|Burial Imperial Crypt, Vienna|
Religion Roman Catholic
Mother Elisabeth of Bavaria
|Father Francis Joseph I|
Name Rudolf, Prince
|Born 21 August 1858
Laxenburg, Austria (1858-08-21) |
Issue Elisabeth Marie, Princess Otto Weriand of Windisch-Gratz
Died January 30, 1889, Mayerling, Alland, Austria
Spouse Princess Stephanie of Belgium (m. 1881)
Parents Franz Joseph I of Austria, Empress Elisabeth of Austria
Children Archduchess Elisabeth Marie of Austria
Books Carl Menger's Lectures to Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria
Similar People Baroness Mary Vetsera, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Franz Joseph I of Austria, Princess Stephanie of Belgium, Archduchess Elisabeth Marie of
Rudolf Crown Prince of Austria funeral
Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria (Rudolf Franz Karl Joseph; 21 August 1858 – 30 January 1889) was the only son of Emperor Franz Joseph I and heir apparent to the throne of Austria-Hungary from birth. In 1889, he died in a suicide pact with his mistress, Baroness Mary Vetsera, at the Mayerling hunting lodge. The ensuing scandal made international headlines. He was named after the first Habsburg King of Germany, Rudolf I, who assumed the throne in 1273.
- Rudolf Crown Prince of Austria funeral
- Affairs and suicide
- Impact of Rudolfs death
- Titles and styles
- Dramatic representations
Rudolf was born at Schloss Laxenburg, a castle near Vienna, as the son of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth. Influenced by his tutor Ferdinand von Hochstetter (who later became the first superintendent of the Imperial Natural History Museum), Rudolf became very interested in natural sciences, starting a mineral collection at an early age. After his death, large portions of his mineral collection came into the possession of the University for Agriculture in Vienna.
In 1877 the Count of Bombelles was master of the young prince. Bombelles was the former custodian of his aunt Empress Charlotte of Mexico.
Rudolf was raised together with his older sister Gisela and the two were very close. At the age of six, Rudolf was separated from his sister as he began his education to become a future emperor. This did not change their relationship and Gisela remained close to him until she left Vienna upon her marriage to Prince Leopold of Bavaria.
In contrast with his deeply conservative father, Rudolf held liberal views, that were closer to those of his mother. Nevertheless, his relationship with her was, at times, strained.
In Vienna, on 10 May 1881, Rudolf married Princess Stéphanie of Belgium, a daughter of King Leopold II of the Belgians, at the Augustinian's Church in Vienna. Although their marriage was initially a happy one, by the time their only child, the Archduchess Elisabeth, was born on 2 September 1883, the couple had drifted apart, and he found solace in drink and other female companionship. Rudolf started having many affairs, and wanted to write to Pope Leo XIII about the possibility of annulling his marriage to Stéphanie, but the Emperor forbade it.
Affairs and suicide
In 1887, Rudolf bought Mayerling, a hunting lodge. In late 1888, the 30-year-old crown prince met the 17-year-old Baroness Marie Vetsera, known by the more fashionable Anglophile name Mary, and began an affair with her. According to official reports their deaths were a result of Franz Joseph's demand that the couple end the relationship: the Crown Prince, as part of a suicide pact, shot his mistress in the head and then shot himself. Rudolf was officially declared to have been in a state of "mental unbalance" in order to allow for his Roman Catholic burial in the Imperial Crypt (Kapuzinergruft) of the Capuchin Church in Vienna. Mary's body was smuggled out of Mayerling in the middle of the night and secretly buried in the village cemetery at Heiligenkreuz. The Emperor had Mayerling converted into a penitential convent of Carmelite nuns. Today prayers are still said daily by the nuns for the repose of Rudolf's soul.
Impact of Rudolf's death
Rudolf's death plunged his mother into despair. She wore black or pearl grey, the colours of mourning, for the rest of her life and spent more and more time away from the imperial court in Vienna. Empress Elisabeth was murdered while abroad in Geneva, Switzerland in 1898 by an Italian anarchist, Luigi Lucheni.
Politically, Rudolf's death left Franz Joseph without a direct male heir. Franz-Joseph's younger brother, Archduke Karl Ludwig, was next in line to the Austro-Hungarian throne, though it was falsely reported that he had renounced his succession rights. In any case, his death in 1896 from typhoid made his eldest son, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the new heir presumptive. In 1914, Franz Ferdinand's assassination precipitated World War I. Emperor Franz-Joseph died in November 1916 and was succeeded by his grandnephew, Karl. The socialist revolution in Vienna in early November 1918 saw the end of the Empire and the exile of Karl and his immediate family.