Most of Rudolph’s biographers with few exceptions fail to understand Rudolph’s mental illnesses. They simply consider mental illness the typical baggage of any effete and debauched archduke or else the Wittelsbach Bane or else irrational demons or else cowardice.
And certainly Rudolph was accused of being a coward by his parents and by biographers alike.That is how many courtiers and Prime Minster Taaffe saw Rudolph as well. Latour was told to ‘cure’ Rudolph’s ‘cowardice’ after the Brutal Colonel’s regime by flogging the cowardice out of little Rudolph.
It appears to be taken for granted during his lifetime and after Mayerling to portray Rudolph as a sniveling coward and hysteric incapable of amounting to much and therefore destined to die young and sordidly. Oddly Bismarck saw Rudolph as politically dangerous and formidable but he was the exception. This is how the ignorant and uncaring see anxiety depression as well as PTSD. Cowardly. Doomed to fail. Doomed to die young and cravenly.
So Mayerling is naturally assumed to be the sordid end of a sniveling coward cowering for 13 hours by the naked body of Mary. The charge of cowardice is so entrenched that everyone repeats the charge regardless of the lack of math related to rigor mortis which disproves the accusation. The charge of cowardice is so entrenched that Loschek’s many contradicting accounts which places Mary death at any number of times during the night and morning are cavalierly ignored. Rudolph was a coward. Therefore he cowered. Period. Mary was a sweet child so of course she was a victim of a coward (despite being a stalker and anything but a virgin). Rudolph was a coward. Therefore Mary was the victim. Not Rudolph. Therefore of course Rudolph killed her and then cowered cravenly by her body for 13 hours despite all evidence to the contrary. That is what cowards do.
Rudolph was a coward. Therefore the deliberate refusal of the forensic court doctor to do a required rigor mortis and livor mortis test and stomach contents test or even a poison test of Rudolph can be ignored as irrelevant. Rudolph was a coward. So that mysterious civilian revolver with all chambers discharged can be ignored along with royal witnesses testifying to severed fingers and a shattered right wrist. Rudolph was a coward. So the fact his right temple was utterly shattered along with the entire crown of his skull plus a second bullet wound and blunt force trauma is all irrelevant. Rudolph was a coward. So the Roll Commandos are irrelevant.
Rudolph was a coward. So the fact he brought briefcases of work and was working all the way up to the final hours of his life is irrelevant. Rudolph was a coward. Therefore his full calendar booking future meetings and his telegraphing of a Hungarian politician to train immediately to Vienna to be bellowed at by Rudolph in yet another freshly calendared meeting for messing up a military defense bill can be ignored. Rudolph was a coward. So rumors of assassination threats routed to Vienna by Scotland Yard and Belgium Secret Service and Paris Secret Service can be ignored. Rudolph was a coward. Therefore all contradictory evidence of Mayerling being something other than the act of a coward can be ignored as entirely irrelevant .
Rudolph’s supposed cowardice is self fulfilling. It precludes all other explanations or alternative scenarios. Rudolph was a coward. Why? Because he had anxiety depression and possible OCD and certainly PTSD. Therefore he was a coward. Everyone knows how cowards die. They die like Mayerling. Mayerling is the iconic symbol of how cowards die who suffer from anxiety depression with possible OCD and certainly PTSD. They die —- badly.
Only one biographer actually bothered to study Rudolph’s job as an alternative explanation for Mayerling. And no one has studied the gun crisis which was the core of Rudolph’s job in the last year of his life. Why bother? Rudolph was simply a hysterical (translation anxiety) depressive. Therefore Rudolph was a coward. Therefore Mayerling is the iconic symbol of cowardice. So why inquire if there is an alternative explanation?
Even the biographer who found out (indirectly ) the contents of the infamous metal box which confirmed that Rudolph was ordered to shoot himself as an officer and a gentleman by 6:30 AM by January 31 or else be executed by military officers of the Roll Commandos still explained his death as morbid cowardice unrelated to his job. The memoirs of Rudolph’s secretary Count Fritsche which records five Prussian officers posing as hunter’s hanging around Mayerling front gates at 7:00 AM? Ignore! Bradfisch’s accidental blurting out that Rudolph was already dead round 6:45 or 7:00 which proves that Loschek lied? Ignore! Ditto the evidence of Peri forgeries of Rudolph”s handwriting and the fact the supposed ‘suicide notes’ are in his pre-carpel tunnel handwriting. Ignore! The testimony of the Wolfe Brothers that they cleaned up a crime scene that looked like something out of a battle? Ignore!
If you have a mental illness such as anxiety depression with possible OCD and certainly PTSD from child abuse then you are automatically written off as a hopeless and contemptible basket case. It is cowardice. There is no hope. The end can only be bad. So you can ignore everything else which contradicts the self fulfilling end of all cowards: craven death. Rudolph had mental illness. Therefore Rudolph was a coward. Therefore Mayerling is the end of a coward.
Likewise every biographer casually assumes that Rudolph’s childhood was a golden halo of happiness. Child abuse cannot happen to princelings! The beautiful Sisi and titanic Francis Joseph must have been wonderful parents! How could they not be? So the mental illness which afflicted Rudolph was entirely his own fault! And their decision to inbreed for the umtemth time resulting in only 12 branches instead of the normal 16 branches of the family tree — most of those branches being Wittelsbach — well! That was Rudolph’s fault too! And the Habsburg track record in inbreeding? That can be ignored as well! Rudolph’s mental illness was entirely his own fault! Ditto his physical illnesses!
Today there is more understanding of mental illness in general and anxiety depression intertwined with PTSD with probable OCD originating from childhood abuse in particular. There is more compassion. There are more solutions. There is hope that treatments can control or manage, if not cure, the underlying conditions which are fueling the mental illness. It is not assumed that the sufferer is a sniveling coward destined to die young and sordidly. The sufferer is not written off. The sufferer is not ignored and despised.
The internet has thousands of web sites and google images which testify eloquently to the souls who suffer and the friends and families of those sufferers. There is a sympathy and a compassion and also a sense of shared humanity. Mental illness has come out of the closet.
Anyone can experience severe anxiety or depression or else anxiety depression at some point in their lives. Ditto OCD or PTSD. For many it is a passing crisis. For some it is a life long struggle.
As a sufferer of anxiety depression myself I felt a sympathy for Rudolph after I realized what his illness was. Anxiety Depression with twin demons of OCD and PTSD. I felt he was written off too cavalierly as simply a sniveling coward which was unfair. Then, as I read more books I realized that Mayerling contains too many contradictions to be simply a sordid suicide after a sex scandal (which was in fact the von Holstein/Smutty Petri manufactured scenario before the Hofburg packaged it belatedly into a romantic double suicide based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever).
The revelation of the events which led to the Gun Crisis provides an alternative scenario to Mayerling. So why does everyone continue to embrace the Myth of Mayerling despite the contradictions and lack of evidence? People love myths more than the truth and a cavalier contempt for mental illness still persists.
And double suicide by supposed lovers stills holds an amazing fascination for romantics. The irony is Rudolph was not a romantic. He was a modernist. He was a rationalist. He was a scientist. He was an officer and a gentleman. He was a dutiful son and workaholic who did love someone. MC. A woman whom romantics have chosen to scorn as too mundane to be remembered.
Rudolph’s last thoughts were not about love. His last thoughts were about how his honor as an officer and a gentleman was being trashed by conspirators and contemptuous ‘Reds’ (Cavalry Officers of the Hochadel). His last thoughts were about how his honor as an officer and a gentleman was being trashed by the man who signed his death warrant and then then lied to him about a quid pro quo to save his honor in order to trick him into going to Mayerling as Roll Commandos encircled it. His last thoughts were about how his honor as an officer and a gentleman was being trashed by von Holstein and Smutty Petri and Willy. His last thoughts were about how his honor as an officer and a gentleman was being trashed by an selfish and self absorbed Mary who was just as mentally ill as Rudolph was. The irony being that Mary’s mental illness really was both morbid and homicidal. Rudolph’s mental illness was a struggle which Rudolph was determined to win er it besmirch his honor as an officer and a gentleman which he held more dearly than anything else in the world.
As a sufferer of anxiety depression myself I would rather see Rudolph as a sufferer who fought his illness than a victim of his illness. I would rather see Rudolph as a modern man at the dawn of psychoanalysis who might have triumphed over his illness rather than a doomed man in the hopeless grip of something that could not be grabbled with. Just as every warrior who has PTSD does not want to written off as doomed, so every sufferer of anxiety depression does not want to be written off as doomed. Rudolph has been written off as doomed prematurely. I think the facts are more complex and his stubborn will to fight to the end has been cavalierly ignored.
I have created a montage of faces of Rudolph with modern images of anxiety depression, PTSD and OCD to explain his life. I hope my final e-book will likewise salvage his honor as an officer and a gentleman. For all of his modernity Rudolph’s last thoughts as he died were about his honor as an officer and a gentleman. The last anguished thought of Rudolph was that the world would never know he died valiantly to preserve his honor as an officer and a gentleman which he loved more than life.