The only son of Emperor Franz Joseph and Elisabeth (Sisi), here at the age of four, was educated from the age of six by a military drill of the educator Leopold Gondrecourt. He should be "hardened" to make him a good soldier. He was, for example, awakened with pistol shots or left alone in the forest until his mother Elisabeth intervened and this type of education was stopped.
Now his scientific interests were promoted and he enjoyed a liberal and civic education by Count Latour and other teachers. He was considered an intelligent child of quick comprehension. His ornithological interests eventually earned him an honorary doctorate from the University of Vienna.
He often had conflicts with his father because of his views. He was considered sensitive, liberal, anti-clerical and very critical of the multi-ethnic monarchy. He believed in the power of the bourgeoisie and rejected the courtly society, as well as his mother Elisabeth.
Nevertheless, he also had a quite distant relationship with his mother.
Many of his thoughts he wrote under another name in the New Viennese Tagblatt by Moritz Szeps. His friendship with Jewish intellectuals was not welcomed at court and isolated him more and more, which also affected his mental state.
In 1881 an arranged wedding took place with Princess Stephanie, daughter of the Belgian King Leopold II. Two years later, the only daughter Elisabeth Marie was born. The marriage can not be described as happy, because Rudolf had a lot of affairs with other women. He already went to the engagement with his lover and this continued in the marriage, where he had contact with prostitutes.
He fled into alcohol and drugs, suffered from depression and his health deteriorated due to his lifestyle and the consequences of a sexually transmitted disease (probably gonorrhea).
His only way out was the suicide, but he did not want to go alone. His young mistress, the only 17-year-old Baroness Mary Vetsera, was ready to go with him. On January 30, 1889, he put an end to both lives with the shots of Mayerling. There is still a lot of mistery about the tragedy of Mayerling.