Princess Sophie of Bavaria

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Princess Sophie of Bavaria
Archduchess of Austria
Stieler Archduchess 1832.jpg
Portrait of Archduchess Sophie by Joseph Stieler (1832)
Spouse Franz Karl, Archduke of Austria
Issue Franz Joseph I of Austria
Maximilian I of Mexico
Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria
Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria
Archduke Ludwig Viktor of Austria
House House of Wittelsbach (by birth)
House of Habsburg-Lorraine (by marriage)
Father Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria
Mother Caroline of Baden
Born (1805-01-27)27 January 1805
Munich, Bavaria
Died 28 May 1872(1872-05-28) (aged 67)
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Burial Imperial Crypt
Bavarian Royalty
House of Wittelsbach
Wappen Deutsches Reich - Koenigreich Bayern (Grosses).png

Maximilian I Joseph
   Ludwig I
   Princess Augusta
   Princess Amalie Marie
   Princess Charlotte
   Prince Karl Theodor
   Prince Karl Friedrich
   Elisabeth Ludovika, Queen of Prussia
   Princess Amalie Auguste
   Archduchess Sophie of Austria
   Maria Anna, Queen of Saxony
   Princess Ludovika
   Princess Maximiliana
Ludwig I
   Maximilian II
   Mathilde, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine
   Otto of Greece
   Princess Theodelinde
   Prince Regent Luitpold
   Adelgunde, Duchess of Modena
   Archduchess Hildegarde, Duchess of Teschen
   Princess Alexandra
   Prince Adalbert
   Ludwig III
   Prince Leopold
   Princess Therese
   Prince Arnulf
   Prince Ludwig Ferdinand
   Prince Alfons
   Princess Isabella, Duchess of Genoa
   Princess Elvira
   Princess Clara
   Elisabeth Marie, Countess Otto of Seefried and Buttenheim
   Archduchess Auguste of Austria
   Prince Georg
   Prince Konrad
   Prince Heinrich
   Prince Ferdinand
   Prince Adalbert
   Princess Pilar
   Prince Joseph Clemens
   Princess Elizabeth Maria, Countess of Kageneck
   Princess Amalie Isabella, Mrs. Poletti
   Prince Eugen
   Infante Luis of Spain
   Infante José of Spain
   Maria, Princess Irakli Bagration of Mukhrani
   Infanta Marie of Spain
   Prince Konstantin
   Prince Alexander
   Prince Leopold
   Prince Adalbert
   Princess Ysabel, Baroness of Stichsenstein
   Prince Manuel
   Princess Maria del Pilar
   Princess Maria Felipa, Mrs. Dienst
   Prince Konstantin
   Princess Bernadette
   Prince Hubertus
   Prince Leopold
   Princess Alva
Maximilian II
   Ludwig II
Ludwig II

Otto I

Ludwig III
   Crown Prince Rupprecht
   Adelgunde, Princess of Hohenzollern
   Princess Maria, Duchess of Calabria
   Prince Karl
   Prince Franz
   Mathilde, Princess Ludwig of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
   Prince Wolfgang
   Princess Hildegarde
   Princess Notburga
   Princess Wiltrud, Duchess of Urach
   Princess Helmtrud
   Princess Dietlinde
   Gundelinde, Countess Johann Georg von Preysing-Lichtenegg-Moos
   Hereditary Prince Luitpold
   Princess Irmingard Maria
   Albrecht, Duke of Bavaria
   Prince Rudolf
   Prince Heinrich
   Princess Irmingard
   Princess Editha, Mrs. Schmer
   Princess Hildegard, Mrs. de Loayza
   Princess Gabrielle, Duchess of Cröy
   Princess Sophie, Duchess of Arenberg
   Prince Ludwig
   Maria Elisabeth, Princess Pedro Henrique of Orléans-Braganza
   Aldegunde Maria, Baroness Zdenko von Hoenning-O'Carroll
   Adelgunde, Countess Konstantin of Waldburg-Zeil
   Dorothea, Dowager Grand Duchess of Tuscany
   Prince Rasso
   Marie Gabrielle, Princess of Waldburg-Zeil
   Marie Charlotte, Princess of Quadt
   Franz, Duke of Bavaria
   Prince Max, Duke in Bavaria
   Prince Luitpold
   Princess Irmingard Maria
   Princess Philippa
   Maria-Theresia, Countess Tamas Kornis de Goncz-Ruszka
   Prince Franz-Josef
   Elisabeth, Countess Andreas von Kuefstein
   Prince Wolfgang
   Princess Benedikta, Baroness von Freyberg-Eisenberg
   Prince Christoph
   Gisela, Margravine of Meissen
   Sophie, Hereditary Princess of Liechtenstein
   Marie-Caroline, Duchess Philipp of Württemberg
   Princess Hélène
   Princess Elizabeth, Mrs. Terberger
   Princess Maria-Anna, Mrs. Runow
   Auguste, Princess Ferdinand of Lippe-Weissenfeld
   Alice, Princess Lukas of Auersperg
   Prince Ludwig
   Prince Heinrich
   Prince Karl
   Prince Tassilo
   Prince Richard
   Prince Philipp
   Prince Corbian
   Prince Stanislaus
   Prince Marcello
   Princess Odilia

Sophie Friederike Dorothee Wilhelmine, Princess of Bavaria (27 January 1805 – 28 May 1872) was born to King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and his second wife Caroline of Baden. She was the identical twin sister of Princess Maria Anna of Bavaria, Queen of Saxony as wife of Frederick Augustus II of Saxony. Her eldest son Franz Joseph reigned as Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, King of Croatia, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Galicia and Lodomeria and Grand Duke of Cracow; her second son Maximilian reigned as Emperor of Mexico.


Sophie (1866)

On 4 November 1824, she married Franz Karl, Archduke of Austria. Her paternal half-sister, Caroline Augusta of Bavaria, had married the groom's widowed father, Francis II, in 1816. Sophie and Franz Karl had six children.

Her ambition to place her oldest son on the Austrian throne was a constant theme in Austrian politics. At the time she was called "the only man at court". During the Revolution of 1848, she persuaded her somewhat feeble-minded husband to give up his rights to the throne in favour of Franz Joseph, her son. After Franz Joseph's accession, Sophie became the power behind the throne. Historically, Sophie is remembered for her extremely controlling relationship with Franz Joseph's famed wife Sisi, who was also her niece.

Sophie kept a detailed diary most of her life which reveals much about Austrian court life. She was deeply affected in 1867 by the execution in Mexico of her second son Maximilian. She never recovered from that shock, and withdrew from public life. She died of a brain tumor in 1872.

She was also noted for her close relationship with Napoleon II, who lived at the Austrian Court as the Duke of Reichstadt. There were rumors of a sexual affair between them. There was even suspicion that Maximilian, born two weeks before Reichstadt's death in 1832, was actually his child. These claims were never verified, but it is certain that they were very good friends and that his death affected her very much. She is said to have turned into the cold, ambitious woman described in fiction after he died.


Name Birth Death Notes
Franz Joseph 18 August 1830 21 November 1916 succeeded as Emperor of Austria
married his first cousin Elisabeth, Duchess in Bavaria, and had issue
Maximilian 6 July 1832 19 June 1867 proclaimed Emperor of Mexico
executed by a firing squad
married Charlotte, Princess of Belgium, and had no issue
Karl Ludwig 30 July 1833 19 May 1896 married 1) his first cousin Margaretha, Princess of and Duchess in Saxony, (1840–1858) from 1856 to 1858, no issue, married 2) to Maria Annunziata, Princess of the Two-Sicilies (1843–1871) from 1862 to 1871, had issue (three sons and one daughter) and married 3) to Maria Theresia, Infanta of Portugal, (1855–1944), from 1873 to 1899, had issue (two daughters). He was the father of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination in 1914 sparked World War I.
Maria Anna 27 October 1835 5 February 1840 died in childhood
Stillborn son 24 October 1840 24 October 1840
Ludwig Viktor 15 May 1842 18 January 1919 died unmarried

Portrayal on stage & screen[edit]

  • In the Sissi films (1955–1957), Vilma Degischer played the part of Sophie as a chillingly strict mother-in-law of the young Empress. The stereotype of Sophie as an uptight and spiteful villain seems to have spread from these films.
  • In the 1974 miniseries, Fall of Eagles, Sophie was portrayed by English actress Pamela Brown.
  • Mayerling, a 1978 ballet by Kenneth MacMillan, features Sophie in a slightly more sympathetic light.
  • Elisabeth, a 1992 musical by Michael Kunze about the life of Empress Elisabeth, where Sophie is portrayed as a malevolent intriguer, out to ruin her daughter-in-law's life by any possible means, though more recent productions have somewhat softened her character with additional scenes and a song that give more insight into Sophie's complex motivations and personality.
  • In Sissi, l'impératrice rebelle, a 2004 French television film, Sophie was played by Stéphane Audran.
  • In the 2009 European mini-series Sisi, Martina Gedeck portrayed Sophie in one of the more balanced interpretations of the character.



External links[edit]