Empress Elisabeth of Austria (born Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria; 24 December 1837 – 10 September 1898) was Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary by marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph I. She was born into the royal Bavarian House of Wittelsbach. Nicknamed Sisi (also Sissi), she enjoyed an informal upbringing before marrying Emperor Franz Joseph I at the age of sixteen. The marriage thrust her into the much more formal Habsburg court life, for which she was unprepared and which she found uncongenial. Early in the marriage she was at odds with her mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophie, who took over the rearing of Elisabeth's daughters, one of whom, Sophie, died in infancy. The birth of the heir apparent, Crown Prince Rudolf, improved her standing at court, but her health suffered under the strain, and she would often visit Hungary for its more relaxed environment. She came to develop a deep kinship with Hungary, and helped to bring about the dual monarchy of Austria–Hungary in 1867.
The death of her only son and his mistress Mary Vetsera in a murder–suicide at his hunting lodge at Mayerling in 1889 was a blow from which Elisabeth never recovered. She withdrew from court duties and travelled widely, unaccompanied by her family. In 1890, she had a palace built on the Greek Island of Corfu that she visited often. The palace Achilleion, featuring an elaborate mythological motif, served as a refuge. She was obsessively concerned with maintaining her youthful figure and beauty, which were already legendary during her lifetime. In 1897, her sister, Duchess Sophie in Bavaria, died in an accidental fire at the "Bazar de la Charité" in Paris. While travelling in Geneva in 1898, she was mortally wounded by an Italian anarchist named Luigi Lucheni. Elisabeth was the longest serving Empress of Austria at 44 years.