Marie Louise <I>von Wallersee</I> Larisch

Marie Louise von Wallersee Larisch

Augsburg, Stadtkreis Augsburg, Bavaria (Bayern), Germany
Death 4 Jul 1940 (aged 82)
Augsburg, Stadtkreis Augsburg, Bavaria (Bayern), Germany
Burial Giesing, Stadtkreis München, Bavaria (Bayern), Germany
Plot Buried next to her father, left wall 251/253
Memorial ID 161235492 · View Source
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Countess Marie Louise Larisch (also known as Countess Marie Louise Larisch-Wallersee and Countess Marie Larisch von Moennich) (24 February 1858 - 4 July 1940) was the niece and confidante of Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

She is best known for her role as a go-between for her married cousin Crown Prince Rudolf, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera, a friend of hers. In January 1889, the bodies of the two lovers were discovered at Rudolf's hunting lodge at Mayerling, Austria. Rudolf had shot and killed Mary and then himself. On the surface, it appeared to be a classic suicide pact, but there were so many bizarre factors, unanswered questions, lost and destroyed pieces of evidence and disparate theories that the event will be debated for generations to come.

With the revelation of her enabling role in the tragedy, Countess Larisch was shunned forever after by the Empress and the rest of the Imperial Family and consequently became outcast from society. Later in life she was nominally the author of a series of ghostwritten books about the Imperial household, which are factually dubious.

She was born Marie Louise Elisabeth Mendel on 24 February 1858 in Augsburg, Bavaria, the illegitimate daughter of Ludwig Wilhelm, Duke in Bavaria (1831–1920) and his commoner mistress, actress Henriette Mendel (1833–1891) . Ludwig, brother of the Empress Elisabeth, was also the eldest son and heir of Duke Maximilian Joseph in Bavaria and Princess Ludovika of Bavaria. When her parents were allowed to marry in 1859, Marie was legitimized and given her mother's new title of Baroness von Wallersee, but her father had to renounce his rights as the Duke's heir.

Her aunt Elisabeth took an interest in her as a child, as she was a beautiful girl who shared the Empress' deep interest in horseback riding. Eventually, Elisabeth prevailed upon Marie's parents to allow her to join the Viennese court, where she became one of Elisabeth's closest confidantes. Since Elisabeth distrusted most people outside her family of origin, Marie gained a great deal of influence, although many aristocrats at court looked down on her for her origins as the illegitimate child of an actress. This fact, however, made her more attractive to Elisabeth, who admired unconventionality and despised the courtiers who surrounded her.

On 20 October 1877 at Jagdschloß Gödöllő in Hungary, Marie married Count Georg Larisch of Moennich, Baron of Ellgoth and Karwin (1855–1928). This marriage had been arranged by the Empress, and was unsuccessful from the start. Marie had five children during this marriage, though only the first two were indisputably fathered by her husband: their first child was oceanographer Franz-Joseph Ludwig Georg Maria, Count Larisch of Moennich, Baron of Ellgoth and Karwin (1878–1937), followed by Marie Valerie (1879–1915), Marie Henriette (1884–1907), Georg (1886–1909), and Friedrich Karl (1894–1929). Her two younger children were fathered by a brother of Marie Vetsera. After divorcing Count Larisch on 3 December 1896, she married her lover, the musician Otto Brucks (1854–1914) in Munich on 15 May 1897. They had one child, Otto (1899–1977).

After her second husband's death, Marie fell into dire financial circumstances. On 2 September 1924 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, she married naturopath William H. Meyers. According to one story, she had given an interview to a journalist that year in which she offered to marry anyone who would pay her passage and that of her son Otto to America. Marie and her new husband lived in Florida, but he mistreated her, and in 1926 she fled to New Jersey, where she worked as a cook and housemaid. She returned to Germany in 1929 and settled in Augsburg.

Marie died in poverty in 1940 in the St. Servatius Foundation, an Augsburg nursing home, and was buried next to her father and her son Friedrich Karl in the Ostfriedhof in Munich. Her grave remained unmarked for decades, and it was not until 2012 that a simple wooden cross with a nameplate and crucifix was placed to mark it.

Marie allegedly met the poet T.S. Eliot, and part of their conversation found its way into his epochal poem "The Waste Land":

"And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter."

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  • Created by: HWA
  • Added: 17 Apr 2016
  • Find a Grave Memorial 161235492
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Marie Louise von Wallersee Larisch (24 Feb 1858–4 Jul 1940), Find a Grave Memorial no. 161235492, citing Ostfriedhof München, Giesing, Stadtkreis München, Bavaria (Bayern), Germany ; Maintained by HWA (contributor 46565033) .