Konopiště

Prohibited love

The destiny of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his beautiful wife Žofie Chotková is tightly bound to the history of Konopiště palace. Although they were a happy couple and were living in a happy and maybe even romantic marriage, their journey towards the marriage was not an easy one and resembles more a romantic novel than a real story.

Franz Ferdinant was a nephew of the emperor Franz Joseph and thus he was one of the most important men in the empire. On the other hand, Žofie was a daughter of Austrian diplomat and a countess and although her family tree was as rich as the one of the Habsburg family, her family was not very wealthy and even they could not cope with the influence of the Habsburg house.

When they two met for the first time is not known, it was probably in the times when the archduke served as a soldier in Prague. It is no wonder, that a young archduke was charmed by Žofie. She was very beautiful, slim, darkhaired and browneyed young lady with very aristocratic manners. What is more, she was educated, she loved reading and was very entertaining. Archduke and Žofie were secretly dating and then they fell into a deep love.

They both realised that a marriage would be very problematic, because according to the social habits Žofie was not appropriate wife to Franz Ferdinand. Both lovers knew this very well and the archduke once wrote: „When today´s young people love someone, there will always be some small details found in the family tree of the beloved person, that would prohibit the marriage. This leads to the fact, that a husband and wife in our house are actually relatives twenty times. The result is that half of the children are stupid or idiotic.“

The revelation of their secret relationship was a bit of coincidence, when the archduke, in one of the quarrels, lost his nerves and yelled: „Žofie will be my wife!“ After this sentence the events happened very quickly. Franz Ferdinand could not hide their relationship but he needed all his spiritual strength to tell it to the emperor and ask him for the marriage allowance. He was true when he thought that the emperor would consider the marriage as a treason of the future throne successor.

Anyway, he wanted to marry Žofie at all cost – he was willing to refuse the throne succession. The emperor gave him one year to reconsider his decision and if it would remain unchanged, he would agree. The emperor thought that it is only a passionate, short-time-lasting love. However, the time did not weaken the strenght of their secret love, so after one year the emperor heard the same answer.

The beloved couple married in the 1900. The archduke came in the uniform and a wife in the white atlas dress. Although people expect that they would not be very happy, the opposite became the truth. They both loved each other deeply and were very happy, until they both died in the fatal assassination.