The Mayerling tragedy – what happened on January 30, 1889?

Die tragoedie von mayerling

The research into the murder and suicide in the House of Habsburg remains a mystery to this day. Crown Prince Rudolf shoots his young lover Mary Vetsera and himself. How did this tragic incident at the Mayerling hunting lodge come about?

Since then, the small community has been considered one of the most dramatic places in the Vienna Woods. More than 100,000 visitors visit the Carmelite monastery, which stands on the site of the hunting lodge today. There, where today the altar of the chapel is located, the crime is said to have taken place.

Three years earlier, Rudolf had bought the estate in Mayerling and had it converted into a small hunting lodge. Hunting was a favorite pastime of the Habsburgs. Such an informal hunting trip was also suspected when Rudolf set off for Mayerling in January 1889. But a day after his arrival, the fatal pistol shots were fired.

Crown Prince Rudolf, the heir to the throne, the hope of the dynasty and the empire, is dead – so wrote the Neue Freie Presse in the Abendblatt of January 30, 1889. The whole country was in turmoil. At first it was assumed that it was an accident, but soon rumors spread of murder and suicide, even a love death.

The imperial family tried to cover up the alleged suicide and murder. As a suicide, Rudolf was not even entitled to a church funeral. A medical certificate was issued attesting to the Crown Prince’s insanity. Clearly, this was a “favorable opinion”.

But how did one explain the murder of Mary Vetsera? She was accused of suicide in a fictitious mortuary protocol and secretly buried in the cemetery near Stift Heiligenkreuz. They put her dressed in a hackney carriage and put a stick in her dress so that she would not fall over during this cover-up.

The exact circumstances of the death of Rudolf and Mary Vetsera could not be completely clarified until today and still cause speculations. According to the current state of knowledge, it is assumed that Rudolf, who was plagued by depression, first shot his lover Mary Vetsera and then killed himself by a bullet to the head.

Ultimately, this incident shook confidence in the Habsburg monarchy.



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