Princess Sophie of Bavaria
Sophie, Princess of Bavaria (Sophie Friederike Dorothea Wilhelmine; 27 January 1805 – 28 May 1872) was born to King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and his second wife Caroline of Baden. She was the identical twin sister of Princess Maria Anna of Bavaria, Queen of Saxony as wife of Frederick Augustus II of Saxony. Her eldest son Franz Joseph reigned as Emperor of Austria, and later as the Emperor King of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; her second son Maximilian reigned as Emperor of Mexico.
On 4 November 1824, she married Franz Karl, Archduke of Austria. Her paternal half-sister, Caroline Augusta of Bavaria, had married the groom's widowed father, Francis II, in 1816. Sophie and Franz Karl had six children.
Her ambition to place her oldest son on the Austrian throne was a constant theme in Austrian politics. At the time she was called "the only man at court". During the Revolution of 1848, she persuaded her somewhat feeble-minded husband to give up his rights to the throne in favour of Franz Joseph, her son. After Franz Joseph's accession, Sophie became the power behind the throne. Historically, Sophie is remembered for her extremely controlling relationship with Franz Joseph's famed wife Sisi, who was also her niece.
Sophie kept a detailed diary most of her life which reveals much about Austrian court life. She was deeply affected in 1867 by the execution in Mexico of her second son Maximilian. She never recovered from that shock, and withdrew from public life. She died of a brain tumor in 1872.
She was also noted for her close relationship with Napoleon II, who lived at the Austrian Court as the Duke of Reichstadt. There were rumors of a sexual affair between them. There was even suspicion that Maximilian, born two weeks before Reichstadt's death in 1832, was actually his child. These claims were never verified, but it is certain that they were very good friends and that his death affected her very much. She is said to have turned into the cold, ambitious woman described in fiction after he died.
|Franz Joseph||18 August 1830||21 November 1916|| succeeded as Emperor of Austria|
married his first cousin Elisabeth, Duchess in Bavaria, and had issue
|Maximilian||6 July 1832||19 June 1867|| proclaimed Emperor of Mexico|
executed by a firing squad
married Charlotte, Princess of Belgium, and had no issue
|Karl Ludwig||30 July 1833||19 May 1896||married 1) his first cousin Margaretha, Princess of and Duchess in Saxony, (1840–1858) from 1856 to 1858, no issue, married 2) to Maria Annunziata, Princess of the Two-Sicilies (1843–1871) from 1862 to 1871, had issue (three sons and one daughter) and married 3) to Maria Theresia, Infanta of Portugal, (1855–1944), from 1873 to 1896, had issue (two daughters). He was the father of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination in 1914 sparked World War I.|
|Maria Anna||27 October 1835||5 February 1840||died in childhood|
|Stillborn son||24 October 1840||24 October 1840|
|Ludwig Viktor||15 May 1842||18 January 1919||died unmarried|
Portrayal on stage & screen
- In the Sissi films (1955–1957), Vilma Degischer played the part of Sophie as a chillingly strict mother-in-law of the young Empress. The stereotype of Sophie as an uptight and spiteful villain seems to have spread from these films.
- In the 1974 miniseries, Fall of Eagles, Sophie was portrayed by English actress Pamela Brown.
- Mayerling, a 1978 ballet by Kenneth MacMillan, features Sophie in a slightly more sympathetic light.
- Elisabeth, a 1992 musical by Michael Kunze about the life of Empress Elisabeth, where Sophie is portrayed as a malevolent intriguer, out to ruin her daughter-in-law's life by any possible means, though more recent productions have somewhat softened her character with additional scenes and a song that give more insight into Sophie's complex motivations and personality.
- In Sissi, l'impératrice rebelle, a 2004 French television film, Sophie was played by Stéphane Audran.
- In the 2009 European mini-series Sisi, Martina Gedeck portrayed Sophie in one of the more balanced interpretations of the character.
- Media related to Princess Sophie of Bavaria, Archduchess of Austria at Wikimedia Commons
- Historical Boys' Royal Costume: King Maximilian I Joseph: Second Family
- Marek, Miroslav. "Genealogy.eu: Royal and Noble Family Trees". Genealogy.EU. External link in
- Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Kaiserthumes Österreich (1868), p 110, Sternkreuz-Orden