Countess Xenia Czernichev-Besobrasov

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Countess Xenia Czernichev-Besobrasov (Chernysheva-Besobrasova Russian: графиня Ксения Сергеевна Чернышёва-Безобразова; 11 June 1929 Paris – 20 September 1968, Casteau, Belgium) was the first wife of Archduke Rudolf of Austria, the youngest son of Karl I of Austria, the last reigning emperor. She was the younger daughter of Count Serge Chernyshev-Besobrasov (later of New York City) by his wife Countess Elisabeth Dmitrievna Sheremeteva,[1] who was descended from a prominent Russian comital family.


Her father, Count Sergei, was a czarist courtier whose father was made a Russian count in 1908 as the son-in-law of the last Count Chernyshev-Kruglikov (that family, now extinct, itself rose to comital status in 1832, by marriage to the heiress of the extinct counts Chernyshev, counts in Russia since 1742). Count Sergei fled Russia after the Revolution, and settled in the United States with his wife Elizabeth, his son Alexander, and two daughters Irina and Xenia. In 1949, his older daughter Irina married Prince Teymuraz Bagration (1912-1992) as his second wife, without issue. Teymuraz's mother was Princess Tatiana of Russia.

Xenia was an alumna of Miss Hall's School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. She then attended Smith College for two years, but did not graduate. At the time of her engagement, she worked for Air France, and was based in New York City.[2]


The engagement between Archduke Rudolf and Countess Xenia Czernichev-Besobrasov was announced on 30 April 1953. The couple were married on 23 June 1953 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Roman Catholic Church at Tuxedo Park, New York, where Rudolf and his mother the Dowager Empress Zita were said to live on a "large estate". The wedding, officiated by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, was attended by over 100 guests, including Dowager Empress Zita.[1] The press reports claim that this was the first imperial marriage in the United States, but the first such marriage was actually between Napoleon's younger brother Jérôme Bonaparte and an American heiress Elizabeth Patterson (Betsey Patterson).[2]

On the bride's side, the guests included Princess Vera of Russia (her brother-in-law Prince Teymuraz's maternal aunt), Count Hilarion Woronzow-Dashkow, a distant cousin, the bride's brother Alexander Czernichev-Besobrasov, and his wife.

Subsequent life[edit]

The bride and groom planned to make their home in New York, but their children were born in various countries, mostly the Belgian Congo. Archduke Rudolf worked at the time of his marriage in a New York City private banking firm. Their children are:[3]

The Archduchess was killed on 20 September 1968 when the car she was in with her husband collided with a truck. Her husband was seriously injured. She was buried on the grounds of the Chateau de Beloeil in Belgium.[4][5]

Countess Xenia Czernichev-Besobrasov was one of the first non-royal brides to marry into the former Imperial House of Austria in what would be accepted as an equal marriage, despite the relative obscurity of her father's family and origins of his title. The Habsburg house laws had been changed by former Crown Prince Otto of Austria in 1949 to permit archdukes to marry outside ruling and formerly reigning houses for the first time,[citation needed] permitting cadet archdukes to marry into increasingly minor noble houses.

She was the second Russian Orthodox to become an Archduchess of Austria, the first being Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna of Russia, first wife of Archduke Joseph, Palatine of Hungary.

Xenia's three surviving children all made princely marriages: in 1998 Carl Peter married into the German princely house of Wrede (the second such marriage), Maria Anna married into the ancient Russian princely house of Galitzine and her son Simeon married a Bourbon princess of royal descent.



  1. ^ Marlene E. Koenig. Archduke Rudolph and Countess Xenia Monday, May 17, 2010.
  2. ^ Marlene E. Koenig.
  3. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Rudolf Syringus Erzherzog von Österreich". The Peerage. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  4. ^ Marlene E. Koenig.
  5. ^ "Archduchess Xenia of Habsburg killed". New York Times (available via paid subscription). 1968-09-27.
  6. ^ Timothy Boettger. Counts (Grafy) "Russian Empire: (IC) 10. Dec. 1908 - authorisation for Aleksandr Fedorovich Bezobrazov, husband of Countess Sofia Ippolitovna Chernysheva-Kruglikova, to take the name, arms, and title of the Counts Chernyshev." Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  7. ^ Timothy Boettger. Counts (Grafy) "Russian Empire: (IC) 14 Jan. 1832 - authorisation for Ivan Gavrilovich Kruglikov to take the name, arms, and title of his father-in-law, Count Grigorii Ivanovich Chernyshev; confirmations: 19 Nov. 1852. Extinct, when the title passed to the Bezobrazov family..." Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  8. ^ Source: Ancestry table for Archduke Simeon of Austria
  9. ^ Timothy Boettger
  10. ^ Timothy Boettger. Counts (Grafy) Russian Empire:. Previously Ivan Gavrilovich Kruglikov"(IC) 14 Jan. 1832 - authorisation for Ivan Gavrilovich Kruglikov to take the name, arms, and title of his father-in-law, Count Grigorii Ivanovich Chernyshev; Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  11. ^ Timothy Boettger. Counts (Grafy) Russian Empire: "(IU) 25 Apr. 1742 for Grigorii Petro[v]ich Chernyshev. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  12. ^ Counts (Grafy) Russian Empire: "SHEREMETEV (ШЕРЕМЕТЕВ) - Russia Russian Empire". Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  13. ^ [Timothy Boettger. Counts (Grafy) Russian Empire:]. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  14. ^ Counts (Grafy) Russian Empire:. Retrieved 2013-01-01.

External links[edit]

  • Marlene E. Koenig. Archduke Rudolph and Countess Xenia Monday, May 17, 2010. Article based on a wedding announcement from American newspaper reports (Sources not cited). Retrieved 1 January 2013.