Empress Sisi is one of the most charismatic of history’s primary characters.
She lived a life at the forefront of the greatest events of the age – the second half of the 19th century – in one of the most spectacular imperial courts of Europe, the infamous Habsburg Empire.
Since Sisi was one of the legends of modern history, it’s interesting to wonder who were the descendants of such a celebrated and noteworthy empress.
Due to the nature of the time period, and the practice of royal and noble families desiring multiple heirs and spares, some of her offspring had large families, who themselves went on to have many children of their own.
As a result, a direct line of descent from Empress Sisi can be claimed by a great many of the royals and nobles that followed the death of this much-loved empress.
A considerable number of these descendants married into other royal and noble families of Europe, making the Sisi the ancestral link between many of the great houses of the continent for many generations.
Here are some of the links and connections that reveal the links between the legendary Empress Sisi and some of her descendants alive today.
The Children Of Empress Sisi & Emperor Franz Joseph
It has long been the custom for royal and imperial couples to have multiple children, in a bid to secure dynastic power and the family name. Here are some of the stories and descendants of the children of Empress Sisi.
Archduchess Sophie was the much-loved and longed-for firstborn child for the young newlywed imperial couple.
She arrived soon after they were married, and while the nation may have held its breath in the hopes of a male heir, the little Archduchess inherited her mother’s charm and she became an adored child within the imperial household.
Sadly, little Sophie’s story was a tragically short one, as she died at the age of 2 years old from a fatal fever and illness.
These kinds of infant deaths were a common feature of the period, and the riches and power of the mighty Habsburg Empire were not enough to save the beloved first child of the heartbroken imperial sovereigns.
Archduchess Gisela was Empress Sisi’s second daughter, and after the death of her older sibling, she became the eldest child of the imperial couple.
The Archduchess married Prince Leopold of Bavaria, which was a poignant return to Sisi’s Bavarian roots, as well as an esteemed match within the royal circles and nobility of the period.
The couple had four children, most of whom went on to have many children of their own – grandchildren and great-grandchildren that Empress Sisi no doubt would have adored, had she survived the encounter with the assassin who claimed her life.
Their daughter, Princess Elisabeth Marie, married Count Otto of Seefreid and Buttenheim. They had 5 children, styled as Counts and Countesses, adopting the Von Seefried styling that many German aristocrats used after the monarchy was abolished and a republican order established.
Another daughter, Princess Auguste, married Archduke Joseph August of Austria in 1893. They had six children, though two died in infancy.
The eldest, Archduke Joseph Francis, went on to marry Princess Anne of Saxony in 1924, who had 8 children – a collection of Archduke and Archduchess.
One of their daughters, Archduchess Illona of Austria, had four children of her own, 3 daughters – Duchesses Elisabeth, Marie and Irene – and a son.
This son, Duke Borwin of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, was believed to be the last male member of this House of Mecklenburg, though he has two sons of his own that will help to continue this noble lineage.
Whatever becomes of his future heritage and heirs, Duke Borwin is one of the descendants of Empress Sisi who is alive today. The Duke is the great-grandson of Princess Auguste, Gisela’s daughter and the granddaughter of Empress Sisi and Emperor Franz Joseph.
The Duke also has an uncle, Géza von Habsburg, the second-youngest son of Archduke Joseph Francis and Princess Anne of Saxony, who is alive today and works as a curator, art historian and expert of the famous Fabergé jewelry dynasty.
Although he was born an Archduke – a befitting title for a descendant of such esteemed imperial heritage – he lost the rights to his regal title in the legalities associated with his first marriage and had to adopt the lesser title of Count.
This respected nobleman is another of Empress Sisi’s descendants. His grandmother is Princess Auguste of Bavaria – one of Sisi’s many grandchildren.
Crown Prince Rudolph
Empress Sisi and Emperor Franz Joseph, like many other couples of the period, had a number of children – three of these were girls, and reportedly much welcomed, despite the laws of primogeniture favoring male heirs.
Yet the couple also had a son, a Crown Prince who was hoped to be a good and worthy heir to the popular Emperor.
Sadly, that plan was not to be, as the Crown Prince died in a suicide pact at the age of 30.
The family lineage was upheld, however, through the Crown Prince’s only daughter – Elisabeth Marie, known as Erzsi – and the many children and grandchildren of his sisters, Archduchess Gisela and Archduchess Valerie.
The youngest of Empress Sisi’s children was Archduchess Valerie, who was widely regarded to be the empress’s favorite child, possibly because the older children had been raised in the formal Habsburg manner by Franz Joseph’s mother, Archduchess Sophie.
The young Valerie grew up much closer to her mother, traveling with her extensively on her many sojourns around Europe.
This youngest child also perhaps did the most to secure the lineage of her imperial parents and the Habsburg family line, going on to have ten children.
The offspring of Archduchess Valeria, ie the grandchildren of Empress Sisi, included Archduchess Elisabeth Franziska, Archduke Franz Karl, Archduke Hubert Salvator, Archduchess Hedwig, Archduke Theodor Salvator, Archduchess Gertrud, Archduchess Maria Elizabeth, Archduke Clemens Salvator, Archduchess Mathilde, and Archduchess Agnes
These children themselves grew to establish large families of their own, resulting in a whole range of nobles and imperial descendants who are still alive today.
While the tale of Empress Sisi is a bittersweet story of a fairytale marriage coupled with tragedy, her undoubted legend lives on, both in the history books and the many descendants of the great and beautiful empress who have carried her lineage into the modern world.