The Anorectic Empress: Elisabeth of Austria

Walter Vandereycken and Ron van Deth chart the life of an unhappy empress, from her eating disorders to extra-marital affairs.

On Christmas Eve 1837, Duchess Elisabeth of Bavaria, better known by her pet name Sisi, was born the third of eight children. Her father, Maximilian of Bavaria, belonged to the ducal branch of the Wittelsbachs in Munich. He was married to Duchess Ludovica, the younger sister by three years of the Austrian Arcduchess Sophia. Sisi married the son of the latter at the age of sixteen; her husband, Franz Joseph I, was then twenty-three years of age and, since 1848, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary and of Bohemia. Four children were horn of this marriage, including their only son, Crown Prince Rudolph, who later took his own life, together with that of his lover, Marie Vetsera, at Mayerling in 1889. Sisi herself also succumbed to a violent death when she was stabbed in Geneva by an Italian anarchist on September 10th, 1898.

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