If you thought that the Habsburgs were stout catholics, living a quiet life in the countryside with their spouses and children, attending Mass every day - you may only be partly right. On the surface, yes, they did all these things, but there were far more adventurous games being played when member of the infamous dynasty thought the public wasn't looking. Welcome to Maria Mustapic's world of Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll in Habsburg Vienna! Published by Kral, the author explores what really went on in Vienna, entertaining the reader as we come along for the often bumpy ride.
Sectioning the book into three parts (namely Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll), Maria Mustapic tells us, for example, all about the Viennese Grabennymphs, who made themselves available to their male clients at the Schnepfen-Strich - yes, the Kohlmarkt, where luxury shops wait for their customers, used to be a red-light district! Prostitutes called Spitzenmitzi or Prater-Resl often also even waited to be picked up by their clients in churches. Inevitably, infections spread throughout Vienna, and Mustapic describes Maria Theresia's desperate attempts at stopping these goings-on by setting up the Chastity Commission. Of course, by doing so, the Empress took out her anger regarding her husband's, Franz Stephan's, numerous affairs on the general public. The Habsburgs were only human, after all, albeit being able to exorcise their demons on a much grander scale.
The female Habsburgs are covered extensively in Mustapic's beautifully illustrated book, which includes as many colourful characters as it does pictures of Archdukes and Archduchesses, ball scenes and pharmaceutical adverts. From Sisi's usage of cocaine to combat her depression, to her granddaughter Erzsi (the Red Archduchess) ending up marrying a Social Democrat, the book has entertained me thoroughly. Those who wish to be introduced to the fascinating Habsburg family will find it hard to come up for air whilst racing through this marvellous confection of stories from 650 years of Habsburg reign and beyond. A delicious treat!
The book was kindly gifted to me by Kral-Verlag.