Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Empress Elisabeth: Another Hapsburg Tragedy

In the early afternoon of 10 September 1898, Elisabeth, Empress of Austria Hungary, was strolling along the shores of Lake Geneva unaccompanied except for her Lady-in-Waiting Countess Irma Szatory, when a man suddenly appeared, pushed her parasol aside and appeared to grab her.

 He soon ran off and the Empress though a little shaken seemed none the worse for the experience and expressed her desire to continue. As they proceeded however see began to lose her balance a little and the Countess was forced to take her arm to steady her. 

The Empress had been holidaying incognito under an assumed name and so had ordered her entourage to depart before her.

Her status as Empress of Europe's oldest ruling dynasty, and long considered one of the most beautiful and desirable women in the World of whom it was said despite being sixty years old and a little gaunt, her beauty and grace had not diminished, enjoyed the freedom that anonymity permitted her.

Unknown to her, however, her true identity had been revealed in the newspapers the previous day.

The couple continued towards their destination, the boat that was to take them across the lake, when the Empress's breathing became increasingly heavy and intermittent. As they boarded she collapsed but the Captain refused to take her condition seriously, so much so, that the Countess felt obliged to reveal that her mistress was Empress of Austria. 

Doctors were now called and unlacing the Empress's corsets to allow her to breathe easier a small wound gently oozing blood was discovered beneath her left breast.

 She was carried with some urgency to a private cabin but before treatment could begin she took two last deep breaths and died. 

The wife of the Emperor Franz Joseph had been killed with a 4 inch nail file by the anarchist Luigi Luccheni in an act of propaganda by deed. 

She was to be just one of a number of high-profile victims, including an American and French President, two Spanish Prime Ministers, and the King of France, and of Greece, who were to fall victim to the anarchist reign of terror.

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