Countess Marie Larisch von Moennich

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Marie Larisch von Moennich
Larisch-&-Vetsera.png
Countess Marie Larisch (L) and Baroness Mary Vetsera (R)
Born Marie Louise Elizabeth Mendel
(1858-02-24)February 24, 1858
Augsburg, Bavaria
Died July 4, 1940(1940-07-04) (aged 82)
Augsburg, Bavaria
Spouse(s) Count Georg Larisch of Moennich  (m. 1877–96)
Otto Brucks  (m. 1897)
William H. Meyers  (m. 1924–28)
Parents Ludwig Wilhelm, Duke in Bavaria
Henriette Mendel, Baroness von Wallersee

Countess Marie Louise Larisch von Moennich (also known as Countess Marie Louise Larisch-Wallersee and Countess Marie Larisch) (24 February 1858 - 4 July 1940) was the niece and confidante of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. She was a go-between for her married cousin Crown Prince Rudolf and his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera, a friend of hers. A scandal known as the Mayerling Incident broke in 1889 upon the discovery of the bodies of the two lovers at Rudolf's hunting lodge at Mayerling, Austria. With the revelation of her role in this the Countess was shunned in particular by the Empress and the rest of the Imperial Family. As a consequence she was also snubbed by society. Later in life she was nominally the author of a series of ghostwritten books about the Imperial household.

Biography[edit]

The Countess was born Marie Louise Elizabeth Mendel on 24 February 1858 in Augsburg, Bavaria, the illegitimate daughter of actress Henriette Mendel, Baroness von Wallersee (1833–1891).[1][2] Her father, Ludwig Wilhelm, Duke in Bavaria (1831–1920) was the eldest son of Duke Maximilian Joseph in Bavaria and Princess Ludovika of Bavaria and had the title of Duke in Bavaria (German: Herzog in Bayern). He was properly addressed as "His Royal Highness," as a member of the cadet branch of the House of Wittelsbach in Bavaria. Ludwig Wilhelm was the first cousin of King Maximilian II of Bavaria and also of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria whose mother, Princess Sophie of Bavaria, was a daughter of Maximilian I. One of Ludwig Wilhelm's younger sisters, Elisabeth, married Emperor Franz Joseph and another, Maria Sophie, married Francis II of the Two Sicilies just before he became king. Yet her father renounced, on 9 March 1859, his rights as firstborn son, and Henriette (or Henrietta) Mendel was created Baroness of Wallersee (Freifrau von Wallersee) on 19 May 1859 in preparation for their morganatic marriage on 28 May 1859 in Augsburg. From 28 May 1859, Marie was thus a Baroness of Wallersee (Freiin von Wallersee).[3]

Marie became the confidante of her aunt, the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, being selected at least partly because of her skills on horseback. On 20 October 1877 at Jagdschloß Gödöllő in Hungary she married Count Georg Larisch of Moennich, Baron of Ellgoth and Karwin (1855–1928).[3] The marriage had been arranged by the Empress. They divorced on 3 December 1896. Marie had five children during this marriage, though only the first two were indisputably fathered by her husband: their first-born was oceanographer Franz-Joseph Ludwig Georg Maria, Count Larisch of Moennich, Baron of Ellgoth and Karwin (1878–1937), followed by Marie Valerie (1879–1915), Marie Henriette (1884–1907), Georg (1886–1909), and Friedrich Karl (1894–1929). As the countess always needed more money than Georg Larisch gave her, her cousin Crown Prince Rudolf paid bills for her - so she depended on his wishes. Her relationship with the imperial family was shattered when Crown Prince Rudolf shot his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera and committed suicide on 30 January 1889 - at Mayerling. It was subsequently revealed that Marie Larisch had acted as go-between for Rudolph and Marie Vetsera. Her aunt, Empress Elisabeth, gave her no chance for explanation or rehabilitation. Following the imperial court's lead, the nobility wanted no further contact with Marie, and she moved to Bavaria.

After divorcing Count Larisch in 1896 she married the musician Otto Brucks (1854–1914) in Munich on 15 May 1897.[2] They had one child, Otto (1899–1977). But her new husband, previously a famous opera singer, was no longer offered engagements because of his association with "that Countess Larisch" and he became dependent on alcohol. From 1898 Marie began to write about her time with the Empress and other Imperial and Royal relatives. The Imperial house paid her a great deal of "hush money" not to publish her memoirs. In 1906 her husband became director of the theatre of Metz. Marie Louise always wanted to publish her rehabilitation, but always was betrayed by journalists and editors. In 1913 she published her memoirs, My Past, not caring about her the contract with the Imperial house. She later published a series of ghost-written works which are factually undependable.[4][5]

During World War I she worked at the front as a nurse. In 1921 she portrayed herself in a silent film about her aunt,[6] the Empress Elisabeth (nobody cared that she was 62, while Carla Nelsen, portraying the empress, was 23!) In 1924 in New York an article was published claiming that she would marry anybody who would pay her and her son the fare to America. On 2 September 1924 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, she married naturopath William H. Meyers (born 1859). They lived in Florida; he mistreated her and in 1926 she fled to New Jersey, to work as a housemaid. She returned to Germany in 1929.

Marie died very poor in 1940 in a nursing home at Augsburg and was buried in the Ostfriedhof in Munich.[2]

Marie met and conversed with the poet T. S. Eliot, and part of their conversation found its way into his epochal poem The Waste Land.[7][8][9][10]

And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

Issue[edit]

Name Birth Death
Franz-Joseph Ludwig Georg Maria, Count Larisch of Moennich, Baron of Ellgoth and Karwin 1878 1937
Marie Valerie Franziska Georgine 1879 1915
Marie (Mary) Henriette Alexandra 1884 1907
Georg Heinrich Maria 1886 1909
Friedrich Karl Ludwig Maria 1894 1929
Otto Brucks, Jr. 1899 1977

Notes[edit]

Regarding personal names: Gräfin is a title, translated as Countess, not a first or middle name. The male form is Graf. Regarding personal names: Freiin is a title, translated as Baroness, not a first or middle name. The title is for the unmarried daughters of a Freiherr.

Works[edit]

  • 1913: My Past[11]
  • 1934: Secrets of a Royal House[12]
  • 1936: My Royal Relatives. In this work she claims to have been the daughter of Marie, Queen of the Two Sicilies by a "Count Armand de Lavaÿss" who cannot be found outside the pages of this work.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tourtchine, Jean-Fred. Le Royaume de Baviére (Les Manuscrits du CEDRE). pp. volume II, p. 29. 
  2. ^ a b c Sokop, Brigitte (1985). Jene Gräfin Larisch...: Marie Louise Gräfin Larisch-Wallersee: Vertraute der Kaiserin - Verfemte nach Mayerling. Wien, Köln, Graz: Hermann Böhlaus Nachf. ISBN 3-205-07231-6. 
  3. ^ a b von Ehrenkrook, Hans Friedrich (1955). Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels: Gräfliche Häuser A Band II. Glücksburg/Ostsee: C. A. Starke Verlag. p. 245. ISBN 3-7980-0710-1. 
  4. ^ Powell, Violet (1967). A Substantial Ghost. London: Heinemann. 
  5. ^ ffoulkes, Maude M. C. (1915). My Own Past. London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne: Cassell and Company, Ltd. 
  6. ^ "Kaiserin Elisabeth von Österreich". http://www.imdb.com. The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 9 September 2011. 
  7. ^ Morris, George K. L., Partisan Review, 21 no. 2, 1954.
  8. ^ Eliot, T. S.; Valerie Eliot (1971). The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts including the annotations of Ezra Pound. San Diego, New York, London: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich. ISBN 0-15-194760-0. 
  9. ^ Hecht, Anthony (2003). Melodies Unheard: Essays on the Mysteries of Poetry. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. "Uncle Tom's Shantih", pp. 122–130. ISBN 0-8018-6956-0. 
  10. ^ Parker, Rickard A. "Exploring The Waste Land". Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  11. ^ Larisch, Marie; Maude Mary Chester ffoulkes (1913). My Past. New York & London: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 
  12. ^ Larisch, Marie; Paul Maerker Branden and Elsa Branden (1934). Secrets of a Royal House. London: John Long, Ltd. 
  13. ^ Larisch, Marie; Paul Maerker Branden and Elsa Branden (1936). My Royal Relatives. London: John Long, Ltd.