Sisi & Countess Marie Larisch von Moennich – Ostracised from court (Part two)




marie larisch
Marie (l) and Mary (r) (public domain)

Read part one here.

It all began in the spring of 1888. Marie would collect the 17-year-old Mary from her mother’s residence every few days, ostentatiously to take her shopping or to the Prater, but they always ended up with Rudolf. It was hardly a secret, and even Rudolf’s wife Stéphanie knew of it after she had followed her husband to the Prater one night. She angrily declared that Mary “ought to be packed off to school or somewhere where she’d be taught to respect the holy commandments!”1

By the autumn, the affair was spiralling out of control with Mary so profoundly infatuated with Rudolf that she visited him in just a nightgown with a fur coat over it. Marie was beginning to lose control over the situation. Mary told Marie, “That stupid Crown Princess knows that I am her rival!”2 She also delighted in mocking Stéphanie, and she began to believe that Rudolf would have his marriage annulled and that he would marry her instead. Never mind the fact that he still regularly saw other women as well. He told Marie that Mary was “just a woman who loves me. I’ve known many far more beautiful, but I have never met with one more faithful.”3

On 5 November 1888, Marie collected Mary to go shopping and to have their pictures taken, “for him, of course.”4 Afterwards, they were spirited into Rudolf’s apartments in the Hofburg. Mary later wrote, “If we could live together in a hut, we would be happy. We always talk about how happy it would make us. But unfortunately, it is not to be. If I could give my life for him, I would gladly do so, for what does my life mean to me? We have made a pact toward this possibility.”5 Rudolf gave her a simple iron ring with the inscription ILVBIDT (translated as United by love until death).

As the relationship continued, Mary and Rudolf became less discrete. Even Marie found it distasteful and told her, “I think you display very questionable taste in flaunting yourself.”6 On 21 December 1888, the two lovers met for the last time that year at the Hofburg. Soon, the affair would turn tragic indeed.

Rudolf’s fascination with death had been brewing for quite a while by then. He suffered from the painful symptoms of gonorrhoea, which he attempted to lessen with alcohol and drugs. He told Marie, “Altogether, I’m in a bad way. I’m tired of life.”7 He began to erratically speak of suicide to anyone who would listen, but he wasn’t taken seriously. Then he began asking members of his staff to join him in a suicide pact, and many of his staff asked to be reassigned. He even threatened Stéphanie, telling her he was going to shoot her and then himself. He then went to his other mistress, Mitzi Caspar, who didn’t think it was very funny at all and reported his request to the police. Nothing was done.

On 13 January 1889, Mary and Rudolf were reunited at the Hofburg. Mary returned home in despair and told her maid, “Oh, it would have been so much better had I not gone to see him today! Now I no longer belong to myself alone but exist only for him. From now on, I must do everything he asks.”8 She later wrote, “We both lost our heads. Now we belong to one another body and soul.”9 They met again on 19 January and 24 January. By then, her mother had been panicking at home over the affair. She would later claim not to have known about it until then. The two argued, and Mary fled to the Grand Hotel where Marie was staying. She cried, “Oh, Marie darling, do get me away from Vienna! I shall die if I have to remain at home!”10 Marie managed to calm Mary down and returned her home, where Mary promptly fainted and had to be put to bed.

At the end of January, Rudolf planned to go to the hunting lodge of Mayerling, and he informed Stéphanie that her “presence was not wanted.”11 Two days before he was set to go to Mayerling, Rudolf showed up at Marie’s suite at the Grand Hotel. He told her, “I want you to bring Mary tomorrow to the Hofburg. You must persuade the Baroness to allow Mary to go out with you.”12 Marie later wrote to him, “You know that I am blindly devoted to you and that I will always obey your command whenever you call me. I shall naturally come along under these threatening circumstances, I cannot expose her to unpleasantness on her own – I shall therefore certainly come, no matter what happens.”13

Read part three here.

  1. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.87
  2. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.90
  3. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.91
  4. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.93
  5. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.94
  6. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.95
  7. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.108
  8. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.113
  9. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.113
  10. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.115
  11. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.113
  12. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.117
  13. Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy at Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs by Greg King and Penny Wilson p.118






About Moniek Bloks 2659 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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