by Netflix The Empress is stifling demand for royal dramas following the successes of Bridgerton and The crown – both of which are in various stages of production for their upcoming seasons. This new historical drama premiered September 29 on the streamer and follows Empress Elisabeth “Sisi” of Austria as she struggles with her royal title and the enemies it brings.
Netflix teases, “Elisabeth needs to find out who she can trust and what the price is to be a true empress and a figure of hope for the people,” and names Sophie, Elisabeth’s mother-in-law, Maxi, Franz’s brother, and social tensions as Elisabeth’s greatest obstacles.
The new series consists of six episodes and has left viewers hungry for more – and curious if it’s based on a true story. Keep reading to learn more about the real Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her royal reign.
East The Empress Based on a true story?
Yes, The Empress is based on the true story of Empress Elisabeth “Sisi” of Austria, who married Emperor Francis of Austria in 1854 at the age of 16 (per History.com). Elisabeth suffered greatly during her time as royalty as she was in high demand by the press and public, struggled with depression and eating disorders, and later faced the controversial death of her son.
However, the Netflix drama’s first season only delves into Elisabeth’s early years of marriage and Vienna’s rise against the Habsburg Empire. Showrunner Katharina Eyssen explained: “For me, Elisabeth’s struggle for her individual freedom parallels the struggle of the Austrian people. We do not know to what extent Elizabeth faced the oppression of her people. There is no diary of her. But the fact is that a strict neo-absolutism prevailed in Austria, which gave practically no rights to citizens.
She continued: “The historical Elizabeth, much like our character, was all about self-determination throughout her life. And at the same time, a whole people was struggling against oppression.
Who was Elisabeth “Sisi” of Austria?
Born into royalty, Elisabeth was the daughter of Duke Maximilian and Duchess Ludovika of Bavaria. According to her biography on AboutVienna.org, she married Franz after being sent to the court of her sister, Helene. Once married, they faced many difficulties due to Elisabeth’s young age and her resistance to royal duties and protocols – which led to her long feud with her stepmother, Princess Sophie of Bavaria. .
As far as public perception goes, Elisabeth spent the early and middle of her reign traveling away from the empire to visit Greece, Switzerland and Hungary. This changed in 1867, when Hungary joined the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Franz was made King of Hungary. Afterwards, Elisabeth was considered a “people person” and often visited local charities and hospitals.
But, throughout it all, Elisabeth suffered from mental illness and once again increasingly withdrew from public view – most dramatically after the death of her son in 1889.
How did Elisabeth “Sisi” of Austria die?
Elisabeth’s reign ended while she was visiting Geneva, Switzerland on September 10, 1898. The Empress was assassinated by an Italian anarchist named Luigi Lucheni. Her initial target was Prince Henri of Orléans, but after the prince canceled his trip to the city, Lucheni decided to stab Elisabeth as she boarded a ship.
Edward Morgan Allborough de Burgh wrote in Elisabeth, Empress of Austria: Memoirs that upon learning of her death, Franz believed that Elisabeth had committed suicide due to her history of mental health. He was convinced otherwise after receiving details of the assassination.
New York Post