Duke Max in Bavaria, Empress Sisi’s father was a younger brother of the king of Bavaria and was therefore free of any public duties. In 1828 Duke Max in Bavaria married his cousin Ludovica, who rather railed against the fact she had not made the splendid marriages of her sisters such as Archduchess Sophia who became the mother of Emperor Franz Josef.
Although they had nine children it was an unhappy marriage. Both had been prevented from marrying their chosen loves and Duke Max soon strayed. While Ludovica brought up the children in Munich and their summer palace at Possenhofen, Max was off travelling and was unfaithful to her.
Duke Max in Bavaria was an educated man and a liberal. He encouraged his children to enjoy their freedom and he taught Sisi to ride bareback. He even built a circus ring in his Munich palace where he performed riding tricks.
Empress Sisi was in Corfu when her father died in 1888. A good story was told after his death. Duke Max in Bavaria was travelling to Vienna for Christmas when he met a pompous banker. The banker tried to impress Duke Max by saying, “I am going to pay a visit to my daughter, who is married to no less a person than ,” mentioning one of the leaders of the financial world in Vienna. “Are you travelling on business?” asked the banker. Well, no,” answered the Duke, “I, too, am going to Vienna to see my daughter, who has married there.” “Ah, indeed,” said the banker in a patronising tone, “has she made a good match ?” “Well, yes,” rejoined the Duke, “she’s married to the Emperor of Austria.” It was the banker who sank into his shoes.