08 July 2020

Empress Elisabeth of Austria: Her Romantic Interests


Empress Elisabeth of Austria was loved and worshiped by many, especially in Hungary, during her lifetime. Even more so after her tragic death. She was considered one of the most beautiful women of her time, and that such a woman would be admired and desired, is nothing unusual. As such, it shouldn't come as a surprise that she evoked those butterfly feelings not only in her husband but also in other men. And while this list of admirers might not be complete, it does touch upon some of the most prominent ones. 

Emperor Franz Joseph I

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The fifteen-year-old Elisabeth and the twenty-three-year-old Franz Joseph met in the fashionable resort of Bad Ischl in the summer of 1853. It was technically for the second time, as they had met some years earlier since they were first cousins. Duchess Ludovika and her oldest daughter, Helene, affectionately called "Néné", were invited by the Emperor’s mother, Archduchess Sophie, who was Ludovika’s elder sister. Sophie intended to introduce Néné and Franz Joseph to each other. 

When meeting Franz Joseph, Ludovika, Helene and Sisi were wearing mourning dresses because of the death of an aunt, and they had not had time to change dresses before the tea party organized by Archduchess Sophie. The simple, black dress fitted Sisi perfectly, while it made Néné seem too strict. 

And so things came as they must: The young Emperor fell head over heels in love with the naive Sisi, who had no idea what it meant to be the wife of an Emperor. The following day, Franz Joseph made his decision and told his mother with a delighted face that he found Sisi fascinating. He revealed his intentions in front of the court that very evening during a ball. Much to the assembled guests' astonishment, when it was the time for the cotillion, a confident Emperor walked straight towards Sisi and handed her a bouquet of flowers. The young girl, who did not know that this action was nothing short of a wedding proposal, felt embarrassed. 

As his fiancée, Elisabeth was scared of the future life she would have to face alone in Vienna, the representational duties, and her obligations. Sisi was a shy young lady who did not like to be the center of attention. The wedding of Franz Joseph and Elisabeth took place on the 24th of April 1854. Sisi and Franz were first cousins, so a papal dispensation was needed before their wedding. 

While their marriage started out like a fairy tale, it quickly turned into quite a nightmare for the young and inexperienced girl. She couldn't adapt to the rigid Spanish court ceremonial, which reigned supreme at the Viennese court or her strict mother-in-law. Franz Joseph tried to do everything to make his beloved Sisi happy. However, he rarely confronted his mother to protect his wife. There was a reason why Archduchess Sophie was commonly referred to as "the only man at the Hofburg Palace". Sisi withdrew more and more and increasingly turned her back on life at court and her husband. 

From the 1860s on, the couple no longer led a married life. Instead, Franz Joseph and Elisabeth maintained a bond of friendship, corresponding and meeting regularly. With her full support, Burgtheater actress Katharina Schratt became the aging Emperor’s most important source of emotional support. "You have no idea how much I loved this woman," the Emperor is said to have exclaimed after his wife's murder. 



Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria

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He was the third son of Archduke Franz Karl and Archduchess Sophie and Emperor Franz Joseph's younger brother. If we were to believe Ernst Marischka's Sissy-trilogy, then Karl Ludwig discovered his affections for a very young Sisi before his older brother. He supposedly saw something in his 12-year-old cousin, that Franz Joseph couldn't see at the time - a blossoming beauty. Whether or not he was the first boy who kissed her, and they actually exchanged small gifts, shall forever remain their sweet little secret. 

Karl Ludwig married three times. His first wife, whom he married on 4 November 1856 at Dresden, was his first cousin Margaretha of Sachsen, the daughter of Johann of Sachsen and Amalie Auguste of Bavaria. She died childless on the 15th of September 1858.

His second wife, whom he married by proxy on the 16th of October 1862 in Rome, and in person on the 21st of October 1862 in Venice, was Princess Maria Annunciata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, daughter of King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies and his wife, Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria (1816–1867). They had four children.

His third wife, whom he married on the 23rd if July 1873 at Kleinheubach, was Infanta Maria Theresa of Portugal, daughter of King Miguel I of Portugal and Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg (1831–1909). They had two daughters.

Archduke Karl Ludwig died of typhoid fever at Schönbrunn Palace after he returned from a journey to Palestine and Egypt, allegedly after he consumed contaminated water from the Jordan River. 



King Ludwig II of Bavaria

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He was Elisabeth's cousin and, supposedly, her soulmate. When Ludwig first ascended the throne, he was considered extraordinarily handsome and exceptionally tall. He was the patron of composer Richard Wagner, subsidizing his work and extravagant lifestyle. However, his and Elisabeth's family, the House of Wittelsbach, was cursed with insanity. 

As King Ludwig grew older, his behavior became increasingly eccentric and bizarre. He would indulge in fantastic coach, boat, and sleigh rides through the mountainous Bavarian countryside - often in the middle of the night. For a short while, Ludwig was engaged to Sisi's younger sister, Sophie Charlotte. But Ludwig had a hidden side: He was homosexual. Much to the chagrin of the bride's family, the King he broke off the engagement without explanation. 

Despite it all, Ludwig and Sisi remained friends throughout his life. They shared many other passions, such as the ravishing Bavarian scenery of Lake Starnberg and the mountains. To this day, King Ludwig is remembered for his obsession with building more castles, like Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, and his masterpiece, Castle Herrenchiemsee, which he modeled after Versailles Palace. 

He squandered his immense personal fortune and nearly ruined the Bavarian economy with his projects. Finally, members of the Bavarian government, spearheaded by Ludwig's uncle, Prince Luitpold, had the Bavarian King declared insane by a physician who never examined him. Their justification was a simple one: Ludwig's younger brother, Otto, had already been committed to an asylum for his insanity. 

King Ludwig was deposed and imprisoned at Berg Castle, on the eastern shore of Lake Starnberg. The unhappy King apparently drowned in the shallow waters of the lake, alongside the psychologist Doctor von Gudden, even though Ludwig was a strong swimmer. His death remains a mystery to this day. Was it a coincidence that the Empress was staying nearby in Possenhofen when the tragedy occurred? Was the Empress trying to reach him and help him escape his captors? I suppose we'll never know.



Count Gyula Andrássy 

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The son of Count Károly Andrássy and Etelka Szapáry was born in Oláhpatak, Kingdom of Hungary. His liberal father, belonged to the political opposition, at a time when questioning the government was very dangerous. Gyula Andrássy, from an early age on, threw himself into the political struggles of the day. 

He was a dashingly handsome and flamboyant Hungarian aristocrat, who had taken an active part in the 1848 Hungarian rebellion against Emperor Franz Joseph. With the defeat of the Hungarian forces, the Count fled to Paris, where he became a popular figure in high society. He even acquired a beautiful, rich wife, Countess Katinka Kendeffy, along the way. 

When the Count was finally allowed to return to his Hungarian homeland, he began to campaign for a reorganization of the Empire into an Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy. Emperor Franz Joseph, who had condemned Andrassy to death during his exile, was against this. His wife, Elisabeth, on the other hand, loved the Hungarian countryside. She identified with the life philosophy of the Magyar people and greatly admired their skills with horses. As Queen of Hungary, Sisi saw it as her duty to learn the Hungarian language, which she eventually spoke, wrote, and read fluently. 

Consequently, Count Andrassy obtained her support for a reform of the Habsburg Empire. The result of Sisi's lobbying was the "Hungarian Compromise" of 1867, under which the two halves of the Monarchy became autonomous. Count Andrassy's reward was to become Prime Minister of the Hungarian half of the dual monarchy. A duty which he fulfilled faithfully for many years. He was the first Magyar statesman who, for centuries, had occupied a European position of this magnitude.


Wicked rumors were spread that Empress Elisabeth and Count Andrassy were lovers. Cruelly wagging tongues even suggested that Sisi's youngest daughter, Archduchess Marie Valerie, was Andrassay's offspring. I have no doubt that they admired each other. Still, I find it highly unlikely that their friendship ever went beyond a platonic attachment. Count Gulyas Andrassy died of bladder cancer, aged 66, in 1890.



Captain William George "Bay" Middleton

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A was Scottish cavalry officer, an equerry to the 5th Earl Spencer, and a noted, if somewhat reckless, horseman. Captain Middleton was one of the best and most popular riders in the United Kingdom. When Empress Sisi went fox hunting in Ireland, Bay Middleton was her pilot, and often rode the winners over the stiffest steeplechase courses. The origins of his nickname "Bay" are somewhat unclear. It was either a reference to his reddish-brown hair or derived from the name of the Derby winner in 1836.

Sisi, one of the best equestriennes of her time, admired him for his equestrian panache. So much so, Emperor Franz Joseph invited "Bay" Middleton to stay, with other members of the Empress's English hunting society, at her beloved Gödöllő Castle in Hungary. In 1875, Captain Middleton became engaged to Charlotte Baird, whom he married on the 25th of October 1882, at St. George's. The couple only had one daughter named Violet Georgina, born in 1886. 

Captain William George Middleton died during the Midland Sportsman's Cup at Lord Willoughby de Broke's estate at Kineton. He was killed falling from his horse during the Parliamentary steeplechase. He was buried in full riding regalia in Northamptonshire. He was an eccentric man to the end!








Friedrich "Fritz" Pacher von Theinburg

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This might have been the closest the Empress ever came to flirting. With most men, she thought of herself as the unattainable, beautiful lady, who should only be admired from afar but never touched. It was February 1874, and it was carnival season. Sisi had just returned from Hungary when the 34-year-old Empress got bored one evening. Sisi decided to attend a masked ball for which Vienna was renowned. 

Wearing a yellow domino outfit that was so fashionable at the time, she had sneaked out of the palace with Ida von Ferenczy. Once at the ball, they found some seats perched up on the gallery. When Sisi got bored, she asked Ida to fetch a young man, she had spied from her position. He introduced himself as "Fritz Pacher von Theinburg", and they spent the evening conversing amicably. The young man soon suspected who his companion in disguise might be. 

For several years after the event, the Empress would send him letters and postcards, which were posted for her by friends and relatives all over Europe. In them, she often referred to their meeting, but ultimately, Fritz Pacher von Theinburg, now middle-aged, and married with children, terminated their correspondence. 










Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.
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01 July 2020

Month in Review - June 2020



Hello, July! I still cannot believe that the month of June has come and the year is already half way over. Summer is in full swing, and the outdoor fun has just begun. But, before I get sidetracked by our Independence Day events, it's time to recap last month. So now, without further ado, here's the list of the most popular blog posts for June 2020, chosen by you, the readers:



Empress Elisabeth of Austria was indeed a perpetual traveler, and you can follow in her footsteps not only in Austria and her birthplace, Bavaria. You find her trail all over Europe and beyond. Sisi traversed the Mediterranean Sea and visited much of Europe and even the Middle East and Africa. Although her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph, would not allow her to visit the Americas or the Far East, she went where most women of her time had never been...

2. #WritersLife: How to Improve Your Writing Skills



Whether you’re writing a book, a magazine article, or your next blog post, practice makes perfect. You don't become a good writer over night, nor should you stop honing your skill.  There's always room for improvement. Every time you sit down at your desk to work on your newest writing project, things get a little easier. Diligent writers also hone their craft by obtaining skills, tricks, and techniques to make their writing more compelling...



I am so excited to reveal the cover of my upcoming historical fiction novel: AT THE CASTLE OF DREAMS, book five of The Country Girl Empress series. To make it a little more interesting, I decided to turn it into a game. Below, you will find two images of the new book cover, but there's a difference. Can you spot it? If so, go ahead and comment that you found it. Spoiler alert! Some of you might be too excited to keep the answer to yourself, and that's alright. So, if you don't want to risk seeing a spoiler, then you might want to avoid reading the comments at first, and don't forget to read on to get the inside scoop...





Writing a book takes many hours and dedication. Often it takes an author away from their loved ones. Most writers get paid much less than you might think; most of them write because they love to tell a story. The one or two dollars they make in royalties per book barely buys that next cup of coffee that fuels the next chapter...

5. Writing Historical Fiction: Where to Start?




When I first conceived the notion to write THE COUNTRY GIRL EMPRESS series, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to cover the entire lifetime of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi), set in 19th century Vienna. While I was quite familiar with her life story and the setting already, I knew there was still so much more I needed to research about this timeframe...




Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.
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24 June 2020

Writing Historical Fiction: Where to Start!?


When I first conceived the notion to write THE COUNTRY GIRL EMPRESS series, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to cover the entire lifetime of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi), set in 19th century Vienna. While I was quite familiar with her life story and the setting already, I knew there was still so much more I needed to research about this timeframe. The question was: Where should I begin?  Why...with the characters of my book, of course!

Creating Characters



All the wonderful ideas for a grand story wouldn't do me any good if I didn't have people, fictional or real, to play a role in my narrative. However, before I put pen to paper or more accurately, fingers to the keyboard, I had to determine who my main character is and what he or she plans to accomplish in the story. Since my main character, Empress Sisi, was a person who lived in the past, I needed to learn all I could about that her status, lifestyle, and personality. Although historical fiction allows room for interpretation, because it's fiction, after all, it still needs to ring true.

Researching the Era



Once I had a good idea of who my characters  (main as well as supporting)  were going to be, I needed to define the setting of my historical fiction novel clearly. Here are several questions that helped me: What year(s) will the story take place? Will it span over many years, or will it be restricted to one year or maybe just one season? Where will the story take place?  

For my Country Girl Empress series, these questions were reasonably simple to answer, since I had planned to span Sisi's entire lifetime, which in her case was 1837 to 1898. As for the location, it was also rather easy (or so I thought in the beginning): The Austro-Hungarian Empire. Little did I know that the Empress was quite a world traveler, and I had to, therefore, incorporate a lot of her travel adventures into my stories. 

This is when historical research is essential. I borrowed books from the local library, purchased some, and read many articles about the subject matter online. Once I had immersed myself in the setting, I was able to create mental images of the physical landscape and the buildings. Of course, it also didn't hurt that I had visited many of the locations.

Learning About Fashion 



My next step was to research the style of clothing people wore at the time. Learning the names of clothing items and the fabrics used was particularly fascinating to me. Authenticity is, after all, found in the details where historical fiction is concerned, and they are definitely found in fashion.

Studying Architecture



Architecture plays a significant role in writing historical fiction, from the most magnificent cathedral to the tiniest dairy maid's cottage because these buildings reflect the ideals of the people of that given period. Learning the names of some of these structural features and the raw materials used was essential to give my stories an authentic feel. Again, it is all about the details!

Learning About Warfare



Although my book series is not predominantly about war, warfare dominates history. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was involved in many conflicts as well as significant wars throughout the timeframe I chose for my stories. I felt it crucial to study the art and nature of warfare in 19th century Europe, as well as the various weapons soldiers used and the armor/uniforms they wore. 

Researching the Social Status of the Characters



The social status of an individual was of great significance, even though things were beginning to shift within society in the 19th century. Status defined a person's lifestyle and how he/she dressed. There was little fluidity or moving upwards, the betterment of ones' situation. If you were born a peasant, you were, more than likely, remain a peasant for life. In Empress Sisi's case, she was born to royalty, and she couldn't escape her destiny no matter how much she might have wanted to get away from the strict protocol that governed her daily life.

Writing Historically Accurate Dialogues



Once I had written my outline and done my research, it was time to write my first book in the series. Of course, the characters needed to interact with each other.  This is when I felt I could take some liberties with my writing. 

People in 19th century Austria spoke predominantly German. Of course, there was no way I would have my characters converse in German in my story since I was writing for the American market. In my series of novels, they would speak English, sprinkled with the occasional mention of German names. Although this aspect could technically be viewed as an inaccuracy, I don't think it would have done my books any good to write them in German for the American marketplace. Yet, I felt obliged to be mindful of the historical timeframe in which my characters existed. So, they would "speak" a form of formal English, not inundated with 21st-century slang. 

Accuracy is definitely king in historical fiction. That's what makes writing a historical fiction novel so challenging. However, thoroughly researching the subject matter definitely helps. For more tips and tricks, read Writing Historical Fiction: Balancing History and Fiction and Writing Historical Fiction: Chronological Errors and How to Avoid Them.

I hope you enjoyed this article! Since this list of tips and tricks is not all-inclusive, please feel free to  add yours in the comment section below.


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.
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17 June 2020

#WritersLife: How to Improve Your Writing Skills


Whether you’re writing a book, a magazine article, or your next blog post, practice makes perfect. You don't become a good writer over night, nor should you stop honing your skill.  There's always room for improvement. Every time you sit down at your desk to work on your newest writing project, things get a little easier. Diligent writers also hone their craft by obtaining skills, tricks, and techniques to make their writing more compelling.

Read - a Lot!


Sitting on the terrace and losing yourself in the pages of a good book is a wonderful feeling. But as a writer, you should also take the time and look deeper. Read as much as you can, as often as you can to learn what other authors do and how they do it.  It's one of the easiest ways to improve your writing. 

The more you read, the more you assimilate the finer points of writing, especially when it comes to style, grammar, punctuation, and structure. How does the author lead the reader and share information? Pick books similar to your own, in subject matter, genre, or structure. What makes them work? When I’m stuck on a writing project, reading for a little while is often enough to get my creative juices flowing again.

Attend a Workshop


Whether you attend a workshop in person or a virtual one, I can honestly say that nothing has improved my writing skills more. Sometimes it's just hard to see what's right in front of you. If you don’t know what isn’t working in your writing, receiving feedback from a qualified instructor and other workshop attendees can be an eye-opener.

Mind the Beginning and the End


The beginning and end of your writings are frequently what readers remember most. So, it's prudent not to treat your introduction or opening scene like an afterthought. First impressions count, and this is where your readers from their first impression of your writing and the readers’ expectations are established. And the ending is just as critical since it’s your book’s lasting impact.

Learn the Difference Between Active and Passive Voice


Active and passive voices are grammatical forms. In the active voice, the subject of the sentence is doing the action. In the passive voice, the object of the action becomes the subject of the sentence. The passive voice is not wrong. It's often used in scientific writing to remain objective. And when you want to sound indirect or cautious, then this is definitely the way to go.

However, the excessive use of the passive voice can become tiresome to read. It can also complicate your sentences unnecessarily, add extraneous words, and turn your writing into something that's definitely not reader-friendly. In most cases, it's prudent to use the active voice to make your book/article/post more engaging and precise.

Be Concise


Getting your point across in as few words as possible is another crucial factor when improving your writing. Every word you put down should work hard to eliminate unnecessary ones and replace weak or ambiguous words with stronger alternatives. While sometimes, like in writing historical fiction, it can be considered appropriate to use archaic or more elaborate phrasing, more often than not, it just becomes tedious to read after a while. To readers, those extra words are like obstacles. They serve no purpose, nor do they add meaning, and should be eliminated or substituted whenever possible.

Keep Readers’ Expectations in Mind


Writing is about connecting with your readers. This applies to all genres and manner of writing, from memoirs to fiction, self-help and how-to books. Even when you’re writing your memoirs or autobiography, it’s not just about you. If you want people to read and gain something from your authorship, then write with your readers in mind. 

For every word you put on the page, you have to consider where it takes your reader and how it might sound. How do your readers need and want to hear what you have to say? Is your tone appropriate? What will strike their favorite chords? What kind of stories do they like? Successful writing makes a promise to the reader and then satisfies expectations. Even if you aren’t the world’s most excellent writer, writing with your reader in mind will significantly improve your work's effectiveness and power.

Insert Tension


Do all books need tension? If you want to hook your reader, then absolutely - although some genres need it more than others. Obviously, plot-based thrillers introduce it from the start, often in the form of impending disaster, or any other situational crises that mean to grab the reader's attention. These books are difficult to put down because you just have to find out what happens next. 

But what about other types of books, like character-driven works, memoirs, or how-to guides, self-help or business books? They can benefit from tension as well. Character-driven stories, like a memoir, for instance, often derive it from internal conflict, uncertainty, or unanswered questions. Even self-help books or how-to guides can benefit from tension. In many cases, it is caused by a problem that the author solves for the reader.  

Employ Vivid Details


Nothing brings writing to life like descriptive details as it enables readers to form images in their minds. They create an effect similar to a close-up in a movie. Just make sure you find a balance between showing and telling. While both have their place, as a writer, we should tend towards showing the reader rather than just telling a story. It's a skill many writers struggle to execute. So, don't feel bad if, at first, you don't succeed. It's one of the reasons why we edit - a boatload!

As I said earlier: There's always room for improvement. No writer ever gets to the point where there's no further need to improve upon the craft. Even if you’re a good writer with years of experience under your belt, you should always look for ways to improve your writing. It's like adding tools to your toolbox - and one can never have too many tools!  

What are some some of the tools you employ to improve your writing skills?


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.
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10 June 2020

Empress Elisabeth of Austria: The Perpetual Traveler



Empress Elisabeth of Austria was indeed a perpetual traveler, and you can follow in her footsteps not only in Austria and her birthplace, Bavaria. You find her trail all over Europe and beyond. Sisi traversed the Mediterranean Sea and visited much of Europe and even the Middle East and Africa. Although her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph, would not allow her to visit the Americas or the Far East, she went where most women of her time had never been. 

Sisi's travels were numerous, and in the last years of her life, she was almost always on the go, or on the run, to be more precise! To escape the stifling protocol of the Viennese court, the Empress embraced every opportunity to get away. Many of her journeys were health-related, as she traveled around Europe to find relief for her numerous ailments. Of course, she couldn't avoid traveling for political reasons and official state visits to places like Hungary and Italy. For the restless Sisi, the journey was always more important than the destination. The euphoria of reaching a new destination never lasted long. Although she loved some places more than others, such as Corfu and Hungary, she never found rest anywhere. 

Austria

Franzensburg
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Roughly 9 miles south of Vienna, you find Schloss (Castle) Laxenburg. It is a vast complex, encompassing a park along with several buildings. The term "Laxenburg" mainly refers to the “Franzensburg”. Built by Emperor Franz II and his grandmother Maria Theresia, it was completed in 1835. This replica of a medieval castle was never meant to be inhabited. Instead, it was meant as a celebration of the history of the House of Habsburg. 

The first building in this area was the "Old Castle", built by the von Lachsenburgs. When that family went extinct in the 14th century, the castle became the property of the House of Habsburg. Duke Albrecht III of Austria, turned the place into a hunting lodge. During the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683,  everything around the city was destroyed, including this castle. Today, only the original core of the building still exists, while the reconstructions and enlargements were added later.





Blauer Hof
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The "Blauer Hof" (Blue Court) was built in the 15th century. The baroque palace was a favourite summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs. Here, Emperor Franz Joseph and his new bride, Empress Sisi, honeymooned. While the scenery was thought to be romantic enough, the Emperor had to rush back to the Hofburg Palace daily as a diplomatic crisis demanded his constant presence. This, in turn, meant that the Empress spent her honeymoon effectively alone. A 16-year-old girl, surrounded by a crowd of strange courtiers, and, of course, her mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophie - one might imagine how well that went. The only fun Sisi had was horse riding through the woods all day, much to the Archduchess Sophie's dismay.

Sisi's children, Archduchess Gisela and Crown Prince Rudolf were born at the 'Blue Court". Crown Prince Rudolf and his wife, Princess Stephanie of Belgium, also spent their honeymoon here. Although theirs was probably just not quite as romantic as the one his parents spent here, since theirs was an arranged marriage. Their daughter and only child, Archduchess Elisabeth, affectionately referred to as "Erzsi", was also born at Laxenburg.


Kaiservilla
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Sisi loved Tyrol and Carinthia, because of the strong resemblance to her homeland of Bavaria. The Empress was particularly fond of the Kaiservilla in Bad Ischl. The building was an engagement present from her mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophie and Emperor Franz Joseph. The imperial family gathered here every year for Easter and especially the Emperor's birthday, which was celebrated all throughout the Empire; even the children got the day off from school on that holiday.

Hungary

Gödöllő Castle
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The first official visit of Empress Elisabeth and her husband to Hungary took place in 1857 and ended in a disaster. Her daughters Sophie and Gisela both got gravely ill. But while Gisela recovered, little Sophie died from an abdominal infection. After this tragic event, Sisi was suspended from parental authority by her mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophie. Despite this tragedy, Sisi fell in love with Hungary and the Magyar people and traveled there often. When the imperial couple was crowned as King and Queen of Hungary in 1867, they received the baroque castle of Gödöllő as a gift from the Hungarian government.










Madeira

Royal Yacht "Osborne"
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Empress Elisabeth sailed to Madeira in 1860 on the Royal Yacht "Osborne", which Queen Victoria lent her. Sisi's physician feared that she might have tuberculosis and advised a change of air. A suggestion she happily accepted. She spent six months on the island, away from her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph, and her children.

For her 56th birthday, on the 24th of December 1893, the Empress returned to Madeira. Upon arrival, she received an imperial salute by British naval vessels, and they continued to do so every morning for the duration of her stay. During this time, Sisi was a guest at Reid's Palace and occupied a suite on the ground floor.








England

Steephill Castle
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Empress Elisabeth's first visit to England with her youngest daughter, six-year-old Marie Valerie, was in the summer of 1874. Sisi stayed at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight for a two-month holiday. From there, she made several shopping trips to London and a hunting trip to Leicestershire. The Empress rented Steephill Castle, a Gothic-style mansion on the Undercliff. To pass the time, she bathed in the ocean, went riding, observed her first athletics competition and tried to avoid invitations from the Queen of England, who was in residence at near-by Osborne House. 

The Netherlands

In 1884 and 1885, Empress Elisabeth visited the Netherlands for several weeks. She came to see Dutch doctor Johann Georg Mezger (1838-1909), whose parents originally were from Württemberg, Germany, studied medicine, and graduated in 1868. He specialized in physiotherapy and worked in Amsterdam. Sisi stayed in Amsterdam, but soon discovered the beach between Santpoort and Zandvoort. She loved to ride on her horse there or took one of her infamous long walks. By the end of the third week, she rented rooms in the Hotel Kaufmann in Zandvoort for eleven days. During that time, she traveled to and from Amsterdam by train to visit Doctor Mezger. 

Corfu

Achilleion Palace
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During September of 1867, Sisi's imperial yacht landed in Greece, and she visited many places of antiquity and discovered Corfu. She fell in love with the beautiful Greek Island. The Empress loved the place so much, she decided to have a magnificent palace built there dedicated to Greek history, culture, and mythology that she admired so much. She christened it the "Achilleion", named after the greatest of Greek mythological heroes, Achilles. 















Switzerland

Hotel Beau Rivage
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Switzerland was a popular destination of the Empress. Of course, it is known for the tragic assassination of Empress Elisabeth in Geneva in 1898. She was traveling incognito under the name Countess von Hohenembs, as she often did. 

On that tragic day, she was accompanied by only one lady-in-waiting, Countess Irma Sztáray. The other members of her staff had already departed for Territet by train. However, Sisi wanted to travel by boat. As she walked from the Hotel Beau Rivage towards the steamer, that was to transport her back to Montreux, after a visit with Baroness de Rothschild. 

After Sisi was stabbed by the mad anarchist, Luigi Lucheni, she was taken back to Hotel Beau Rivage. She died in her hotel room from the deadly wound in her chest.










While I realize that this fairly short list doesn't even begin to cover all the places Empress Elisabeth of Austria has visited, I thought it would give you a good idea. She was definitely a well-traveled woman who had seen much of her part of the world. She was as sea-worthy as any sailor she met and enjoyed traveling by train, carriage, on the back of a horse, camel or mule, and on foot. 


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.
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