Sisi - Her Romances
Ludwig II - King of Bavaria (1845 -1886):
Elisabeth's cousin and soulmate. In his youth, when he first ascended the throne, he was extremely handsome and exceptionally tall. He was the great patron of the composer Richard Wagner, subsidising his work and highly extravagant lifestyle. Ludwig's passion was the theatre, of which he was a great patron. However, his and Elisabeth's family, the Wittlesbachs, was tainted with insanity. As he grew older, his behaviour and lifestyle became increasingly eccentric and bizarre. He would indulge in fantastic coach and sleigh rides through the mountainous Bavarian countryside in the middle of the night. He was for a short while engaged to Elisabeth's younger sister, another Sophie, but Ludwig had a hidden side to him - he was a homosexual - and he broke the engagement off, much to the chagrin of Sisi. Despite this, they remained firm friends throughout his life and shared many common passions: the ravishing Bavarian scenery of the Starnberg Lake and the mountains. They exchanged poems with each other, Ludwig using the pseudonym of the "Eagle", while Elisabeth styled herself the "Seagull". Ludwig is remembered today for his programme of castle-building, e.g. Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and his masterpiece Herrenchiemsee Castle, which he modelled on the Palace of Versailles. He squandered his immense fortune - and almost destroyed the Bavarian economy - with these enterprises. Finally, members of the Bavarian government had Ludwig declared insane (his younger brother, Otto, was already a drug addict and committed to an asylum), by a doctor who never examined him. King Ludwig was deposed and shut up in the castle of Berg, on the eastern shore of Lake Starnberg. He apparently drowned in shallow water, along with his doctor/keeper, despite the fact that Ludwig was a strong swimmer. His death remains a mystery to the present day. Was it a coincidence, that Sisi was staying across the Lake, at the Hotel Strauch at Possenhofen, when the tragedy occurred? Was Ludwig trying to reach her to get help? His legacy to history is his collection of fairytale castles, which are the top tourist attractions in Bavaria.
Gulyas (Julius) Andrassy:
Andrassy was a dashing and flamboyant Hungarian aristocrat, who had taken part in the 1848 Hungarian rebellion against Franz Joseph. With the defeat of the Hungarian forces, Andrassy fled to Paris, where he became a popular figure in high society, even acquiring a beautiful and rich wife in the process. Some years later he was allowed to return to Hungary and began to campaign for a reorganisation of the Habsburg empire into an Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy. Emperor Franz Joseph, a German-speaking Austrian who had condemned Andrassy to death during his exile, was against this. Elisabeth, on the other hand, loved the Hungarian countryside and identified with the lifestyle of the Hungarian people, especially their great skill with horses. Consequently, Andrassy managed to obtain her support for a reform of the Habsburg empire into an Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy, which she eventually persuaded her husband to accept. The result of Sisi's lobbying was the "Compromise" of 1867, under which the two halves of the Monarchy became autonomous under Franz Joseph. Andrassy's reward was to become Prime Minister of the Dual Monarchy, which he served faithfully for many years. Malicious rumours were spread that Elisabeth and Andrassy were lovers; even going so far as to suggest that she had a child to him. No doubt, they admired each other, but it is highly unlikely that their friendship ever went beyond a platonic relationship. Gulyas Andrassy died of bladder cancer in 1890.
George "Bay" Middleton:
An Scottish cavalry officer who, because of his fame as an expert, if somewhat reckless, horseman, became Elisabeth's "pilot", or guide during the hunting seasons she spent in Britain during the 1870s. Elisabeth admired him so much for his equestrian panache, that the Emperor invited Middleton to stay, with other members of Elisabeth's "English hunting set", at her much-loved Gïż½ïż½lo Palace in Hungary. Middleton later married and Elisabeth's interest in hunting waned. He died from a broken neck during a steeplechase and was buried dressed in full racing costume, an eccentric to the end!
Fritz Pacher von Theinburg:
Herein lies a genuinely romantic story! Elisabeth may , in her later years, have fantasised about this gentleman. In February 1874, when she was 34 years old, Sisi attended one of the "masked balls" for which Vienna was renowned. Wearing a yellow domino or mask, she had her lady in waiting, Ida Ferenczy, introduce her to this young man, and they spent the evening in conversation. Young Fritz soon deduced who his disguised but intriguing companion was. For a number of years afterwards, Sisi would send him letters, which were posted by friends and relatives, who did not know the contents. In these she often referred to their meeting, but in the end, Fritz, now middle-aged, bald and with a wife and family, terminated the correspondence. This may, perhaps, have been the nearest that Elisabeth came to a flirtation in her life. With most men, she saw herself as the unattainable beauty, who should be admired from afar. In other words, "You may look, but don't touch!"