Rudolf von Habsburg, Crown Prince of Austria and Hungary

BORN 21 Aug 1858, Schloss Laxenburg, Niederösterreich (near Wien) - DIED 30 Jan 1889, Mayerling, Niederösterreich
BIRTH NAME Rudolf Frans Karel Jozef van Habsburg
CAUSE OF DEATH suicide (probably)
GRAVE LOCATION Wien: Kapuzinergruft, Tegetthoffstraße 2

Rudolf was the only son of emperor Francis Joseph I of Austria and his wife empress Elisabeth of Bavaria. He was to receive a military education and his educator Leopold Graf Gondrecourt made him exercise in the rain and cold for hours. His mother ended this type of training and under the influence of his tutor Ferdinand von Hochstetter he developed an interest in natural sciences and collected minerals from an early age. Animal researcher Alfred Brehm also came to the court to teach him. They remained close friends until Brehm's death in 1884. In 1877 Count Karl von Bombelles became Rudolf's chief chamberlain.

After finishing his education he went to Prague in 1878 to serve in the 36th Infanttry Regiment. During the years he was promoted several times, in 1882 to Lieutenant field Marshal. According to his friend Moritz Szeps he had an affair with a Jewish woman in Prague who died. The emperor forced him to marry princess Stephanie of Belgium in 1881. They lived in Prague for a while but the frequently quarreled. In 1883 their daughter Elisabeth Marie was born they returned to Vienna.

Rudolf travelled widely and wrote many reports about his travels, often anonymously. He was well known as an ornithologist and started an illustrated encyclopedia of Austria-Hungary, the Kronprinzenwerk. But his political views clashed with those of the emperor and this resulted in many conflicts. His political writings were published anonymously by Moritz Szeps in the Neuen Wiener Tagblatt.

He was often depressed and in 1889 he was found death in Schloss Mayerling together with his young lover Mary Vetsera. Presumably it was a suicide pact and Rudolf first killed her and then himself. But many documents were destroyed and there were theories that they were victims of an assasination. But shortly before his death Rudolf had also suggested suicide to his long time lover Mizzi Kaspar (1864-1907) who had refused to die with him. She had even informed the police, buy they didn't act upon her information.

Rudolf was buried in the Kapuzinergruft on 5 February 1889. Bombelles, who was still his chamberlain at the time of Rudolf's death, died on 29 July 1889, possibly by taking his own life.

• Father: Franz Joseph von Habsburg, Emperor of Austria
• Mother: Elisabeth von Bayern, Kaiserin von Österreich
• Daughter: Elisabeth, Erzherzogin von Österreich
• Sister: Gisela, archduchess of Austria, princess of Bavaria
• Sister: Nahowski, Helene

Related persons
• was the lover of Buska, Johanna
• was written about by Hamann, Brigitte
• was a friend of Larisch, Marie, baronin von Wallersee
• employed Schindler, Emil Jakob
• was the lover of Vetsera, Mary


The tomb of crown prince Rudolph at the Kapuzinergruft in Vienna.
Picture by Androom (13 Aug 1995)


Schloss Mayerling, where crown prince Rudolf of Austria and his mistress Mary Vetsera died.
Picture by Androom (1 Feb 2001)


The chapel of Schloss Mayerling, at the exact spot where crown prince Rudolf of Austria committed suicide on 30 Jan 1889.
Picture by Androom (1 Feb 2001)


• Hamann, Brigitte, Rudolf, Kronprinz und Rebell, Amalthea, Wien, 1978
Rudolf von Österreich-Ungarn – Wikipedia

Rühl, Friedrich Wilhelm

Published: 05 Apr 2021
Last update: 25 Apr 2022