Author Topic: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie  (Read 93276 times)

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Alixz

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2007, 12:38:17 PM »
The book I have stops at Mayerling.

Stephanie does say that Franz Joseph and Sisi were "cruel and unkind" to her during her "shock" and mourning.

Stephanie says that her father wanted her to have the title of Dowager Crown Princess, but I guess it already belonged to Maria Theresa, wife of Archduke Charles Louis, who was Franz Joseph's brother.  So Stephanie got the title but not the official rank.

About the picture I posted.  The book was first published in 1937 and the picture credit says only "a recent picture"..  Since Stephanie was born in 1864, that would make her 73!!

She died in 1945 at the age of 81.


Offline Greenowl

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2007, 01:05:51 PM »
Gosh, she looks really well for her age! However, I suspect that the photo probably dates from the 1920s. Perhaps it was taken for her 60th or 65th Birthday.

Would Archduchess Elisabeth have become Kaiserin had the succession laws been amended? For some reason I always imagined that in such an event Gisela would have succeeded her father in 1916.

I know very little about Archduchess Elisabeth (Erzi) so have no idea what sort of an empress she would have made.

I think the Belgian Royal Family were considered parvenus by most other European royal families, which makes it surprising that Stephanie was selected to be the wife of Crown Prince Rudolf (regardless of her father's vast fortune). Was Bismark referring to the Belgian Royal family when he called the Coburgs "the stud farm of Europe"?

Offline Princess Susan

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2007, 02:45:18 PM »
I often tend to think of Elizabeth as the poor little orphan girl, or in her late years as the Red Republican Archduchess.
But when her gr.father died in 1916, she was a woman of 33 years old, married and with her children.

Did she ever express her views on the way the empire was going during her gr.father's reign ?
Did she have any influence on him ?

How did she get along with her cousins Franz-Ferdinand, Otto and Karl ? Did she considered them as "usurpers" ?

Being  the liberal woman she was (or only became later ?) did she ever accept FF's wedding to Sophie Chotek ?
[/quote]

What I know about Archduchess Elisabeth, she was favorit grandchild of Emperor Franz Joseph and she also had very nice relationship
to him. I have never heard about any opinion and view of the empire during and after her grandfather's reign.
I doubt that she was realy interested in politics, the country or ordinary people.
Although she lost father as a very young child, she wasn't 'poor little orphan'. Her family and people in her surroundings tried to fulfill every her whims, so she became spoilt girl very soon.
I don't know how she got along with Franz Ferdninand, Otto or later Emperor Karl I. But anyway she wasn't right person to judge Franz Ferdinand for his marriage with Sophie Chotek.
Because her own marriage was actually morganatic. Her first husband was Prince Otto Weriand of Windisch-Gratz, who realy wasn't right company for habsburgs Archdachess and Emperor's grand-daughter. Only difference between Erszi and Franz Ferdinand was, that Franz Joseph loved her so much that he permitted her this wedding. What was incredible, she asked her grandfather to persuade Otto von Windisch-Gratz to marry her. Otto didn't know about her intention. She sow him only on ball or on some happening on court, I think.
She was well known by her affairs with men. She had a lot of lovers during their marriage and that was propably main reason why they were finally divorced.

Offline Greenowl

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2007, 04:01:17 PM »
Thanks, Princess Susan, you have painted an interesting portrait of Archduchess Elisabeth. Do you know when her relationship with her mother deteriorated and did they have any contact at all in later years?

I assume that when she became involved in the Socialist movement (which is where she met her second husband and gained her nick-name "the red archduchess") she must have had some interest in politics, although I think I heard somewhere that she would attend a socialist meeting and demand equality for everyone louder than anyone else and then go home and allow her servants to attend her in the manner to which she was accustomed, which seems slightly contradictory. However, I think she had a difficult time during the Second World War when her husband was interned in a concentration camp and her finances dried up somewhat.

Alixz

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2007, 09:38:42 AM »
From Stephanie's autobiography, it sounds as if neither of Erzi's parents had much interest in her.  All during their travels for the Emperor and Stephanie's filling in for Sisi, the child is never mentioned as being with them.

Then when Stephanie's health became "precarious" and she went to Abbazia to recover,  she did not take Erzi with her.  In his letters, Rudolph makes mention of "the little one".  He is telling Stephanie that Erzi is in good health and doing well.  It would seem that he saw more of her than Stephanie did.  However, Stephanie states that Rudolph and the court in general were very disappointed that Erzi was a girl and not an heir.  (Of course, very natural for that time and family position.)

Erzi was much more attractive that her mother.  When I can find a scannable picture of Erzi when she was grown up, I will post it.  Right now I only have one of her as a child.





Alixz

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #20 on: September 21, 2007, 09:45:17 AM »
From what I can tell, Stephanie was no saint to Rudolph.  I would very much like to know more about what he thought instead of waht she thought.  As I said she was very much in love with herself and she felt "indispensable" to Sisi as Sisi handed over the unwanted jobs of being an empress to Stephanie.

In his last letter from Mayerling, Rudolph says this to Stephanie,  'You are freed henceforward from the torment of my presence."  That sounds to me as if he had been told that his presence was a "torment" to Stephanie.

Stephanie doesn't believe that Rudolph was in love with Marie Vetsera but that Marie was so besotted with Rudolph that she would go into death with him rather than be without him.  Stephanie also says that Rudolph "threatened/asked" her (Stephanie) to die with him months before the Mayerling suicide.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2007, 09:48:24 AM by Alixz »

Offline Princess Susan

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2007, 10:03:55 AM »
Thanks, Princess Susan, you have painted an interesting portrait of Archduchess Elisabeth. Do you know when her relationship with her mother deteriorated and did they have any contact at all in later years?

I assume that when she became involved in the Socialist movement (which is where she met her second husband and gained her nick-name "the red archduchess") she must have had some interest in politics, although I think I heard somewhere that she would attend a socialist meeting and demand equality for everyone louder than anyone else and then go home and allow her servants to attend her in the manner to which she was accustomed, which seems slightly contradictory. However, I think she had a difficult time during the Second World War when her husband was interned in a concentration camp and her finances dried up somewhat.


Relationship between Elisabeth and Stephanie was very difficult since her mother's second wedding.
I think (but am not sure) at first she met and knew Leopold Petznek and then she involved in Socialist party.
She asked him about help, because her husband wanted to take their children away from her breeding.
Unfortunately I don't know a lot about her relationship with him, but propably this could be considered for beginning of
their relationship. Emperor Karl I. disagreed with divorce, nevertheless she left her husband and settled with Leopold in Schonau.
So I' m not sure whether her socialistics conviction was so honest. I rather pressume, that this wouldn't happend, if she didn't met him.
She doesn't seem me like person with social feeling. And I've never heard about any her politican opinions or interests in social problems etc. at least till 1916 or 1918. But I muss admit that I've never read her biography, so I don't know about her so much.
In time when she joined Socialist party her relationship with her mother was getting more bitter and cold. And finally Stephanie deprived her
only daughter of her inheritance.
Therefore she had surely dificult time during the Second World War and when her husband came back from concentration camp, they lived in very poor condicion.


Alixz

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2007, 10:31:40 AM »
Erzi was born on September 2, 1883.  That would make her 34/35 in 1917/1918.  Surely she had some kind of political opinions after the war and the fall of her royal house.

She would have been 62 in 1945 as the second war ended and her husband came home.  Since Stephanie deprived her of her inheritance, and considering her age, it must have been very difficult.

But as I said before, Stephanie's actions in depriving her of her inheritance don't surprise me at all.  I don't think that Stephanie was a very "hands on" loving mother from the beginning.

Offline Greenowl

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #23 on: September 21, 2007, 11:22:51 AM »
Reading between the lines, Rudolf seemed to have been more attached to his only daughter that Stephanie was. Marie-Valerie records in her diary that Rudolf was present during Stephanie’s labour and the subsequent birth. Marie-Valerie states that when Erzsi was born Stephanie was devastated and burst into tears because the baby was a girl. Rudolf consoled her with the words to the effect (I’m working from memory here, and translating at the same time) “I don’t mind, girls are nicer”.
Sophie von Planker-Klaps records in her memoirs that Rudolf visited Erzsi on the fateful morning before he left for Mayerling. However, he was unable to see her, as she was “otherwise engaged” (apparently she was either having a bath or sitting on the toilet) and her nanny did not want her disturbed.
It is strange how history repeats itself, as Stephanie herself had to fight her father, Léopold II of Belgium, and bring him to court in order to obtain her inheritance. Thus having experienced such an ordeal, the fact that she would do such a thing to her only daughter is incredible.
Erzsi had four children (3 sons and 1 daughter). The daughter, who was called Stephanie after her grandmother, was an artist and photographer and died in 2005 at the grand old age of 96.

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #24 on: September 21, 2007, 12:20:22 PM »
The Belgian Royal Family were considered parvenus by the Habsburgs.

Even though Stephanie's mother was an Austrian Archduchess.

There were some articles on Stephanie by Charlotte Zeepvatt in Royalty Digest which showed a different side of her, her relationships (with her daughter and husband) and presented a more sympathetic picture. Ironically, her autobiography (where she was so vain) was probably to compensate for the negative things said about her and just wound up contributing to her poor image. The articles quoted some of Stephanie & Rudolph's letters to each other and they were often very warm and affectionate, even up until the end.

She did have someone she was in love with (it was in the articles but I can't remember the name, he was attached to the Court, I believe) but I don't think it was consummated. He died young and she was devastated.

There's a thread on Erzi for anyone who wants more info (or discussion) on her.
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Offline Greenowl

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #25 on: September 21, 2007, 04:51:15 PM »
Yes, Stephanie's mother was a daughter of Archduke Joseph I think. She had a rather miserable life too, as Leopold II of Belgium was not a very pleasant person, to say the least, and she ended up becoming very distant, remote and cold, thus Stephanie and her two sisters were brought up in a rather loveless atmosphere. Despite, or more likely because of this, Stephanie was very close to and had an excellent relationship with both her sisters.

Incidentally, I believe that Stephanie carried Rudolf's farewell letter with her until the end of her life. Why she did so is unclear, as she does not appear to have been a very sentimental sort of person.

Alixz

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #26 on: October 06, 2007, 08:43:39 AM »
I am just finishing up The Road to Mayerling by Richard Barkley.  I also bought A Hapsburg Tragedy by Judith Listowel, but I haven't got to that one yet.

Barkley is much more sympathetic to Rudolph than Stephanie.  And much more sympathetic to Rudolph than Stephanie was in her I Was To Be Empress.  I think that Stephanie's title for her memoirs sums up her feelings.  She "was to be Empress" and she was very angry and disappointed that she was not.

According to Barkley, Rudolph was not the "gad about"  and royal ner' do well that Stephanie makes him out to be.  He actually used Stephanie's biography as one of his sources so reading one book and then the other it is easy to follow the differences between the two.  Barkley doesn't speak for Rudolph only through Rudolph's correspondence and literary articles.

I had no idea that Rudolph was so involved in politics and wrote so many political and historical papers.  Barkley seem to think that Rudolph changed after the death of Frederick William III of Germany.  Barkley says that perhaps Rudolph having watch Frederick William wait an eternity for a throne that would not ever be his (due to his cancer) had made Rudolph think of the longevity of his own father, Franz Joseph, and maybe wonder if he would ever live to see himself on the throne.

But all through the book, Stephanie, when mentioned, comes off as stiff and cold and uncaring.  I  know that she was married young to Rudolph, but I think that the marriage could have worked had Stephanie tried a little harder.

Offline dmitri

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #27 on: October 06, 2007, 09:48:34 AM »
I think it was not Stephanie that only needed to try harder. Rudolf was the one who should have been trying to keep his marriage functioning for the sake of the dynasty. He was a al philanderer and a drug addict to boot. Hardly a recipe for a happy marriage and ensuring there were more children.

Alixz

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #28 on: October 06, 2007, 03:18:15 PM »
I know that is the current view of Rudolph, but Barkeley is a little gentler on him.

Barkeley mentions only Mitzi and Marie Vetsera.  And the morphine addiction came about due to cough that he couldn't control when he gave speeches.

Barkeley talks in length about Rudolph's earlier life and his dedication to the army and his Emperor.  And I don't think that he could have been much a drug addict to have had the sense to write the letters to Szeps and the articles that he wrote about birds and nature.  He also began a history of Austria in some 20 volumes.  I can't find the exact information right now, but I will.

Offline Greenowl

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Re: Crown Princess/Archduchess Stephanie
« Reply #29 on: October 06, 2007, 04:36:33 PM »
Hi Alixz,

thanks for that interesting information. More examples of Crown Prince Rudolf's writings are contained in "Majestät, ich warne Sie" by Brigitte Hamann, which is an extremely interesting book and illustrates Rudolf's liberal views. According to no less an authority than Bismarck, the Crown Prince was extremely talented: “His political understanding is uncommon; it astonished me. It proves that in spite of his youth he thinks independently and seriously. We did not always agree, but he knew very well how to make his points and I noticed particularly how circumspectly he did it”. One thing (among many others) that may have depressed Rudolf, was the fact that he believed that the Austro-Hungarian Empire was out-dated and could not survive. On 24/11/1882 he wrote: “Dark and ugly times await us. One can almost believe that old Europe is outdated and beginning to disintegrate. A great and thorough reaction has to set in, a social upheaval from which, after a long illness, a wholly new Europe may blossom…”

Rudolf's (first??) biographer, Oskar Mitis, wote that "for once, fate might have put a philosopher on a Habsburg throne". That was probably putting it too hopefully, but Rudolf was extremely gifted. He read Descartes and Voltaire, studied botany, ornithology, geography, physics, sociology, history and economics (the latter under the famous Austrian economist Carl Menger). In addition to German he spoke French, English, Hungarian, Polish and Czech. He published at least two books, including a massive work of no less than 24 volumes on the ethnography and history of the Habsburg Empire (which is still used as a reference work today) as well as numerous essays and newspaper articles, most of which had to be published anonymously due to the fact that they were extremely critical of the Emperor. In an account of his visit to Palestine in "Majestät, ich warne Sie" by Hamann, Rudolf relates meeting an elderly monk in Jerusalem. The monk had been in the Holy Land for many years but was originally from Prague. The monk was surprised, delighted and touched when the Crown Prince spoke to him in Czech, and said that he had never expected to hear his native language again. In "Majestät, ich warne Sie" I especially enjoyed Rudolf's criticism of the catholic church (in the form of the cardinal archbishop of Prague), the account of how he "unmasked" a famous medium (unlike his mother, Rudolf had no interest in the "paranormal"), his belief in the necessity of the army and the need to retain German as the main language of the army, and his somewhat negative opinions of the German Empire. Rudolf comes across as extremely knowledgeable, critical and liberal. However, his various writings (or at least those contained in the book) offer no hint whatsoever of the reason for the tragic events of Mayerling. Unfortunately, while Rudolf had very high principles he had no realistic plan, he yearned for improvement yet plunged to ever lower depths, his great gifts were hampered by equally great weaknesses. However, I think it is overstating the facts to describe him as a philanderer and a drug addict. His love life was not any more spectacular than that of many of his contemporaries and due to his position women fawned on him from an early age. Apart from the morphine which, as you correctly stated, was prescribed for a persistent cough (and apparently many people were prescribed morphine in those days) there is no record of any other form of drug addiction (unless one wants to include nicotine and alcohol).