The Empress (TV series)

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The Empress
Official poster
Created by
  • Katharina Eyssen
Written byKatharina Eyssen, Bernd Lange, Janna Maria Nandzik
Directed by
  • Johannes Lehniger
  • Lisa Morgenstern
  • Sebastian Damerius
Country of originGermany[1][2]
Original languageGerman[3]
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes6
Executive producers
  • Jochen Laube
  • Fabian Maubach
Production location
  • Germany
Running time51–61 minutes
Production companies
Original release
Release29 September 2022 (2022-09-29) –
present (present)

The Empress (German: Die Kaiserin) is a German historical drama television series based on the life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, starring Devrim Lingnau in the title role, and Philip Froissant as Emperor Franz Joseph. It was released on Netflix on 29 September 2022. It was Netflix's second-most watched series worldwide for two weeks and the seventh most popular non-English series of 2022, with over 150 million hours streamed. On 8 November 2022, Netflix renewed it for a second season.[4][5][6] Netflix also commissioned a companion novel, The Empress: A Novel, by Gigi Griffis, which was published two days before the series premiered on the streaming service.[7]


Sixteen-year-old Bavarian Duchess, Elisabeth "Sisi" von Wittelsbach, falls in love with Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, the intended fiancé of her older sister, Duchess Helene, and they marry. Arriving in Vienna, Sisi finds herself navigating the complexity of court politics and her husband's scheming family. Her mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophie, who is also her aunt, antagonizes her almost immediately. Maximilian, Franz Joseph's younger brother, tries to outshine his brother and prove that he is more worthy to rule.



No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"One's Place in the World"Florian Cossen and Katrin GebbeKatharina Eyssen, Bernd Lange, and Janna Maria Nandzik29 September 2022 (2022-09-29)

Franz has recently taken over as a young emperor following the Revolutions of 1848 in the Austrian Empire. In 1853, there is an assassination attempt on the life of Franz. In 1853, Elisabeth (Sisi) and Helene travel with their mother, Ludovika, to meet 23-year-old Emperor Franz, who is expected to ask for Helene's hand. Franz's mother, Archduchess Sophie, is of the opinion that her son's union with Bayern Helene will validate Austria's claim to the German states. At the party, he stuns everyone by deciding to marry Sisi.

Nicholas I of Russia seeks an alliance with Austria against the Ottoman Empire.
2"The Arrival"Florian Cossen and Katrin GebbeKatharina Eyssen, Bernd Lange, and Janna Maria Nandzik29 September 2022 (2022-09-29)

Elisabeth arrives in Vienna for her wedding. Soon enough she faces palace intrigue. Franz tells his council of war that he doesn't want the House of Habsburg to join either side in the Crimean War. Johann Strauss II helps Elisabeth and Franz during their waltz rehearsal.

Swedish Prince Gustav privately claims to be Franz's father.
3"The Wedding"Florian Cossen and Katrin GebbeKatharina Eyssen, Bernd Lange, and Janna Maria Nandzik29 September 2022 (2022-09-29)
Elisabeth marries Franz, and the imperial family gets a taste of her rising popularity. Prince Gustav's lover attends the wedding and discovers a secret.
4"The Hunt"Florian Cossen and Katrin GebbeKatharina Eyssen, Bernd Lange, and Janna Maria Nandzik29 September 2022 (2022-09-29)

Archduchess Sophie and the council push for military action, but Franz refuses to engage. Elisabeth successfully suggests a hunting trip instead of a feast to welcome Grand Duke Alexander of Russia.

Elisabeth upsets Alexander during the hunt, leading to severe political consequences.
5"The Shoes"Florian Cossen and Katrin GebbeKatharina Eyssen, Bernd Lange, and Janna Maria Nandzik29 September 2022 (2022-09-29)
Maximilian gathers support for a plan to oust Franz Joseph. Elisabeth's well-intended gesture backfires, leading her to befriend the dubious maid, Leontine.
6"The God Who Us Has Freedom Sent"Florian Cossen and Katrin GebbeKatharina Eyssen, Bernd Lange, and Janna Maria Nandzik29 September 2022 (2022-09-29)

Elisabeth spends her time partying with Maximilian while Franz is desperate to reconcile with her. Leontine gets herself into a precarious situation.

Maximilian drives a wedge between the family while continuing his plan for a coup d'état to seize the throne of Austria from his older brother.



In December 2020, Netflix announced it would start producing a six-part series with the working title The Empress, based on the life of Austrian Empress Elisabeth of Bavaria (nicknamed Sisi). It would be directed by Katrin Gebbe and Florian Cossen, with Bernd Lange and Janna Maria Nandzik writing. Devrim Lingnau and Philip Froissant were announced in the lead roles.[8]


Filming began in August 2021 and was completed in January 2022.[9] The series was filmed in German.[3] Netflix subsequently dubbed the series into 14 languages, including English. Subtitles were provided in 32 languages.[3]

Exteriors were filmed at Schloss Weißenstein to represent Schönbrunn Palace
Eyrichshof Castle exteriors were used to represent young Sisi's summer home

The story line takes place primarily in Vienna, though parts of the first episode are set in Bavaria, where the young Elisabeth was living when she met the emperor. Nonetheless, exterior filming was completed in Germany, primarily in Bavaria. For studio work, the production moved to Babelsberg Studio in Potsdam. Location shooting was completed in cities such as Bayreuth, Stein, Bamberg, Dinkelsbühl, Eckersdorf and Aidhausen. Several historical locations were used, including Schloss Weißenstein in Pommersfelden, which stood in for Schönbrunn Palace.[10] Exterior scenes of Sisi's childhood home were filmed at Eyrichshof Castle near Ebern, although the family's summer home was actually the nearby Possenhofen Castle.[11]

Season 2[edit]

In November 2022, Netflix renewed the series for a second season.[12] Filming for the second season reportedly took place in Prague, Czech Republic in September 2023.[13]


The Empress debuted at number one following its release on 29 September 2022, with 47.2 million hours watched in four days (29 September to 2 October 2022),[14] becoming Netflix's most-watched non-English language series for over a week.[15] Within 11 days, it was running in approximately 18.7 million homes and was the second most-watched Netflix series worldwide (behind Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story), with 106.6 million hours streamed.[14] It was in the top ten in 79 countries in its first week, and in 88 countries in its second week.[14] Within 18 days, it was streamed for nearly 135 million hours in around 23.6 million homes worldwide.[16]

The Empress is the most successful German original production on Netflix since the 2020 war drama Barbarians.[15] The series had 59.43 million hours watched worldwide from October 3–9, 2022,[17] and it was the seventh most popular non-English series of 2022, with 5 weeks in the global top 10 and 159,800,000 hours watched from September 25 to October 30.[18]


The Empress (Soundtrack from the Netflix Series)
Soundtrack album by
Johannes Lehniger, Lisa Morgenstern, and Sebastian Damerius
ReleasedSeptember 30, 2022 (2022-09-30)
Track listing
1."The Empress Main Title"0:48
3."Carriage Ride"1:04
4."Emperor Couple"1:46
5."Mother's Voice"0:59
6."Elisabeth or No Other"1:51
8."Arrival Vienna"4:18
9."So Many Shoes"1:00
11."Golden Glass"5:03
12."The Wedding"4:22
13."To the Ballroom"1:42
14."White Curtains"1:06
15."Ladies of the Court"1:58
16."I Love Only You"2:43
17."Burden of the Crown"2:43
18."Revealing Secrets"2:22
19."That is Not You, Elisabeth"1:21
20."Betrayal Within"1:26
21."For the People"2:27
22."Open the Gate"2:49
Total length:48:10

Historical inaccuracies[edit]

  • Elisabeth (Sisi) had brown eyes.
  • Elisabeth was significantly thinner than the actress portraying her. In fact, Elisabeth's obsession with maintaining a youthful, slim figure was a major element in her personality. Her preoccupation with appearance included extreme tight lacing of her corsets, disordered eating habits, and a vigorous exercise regime, all of which were considered bizarre for the era.
  • Elisabeth's voluminous hair reached her knees and was lighter than Helene's much darker hair, which was a significant factor in Franz Joseph's attraction to her.
  • Elisabeth and Franz Joseph's first meeting at Bad Ischl wasn't outdoors, but during tea (with more relatives present than shown).
  • Sisi and Franz are shown mutually falling in love. In reality, Franz was more in love with Sisi than she was with him.
  • Franz didn't propose publicly, but had Archduchess Sophie request Ludovika's permission. Nor was his proposal "out of the blue". Sophie had written that Franz had professed his love for Sisi shortly after meeting her.
  • Franz Joseph's second younger brother, Karl Ludwig, was in love with Elisabeth and wanted to marry her, not Maximilian as shown. During childhood, Karl Ludwig (who's missing from the series) and Elisabeth exchanged letters and gifts.
  • Sophie was reluctant over Franz and Elisabeth's marriage and often fought with the Empress over the upbringing of her (Elisabeth's) children. However, there is no evidence to support she actually hated Sisi. In reality, Sophie's letters and diaries positively describe her daughter-in-law.
  • Archduchess Sophie had a strong friendship and a rumored love affair with Napoleon II (her husband's nephew) when she was younger, not Swedish Prince Gustav as shown. Maximilian was allegedly the result of said relationship, not Franz Joseph, although these rumors were deemed dubious.
  • Franz Joseph and Maximilian had a sour relationship as adults, but there is no evidence that the latter conspired to overthrow his brother as Emperor.[19]
  • In the waltz scene featuring composer Johann Strauss II, Franz Joseph and Sisi dance to the 'Emperor Waltz'. This waltz was composed by Strauss in 1889, 35 years after the royal couple married.


  1. ^ Bentley, Jean (22 September 2022). "Bow Down to 'The Empress' | Presenting a teaser for the regal new series". Netflix. Archived from the original on 17 October 2022. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  2. ^ Whittock, Jesse; Goldbart, Max (8 November 2022). "'The Empress': Netflix Orders Second Run Of Austrian Empire Drama". Deadline. Archived from the original on 23 November 2022. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  3. ^ a b c "WHAT LANGUAGE IS THE EMPRESS IN AND ARE DUBS AND SUBTITLES AVAILABLE?". HITC. 13 October 2022. Archived from the original on 13 November 2022. Retrieved 13 November 2022.
  4. ^ "A New Netflix Series Will Chronicle The Tragic Story of This Austrian Empress". Town and Country. 30 May 2021. Archived from the original on 30 May 2021. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  5. ^ "Could This Austrian Royal Drama Be the Next The Crown?". Vogue. 29 July 2022. Archived from the original on 29 July 2022. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  6. ^ "Katrin Gebbe and Florian Cossen preparing The Empress for Netflix". Cineuropa. 15 October 2021. Archived from the original on 15 October 2021. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  7. ^ "'Derry Girls', 'Vir Das: Landing' & 'The Empress' Land Top Awards At 2023 International Emmys". Deadline.
  8. ^ "New imperial couple "Sisi and Franz" found - Netflix Original "The Empress" (WT) about to start production". Netflix Media Center. Archived from the original on 3 June 2022. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Where is Netflix's The Empress Filmed?". Cinemaholic. 28 September 2022. Retrieved 13 November 2022.
  10. ^ "Where Does 'The Empress' Take Place and Where Was it Filmed?". Decider. 4 October 2022. Archived from the original on 13 November 2022. Retrieved 13 November 2022.
  11. ^ "The Empress – where was the Netflix royal drama filmed?". Woman and Home. 5 October 2022. Archived from the original on 13 November 2022. Retrieved 13 November 2022.
  12. ^ Cohen, Anne (8 November 2022). "'The Empress' Grants You Permission to Watch Season 2". Netflix Tudum. Archived from the original on 11 January 2023. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  13. ^ "Netflix period drama 'The Empress', season 2, to film in Prague this month". The Prague Reporter. 5 September 2023.
  14. ^ a b c "Netflix: "The Empress" sits on the throne of international series". News in Germany. 3 October 2022.
  15. ^ a b Robinson, Jacob (9 November 2022). "'The Empress' Season 2: Officially Renewed at Netflix and What We Know So Far". What's on Netflix.
  16. ^ "Sisi Takes Netflix and Cinemas by Storm". Vienna Tourist Board B2B. 14 December 2022.
  17. ^ Porter, Rick (11 October 2022). "'Dahmer' Vaults to No. 2 All Time on Netflix English-Language Series Chart". The Hollywood Reporter.
  18. ^ Moore, Kasey (27 December 2022). "Netflix Releases List of Most Popular Shows and Movies in 2022". What's on Netflix. Archived from the original on 6 January 2023.
  19. ^ Hamann, Brigitte (1982). Elisabeth: Kaiserin wider Willen [The Reluctant Empress- A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria]. Translated by Hein, Ruth. Piper Verlag GmbH.

External links[edit]