The Empress, a new historical drama from Netflix, debuted on September 29 and has now risen to No. 2 in the service’s ratings. This program is ideal for satisfying your binge-watching needs if you enjoy Bridgerton and The Crown.
Furthermore, it is based on a simple story. The series centers on Elisabeth of Wittelsbach, who served as Empress of Austria between 1854 to 1898 as Emperor Franz Joseph’s wife. It follows the intrepid monarch on her exploits in the Vienna court, according to The Cinemaholic.
The lighting being on would be beneficial subtitles because it is in German. Many histories and works of fiction that describe Elizabeth’s life paint Sophie as a vicious, power-hungry dictator who brutally subjected their daughter-in-law to her will.
However, the truth is more complicated. Sophie was a driven individual who prioritized her responsibilities as a monarch. But, on the other hand, Elizabeth was progressively ignoring her formal royal duties and living a solitary, frivolous existence.
Luigi Lucheni, an Italian anarchist, killed Elizabeth in Geneva in 1898, where she tragically perished. She never paid any attention to her safety and insisted on traveling alone rather than having a guard, which ultimately caused her premature death. Emperor Franz Joseph kept silent for several months after his cherished wife’s passing.
The Tragic Beginning of “The Empress”
The dramatic conclusion of The Empress’ first season leaves viewers hanging when Elisabeth discovers she is pregnant while preparing to return to Bavaria following a problematic confrontation between her husband and mother-in-law.
The relationship between her mother-in-law Sophie and Elizabeth deteriorated over time as Sophie came to believe that the young, free-spirited Empress could not give the royal children a proper upbringing.
The Empress traveled extensively starting in the 1860s, seeing neither her husband nor her children very much. The Austrian nobility strongly disapproved of this behavior despite Franz Joseph’s refusal to attempt to limit his wife’s wanderings.
Her oldest daughter, Sophie, two years old, passed away from an infection in 1857 while on one of the journeys to Hungary. However, the tale of Elizabeth’s life will serve as a rich source of inspiration for so many seasons to come, should the viewers be fortunate enough to see the series evolve further.
Sissy was wholly dependent on her mother-in-law for raising her elder children, Gisela and Rudolf, after the murder of her youngest child shook her so much. Contrary to common opinion, Crown Prince Rudolf did not have a close relationship with his mother.
In contrast, Elizabeth was deeply shocked when the 30-year-old prince committed suicide in 1889 and, for the remainder of her life, exclusively wore mourning colors.
Franz Joseph’s younger brother, the Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg, who also played a significant role in The Empress, was an influential figure at the Austrian court.
Although there is no concrete proof that Maximilian intended to topple Franz Joseph, royal knowledge that the most liberal and progressive ideologies influenced Maximilian was a latent threat to the elder brother.
Is The Empress on Netflix a true story?
The events that led to Elisabeth’s commitment to the Emperor may have appeared like something out of a Disney film, but they were primarily true to reality. They did meet when Franz Joseph encountered his cousin Helene, whom he intended to marry.
However, it is uncertain whether there was a love-at-first-sight encounter in the woods, as shown in the Netflix series. However, after meeting Elisabeth, he fell utterly over heels in love with her and told his mother that if he were to not marry Elisabeth, he wouldn’t marry at all.
Their wedding announcement was made five days later. The episode went into depth about every absurd circumstance, including how the family was left with nothing to wear except funeral attire when their other bag didn’t arrive in time.
Elisabeth allegedly responded to his proposal by saying, “Oh, perhaps if he were a tailor,” followed by the words, “One doesn’t turn down an emperor,” which is one aspect that is left out.
While the program doesn’t specifically address the leading lady’s age much, it does obscure one of the essential facts of her life, namely the age at which she first met the Emperor. He was 23, and she was 15 when Franz Joseph made his first visit to the von Wittelsbach household.
Even though the performers are both grownups in their 20s, it is apparent throughout the series that the actress is younger and much more immature. The age gap between Philip Froissant, 28, and Devrim Lingnau, 24, is minor.
We learn of Elisabeth’s early prodigious poetry in The Empress when she used it to express her most private feelings. Once more, this is highly consistent with the information we have about her actual life, which included an escape through her profession.
The fact that Elisabeth had a poetic persona is one topic the program avoids discussing. She frequently signed off her work as “Titania,” the character who played the role of the fairy queen in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Fiction vs. Reality
Duchess Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie, commonly known simply as Sissi (alternative spelling Sisi), was their second daughter and third child, respectively, Duke Maximilian Joseph from Bavaria and his wife, Ludovika.
She was a fascinating and independent young woman who resided alone and with her relatives in Possenhofen Castle and dreamt of happiness and true love. However, Archduchess Sophie (Melika Foroutan), the authoritarian mother of Franz Joseph, was contemplating a powerful alliance for her son at the Viennese Court.
The recent attempt on his life (on February 18, 1853) that would have prevented Austria from having a direct male successor contributed to the haste with which the 22-year-old Emperor was looking for a marriage. Interestingly, Sophie had not first preferred the regal Bavarian House of Wittelsbach.
Prince Sidonie of Saxony and Princess Anna married Prussia were both unappealing to the young prince Franz Joseph, who was very particular. This prompted Franz Joseph’s mother to contact her sister, Duchess Ludovika of Bavaria, and set up an engagement between Helena, the oldest daughter of Ludovika, and Franz Joseph.
On August 15, 1853, Franz Joseph hurried to Bad Ischl, Austria, where Duchess Ludovika was scheduled to come with her granddaughter to celebrate Franz Joseph’s birthday. So naturally, Franz Joseph was eager to see the promised lovely bride.
But, unbeknownst to the young Emperor, his aunt brought her youngest daughter, Elizabeth, who was 15 then, along on the trip. Elizabeth would end up winning Franz Joseph’s heart.
Release dates and a preview of The Empress
The Empress made its Netflix debut on September 29, 2022, a Thursday. Devrim Lingnau, a German actress, plays the title character in the drama series about 16-year-old Elisabeth, often known as Sisi, who develops feelings for Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, the sister’s prospective husband.
However, the tale of Elizabeth’s life will serve as a rich source of inspiration for so many seasons to come, should the viewers be fortunate enough to see the series evolve further.
Their relationship shocks the Viennese court, and after their nuptials, Sisi must discover a means of defending herself against her power-hungry mother-in-law Sophie and her brother-in-law Maxi, who wants Franz’s crown for themselves.
The more significant unrest occurring as enemy forces assemble on the boundaries of something like the Habsburg Empire and citizens of Vienna start to rebel against the occupying monarch serves as a backdrop to Sisi’s troubles at court.
Elisabeth “Sisi” of Austria: Who Was She?
Elisabeth, a member of the royal family, was the child of Duchess Ludovika of Bavaria and Duke Maximilian. On AboutVienna.org, she is described as having married Franz after having him sent to pursue her sister Helene.
However, Elisabeth’s youth and reluctance to the royal responsibilities and procedure caused them numerous challenges after their marriage, resulting in a protracted argument with Princess Sophie of Bavaria, her mother-in-law.
Elisabeth’s reign’s early and middle years were spent away from the empire, visiting Greece, Switzerland, and Hungary, which contributed to the general image that she was a disinterested monarch.
This changed when Hungary acceded to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1867, and Franz was crowned King of Hungary. Elisabeth was regarded as a “people’s person” back then.
How historically accurate is the Netflix series?
The Cinemaholic reports that although The Empress’s creators occasionally used artistic license, their main objective was to be as historically correct as they could. They didn’t tamper with historical chronology or move historical events to produce a more dramatic plot arc.
Although the program is billed as a “true depiction,” several scenarios and exchanges between characters must be constructed to establish their nuanced connections. My watch list’s top item is something I am aware of!
In reality, Franz Joseph had not just recently seen his relatives at the Bad Ischl party. When Duchess Ludovika and her children traveled to Innsbruck to see your sister, Archduchess Sophie, around June 1848, Elisabeth and Franz Joseph first met.
Elizabeth was also too young at the time to pique the future Emperor’s interest, who was preoccupied with dealing with revolutionary movements that threatened to topple the monarchy. One of the numerous tales surrounding Elizabeth and her life is the idealized portrayal of their encounter in The Empress, which takes place in the woods.
Even the audacious maneuver that Franz Joseph permitted himself to make at the ball, calling Elizabeth to each dance one after the other, was discussed by Franz and his mother in the days leading up to the event. However, Elizabeth soon discovered that perhaps the fairytale was a fantasy after the wedding.
The young Empress had mousetrap syndrome very away after she was crowned since her niece’s mother-in-law began forcibly molding her into a “genuine” empress while arbitrarily regulating court regulations and stringent etiquette stifled her free-spirited nature.
But unlike how it is frequently depicted in the empress’ chronicles, Elizabeth’s conflicts with Archduchess Sophie and Maximilian, the brother of her husband who was said to be seeking the throne, were not wholly one-sided.
How did Austria’s Elisabeth “Sisi” pass away?
Elisabeth’s reign ended on September 10, 1898, when she was in Geneva, Switzerland. Luigi Lucheni, an anarchist from Italy, killed the Empress. When Prince Henri of Orleans postponed his visit to the kingdom, Lucheni switched to stabbing Elisabeth as she boarded a ship. The prince had been his primary objective.
Franz believed Elisabeth committed suicide because of her history with mental illness, according to Edward Morgan Allborough de Burgh from Elizabeth, Empress of Austria: A Memoir. This is because Franz had heard of her death before. However, he was persuaded to think otherwise after learning more about the assassination.
How did Franz and Elisabeth meet?
Despite The Empress’ romanticization of their romance, Elisabeth and Franz’s actual relationship is a little less blissful. Elisabeth, then 15 years old, and Helene, her older sister, traveled to Austria from Munich to visit Emperor Franz in 1853.
At that time, the two were introduced. Though they didn’t develop a bond, Franz had wanted to propose to Helene, his first cousin, publicly. Instead, Franz fell over heels in love with Elisabeth, declaring that he would instead marry her more than anybody.
Five days later, the couple got engaged; eight months later, they were wed. Unfortunately, Elisabeth found Franz boring and hilarious, which was unfortunate because she liked him less than he wanted her.
According to historical records, the bride, who was 16 at the time, was reportedly spotted sobbing on her wedding day. She afterward lived in the formal and constricting Viennese Court.
She broke several royal laws.
According to Tatler, Elisabeth, who got married at age 16, didn’t enjoy the stuffy Vienna court life that came with her marriage. She frequently disobeyed court customs because she thought living as a princess was uninteresting.
According to Tatler and History.com, she was often the subject of rumors due to her propensity for riding a motorcycle, smoking, and engaging in strenuous activities like gymnastics.
However, the Cinemaholic claims that Elisabeth was adored by the general public and a well-known personality for the entirety of her adult life. . However, the tale of Elizabeth’s life will serve as a rich source of inspiration for so many seasons to come, should the viewers be fortunate enough to see the series evolve further.
When did she wed Franz Joseph I of Austria?
When she was 16 years old, Elisabeth wed Emperor Franz Joseph I. According to Britannica, Franz was 23. According to The World of Habsburg, when both sisters appeared at a celebration on Franz’s twenty-third birthday, he became obsessed with Elisabeth instead of Helene, the elder sister he initially intended to marry. Soon after they first met, they declared their engagement, and in 1854 they were married in Austria.
Though they didn’t develop a bond, Franz had wanted to propose publicly to Helene, his first cousin. Instead, Franz fell over heels in love with Elisabeth, declaring that he would instead marry her more than anybody.
They got engaged five days later, and they married eight months later. Unfortunately, she thought Franz, who was 23 then, was uninteresting and unfunny, which was unfortunate for Elisabeth. According to historical records, the bride, who was 16 at the time, was reportedly spotted sobbing on her wedding day. She afterward lived in the formal and constricting Viennese Court.