Mary Vetsera - a voluntary death in the name of love

Who was Baroness Mary Vetsera? How as she connected to Crown Prince Rudolf? Why did she decide to die at the very young age of 17? Why was she buried several times?

Baroness Mary Vetsera was born on 19 March 1871 in Vienna and attended the "Education Institute for noble girls" in the Salesianerkloster (traditional convent) Mary's passion was sports and she was an excellent horserider and member of the Vienna Iceskating Club.

Her father was the diplomat Albin Ritter of Vetsera and her mother Helene, was from one of the richest Greek families of that time. Ladislaus, her older brother, died in the Ringtheaterbrand (tragic fire in a theater in Vienna) in 1881.

By her descent she had access to Viennese society, but not into the desired aristocratic court society, which she really longed for. A marriage with the widowed Prince Miguel of Braganza would have meant this ascent, but 17-year-old Mary only had eyes for Crown Prince Rudolf. Her mother wanted to distract her with a trip to England, but that did not change the enthusiasm for Rudolf.

Her cousin Marie Louise von Larisch-Wallersee introduced her to him and organized from autumn 1888 onwards, secret meetings between the married Rudolf and the enamored Mary. In her, he found a friend, who wanted to voluntarily go to death with him because of love. His former lover, the prostitute Mizzi Kaspar, had rejected the idea.

Mary was taken by Rudolfs coachman Josef Bratfisch to the hunting lodge Mayerling, where Rudolf shot her first and then himself in the early morning hours of January 30, 1889. On the morning of February 1, 1889, Mary Vetsera was secretly buried in the local cemetery of Heiligenkreuz.

More than 100 years passed before the remains of Mary Vetsera were to be dissected because she had been buried without examination. To the great astonishment, no bones were found in the coffin, as these were stolen by a furniture dealer in Linz and later brought back. The investigation revealed that Mary had actually been killed by a head shot. So in 1993 another funeral took place.

Her death is still a reason for speculation, especially because what happened has been hushed up by the Viennese court.


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