• Tue, Aug 14 2012

Shelved Dolls: Empress Sisi – Possibly The Strangest Woman That Ever Lived

Sisi was born one Christmas Eve to the Duke and Duchess Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria in 1837. Maybe it helps to know a little about Duke Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria. He was an amateur zither player who once climbed the Great Pyramids. He forced a group of his servants to climb behind him, yodeling, so he could pretend he was climbing the Alps. He returned with three severed mummies’ heads and a group of children he bought at the Cairo slave market.

I cannot tell you whether or not luge lessons figured into anyone’s upbringing, but:

The court considered him “an eccentric.”

So, that was Sisi’s dad. She had a childhood just surrounded by Egyptian slave children, presumably playing kickball with the heads of mummies.

She was incredibly close to her father, who once told her,  ”If you and I, Sisi, had not been princely born, we could have performed in a circus.” They did periodically play the zither together outside of beer gardens incognito to collect tips.

There is a phrase I have always wanted to use and will never, ever get to. It’s used in the Tudors. When Catherine Howard is asked to describe her upbringing, she replies “we ran a little wild”. I’ll never get to use that phrase, because, Jesus Christ, I sat on a tennis court and ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches for 18 straight years (it’s what WASPs teethe on). But Sisi could have used that phrase, if she’d been born 170 years later and been a Tudors fan.

This is perhaps overlapping too many historical periods.

All I mean is: Sisi ran a little wild growing up.

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  • Lizzie

    Given that Albert II of Belgium is still alive and king of Belgium today, it’s pretty safe to say you got that one wrong. Way to check your sources!

    • Jennifer Wright

      You’re right, it’s Albert I of Belgium.

    • Trish

      Jeez….do you have to be so nasty? Mistakes happen.

  • NeuroNerd

    The Emperor of Austria was supposed to marry one of Crazy Duke Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria’s daughters because they were first cousins–their mothers were sisters. Franz Joseph’s mother believed she could better “control” her niece.

  • Kate

    Love this, as I love all the Shelved Dolls series. Please never ever stop writing them!

    • Nancy

      Seconded!

  • Lynn

    actually the slug this is very popular in Asia, well it’s more snail than slugs. It’s called snail cream and it brightens the skin…check it out.
    But loved this articles, I love history especially weird history!

  • Lizzie (A Different One)

    I wonder where/how that type of personality would fit in nowadays. It seems like people have forgotten how to be properly eccentric. You never hear about celebrities strapping themselves to the front of ships- the most scandalous things they ever do is get married or cut off their hair. Tabloids would be so much more interesting if Sisi were around.

  • Cee

    There are pictures of her. She is so beautiful and such a tiny waist! It’s sad that she was murdered by someone who just wanted to kill a royal who wasn’t there and settled for her.

    • linda

      Please don’t judge all anarchists by the actions of a few idiots who use the name in vain – like all people, most of us abhor violence of any sort. Viva les Sisis! Viva les Dianas! Viva Daphne Guinness and viva Paris Hilton!

  • Amanda

    Thank you so much for writing about Sisi! So many people don’t know about her, and that lonely woman deserves some acknowledgement. Her story always saddens and jolts me; it’s incredible how relevant her problems are today.

  • lola

    Demel, not ‘Demsel’ is the patisserie in Vienna. They still make the candied violets, no chocolate just candied, and sell them in the most beautiful boxes.

    http://www.demel.at/en/frames/index_shop_geschenksservice.htm

  • linda

    Ms Wright this is the first article of yours I’ve read, and OH BOY! can the goil write! Loves it and itching for the next. xoxo

  • Lerie

    I imagine this is how Victoria Beckham maintains her lithe figure.

    • Jennifer Wright

      Secret duck blood vat. The Sun should really be on that.

  • Molly

    This series would make a great book. Any plans?

    • Jennifer Wright

      I am excited to accept you as my personal assistant! Please find an agent and publisher for me forthwith (I think Random House just seems more accessible than St. Martin’s, but either is okay by me!) You will be paid in glory and hilarious Miranda Priestly impressions.

  • Kate

    I really love reading this series

  • محمد عبد الكريم

    انها سيسى امرأة جميلة
    ولكن على حد علمى انها كانت
    تحتقن فى الوريد بالماكس لانها كانت مدمنة ياللهول

  • Miss M

    Love the series, but I’m pretty sure that the Ottoman Empire was “the sick man of Europe.”

  • Jules

    Sooo this is a ham that I saw at a supermarket in Romania recently. I have absolutely NO idea what Sisi has to do with ham!

    Under her picture is says that “Sissi is a very fine ham” :P