The True Story of Sisi and Franz’s Romance on ‘The Empress’ Is Completely Completely different Than the Present

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Anybody else mindlessly log into Netflix over the weekend solely to seek out that one thing referred to as The Empress was lurking within the Prime 10? Similar, and seems it is a gorgeous period drama concerning the early lifetime of Empress Elisabeth “Sisi” of Austria and her romance with Emperor Franz Joseph I. The style? Impeccable. The romance? Attractive sufficient to tide you over ’til Bridgerton season 3. The drama? Actually infinite, in one of the best ways potential. And on high of all that, the appearing is suburb and the present is exquisitely filmed.


Clearly, we’re all used to Netflix producing superb interval dramas primarily based on the royals (sure, hello, The Crown, we see you), however whereas the British royal family dominates headlines each day, you may know barely much less concerning the Habsburgs circa the 1850s. That means, in the event you discovered your self frantically Googling Sisi and Franz’s relationship, you are not alone. And whereas The Empress is unquestionably rooted in actuality, it is a fictionalized account of historical past—so yeah: what you noticed on TV is simply a part of what occurred in actual life.


Elisabeth’s Childhood Was Fairly Wild

Empress Sisi was born right into a distinguished Bavarian household—actually, her mom was the King of Bavaria’s daughter. However as an alternative of being introduced up within the courtroom, Elisabeth was raised by her mother and father within the countryside and spent her time residing a really un-princessy life (by which I imply she was tremendous wealthy and fancy, however like…additionally frolicked within the woods).

empress elisabeth of austria

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Within the biography The Lonely Empress: Elisabeth of Austria, creator Joan Haslip describes Sisi and her sister Helene as “wild, undisciplined little women” who had been “filled with jokes and laughter.”

That Black Gown Drama From the Present? Totally True

Elisabeth was simply an adolescent when she met 23-year-old Emperor Franz, they usually fell for one another throughout a visit the place Franz was supposed to suggest to Helene—similar to The Empress depicts. And yep, they most positively confirmed up in all-black mourning garments, an enormous an issue since Helene appeared “her very worst in black.”

In the meantime, Elisabeth clearly appeared superb in all the pieces:

empress of austria

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Poor Helene, however the playing cards had been actually stacked towards her from the beginning. Haslip writes that on the best way meet her, Franz’s reminiscence of Helene’s “sharply chiseled options impressed him to little or no enthusiasm.” 🙁

Nope, Franz and Sisi Did Not Meet within the Woods

Haslip writes that Elisabeth and Franz’s assembly has been wildly romanticized, and there was “no poor Cinderella left behind on the resort, whom Francis Joseph [aka Franz] met by likelihood driving in a forest.” As a substitute, they met in his mom’s drawing room, the place Sisi was “standing modestly beside her governess” whereas her black costume accentuated her “beautiful grace and the fragile texture of her pores and skin.”

One factor from The Empress that’s true, although? All these moments the place Elisabeth and Franz could not cease taking a look at one another. Haslip writes that he was “a lot youthful and much better trying than she remembered,” and when he glanced her means, “she at all times discovered him watching her with a surprisingly critical expression which made her blush scorching with embarrassment.”


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In the meantime, Franz could not cease gushing to his mother about how “enchanting” Elisabeth was and described her as “recent and unspoilt as a inexperienced, half-opened almond” (er, kay) with lips like “ripe strawberries.”

So…Did That Kiss Occur?

Actually, who is aware of what went on behind closed doorways. However we do know there was an enormous ball the place Franz solely danced with Elisabeth. Like, Helene (pray for her!) confirmed up in a beautiful robe, and this dude solely had eyes for her sister—and mainly by no means left Sisi’s facet all evening. Haslip writes that Franz “threw all discretion to the winds and danced with nobody however her” and “all his bouquets had been laid at her ft; not even one was spared for Helene.”

a museum is devoted to empress sissi in hofburg palace on may 1, 2004 in vienna austria, austria

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Franz Introduced Their Engagement on His Birthday

However not in entrance of a complete group of individuals. As a substitute, Franz advised his mom to ask Sisi’s mom for her hand. And when Sisi was advised of his plans, she mentioned, “After all I really like him, how might I assist however love him?” earlier than bursting out sobbing and saying “if solely he weren’t an emperor.”

As we all know from The Empress, Sisi and Franz acquired married throughout a lavish ceremony, and whereas issues had been…tense…they went on to have 4 youngsters collectively. On that notice, I am going to simply be right here gazing at this image in the event you want me:

the empress


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