L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The madness of Empress Carlota, cinematic and otherwise

Juarez, 1939.  Bette Davis as Mexico's ill-starred Empress Carlota, now returned to Europe and lost to the mental illness - paranoid schizophrenia? - that would persist for the rest of her long life.  I think this is the perfect Old Hollywood visual representation of high-tone "madness".


Of course, there was a real-life Carlota, born Charlotte of Belgium (Marie Charlotte Amélie Augustine Victoire Clémentine Léopoldine; June 7, 1840, Brussels – January 19, 1927, Meise).  A Belgian princess, she married an Austrian archduke, and became empress of Mexico.

Never a particularly attractive personality, restless and ambitious, Princess Charlotte was fully invested in her husband Archduke Maximilian's rash decision to assume the rule of a vast ungovernable foreign country.  As the Mexican Empire inevitably began to collapse, Carlota returned to Europe to plead for her husband's cause, first in Paris - the French Emperor Napoleon III had been the instigator of the "Mexican Adventure" - then in Vienna, and finally at the Vatican, where the extreme strain she had been under resulted in a complete mental collapse.  She was declared insane and spent the rest of her life under guardianship, secluded at Miramar Castle in Trieste, and then at the Castle of Bouchout in Meise, Belgium.  She lived to the age of eighty-six.

A very rare photograph of Carlota in old age, with her attendants.
The Empress Carlota on her death bed.

1 comment:

  1. how sad. I always wonder, when it's a woman they are claiming was mad, if they just wanted her out of the way because she was a bother.
    I've never seen this movie, at least I don't remember, and will have to keep an eye out for it.