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monica17 04-28-2009 12:31 AM

Empress Maria Theresa's daughters
Hello everyone,

I would like to start a thread on Empress Maria Theresa's beautiful daughters. There were a number of them (excluding three who died very young):

1. Archduchess Maria Anna (Marianne or Marianna), Abbess in Prague and Klangenfurt (1738-1789)
2. Archduchess Maria Christina (Mimi, Marie or Mimerl), Duchess of Saxe-Teschen and Governess of Hungary
& the Austrian Netherlands (1742-1798)
3. Archduchess Maria Elisabeth (Liesl), Abbess in Innsbruck (1743-1808)
4. Archduchess Maria Amalia (Amalie or Mali), Duchess of Parma (1746-1804)
5. Archduchess Maria Johanna (Hannerl), died at age 12 (1750-1762)
6. Archduchess Maria Josepha (Sepherl), died at age 16 (1751-1767)
7. Archduchess Maria Carolina (Charlotte), Queen of Naples & Sicily (1752-1814)
8. Archduchess Maria Antonia (Antoine or Tonnerl), Queen of France & Navarre (1755-1793)

I thought it would be fun to discuss each of them as they seemed to be an extraordinarily beautiful and interesting generation and had to cope with, for better or worse, their very formidable mother. Please post anything you know about them. In particular, I am interested in their childhood, their relationship with one another, their character traits, particular anecdotes, etc. But any information is also appreciated.

Thanks! :flowers:

Warren 04-28-2009 04:52 AM

This is an interesting thread topic but to avoid duplication, discussion of Marie Antoinette should take place in the exisiting thread in the French Royalty subforum.

amedea 04-28-2009 11:57 AM

well, not all these girls were so beatiful:
Maria Anna in particular was hunchbacked, someone says disabled;
Maria Elisabeth was considered by her mother the most beatiful; the empress wanted to give her to Louis XV of France (who was much older than ME), but the girl suffered from smallpox and was sullied by this hillness;
Maria Christine was the favourite daughter of the empress (they were both born on the 13th of May) and the only one who was allowed to have a love wedding;

the empress and king Charles III of Spain decided that one of the archduchess should marry the young king of Naples (Ferdinand, son of the king of Spain): the first choosen was Johanna Gabriele, but she died from smallpox; so they decided for Maria Josepha, who unfortunately followed her sister (from smallpox, too); finally Maria Caroline managed to marry the king!

emperor Franz wanted one of his daughters (especially ME or MC) marrying prince Benedetto Maurizio of Savoy, duke of Chablais, the son of his sister but he didn't manage to arrage the thing

monica17 04-28-2009 10:01 PM

Thank you, Amedea!

I think Archduchess Maria Anna was quite attractive when she was younger. I've seen some earlier portraits and she looked quite good - perhaps not as pretty as the others but still. Of course, it can also be a matter of opinion. So she was a hunchback? Definitely a very hard sell in terms of marriage.

It is rather strange that Maria Theresa didn't follow through on her hsuband's wishes regarding the match with the Duke of Chablais. Of course, she had to indulge her favorite child Mimi with a love match but Elisabeth, before she got smallpox, could've been the bride. I guess MT wanted a very grand match for her.

Anyone knows anything on Maria Amalia and Maria Caroline?

Grace Angel 04-29-2009 12:36 AM

Not to bring up Marie Antoinette, but in Deborah Cadbury's book about Marie Antoinette's son, disproving the rumors of his survival she writes that hair of some of the daughters of MT was used or was tried to be used to to get DNA to compare to the heart that survives that is of Marie Antoinette's son. Some of the hair thus used or that they tried to use ( can't remember which) was from MT's daughters that died young, Johanna and Maria Josepha. I thought that was interesting. You can find this info online - part of the book is at Google books.

monica17 04-29-2009 10:34 AM

I'm just curious.....Why were Johanna's and Josepha's hair selected out of all the daughters?

Thank you for that lead on the book --- I will look it up.

Warren 04-29-2009 10:44 AM

I don't know the specific answer but they may have had some of their hair kept in lockets.
This was an old and "quaint" tradition among many royal houses which in this case has paid unexpected dividends because it allows DNA analysis.

Grace Angel 04-29-2009 12:13 PM

The hair was kept in a rosary of MT's which contained hair of all her daughters. They didn't pick the hair of MA since MA was so historically important.The rosary was kept at the monastery of Empress MT's daughter Marianne the abbess- likely passed down to her after MT died. They picked the hair of these two daughters because each hair was in a medallion ( spelling?) ad these were the first two medallions, likely because these girls were the first to die of her surviving children, perhaps- although I think she had two other daughters who died in very early childhood or infancy. There were 16 medallions with hair for each of her children.

monica17 04-29-2009 11:32 PM

I agree, it was a good thing --- that royal practice of keeping locks of hair. :smile:

Oh, yes, I read somewhere that MT's personal things were distributed among her children when she died. And Marianne-being an abbess and perhaps more into her duties than Elisabeth - seemed to be the most 'suitable' child for it. It's interesting how the medallions made of hair were arranged. MT must have her reason -- I don't think she ever did anything randomly, especially in the later years! Although I admit that the order can be such because Johanna and Josepha died quite young (brother Charles or Karl died earlier -- in 1761).

Grace Angel 04-30-2009 01:22 AM

I'd really like to see a picture of the medallions and hair, but there was none in the book. I'd never heard of it before, before I read it there.

amedea 04-30-2009 10:36 AM


Originally Posted by monica17 (Post 927557)
Thank you, Amedea!

I think Archduchess Maria Anna was quite attractive when she was younger. I've seen some earlier portraits and she looked quite good - perhaps not as pretty as the others but still. Of course, it can also be a matter of opinion. So she was a hunchback? Definitely a very hard sell in terms of marriage.

Anyone knows anything on Maria Amalia and Maria Caroline?

On Marianne I can also think that some court painter preferred to portray her more beatiful than she was..

Maria Amalia was the most problematic daughter; she wanted to marry Karl von Zweibrucken but MT thought he wasn't enough for her. MT inherited the duchy of Parma and Piacenza but lost it in her reign's first years wars: regaining an influence on that state was probably the reason she promised MA to the young duke; MA rebelled to her mother's choise by accepting the wedding but, once in Parma, behaving very badly: her husband wasn't interested in state affairs and she took the leadership of the duchy herself. But she did it openly and humiliating her husband. That was a scandal at Parma court and in all Europe courts. MT had very much to loose: if her daughters were all considered so arrogant, the unmarried ones couldn't marry other sovereigns..MT broke the correspondence with her and oredered all the family to do the same (she was obeyed). MA wanted to return in Vienna to make peace with the family, but her mother forbid it saying her place was in Parma and fearing she would not return.. I don't know well how the crysis ended..

Maria Caroline had a strong relationship with Maria Antoinette (they were in the same bedroom). MA was the preferred sister of MC and MC the preferred one of MA. MC named one of her daughters MA and the third name of the first daughter of MA was Charlotte. the love of MC come out, for example, from her letters to their mother. MC, finally, was shocked from the death of MA: she started hating France and the french, she took in her bedroom a small guillotine, she was really hesitating in allowing her daughter M Amelia to marry the Duke of Orleans( his father voted the death of Louis XVI at the national assembly)..

amedea 04-30-2009 10:46 AM

An interesting fact was that MT wanted all her children all over Europe in constant mail contact. This letters show the grat love between them, but also a mother always ready to command and children often forced to say everything about their private and public life. Matters of empress' special interest were the ones concerning in being-not being pregnant; a particular suggestion/command was the one of following the emperors example by sleeping in the same bed and in the same bedroom to help the relationship between partners..however this wasn't always possible because of some court's etiquette, the french one, for example

I forgot to say that M Christine, before marrying, had an unhappy love story with prince Ludwig von Wurttemberg

MAfan 04-30-2009 10:50 AM

And the wedding of her nepew Maria Luisa to Napoleon must have been a real shock for her...

monica17 04-30-2009 11:46 AM

Thank you very much, amedea! :flowers: I've noticed that you're from Italy and it's good to have an 'Italian knowledge' on Maria Amalia and Maria Carolina. I think you are right --- the paintings of Marianne may be on the flattering side..... Marie Christine seemed to have recovered fast from her heartbreak --- she was 'involved' with Albert of Saxony soon after.

Amalia was MT's 'wild child'. Amalia's enforced marriage to Ferdinand of Parma was indeed quite problematic, at least in the early years. It seems that it got better with time and they settled into compatibility later on. I think the court troubles in Parma were also entangled with Ferdinand's minister, Du Tillot. Despite popular belief and what most historians say, Ferdinand disliked his minister even before he married Amalia (a letter from grandfather Louis XV dated in May 1769 asked his grandson to remember the good service Du Tillot did to his parents and that there was no one to replace him at that point). Amalia's behavior then was indeed quite unconventional... but even after all those scandals and being called 'La Matta' and 'La Signora', I've read that she was popular in Parma (one of France's diplomats, exiled during the French revolution and who stayed in Parma for sometime, reported that she had an extraordinary reputation in the duchy).

Indeed, Maria Theresa wanted to gain influence more influence in the Italian peninsula so Amalia's match with Ferdinand of Parma suited her. He was also the favorite grandson of Louis XV.

I've read that MT and Amalia never fully reconciled... but most authors said that it was Amalia who didn't want to...... but I believe their relationship wasn't always totally rocky all those years....for instance, I've read MT gave advice to Amalia regarding her husband's infidelities (she complained about it to her mother-- a credible Austrian historian cited this in a book on the Habsburgs).... and it seems that they agreed on a compromise to meet in Gorizia (then part of the Habsburg lands), nearer to the Italian border, rather than in Vienna sometime in 1776 but it didn't push through due to MT's ill-health (Leopold and his family were also invited make the trip). I do know that MT sent the painter Johann Zoffany to paint a group portrait of Amalia's 4 eldest children in 1778 (the painting is called "Four Grandchildren of Maria Theresa) and said painting showed a letter to the Empress from her grandchildren in the background so there seems to be some communication between Vienna and Parma. Some German and Hungarian sources say that MT allowed family visits and letters to Parma later on, as she realized what sort of man she forced her daughter to marry (a letter to Count Mercy as early as 1773 corrobated this as MT said she was 'sorry for her daughter with that fool of a husband').

I've also read that Marie-Antoinette and Marie Caroline were very close and loved each other dearly. However, I've read that Marie-Therese-Charlotte, Madame Royale, was named after her godparents, MT and Charles III of Spain. It was Louis-Charles (Louis XVII) who was named after MC, and she was his godmother. When MC's granddaughter and great-niece Marie Louise married Napoleon I, MC exclaimed that she was 'grandmother to the devil!'. ;)

There was indeed a whole lot of letters from MT to her children and vice versa. However, I am not that convinced that all the letters that were written by MT were loving, many of them were scolding/nagging...... and all of the children (except Mimi, the favorite) seemed to resent, in different degrees, their mother's controlling nature... even the ones left in Vienna. Perhaps MT meant her letters to be 'loving' but it certainly didn't come out that way to them most of the time.

Grace Angel 05-01-2009 01:50 AM

Anyone have a portrait of Maria Elisabeth before she fell victim to disfigurment by smallpox? She would have likely made quite a marriage if not for that. Was she said to be more beautiful than MA was in later years?

monica17 05-02-2009 01:17 AM

Elisabeth, very beautiful indeed, in this gallery of archduchesses/archdukes, in-laws and their children.

I think Elisabeth was the most beautiful of all the sisters. Marie Antoinette was very pretty up to her mid-20s but later on, it seemed like her facial features turned quite 'hard' as she got older -- for instance the two portraits by the Swedish painter.... and some of her portraits were known to be on the flattering side (Vigee Le Brun in particular).

Lakshmi 05-02-2009 01:31 AM

I'm unable to see a pic posted by monica17.:sad: it shows me:"The item you requested does not exist on this server or cannot be served."

Warren 05-02-2009 05:11 AM

I've tested the link a few times and it works. Maybe the failure was only temporary.

Grace Angel 05-02-2009 09:55 AM

Yes, Elisabeth was lovely judging by the link. I like MA's looks both when she was young and as she aged. I also found some portraits of MT's other daughters on another website- the prettiest were MA and Elisabeth who didn't look so Hapsburg. The others looked too Hapsburg. MT herself was pretty when young, as was her sister.

monica17 05-02-2009 11:26 AM

Well, portraits can be on the flattering side at times.... especially Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun. I seem to remember reading that King Gustavus III of Sweden said that MA was already too fat (sometime 1784-87) to be considered a beauty and Joseph told Mimi that their sister had the fine face of a fat German (or similar) so it seems clear that she wasn't able to maintain her earlier beauty. But I think she was still quite beautiful, at any rate.

I think Josepha and Elisabeth resemble each other more and MA resembled Carolina and Amalia more. But most had similar features: big blue eyes, rosy white skin, aquiline nose, light hair, and the Habsburg lip, among others.

What do you mean by 'Habsburg looking'? The Habsburgs, before Maria Theresa and her daughters, were not known for being good-looking. They had longish faces, the Habsburg jaw, the Habsburg lip, and their other features were not attractive either. So I do not think MA's sisters resembled their Habsburg ancestors or were too 'Habsburg'.

MT's mother, the famously beautiful Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, brought in new blood to the family (she had a definite resemblance to Elisabeth and Amalia). The Austrian and Spanish Habsburgs were so inbred and mostly unattractive, even -- sorry --- horrible looking at times (Charles II of Spain for instance). When MT married Franz Stephen, their progeny became even more beautiful than MT and her siblings. After that generation though, the succeeding Habsburgs rather had the Habsburg look again -- it did not help that MT married off 5 of her children to that generation of Bourbons, a (mostly) unattractive bunch, and the succeeding generation(s) mostly married their cousins, too!

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