The Mayerling Incident

On this day in 1889, the bodies of Crown Prince Rudolf and his lover Baroness Vetsera were discovered in a hunting lodge near Vienna.

The so-called 'Mayerling Incident', named after the village where the tragedy unfolded, shook the Habsburg monarchy and shocked drawing-rooms across Europe.

Rudolf, the only son of Emperor Franz Josef I, was a liberal-minded prince whose arranged marriage had run adrift. In the Autumn of 1888 he began an affair with Marie Vetsera, a besotted baroness thirteen years his junior.

It is commonly accepted that the lovers died in a suicide pact. Nevertheless, conspiracy theories abound.

The Emperor initially tried to hush up the scandal, and it was claimed that Rudolf had died of a heart attack. At the same time, no news was relayed that Baroness Vetsera was present, let alone that the prince even had a lover. But leaks emerged, and the Emperor was compelled to admit that suicide was the cause. A special dispensation had to be obtained from the Vatican allowing for the prince to be buried in the Imperial Crypt. 'Mental unbalance' was cited as the key.

Emperor Franz Joseph was devastated by the loss. In later years, the incident was often described as a portent for the demise of the Habsburgs. The Empire collapsed a couple of years after the death of Franz Josef. His indirect heir, Karl, fled the country in 1921.

Until today, all kinds of conspiracy theories persist about the tragedy of Prince Rudolf. Empress Zita (d. 1989), Karl's wife, fanned the flames by insisting that Rudolf was murdered in a state conspiracy. Her line was that Germans had done the job after Rudolf rejected plans for a Franco-Prussian coup. However, most historians are unimpressed by this theory.


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my english actually not so good but a very nice sad story.

Reply Mar 7th, 2012