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Baroness Mary Vetsera portrait
The last photograph taken of Baroness Mary Vetsera (R). This is the dress in which she was buried. On the (L) is Countess Marie Larisch, a go-between for Mary and Rudolf.

Baroness Mary Vetsera (German language: Marie "Mary" Alexandrine Freiin[1] von Vetsera), (19 March 1871 – 30 January 1889) was Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria's mistress. She was the daughter of Baron Albin Vetsera, a diplomat in foreign service at the Austrian court, and his wife, the former Eleni (aka Hélène) Baltazzi, who was a member of a Greek banking family prominent in Ottoman Empire.[1][2][3]

Mysterious violent death

The two lovers were found dead under mysterious circumstances at the Emperor Franz Joseph's hunting lodge — the incident is known as Mayerling, after the name of the lodge.

The actual facts of the incident are unknown; it has been suggested that she was killed by Crown Prince Rudolf, who then killed himself; that they both killed themselves; that they killed one another; and that the two of them were murdered. Some say she was pregnant at the time of her death; others, not.[2]

Her body was spirited out of Mayerling and interred in the Cistercian monastery at Heiligenkreuz. Gerd Holler, in his (1980) book Mayerling: Die Lösung des Rätsels, tells that in the late spring of 1945, the Soviet troops looted the graves of the Cistercian monastery in Heiligenkreuz where Mary Vetsera had been buried, dislodging the granite plate covering the grave of Mary Vetsera. As a young physician stationed in Heiligenkreuz, Holler writes, he was called to examine Mary Vetsera's remains and to witness the reinterment. Dr. Holler carefully scrutinized Mary Vetsera's skull and other bones for traces of a penetration hole or other marks that could have been caused by a projectile, but no such marks were found.

His curiosity aroused, Dr. Holler waited for the Vatican archives to open. The Habsburgs, being a Catholic family, had to ask the Pope for dispensation in order to secure a Catholic funeral for their son who committed suicide. Upon the receipt of the request, the Pope dispatched his nuncio to Mayerling. After his return, the papal nuncio filed a detailed report about the incident that was filed in the Vatican archives. Based on his detailed search of the premises the nuncio reported that only one shot was fired. Helmut Flatzelsteiner later exhumed her body without permission; she was reinterred in her original grave in October 1993.[3]


  1. ^ Regarding personal names: Freiin is a title, translated as Baroness, not a first or middle name. The title is for the unmarried daughters of a Freiherr.
  2. ^ Schemann, Serge (March 10, 1989). "Mayerling Journal; Lurid Truth and Lurid Legend: A Hapsburg Tale". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 April 2009.  
  3. ^ Austrian Rulers 1657-1918. Retrieved 27 April 2006 from Internet Archive.

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