Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria
|Crown Prince of Austria|
Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia
|Born||21 August 1858|
Schloss Laxenburg, Laxenburg, Lower Austria, Austrian Empire
|Died||30 January 1889 (aged 30)|
Mayerling, Lower Austria, Austria-Hungary
|Issue||Elisabeth Marie, Princess Otto of Windisch-Graetz|
|Father||Franz Joseph I of Austria|
|Mother||Empress Elisabeth of Austria|
Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria (Rudolf Franz Karl Josef; 21 August 1858 – 30 January 1889) was the only son and third child of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria (Sissi). He was heir apparent to the imperial throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from birth. In 1889, he died in a suicide pact with his mistress Mary Vetsera at the Mayerling hunting lodge. The ensuing scandal made international headlines.
Rudolf was born at Schloss Laxenburg, a castle near Vienna, as the son of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth. He was named after the first Habsburg King of Germany, Rudolf I, who reigned from 1273 to 1291. 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 of Austria. This did not change their relationship and Gisela remained close to him until she left Vienna upon her marriage to Prince Leopold of Bavaria. Rudolf's initial education under Leopold Gondrecourt was physically and emotionally abusive, and likely a cause of his later suicide.
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 Vienna, on 10 May 1881, Rudolf married Princess Stéphanie of Belgium, a daughter of King Leopold II of Belgium, at the Augustinian 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. In 1886, the spouses were diagnosed with gonorrhea, which rendered Stéphanie sterile.
Affairs and suicide
In 1886, Rudolf bought Mayerling, a hunting lodge. In late 1888, the 30-year-old Crown Prince met the 17-year-old Freiin (Baroness) Marie von Vetsera, known by the more fashionable Anglophile name Mary, and began an affair with her. On 30 January 1889, he and the young Baroness were discovered dead in the lodge as a result of an apparent joint suicide. As suicide would prevent him from being given a church burial, Rudolf was officially declared to have been in a state of "mental unbalance", and he was buried in the Imperial Crypt (Kapuzinergruft) of the Capuchin Church in Vienna. Vetsera'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 and endowed a chantry so that daily prayers would eternally be said by the nuns for the repose of Rudolf's soul.
Aftermath of 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. Her daughter Gisela was afraid that she might also commit suicide. 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, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand precipitated World War I. Emperor Franz-Joseph died in November 1916 and was succeeded by his grandnephew, Charles I of Austria. The demands of American President Woodrow Wilson forced Emperor Charles I to renounce involvement in state affairs in Vienna in early November 1918. As a result, the Austro-Hungarian Empire ceased to exist and a republic came into being without revolution. Charles I and his family went into exile in Switzerland after spending a short time at Castle Eckartsau.
In popular culture
- Mayerling, a 1936 film directed by Anatole Litvak, with Charles Boyer and Danielle Darrieux, based on a novel by Claude Anet.
- Sarajevo (1940), a film directed Max Ophüls starts with Rudolf's death.
- The musical Marinka (1945), with book by George Marion Jr., and Karl Farkas, lyrics by George Marion, Jr., music by Emmerich Kalman.
- Rudolf appears in the Austrian film Der Engel mit der Posaune (1948) and in the British remake of that film, The Angel with the Trumpet (1950).
- Mayerling, a 1957 film, starring Mel Ferrer as Crown Prince Rudolf, Audrey Hepburn as Baroness Mary Vetsara with Lorne Greene as Kaiser Franz Josef.
- Mayerling, a 1968 film, starring Omar Sharif as Crown Prince Rudolf, Catherine Deneuve as Mary with James Mason as Kaiser Franz Josef and Ava Gardner as Empress Elisabeth.
- Japanese Takarazuka Revue's "Utakata no Koi"/"Ephemeral Love", based on the 1968 film.
- Requiem for a Crown Prince, one-hour episode of the British documentary/drama series Fall of Eagles (1974), directed by James Furman and written by David Turner, tracks in detail the events of 30 January 1889 and the following few days at Mayerling.
- Miklós Jancsó's 1975 film Vizi privati, pubbliche virtù (Private Vices, Public Virtues), a reinterpretation in which the lovers and their friends are murdered by imperial authorities for treason and immorality.
- Kenneth MacMillan's 1978 ballet, Mayerling.
- Rudolf appears as a character in the musical Elisabeth (1992)
- Rudolf appears as a character in Lillie, played by Patrick Ryecart, Granada TV's dramatisation of the life of Lillie Langtry.
- Japanese manga by Higuri You, "Tenshi no Hitsugi" (Angel's Coffin) (2000).
- The Crown Prince, a 2006 television film in two parts directed by Robert Dornhelm.
- Composer Frank Wildhorn's musical Rudolf – Affaire Mayerling (2006), produced in some territories as The Last Kiss or Rudolf – The Last Kiss.
- The play Rudolf (2011) by David Logan dramatises the last few weeks of the life of Crown Prince Rudolf.
- A highly fictionalized version of the incident at Mayerling is depicted in the 2006 film The Illusionist. Crown Prince Leopold (played by Rufus Sewell) is a fictional analog of Rudolf.
Titles, styles and honours
Titles and styles
- 21 August 1858 – 30 January 1889: His Imperial and Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Austria, Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia
- Knight of the Golden Fleece, 1858
- Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of St. Stephen, 1877
- Bavaria: Knight of St. Hubert, in Diamonds, 1868
- Belgium: Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold, 1880 – wedding gift
- Brazil: Grand Cross of the Southern Cross
- Denmark: Knight of the Elephant, 24 November 1873
- Ernestine duchies: Grand Cross of the Saxe-Ernestine House Order
- France: Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour
- Greece: Grand Cross of the Redeemer
- Hesse and by Rhine: Grand Cross of the Ludwig Order, 21 August 1865
- Italy: Knight of the Annunciation, 6 May 1881
- Sovereign Military Order of Malta: Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion
- Japan: Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum, 14 February 1881
- Mecklenburg: Grand Cross of the Wendish Crown, with Crown in Ore
- Mexico: Grand Cross of the Mexican Eagle, 1865
- Montenegro: Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Danilo I
- Nassau Ducal Family: Knight of the Gold Lion of Nassau
- Netherlands: Grand Cross of the Netherlands Lion
- Ottoman Empire: Order of Osmanieh, 1st Class
- Tunisia: Husainid Family Order, in Diamonds
- Persia: Order of the August Portrait, in Diamonds, 1 August 1873
- Portugal: Grand Cross of the Sash of the Two Orders
- Romania: Grand Cross of the Star of Romania
- San Marino: Grand Cross of the Order of San Marino
- Serbia: Grand Cross of the Cross of Takovo
- Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach: Grand Cross of the White Falcon, 1873
- Saxony: Knight of the Rue Crown, 1876
- Spain: Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III, 5 June 1875
- Sweden-Norway: Knight of the Seraphim, 15 April 1879
- United Kingdom:
- Württemberg: Grand Cross of the Württemberg Crown, 1873
|Ancestors of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria|
Statue in memory of Crown Prince Rudolf in the City Park of Budapest.
- As documented in several autograph letters by the two unfortunate lovers ANSA newsbrief (in Italian)
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