This article, “what happens to The Empress after the first season?” contains spoilers regarding the Netflix original series The Empress season 1.
The Empress is a period drama based on actual events. The subject is Duchess Elisabeth (or “Sisi” for short) Amalie Eugenie in Bavaria (a wonderful Devrim Lingnau), who later became Austria’s empress. The story follows her marriage to Franz Joseph I, the emperor of the Austrian Empire (Philip Froissant). The series depicts Elisabeth as young, brash, and fiercely independent. The young empress must follow the royal court’s wishes and expectations. That includes adhering to the rules of public appearances, which is a pain, dealing with the staff in a manner she is not accustomed to, keeping her mouth shut about an archaic virtue examination before the wedding, and most importantly, bearing an heir for her emperor.
The empress was known to be beloved by her people. However, she is looked at as a spoiled figure throughout the season. And not only by the royal court but by the people. She redeems herself, though. The final scenes show the empress’s extraordinary empathy for her citizens. So, where does that leave our beloved Sisi? Where does she go from here?
So, that begs the question:
The Empress season 1 – what happens to The Empress after the first season?
Elisabeth was born into the royal Bavarian House of Wittelsbach. Like the series, the writers capture that Empress Elisabeth was not ready for the formal way of life that the Habsburg royal court demanded of her. In fact, an emperor and empress are seen as chosen by a higher authority, God. This is called a Mandate of Heaven, which gives someone a divine right to rule and absolute power over the people. In this case, Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth.
The empress was known as a great beauty of her time. Also, many claimed her to be obsessive with her beauty regimen, which does not track in the storyline of the first season. According to Sissi’s World: Empress Elisabeth in Memory and Myth (2018), this was acknowledged in papers when she was able to help form the Austrian-Hungary union, where many saw her beauty as a charm offensive in politics. In real life, she hated the idea of politics. So, while the first season underscores her ability to help advise Franz Joseph, the most significant test impact was years later. Though, VanDemark (2016) claims that Elisabeth learned to use her beauty for political purposes, stabilizing the royal court well beyond its years when political unrest was at an all-time high.
A significant point of the story is the empress giving Franz Joseph an heir. The emperor’s mother, Sophia, the Archduchess, was still suffering from depression after losing a daughter to a disease that swept across the Austrian Empire. Elisabeth had four children: three daughters and one son. It is well known that their first child, Sophia, was named after Franz Joseph’s mother died. The Archduchess blamed her for the death and took over raising the children, even christened them Christian without the Sisi’s knowledge. This could be because the elder Sophia lost her five-year-old daughter, Maria Anna. The description in the death series, verified by scholars, sounds like the child died of epilepsy.
Moreover, this is what makes Elisabeth such a fascinating and multilayered figure. As Hametz & Schlipphacke (2018) propose, was the empress a free spirit, caged bird, or tragic figure? The reality is that all are true. A case in point, Sisi may have shunned her other daughters after the tragic death of her firstborn. When her only son Rudolff died in a murder-suicide attempt, she began to travel the world without even the royal guard offering protection. Due to personal losses, the way we look back at the nostalgia of the past, and the way German artists at the time have been known to highlight female beauty with images comparable to the Virgin Mary, are we looking back at the empress with rose-colored glasses? Hardly, since Sisi was known as a lover of the poor and subjugated during a time of great distrust in the royal court.
In the end, the tragedy of her only son, Rudolff, who died in a murder-suicide at the hands of his wife, spun Sisi into a reclusive life away from the royal court. She was assassinated by an Italian anarchist, Luigi Lucheni, in 1998.
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