Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie was born on 24 December 1837, in Munich. She was the daughter of Marie Ludovika Wilhelmine, Princess of Bavaria (30 August 1808 - 25 January 1892) and Maximilian Joseph, Duke in Bavaria (4 December 1808 - 15 November 1888). Her maternal grandparents were Friederike Karoline Wilhelmine of Baden (13 July 1776 - 13 November 1841) and Maximilian I Josef, King of Bavaria (27 May 1756 - 13 October 1825). Elisabeth's parents were married on 9 September 1828, in Tegernsee. Her siblings included: Ludwig Wilhelm, Duke in Bavaria (21 June 1831 - 6 November 1920), Wilhelm Karl, Duke in Bavaria (24 December 1832 - 13 February 1833), Helene Caroline Therese, Duchess in Bavaria (4 April 1834 - 16 May 1890), Karl Theodor (9 August 1839 - 30 November 1909), Maria Sophie Amalie, Duchess in Bavaria (4 October 1841 - 19 January 1925), Mathilde Ludovika, Duchess in Bavaria (30 September 1843 - 18 June 1925), Sophie Charlotte Augustine, Duchess in Bavaria (23 February 1847 - 4 May 1897) and Maximilian Emanuel, Duke in Bavaria (7 December 1849 - 12 June 1893). Called Sisi, she grew up in Munich and at Possenhofen, on Starnbergersee, Lake Starnberg. She was a close friend of her cousin, Ludwig of Bavaria (1846-1886). They both loved poetry, Elisabeth was nicknamed "the Seagull" and Ludwig "the Eagle". In 1853, Elisabeth, her elder sister, Helene and their mother, Marie Ludovika traveled to Bad Ischl to meet Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria (18 August 1830 - 21 November 1916). He was the son of Princess Sophie of Bavaria (27 January 1805 - 28 May 1872) and Archduke Franz Karl Joseph of Austria (17 December 1802 - 8 March 1878). It was hoped that Franz Joseph I would marry Helene, but he fell in love with Elisabeth instead. On Franz Joseph I's 23rd birthday, 18 August 1853, his mother asked if Elisabeth would marry him. Elisabeth of Bavaria and Franz Joseph I were married, on 24 April 1854, at the St. Augustine's Church, in Wien. Elisabeth thus became Empress Consort of Austria, Queen Consort of Hungary and Bohemia.
by Amanda Bergstedt
The couple's first child, a daughter, Sophie Friederike Dorothea was born on 5 March 1855, in Wien. They had another daughter, Gisela born on 15 July 1856. The children were installed in a nursery near their grandmother Sophie's apartments.
Elisabeth of Bavaria in SchönbrunnIn 1857, the children accompanied Elisabeth and Franz Joseph I on a state visit to Hungary. During this trip, both children fell ill. Gisela recovered, but Sophie became steadily weaker. Sophie died on 29 May 1857, in Budapest. Elisabeth never overcame the loss. Elisabeth gave birth to a son, Crown Prince Rudolf on 21 August 1858. When Elisabeth discovered that Franz Joseph I was unfaithful to her, she started spending time away from Wien. Her sister, Helene married Maximilian Anton Lamoral, Hereditary Prince of Thurn and Taxis on 24 August 1858, at Possenhofen. Her sister, Maria Sophie of Bavaria married Francis of the Two Sicilies (1836-1894) on 3 February 1859, in Bari. In 1867, the Austrian Empire was turned into the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Franz Joseph I and Elisabeth were crowned King and Queen Consort of Hungary on 8 June 1867. Their third daughter, Marie Valerie was born 22 April 1868, in Hungary.
The Children of Elisabeth of Bavaria and Franz Joseph I:
Sophie Friederike Dorothea Maria Josepha (5 March 1855 - 29 May 1857)
Gisela Louise Marie (15 July 1856 - 27 July 1932) Married Prince Leopold of Bavaria in 1837.
Rudolf Francis Charles Joseph (21 August 1858 - 30 January 1889) Married Princess Stephanie of Belgium in 1881.
Marie Valerie Mathilde Amalie (22 April 1868 - 6 September 1924) Married Archduke Franz Salvator of Austria-Tuscany in 1890.
Her sister, Sophie Charlotte married Ferdinand Philippe Marie, Duc d'Alençon (1844- 1910) on 28 September 1868, at Possenhofen Castle, near Starnberg. Her daughter, Gisela married Prince Leopold of Bavaria (9 February 1846 - 28 September 1930) in 1873. He was the son of Archduchess Augusta of Austria (1825-1864) and Prince regent Luitpold (1821-1912). They lived in the Palais Leopold in Schwabing. Her brother, Maximilian Emanuel married Princess Amalie of Saxe-Coburg-Kohary (1848-1894) on 20 September 1875, in Ebenthal. Her son, Rudolf of Austria married Princess Stéphanie of Belgium (21 May 1864 - 23 August 1945) on 10 May 1881, at the St. Augustine's Church, in Wien. She was the daughter of Marie Henriette of Austria, Queen Consort of Belgium (23 August 1836 - 19 September 1902) and Léopold II, King of Belgium. Her cousin, Ludwig II and Dr. von Gudden were found dead at 11:30 p.m. on 13 June 1886, in the water near Lake Starnberg. He was interred on 19 June 1886, in the crypt of St Michael's Church, in Munich. Her father, Maximilian Joseph died on 15 November 1888, in Munich. He was buried in the family crypt in Schloss Tegernsee. Her son, Rudolf and his mistress, Mary Vetsera were found shot dead on 30 January 1889, in his hunting lodge at Mayerling. Elisabeth was devastated and wore mourning black for the rest of her life. Her daughter, Marie Valerie married Franz Salvator, Archduke of Austria-Tuscany on 31 July 1890, in the parish church of Bad Ischl. He was the son of Princess Maria Immaculata of Bourbon-Two-Sicilies and Archduke Karl Salvator, Prince of Tuscany. Her mother, Marie Ludovika Wilhelmine died on 25 January 1892, in Munich. She was buried with her husband in the family crypt in Schloss Tegernsee. Her sister, Sophie died in a fire on 4 May 1897, at a charity bazaar, in Paris. In 1898, during an overnight stop in Geneva, her presence in the city was revealed in a newspaper. As she was walking from her hotel to the ship on 10 September 1898, for Montreux, Elisabeth was stabbed with a sharpened file by Luccheni. She made it to the ship, but shortly afterwards collapsed. The doctors could not save her. Her last words were; "What happened to me?" Elisabeth of Bavaria died, aged 60, on 10 September 1898, in Geneva. She was interred at the Imperial Crypt, in Wien. The murderer was sentenced to life in prison. Luccheni hanged himself in 1910. Franz Joseph I died on 21 November 1916, at Schönbrunn Palace.
"I have awoken in a dungeon, With fetters on my wrists. My longing grows ever stronger. And Freedom! Thou, turned away from me..." Elisabeth