Images of the Decaying Austrian Empire. This slideshow is mainly visual images. The objectives are: • Is to expose you to the story of Sissi, Empress Elizabeth of Austria… • See pictures of her celebrated beauty. • Learn how her cousin Ludwig, a troubled homosexual, built beautiful castles in the Bavarian Alps • Learn about Rudolf, her son’s, suicide pact with another young woman, and Sissi’s own assassination. • Sissi’s life was lived in the backdrop of a decadent, artistic, moody “fin de siecle” (end of the century) Vienna The Wittelsbachs were just one of the royal families in Germany. They were the Bavarian Royal Family. They were “clannish” and not afraid to intermarry. Some say that lead to a trait of “madness” or melancholy (depression). Sissi was sent to marry her first cousin, Franz Joseph, who was put on the throne after the revolutions of 1848. She was only 15 and unprepared for the physical side of marriage. She also had a controlling mother in law who made her life hell. I have awoken in a dungeon, With fetters on my wrists. My longing grows ever stronger. And Freedom! thou, turned away from me..... Check out the next photoshopped slide, whose picture did they superimpose? First tragedy: Elizabeth closely identified with her misunderstood, gay cousin Ludwig II of Bavaria. A great patron of the arts, including Wagner, Ludwig was a troubled spendthrift who left a legacy of gorgeous castles to Bavaria… Ludwig committed suicide by drowning— The second great tragedy was the suicide of her son, Rudolph, and his mistress, Mary Vetsera. He shot her, then stayed by the body that night, and in the morning, shot himself. He was Sissi’s only son and the heir to the throne was no more… Maria Vetsara was the unlucky young noblewoman who became his mistress. She was so stupid and dazzled by the Prince that she agreed to the suicide pact. On the next slide is her last note—the joint suicide has been made to seem very romantic and tragic. It is the subject of ballets, books, and film. Not very romantic when you consider that you are now dead in the ground at a young age. The next heir was now Franz Joseph’s nephew. The emperor did not really like him because Franz Ferdinand had married to a noblewoman beneath him. As a Hapsburg, he should have married “up” instead. More tragedy awaited the emperor. When his wife, Sissi went on vacation, she was stabbed by an anarchist. Anarchists were kind of like terrorists. They killed a lot of world leaders between 1890 and 1914 for various reasons. Sissi was stabbed with a stilleto knife and walked for a bit before she collapsed and died. Elizabeth’s life was tragic—and it reflected the tensions of her husband’s aging empire, and empire that would end at the close of World War I…in 1914, the Empire collapsed when the heir, Franz Ferdinand was killed by a Serbian Assassin.
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