On This Day: Maria Theresia Is Born

  May 13, 2017 at 8:00 am by

300 years ago today, the only female ruler of the Habsburg Monarchy was born at Homburg Palace in Vienna.

Maria Theresia was the eldest daughter of Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor. Prior to her birth, Charles had issued a new act of succession to allow any daughters of his to succeed the throne ahead of his two nieces, the daughters of the previous ruler, Joseph I. As Maria Theresia was only joined by sisters during her childhood, she remained first in the line of succession until October 1740 when her father died and she became Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Croatia.

The War of the Austrian Succession began not long after Maria Theresia took the throne, as countries who had previously agreed to her father’s new succession law reneged their acceptance. Going on for almost eight years, the end result was that Maria Theresia was able to keep the thrones of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia, but had to cede the Duchies of Silesia and Parma. Peace was short-lived, as Austria became involved in the Seven Years’ War in 1756, the Empress’s aim was to regain Silesia from the Prussians. This did not happen, and when the war finished, Austria had neither gained or lost anything.

In January 1736, Maria Theresia married Francis, Duke of Lorraine. She made him her co-ruler one month after her succession; and became the Holy Roman Empress when Francis was elected to the position in September 1745. They had sixteen children, thirteen survived to adulthood; among them were two Holy Roman Emperors, Joseph II and Leopold II, a Duchess of Parma, a Queen of Naples, and a Queen of France.

Empress Maria Theresia was integral to beginning the reforms of the lands of the Habsburg Monarchy that continued after her November 1780 death during the reign of her eldest son, Joseph.

Filed under Austria-Hungary, Historical Royals
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