Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria

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For the friend and patron of Beethoven, see Archduke Rudolf of Austria (1788–1831).
Archduke Rudolf
Crown Prince of Austria;
Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia
Mayerling10.jpg
Spouse Stéphanie of Belgium
Issue Elisabeth Marie of Austria
Full name
Rudolf Franz Karl Joseph
House Habsburg-Lorraine
Father Francis Joseph I
Mother Elisabeth in Bayern
Born (1858-08-21)21 August 1858
Laxenburg, Austria
Died 30 January 1889(1889-01-30) (aged 30)
Mayerling, Austria-Hungary
Burial Imperial Crypt, Vienna
Religion Roman Catholic

Rudolf (21 August 1858 – 30 January 1889), who was Archduke of Austria and Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, was the heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian Empire from birth. In 1889, he died in a suicide pact with his mistress, Baroness Mary Vetsera, at the Mayerling hunting lodge.[1] The ensuing scandal made international headlines.

Background[edit]

Rudolf was born at Schloss Laxenburg,[2] 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.[2] After his death, large portions of his mineral collection came into the possession of the University for Agriculture in Vienna.[2]

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.[3] Nevertheless his relationship with her was, at times, strained.[3]

Marriage[edit]

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. 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.[3]

Affairs and suicide[edit]

Main article: Mayerling Incident

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.[4] 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 Christian 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.[4]

Austrian Royalty
House of Habsburg-Lorraine
Imperial Coat of Arms of the Empire of Austria (1815).svg
Francis I (Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor)
Children include
Archduchess Marie Louise
Ferdinand I
Archduchess Maria Leopoldina
Archduchess Clementina
Archduke Franz Karl
Grandchildren include
Franz Joseph I
Archduke Maximilian
Archduke Karl Ludwig
Archduke Ludwig Viktor
Great-grandchildren include
Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Archduke Otto Franz
Ferdinand I
Franz Joseph I
Children
Archduchess Sophie
Archduchess Gisela
Crown Prince Rudolf
Archduchess Marie Valerie
Grandchildren include
Archduchess Elisabeth Marie
Charles I
Children include
Crown Prince Otto
Archduke Robert
Archduke Felix
Archduke Karl Ludwig
Archduke Rudolf
Grandchildren include
Archduchess Andrea
Archduchess Monika
Archduchess Michaela
Archduchess Gabriela
Archduchess Walburga
Archduke Karl
Archduke Georg
Archduke Lorenz
Great-Grandchildren include
Archduke Ferdinand Zvonimir
Archduke Amedeo

Impact of Rudolf's death[edit]

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 in Switzerland in 1898 by Italian anarchist, Luigi Lucheni.[5]

Politically, Rudolf's death, left Franz-Josef without a direct male heir. As a consequence, his uncle, Franz Joseph's younger brother, Archduke Karl Ludwig, was next in the line of succession to the Austrian, Bohemian, Croatian and Hungarian thrones.[6] A few days after Rudolf's death, Karl Ludwig was falsely reported to have renounced his succession rights;[7] but in any case, his death in 1896 made his oldest son, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive. In 1914 Franz Ferdinand's assassination sparked a chain of events that caused the dynasty's collapse just over four years later in November 1918. Emperor Franz Joseph died in November 1916 and was succeeded by his grandnephew, Emperor Karl I of Austria.

Dramatic representations[edit]

Ancestors[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ As documented in several autograph letters by the the two unfortunate lovers ANSA newsbrief (in Italian)
  2. ^ a b c "Crown Prince Rudolf (1858-1889)" (museum notes), Natural History Museum of Vienna, 2006, NHM-Wien-Rudolfe.
  3. ^ a b c "Young Wilhelm". Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Heritage History - Homeschool History Curriculum - Elizabeth - Empress of Austria by George Upton". Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "European royalty Austria: Crown Prince Rudolf". Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "Carl Menger's Lectures to Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria". Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  7. ^ "The Crown Prince’s Successor". New York Times. 2 February 1889. 
  8. ^ http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/5779956

Further reading[edit]

  • Barkeley, Richard. The Road to Mayerling: Life and Death of Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria. London: Macmillan, 1958.
  • Franzel, Emil. Crown Prince Rudolph and the Mayerling Tragedy: Fact and Fiction. Vienna : V. Herold, 1974.
  • Hamann, Brigitte. Kronprinz Rudolf: Ein Leben. Wien: Amalthea, 2005, ISBN 3-85002-540-3.
  • Listowel, Judith Márffy-Mantuano Hare, Countess of. A Habsburg Tragedy: Crown Prince Rudolf. London: Ascent Books, 1978.
  • Lonyay, Károly. Rudolph: The Tragedy of Mayerling. New York: Scribner, 1949.
  • Morton, Frederic. A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888/1889. Penguin 1979
  • Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria. Majestät, ich warne Sie... Geheime und private Schriften. Edited by Brigitte Hamann. Wien: Amalthea, 1979, ISBN 3-85002-110-6 (reprinted München: Piper, 1998, ISBN 3-492-20824-X).
  • Salvendy, John T. Royal Rebel: A Psychological Portrait of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1988.

External links[edit]

Media related to Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria at Wikimedia Commons

Rudolf von Habsburg-Lorraine
Cadet branch of the House of Habsburg
Born: 21 August 1858 Died: 30 January 1889
Austro-Hungarian royalty
Preceded by
Ferdinand Maximilian
Heir to the Austrian throne
21 August 1858 – 30 January 1889
Succeeded by
Karl Ludwig