• Tue, Aug 14 2012

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

God, her treatment of her hair was a big thing. It was the physical aspect Franz Jospeh most loved about her. Their relationship was pretty rocky, at least as evidenced from Sisi’s poem:

Unserer Liebe starre Leiche

Kamst du wieder zu beschau’n;

Our love’s stiff cadaver

You’ve seen it again

Sisi also became sickly soon after arriving at court. Doctors said it was TB, but there’s actually quite a bit of evidence that it was VD – such as the fact that her teeth rotted and she underwent mercury treatments (which were commonly used to treat syphilis at the time). That also might have explained some of her erratic behavior. The venereal disease would have either been acquired by her husband or by… not her husband. Either way, it wasn’t a great relationship.

So, well, it was nice that she kept her hair up for him. He loved this portrait of her, and kept it in his private study:

Keeping it up took two to three hours a day. Sisi’s hair went to her heels, and it gave her serious headaches, but she treasured every single strand. Her devoted hairdresser  Franziska Feifalik collected every hair that fell out when he dressed it each day, put them into a silver bowl, and allowed her to examine them. I have no idea what kind of examination went on with that, but I am going to guess that Franz received some pretty nasty poems. She also had it washed in a special egg and cognac mixture every other week, and on the day she did, all of her court business had to be stopped. When she started to get grey hairs, she also insisted that Franziska tweeze out each one.  Her niece once remarked, mockingly “the hairs on Aunt Sisi’s head are numbered.”

And if that seems odd, you should hear about her weight.

Share This Post:
  • 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.

    • Kat

      Actually, it would’ve been Leopold I.

    • 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.”

    • Kat

      Yep, it was. I agree though, cool series!

  • 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

  • Kat

    Great article! And yes, it’s pretty much said that the Emperor gave her a venereal disease shortly after they were married, which had a huge impact on their marriage, naturally. History would end up repeating itself when their son, Crown Prince Rudolf gave HIS wife, Princess Stephanie, VD, and in this case, she was left unable to have anymore children.