The love story from Lobor
A true story about count Geza von Mattachich-Keglevich and Princess Louise of Saxe-Coburg.
Not many people heard of Princess Louise-Marie of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Probably even less people heard of Lt. Geza von Mattachich Keglevich.
But their story, although unbelievable at times, inspired those who heard it in different ways, just to mention a few:
- one Hungarian woman at her death-bed made her grandson promise that he would go looking for a village called Lobor where Princess Louise lived one part of her life, to make sure it existed – to prove that the whole story this old Hungarian woman heard (and the Princess she had a chance to actually once personally see!) was true (and he did!)
- journalists (domestic and foreign) who got hold of the story felt they had to report on the peculiar couple – through a reportage or in format of a romantic novel in weekly sequels – in 1904 the New York Times published their life-story
- one British novelist (born in South Africa), Don Jacobson, wrote a romantic novel called “ALL FOR LOVE” – which already in its title summarized well the story of their lives…
Although LOVE is the central theme of their life-story, and although a happy-end is a must and expected, there is more than a touch of intrigue, espionage, class differences prejudices, committing of people to mental institutions, imprisonment, and a lot of “end-that-justifies-the-means” philosophy. And all true!
Princess Louise-Marie was the oldest daughter of King Leopold of Belgium and Geza Mattachich was a young Croatian Lieutenant in Austro-Hungarian Army, a stepson of Oskar Keglevich, the count of Buzin.
It all started at the end of 19th century when Louise and Geza met in 1895 in Vienna – at the Prater – and immediately fell in love.
She was about 40 years old, married to her second cousin, an Austro-Hungarian general, Prince Philipp of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from Budapest, Hungary, and had two children – a boy and a girl. Being married to a man know as stiff authoritarian, who was 30 years her senior and, according to some sources, very much into pornography, no wonder that Louise-Marie was spending most of her time in Vienna rather than at their home in Budapest.
He was a young Croatian solider, Lieutenant by rank, born to “common” parents, but adopted as a child by a noble family of count Keglevich.
Two years after they first met at the Prater in Vienna, Louise-Marie left her husband, taking with her only her daughter. Her husband and her father, assisted by other members of the family, tried to separate the two lovers and save the family name through different methods and attempts: - in 1898 there was a duel between Prince Phillipp and Geza. Phillipp was wounded but survived, continuing his plotting against the lovers who were living together and moving between Paris, Cannes, Opatija, Lobor, Zagreb… One of the attempts to separate them, probably the worst of them all, was a spy-political hunt on Geza and Louise. Geza was arrested for forgery and imprisoned in Zagreb for 6 years. Louise was committed to a mental institution in Hungary. Geza was accused for forging the signature of Louise’s sister, Princess Stephanie, on a promissory note for some jewelry worth approximately $2.5 million, while Louise was forced to proclaim bankruptcy. Her daughter renounced her and returned to her father prince Phillipp, and her son renounced her too – thinking only of their inheritance which would be lost should they have kept contact with their mother.
After being released from prison in 1904 Geza helped Louise escape from the asylum in Bad Elsteru, Hungary, where she had been committed and both of them managed to reach Paris, where they settled for a while. She managed 8 years later for finally get a divorce and they lived together there until Geza's death in 1923. The only person who helped Louise after her beloved Geza died was her cousin Elisabeth, the wife of Albert I, king of the Belgians
Lobor is one of the places where the couple used to spent time together…although today not much of the old glory and shine remains.