Elizabeth Wittelsbach (Sissi) (1837—1898)


Empress of Austria from 1854, Queen of Hungary from 1867

Elizabeth was born in Bavaria. She married Francis Joseph in 1854, but being first cousins, their marriage required a special authorisation by the church. She gave birth to four children, three of whom lived to be adults. Elizabeth did love her husband but found it hard to tolerate the depressing and rigorously regulated lifestyle at court. As a young wife she felt particularly frustrated by her mother-in-law’s almost tyrannical rigour. She was also distressed by being given a very restricted role in the upbringing of her children. She valued liberty above everything else. Her restless nature prompted her new and new long journeys. She would train on horseback under the open skies and make long excursions on foot. She had her own gym, would cover long distances on foot and was considered one of the best riders of her time. But she was also a passionate reader and even wrote poems.

She was conscious of her beauty and devoted huge energies to caring for her hair. When she was getting older, she stopped allowing being photographed. She was killed at Lake Leman by an Italian anarchist.

Her deep commitment towards Hungarians became legendary and her cult in Hungary still flourishes today. She is often compared to Lady Diana, another member of a royal family who was restless and unhappy.

“I have a terrible homesickness for Hungary.”
in a letter to Ida Ferenczy in 1869
F. Dózsa Katalin: I have a terrible homesickness for Hungary, Elisabeth and the Hungarians. Rubicon, the 1999. issue 9-10. pp. 47

(The quotation is displayed at the flight of stairs of Elisabeth Of Austria, Queen Of Hungary)


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