Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A new title for Baron Seefried

February 12, 1904

Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection

Emperor Franz Josef of Austria has "conferred the title" of count on young Baron Otto von Seefried, who in 1893, "made a runaway marriage with his granddaughter, Princess Elisabeth of Bavaria," according to the latest dispatch from the Marquise de Fontenoy.

Princess Elisabeth is the eldest child of Franz Josef's daughter, Archduchess Gisela, the wife of Prince Leopold of Bavaria.  At age 19, the young princess eloped with the Baron, a marriage that was not approved by her parents or her maternal grandfather, the Prince Regent of Bavaria.

Princess Elisabeth met the "almost penniless lieutenant,  serving in the Bavarian infantry, at a court ball.  They fell in love, and ran off together, and married in Genoa.  After a brief honeymoon in Italy, the princess did not return to Bavaria.  She and her new husband knew that he would have been arrested by military authorities "for absenting himself without leave," and by "criminal authorities for eloping with a princess of a reigning house."
She traveled to Vienna,  where she took a cab to the palace, and "threw herself at the feet of the emperor."  Elisabeth is the eldest of Franz Josef's  grandchildren, and has always been a particular favorite."

Princess Elisabeth appeared to have won her grandfather to her side as the next day, her husband was received by the Emperor, "first alone and then with the princess."

Franz Josef was able to have the Baron transferred to the Austrian army, where he received a commission as captain in a regiment based at Troppau.

The couple lived there for several years.  Princess Elisabeth made "no pretensions to royalty, and was content with her life as a military wife.

The Emperor is very fond of Elisabeth and her husband.  He gave them a "large estate and chateau" near Znaim, Moravia.  The revenues from this estate has placed the family in "affluent circumstances."

Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection
Count Seefried often is invited to the Emperor's shooting parties.  Franz Josef has effected a reconciliation between Elisabeth and her parents.  Archduchess Gisela spends several weeks each year with her daughter and son-in-law. 

The Emperor, however, has not been able to bring about an rapprochement with the Prince Regent.  Elisabeth and her husband are still barred from returning to Bavaria.

To appreciate Franz Josef's kindness toward Elisabeth and Count Seefried to understand that the Count remains Lutheran.  Family statutes in Bavarian and Habsburg "stipulate in the most stringent fashion" that there cannot be "no intermarriage with people who do not belong to the Roman Catholic Church.

The Count and Countess have three daughters, Elisabeth, 6, Auguste,4, and two-year-old Marie Valerie, who are now styled as Countesses.  Their first daughter, Gisela, died shortly after birth in 1895.


Cicely Weeden said...

Were their children raised Catholic or Protestant?

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Catholic . Fran's Josef would not have been so generous otherwise.

Allan Raymond said...

I've seen a newspaper article in 1910 in which it was reported that Franz Joseph raised Count Otto to a Prince. I haven't seen this shown in various internet sources, do you know if this elevation by Franz Joseph actually took place?

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Franz Josef issued a LP elevating Otto to Count. This is detailed in the Ruvigny's The Titled Nobility of Europe (1914). Their children also became Count and Countesses

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

However, I have several postcards that describe Elisabeth as Fürstin

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

The Times reported on 9-27-1910 "The Emperor Franz Joseph, according to a weekly Viennese newspaper, will shortly bestow princely rank upon Count Seefried, husband of Princess Elisabeth of Bavaria ...."

I don't think it happened as there are no further references. Adalbert of Bavaria married Auguste, and for many years, they were listed in the 3rd section of the Almanach de Gotha.
The Marquise de Fontenoy, a noted gossip columnist, also wrote about it in a column in October 1910. IN a 1915 article, the Marquise refers to Otto as Count

Allan Raymond said...

I tend to agree with you as I couldn't locate any supporting evidence. However the newspaper article I was looking at was dated 19 November 1910 which said "Francis Joseph of Austria has conferred the title of Prince upon
Count Otto von Seefried". It is interesting or perhap strange that the photograph shows her as Furstin.

Allan Raymond said...

A somewhat bizarre report in a newspaper dated 10 November 1910 that Count Seefried had made a gruesome discovery in one of the rooms of his castle when he found the head of a young girl on a writing table.

Later on the headless body of a girl was found on a a railway line close to the castle.

It was surmised the head was brought into the room from the railway line by the Count's retriever.