January 30, 1889
The New York Times and other newspapers are reporting the death of Archduke Rudolf of Austria, heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian thrones.
The Archduke, according to the New York Times' London reporter, "was found dead in bed this morning and it is still a matter of uncertainty here how he died."
The first reports from Vienna hinted at a "fatal accident in the hunting field," but an Italian official in London has received "a telegram in cipher from Rome," that Rudolf "was shot by a forester whom he wrong."
Later dispatches from Vienna, differ to the locality where the Archduke died, but now all agree that he "was found dead in bed this morning by his valet."
The late archduke, who was the only son of Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Elisabeth, was a close friend of the Prince of Wales. Plans for a "long visit" next May were made by him during the Prince of Wales' most recent visit to Vienna.
The couple were very popular and throughout the empire, Archduke Rudolf "shared to the full the great affection his father is held in."
More recently, however, Austrians have noticed changes to Rudolf. He "quarreled with his wife," and the public sided with Archduchess Stephanie. The "tone of associations visibly sank and painful stories of his habits and doings began to be circulated.
It was also noticed by many that his health severely declined. The Times' reporter noted that last March, the last time he had seen the archduke, Rudolf's face was pale and sallow, "a shrunken face shrouded in black side whiskers and a mustache." He was also "prematurely bald."
There were also suggestions of poor health. The reporter said he was told that Rudolf had suffered from epilepsy, the "hereditary curse of the Habsburgs.
Archduke Rudolf leaves behind his widow, Archduchess Stephanie, the daughter of King Leopold II of the Belgians, and a six-year-old daughter, Archduchess Elisabeth. As the succession to the throne is semi-Salic, which means that all of the eligible male Habsburgs precede Elisabeth, the new heir to the throne is Archduke Karl Ludwig, who is not a "notable or popular man."
The Associated Press is reporting that the Crown Prince died at Mayerling and his death has been attributed to apoplexy.
The Official Gazette states: "Fate has inflicted a crushing blow upon the imperial house and the people of Austria-Hungary. Our universally esteemed Crown Prince is dead. This deeply-loved son of the Emperor and Empress, the life's happiness of his affectionate spouse, brother of the Archduchesses Gisela and Valerie, the pride of the entire imperial house and the hope of his faithful people in the flower of his youth and fullness of his strengths sinks into an early grave. With deepest mourning, with hearts brimming with sorrow, the peoples of the empire turn their sorrowful glances toward the throne in hereditary love and fidelity, and join in an earnest prayer that God will granted the imperial family the consolation that mere human words, even when sounding from a million tongues, can scarcely bring."
The Gazette also reports that the Crown Prince went to Mayerling for a shooting excursion and was joined by Prince Philip of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Count Hoyos, He "felt somewhat indisposed yesterday and excused himself from attending the family dinner party at Hofburg" last night.
His guests became alarmed when he did not join them for breakfast this morning.
Rudolf's valet went to check on him, and found him dead in his bed. The "shock of the calamity struck the Hofburg like lightning at 6:45 a.m."
The announcement that the heir to the throne died from apoplexy "modified the alarm of the public arising from press rumors that the Prince had been killed while shooting."
One Austrian newspaper is reporting that Rudolf "had suffered during the last few years of his life from rheumatism of the joints. Last night he had a severe shivering hit."
Archduke Rudolf's body will be brought back to Vienna, a city now in mourning, tonight.
The Crown Princess was not informed of his death until 1 p.m. She "showed the wildest grief, passionately clasping her child in her arms." She wanted to go straight to Mayerling, but court officials "gently dissuaded" her from her wish.
The marriage was not a happy one, as Stephanie had "complained of neglect." She and her husband had been living apart for some time, but not too long ago, the Emperor succeeding in affecting a reconciliation between the couple.
Archduke Rudolf was 30 years old.
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