Empress Sisi
Romy Schneider as Sisi
Suzan Erens as Sisi

Empress Elizabeth's Diamond stars, that she plaited in
her long wonderful hair, above one of the famous
portraits by Winterhalter in 1864, were made by the
court jeweller Koechert, they were not part of the
Austrian crown jewels. Ironically, it is these relatively
modest ornaments that have contributed most to be
memory of her beauty.
Winterhalter painted in detail, so the size of the stars
must be 3,5 cm in real size, in gold and silver and
diamonds.      It was said: A diamond tiara set with
stars was the subject of a bizarre incident that
occurred just before Elizabeth was married to the
young Emperor Francis Joseph in 1854. The Dowager
Empress Caroline Augusta, who was aunt to both of
the couple, came to see the wedding presents which
were kept in the imperial treasury. Leaning forward
to examine the tiara, the Emperors`present, in all its
exquisite detail, her lace mantilla caught in one of the
diamond stars and to the horror and consternation of
all, the jewel went crashing to the floor. Although the
tiara was quickly repaired and the bride knew nothing
of the accident, it was seen as a very bad omen for
the marriage - on omen which was to prove curiously
prophetic. The empress viewed the grave as the only
possible release from her torments
(Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)
  Sisi was a legendary beauty in her time.   
Later in life, even while riding
she would hide her face from
prying eyes.  
She was renown for her 18 inch
waist as is very evident in this
Sisi was an excellent horse
        Sissi, the movies.
The Sissi trilogy was made in the 50e  Karl Heinz Böhm played Franz Joseph and
Romy Schneider played the role of Sisi.    The romantic German films were very
popular at the time, and are very still enjoyable to watch.
The Story of Franz Joseph and Sisi in Vienna.
                                                   By Ineke Cornelissen and Sonja

To continue my reputation as a history teacher and inspired by the beautiful pictures of Suzan as Sisi on
Andre’s website, I wrote a short story about Sisi.  1837-1898

She was known as Liesl from Possenhofen.  
The future Empress of Austria was born to Duke Maximilian in Bavaria and his Duchess, Ludovika, Princess
of Bavaria  in Munich on December 24, 1837 and baptized Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie;   her intimates would
call the spiritely yet often melancholy and shy young duchess Sisi.  In 1853 the fifteen year old Sisi
accompanied her mother and older sister Helene to the spa at Bad Ischel where the family hoped Helene
would attract the attention of their mother's nephew, (Franz Joseph’s mother Sophie and Elisabeth’s mother
Ludovica were sisters!) the young  Emperor of Austria, Franz Joseph.

Franz Joseph is a member of the famous Imperial family of Hapsburg (Germany, Austria and Hungary also
called the Danubian Monarchy). He is predestined to inherit the throne.  And at the age of 22 he falls in love
with the very beautiful young Elizabeth of the German noble family Von Wittelsbach.  
Franz Joseph was so immediately taken with the young Sisi that he soon won her over too and convinced
her to marry him.  Their ten-month engagement was filled with lengthy lessons in court protocol and
instructions to learn quickly and behave by her ambitious mother, but even these methods did not
adequately prepare Sisi for the rigors of the Hapsburg court.   Elisabeth  had a carefree and happy
childhood in Castle Possenhofen in Bavaria. Franz Joseph had a severe childhood, he had been educated
with military discipline.

Far too young Sisi married Franz Joseph and she had to live at the severe Viennese Court (in palace
Hofburg). And soon after their marriage in April 1854, the sixteen-year old Empress faced weighty imperial
duties. But the young couple was in love and during the first few years of their marriage, they were happy
together. (That is the period the well known romantic Sisi movie (starring Romy Schneider as Sisi) are
about).  The imperial couple had three children (Archduchess Sophie, b.1855 d.1858, Archduchess Gisela
b. 1856,  and Archduke Rudolf b. 1857) But Franz Joseph’s mother Archduchess Sophie, a very dominant
lady at the Imperial Court, was a great obstacle to the happiness of the young couple. She took Sisi’s
children away from her, to have them educated and disciplined. The first baby, also named Sophie, died at
the age of 2.    The marriage broke down in the early 1860s.  She and Franz Joseph had a last daughter,
Marie-Valerie, in 1868, and this time Sisi rebelled and insisted that she would raise that 4th baby herself.   
But the birth of this favorite child did not bring the couple any closer together.  

Sisi was known for her beauty and her beautiful hair, she was a trend setter for fashion at her time. She
especially took good care hair. She had to spend 4 hours every day on hair care, assisted by hairstylists.
The picture (painting) of Sisi with the diamond stars in her hair was painted in 1865 (Sisi was 35 years old)
and is to be seen in Hofburg palace. At Andre’s website you can see Suzan with the same hair, in the same
pose (looking over her left shoulder). If you go to Vienna, you can visit the Hofburg palace, the painting, the
imperial rooms where Sisi lived, her wardrobe, etc. can be viewed.

After the mid 1870s, Sisi became sad and suffered from depression. She believed that her legendary
beauty was fading and so she stopped having portraits painted and photographs taken of herself.  The few
images of her from the last decades of the 19th century were either taken clandestinely by lucky
photographers, or were the products of artistic license.

She tried to find peace and rest by traveling and spent the next decades restlessly traveling throughout
Europe with rare stops in Vienna.     Fate followed her. Her sister died as a result of a dramatic accident
(she was burnt alive) and Sisi became even more of a recluse after her son, Crown Prince Rudolf, at the
age of 31 committed suicide with his sixteen year old lover Maria Vetsera in January 1889.   At that time he
was unhappily married and had a daughter of 6, also named Elisabeth. That was too much for her. Sisi
became physically and mentally ill and the restless Empress undertook long journeys alone.  
While in Geneva Switzerland, at midday on September 10, 1898, (She was 61) Elisabeth, Empress Consort
of Austria, was killed (stabbed with a file), by the Italian anarchist, Luigi Lucheni.
Nobody knows why he did that, but friends of Sisi said it was to be considered a gift
of God to free her from illnesses and her dramatic life.
Franz Joseph became quite old, he died, 86 years old, in Schloss Schonbrunn.

The graves of the Imperial Hapsburg family members can be visited in the Imperial
Crypt of the Capuchin Church (In German: Kapuziner Kaiser Gruft) in Vienna. The
tomb of Franz Joseph is in between Sisi and Rudolf. Every day people lay down
fresh flowers in front of Sisi’s tomb, till the day of today! The most impressive tombs
in that crypt are those of Maria Theresia and her husband Franz I, great great grandparents of Franz
Joseph). I  remember (from our last visit to Schloss Schonbrunn in 1998) that they had a very close
marriage, and they had 16 children (of which 3 died very young)!  They had Schloss Schonbrunn renovated
to make more space for the kids and servants and they started the zoo in the gardens.
Hofburg was the Imperial Winter palace and Schonbrunn the Imperial Summer palace.
Franz Joseph
The Wedding
Coronation in Hungary.
Barbie as Sisi
Suzan as Sisi
Empress Sisi
Luigi Lucheni,
Sisi's killer