Circles: Ludwig II/Sissi

Sissi (Elisabeth) and Ludwig II should need no introduction to regular readers. The Austrian empress and the Bavarian king were cousins and – as we see below – might have been in-laws as well if Ludwig hadn’t broken off his engagement with Sissi’s sister Sophie. But even greater than bonds of blood and wedlock was their shared sensibility – wilful, reclusive, eccentric, otherworldly. This as much as what they did or said or created is what inspired writers and artists of their own and later ages, and it is above all these secret legacies which I have tried to map here. This requires some abridgment – see here, for example, for the full rundown of Ludwig-inspired cinema – but hopefully it captures the royal cousins’ major points of psychic intersection with kindred spirits.

click through for a more legible view

Further reading
Sissi on horseback, Anselm Kiefer | Elisabeth(s), The 12-step Sissi lifestyle plan, Sissi & Romy (incl. Romy Schneider), Phantom of the empire, Dress-down Friday: Sissi (Sissi)
Rex Luna, Let them eat kuchen, Sewell on Ludwig, Ludwig at the movies, An eternal mystery (Ludwig)
Thin white archduke, Ludwig-Viktor-Gasse (Archduke Ludwig Viktor)
Places: Miramare (a whole Habsburg clusterfumble)
Places: Vittorialie degli italiani, D’Annunzio’s Cave (Gabriele d’Annunzio)
The countess in the afterlife, A Casati family tree, A Casati picture gallery, Casati continues to captivate…, Strange Flowers guide to London: part 3, Requiem for a Marchesa, Dress-down Friday: Marchesa Casati (Marchesa Casati)
Dress-down Friday: Robert de MontesquiouPlaces: Palais Rose, Le Vésinet (incl. Casati), The hands of Robert de Montesquiou, A Lorrain special, part 2 (Robert de Montesquiou)
Dress-down Friday: Bibi-la-Purée, Verlaine’s funeral, Strange Flowers guide to London: part 2 (Paul Verlaine)



  1. When it comes to fabulosity, this reminds me of the old occult adage “Like attracts like”.

    Well done, James!

  2. Algabal

    Marvelous! This sent a shudder of excitement down my spine!

  3. And that’s all I could ask for!

  4. I bet “Mexican empress,” “living work of art” and “poet etc.,” are all phrases on your resume.

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  16. Ewa

    Hi, could you tell me what is the source of the picture with Sissy and Ludwig? Best, Ewa

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