later, and it often turned out that Sisi, with his approach and charm, was able to alleviate the situation.

Sisi tied tightly with Hungary, opponents of absolutism, who wanted the emperor to give Hungary greater privileges, make reforms and crown himself their king. Against her mother-in-law and even her husband, Sisi became more and more involved on the side of this group, she even learned the Hungarian language. Also during the Austro-Prussian conflict, the empress tried to bring Austria and Hungary closer together. Sisi, adored by both nations, played a very large part in the emergence of the dualist Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1867. A year later, Sisi gave birth to a “gift for Hungary” – her beloved daughter Maria Valeria. She then managed to influence the care of the rigorously “guided” children and made sure that they had a bit of freedom (here, too, this attitude can be compared to the views of Princess Diana). She was to stand up to her husband:

I summoned up my courage and told the Emperor about everything. When he couldn’t stand up to his mother, I went to extremes and said that I couldn’t look at it and that one thing had to happen! Either Gondrecourt (Rudolph’s guardian) leaves or me.

There is one more tragic similarity between Sisi and Diana. Both won the love of the crowds, but paid a high price for it. Diana hid her eating disorders for years. Some historians claim that Elizabeth could also have anorexia – as evidenced by restrictive diet, frequent fasting, and practically obsession with exercise. Apparently, after being tightened with a corset, her waist was only 47 cm. Many years later, in the 90s of the last century, the “perfect” – and also quite high – dimensions of the models are 60 cm at the waist. Both women were also eager to dress fashionably, taking advantage of the opportunities offered by access to the works of the best designers. They were trendsetters and scandals – Diana, respectively, in terms of hairstyles and, Sisi, in terms of the popularity of a narrow waist and exposed ankles.

Free childhood, lonely end of life

Certainly the empress was oversensitive about the passage of time and appearance. Over the past years, she was less and less willing to fulfill her representative duties and less and less appeared in public. For some time, she did not allow herself to be portrayed or photographed at all, if she went out to people, then with her face veiled. The last 10 years of her life are a complete break with official functions – she made the only exception for her beloved Hungarians, when in 1896 they celebrated the millennium of their statehood. She also moved away from the children (maybe except for the youngest daughter) and her husband – she even gave signals that confirmed her approval of an affair with a specific actress.

Sisi preferred to avoid the rigid Viennese court. Whenever she had time, she willingly rode horses, hunted or wrote poetry. Her biography also includes a serious fall from a horse, a great flood in Hungary, despair after the death of her beloved cousin, and three years later, the suicides of her only son. In the following months, her friend, Hungarian politician Gyula Andráss, and her older sister Helena, who were still close to her, also died.

The very death of the empress also has tragic circumstances. In 1898, the Empress went to Switzerland and as she left the hotel she was punched in the heart with a sharpened file from the Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni. The attacker was arrested, but no one realized that the empress had any injuries! Sisi continued her journey, but when she boarded the ship with her lady of the court, she passed out. And although the captain returned to the port and the empress was transported to the hotel, she could not be saved.

The quotes are from the book “Empress Elizabeth” by Brigitte Hamman, State Publishing Institute 2015

Source: Gazeta

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