On a snowy January morning in 1889, a worried servant hacked open a locked door at the remote hunting lodge deep in the Vienna Woods. Inside, he found two bodies sprawled on an ornate bed, blood oozing from their mouths. Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary appeared to have shot his seventeen-year-old mistress, sat with the corpse for hours and, when dawn broke, turned the pistol on himself. A century has transformed this bloody scene into romantic tragedy: star-crossed lovers who preferred death together than to be parted by a cold, unfeeling Viennese Court. But Mayerling is also the story of family secrets: incestuous relationships and mental instability; blackmail, venereal disease, and political treason; and a disillusioned, morphine-addicted Crown Prince and a naïve schoolgirl caught up in a dangerous and deadly waltz inside a decaying empire. What happened in that locked room remains one of history’s most evocative mysteries: What led Rudolf and mistress to this desperate act? Was it really a suicide pact? Or did something far more disturbing take place at that remote hunting lodge and result in murder?
Real People/Real Stories looks for those “truth is stranger than fiction” stories. From lesser-known events in history to biographies of the famous and infamous, and from accessible science and nature writing to the arts, librarians will select outstanding titles guaranteed to take you into real places. We meet the 3rd Thursday of each month at the Stryker Center, starting at 2 pm. Williamsburg Regional Library will provide copies of Twilight of Empire beginning February 21. If you can't find a copy on the shelves, check with the Adult Services reference desk to find out how to get yours.
Questions? Check with the Adult Services department at 757.259.4050.