Obsessed with The company on Netflix and suddenly you need to know everything about Empress Elisabeth? Same. And although she had a long and fascinating life, she died relatively young at the age of 60 after being assassinated by an anarchist named Luigi Lucheni while she was on vacation in Geneva. Her death shocked Europe, particularly England, where Queen Victoria described the incident as “too terrible, too cruel.”
So what happened? Unfortunately, Elisabeth’s death was quite random. According to Edward Morgan Allborough de Burgh’s 1899 book, Elizabeth: Empress of Austria (published just a year after her assassination), Elisabeth was staying at the Hôtel Beau Rivage under the pseudonym Countess von Hohenembs. Why? Apparently, she didn’t much like the fuss and she wanted to be as discreet as possible. And while the police tried to station detectives around his hotel during the stay, he actually requested that they be removed.
On September 10, 1898, Elisabeth and her maid of honor, Countess Irma Sztáray, were walking to catch a boat and she was stabbed. And the attack itself happened so quickly that Elisabeth didn’t even realize what had happened.
As a witness relates in de Burgh’s book:
“The Empress was walking, accompanied by a lady-in-waiting and followed at some distance by a footman, from the Beau Rivage to the landing stage. When she was near the stage of the Quai du Mont Blanc, a young man came from the opposite direction, accompanied on the other, distinguished by a bushy gray beard. When he was quite close to Her Majesty, the former suddenly lunged at her and stabbed her in the heart. Empress Elisabeth fell to the ground, but with the help of her lady and some passengers who were nearby, he was able to get up again, and he walked to the landing bridge and reached the steamer, but he had scarcely got there when he seemed suddenly ill, and in a feeble voice he said: ‘What has happened?’ and then she was knocked unconscious.”
At this point, Elisabeth was taken to her cabin, when “the ladies around her” observed a “little bloodstain on her bodice”. They then took her back to her hotel on a stretcher. Frau Mayer, who was married to the owner of the hotel, recounted what happened next:
“The Empress lay with a pale face and closed eyes on her bed. Shortly after arriving in her room she sighed deeply twice: these were the last signs of life. She lay down on the stretcher as if she were asleep and without outwardly showing of pain.”
Elisabeth’s lady-in-waiting also gave a statement, saying: “When Her Majesty regained consciousness on board the steamer, I asked her: ‘Does Her Majesty feel any pain?’ and she weakly answered ‘No'”.
Elisabeth passed away shortly after and her autopsy revealed that she died gradually and without much pain. Her killer was found and arrested almost immediately. He gave a statement saying: “It was not a woman that I hit, but an empress; it was a crown that I had in sight. I acted on my own initiative, without any pressure, and I alone and responsible for the fact.”
When Elisabeth’s husband, Franz Joseph I, heard the news, he “remained in a sort of stupor for some time,” while the rest of the European royals were obviously shocked, including Queen Victoria, who wrote a letter to Franz Joseph. I saying: “I am at a loss for words. in which to express my deepest condolences and my horror. It is too terrible, too cruel. May God support and protect you!”
It is unclear how far into the life of Elisabeth Netflix The company will take us, so it is not clear if these events will be represented. But it’s sad to know that things ended like this!
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