16. Elisabeth Was Known For Her Free Spirit
Empress Elisabeth Amelie Eugenie of Austria was born on Christmas Eve of 1837 into the house of Wittelsbach, a German royal family that ruled the region of Bavaria. Her parents were Duke Maximilian Joseph and Princess Ludovika, and she was their fourth child. Early on, Elisabeth became known as “Sisi,” a nickname that stuck with her for most of her life and that most people remember her by even today. She and her siblings enjoyed an unconventional upbringing, and she frequently skipped her school lessons so that she could go horseback riding throughout the countryside. Horseback riding was one of her favorite past times, even in adulthood.
The carefree spirit she adopted as a child did little to prepare her for royal life at the Hapsburg court in Austria. Her headstrong nature clashed with other members of the royal court, particularly her mother-in-law — Archduchess Sophie. She enjoyed what appeared to be a happy marriage to her husband, Franz Joseph, who adored her. She was remarkably tall and slender, even after four pregnancies, and her subjects loved watching her ride through the imperial gardens. However, their son committed suicide when he was 30 years old, a tragedy from which the empress never recovered.