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September 10, 1898 – Assassination of Empress Elisabeth of Austria

On September 10, 1898, when she was 60 years old, Elisabeth was stabbed in the heart by an Italian anarchist named Luigi Lucheni. Lucheni had been alerted to her arrival by the press which announced her visit despite the fact that she was traveling under an alias. Her assassin had been waiting for the chance to kill a royal. When he was interrogated, he claimed, “I struck the first crowned head that crossed my way. I don’t care. I wanted to make an example and I succeeded.” She had been walking along the promenade in Lake Geneva, about to board a steamship with her lady-in-waiting Countess Sztaray. She had no protection, having asked  the police department in Geneva to remove the detectives placed around her hotel as a precaution. After Lucheni had run off, Elisabeth was asked if she was injured, she said she had not. “It is nothing.” Not realizing the severity of her injury, she boarded the ship. Her corset had contained the bleeding until was removed. She was brought back to her hotel but she had died on the stretcher. She was buried in the Imperial crypt in Vienna.

 Elisabeth of Austria spent her life yearning for peace and a measure of happiness but the tragedy of her life was that she never really found it. She would have been happier married to a minor princeling, but it was her fate to be Empress of Austria. If only she had found a way to reach ou to the Emperor, to find a way to help him ease his burdens, she might have found a purpose and been happier. It might have been possible for her to have forged a partnership like Victoria and Albert or The Crown Princess of Prussia and the Crown Prince.  Elisabeth, unfortunately„had no role models on which to pattern a marriage. Certainly not her parent, or the Emperor’s parents. Even her earlyy interest in politics and Hungarian independance waned, as she began to believe that there was no point. Elisabeth’s life wasn’t completely selfish, but she kept her acts of charity mainly private. She would often spontaneously visit hospitals in Austrial and Hungary. She had genuuine concern for the poor, the insane, and working women. Unlike Princess Diana, who was able to use the press to promote herself and her causes, Elisabeth didn’t have that luxury, nor would she have sought out the press. While Diana was able to find a measure of fulfillment and satisfaction in her work and her children, Elisabeth spent her life fruitlessly searching for something that she never found.

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