Biography of Maria Theresa

Maria Theresa – Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire from the Habsburg dynasty from 1740 to 1780. Mother of Marie Antoinette.

Early years

In the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles VI and his wife, Elizabeth Christina Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, the first daughter was born on May 13, 1717, in Hofburg, Vienna, Austria.

Maria Theresa’s father was the last heir of the male sex, and therefore, before her birth, because of the fear that he might have a daughter, Charles VI introduced changes to the Salic Law, which, before the changes introduced, forbade the daughter to inherit the throne of his father. In 1713, he issued a Pragmatic Sanction, which guaranteed that his daughter would take the throne if he had no male heirs. In 1720, Charles tirelessly sought recognition of the sanction of representatives of the royal land and some European powers. Over time, they reluctantly supported the sanction that he had proposed.


and education of Maria Theresa was standard for that time – her education was reduced to superficial knowledge that was considered necessary for an aristocrat. Despite the fact that the absence of Maria Theresa’s brother, who would have inherited the throne, made her a probable heir to the Hapsburg throne, her awareness of the affairs of the state was meager.

Marriage and children

Eugene of Savoy, trusted adviser to Charles VI, recommended that he marry the daughter of an influential prince. But Charles allowed his daughter to marry for love. In 1736, Maria Theresa and her lover – Franz I Stefan of Lorraine, France, became husband and wife. Since Lorraine could now become part of the Habsburg Empire, Franz reassured France by abandoning the province in return for Tuscany, which was of lesser importance.

In the marriage of Maria Theresa many children were born – 5 sons and 11 daughters. One of her daughters will be the queen of France, Maria Antoinette.

Legacy and resistance

In October 1740, Charles VI died. And Maria Theresa, at the age of 23, became

the successor of the Hapsburg throne. The subjects of her royal land – the Austrian duchy, the Netherlands, as well as Bohemia and Hungary – immediately recognized her as their empress, but from the European powers Maria received resistance, despite the fact that earlier they had agreed to the Pragmatic Sanction. And under the leadership of Frederick II, King of Prussia, the powers created a coalition against Maria Theresa. By December of the same year, the army of Frederick II invaded the territory of Silesia, the province of Austria, and claimed its rights to it. Bavaria and France did the same and invaded the Habsburg territories. These actions led to a conflict that lasted eight years and was called the War of the Austrian Succession. The war ended in 1748,

Domestic Policy Reforms

During the war, the Austrian legacy of Maria Theresa was unable to find an intelligent general. She also tried to find capable men who would serve the empire, but could find and appoint only a few managers.

As soon as the war ended, Maria Theresa decided to continue reforming the government. This process was led by Friedrich Wilhelm von Haugwitz, expelled from occupied Silesia. In general, the reform was to empower the central apparatus of the empire. He united Bohemia and Austria under one administration and took away powers from the provinces. As a result, the weakened army of Austria received new military forces through unification. Austria also received at the disposal of the wealth of land that entered its domain after the reform.

Haugwitz also changed the system of annual negotiations on resources, making it more convenient – now the reconciliation took place once in a decade, and not every year. And during the decade the provinces paid taxes to the government every year. Maria Theresia also empowered the General Directorate, taking them from the Austrian government.

International relationships

The increase in the state’s revenues, as well as the reduction in spending, thanks to the reforms implemented, contributed to the strengthening of the army of the Habsburg Empire. Despite the truce, Maria Theresa felt the need to prepare for the second war with Frederick II, which was inevitable, since he wanted to protect Prussia from the newly created alliance of the newly-belligerent countries – Austria and France – not so long ago.

In 1756, Frederick II still unleashed a second war against the empire of Maria Theresa. His attack passed into the Seven Years’ War, during which Maria tried to restore Silesia to her possession.

In 1762, the Empress Elizabeth died and Russia, Austria’s strongest ally, withdrew from the conflict. Since it was obvious that the Habsburg dynasty would not win without allies, in 1763 Maria Theresa and Frederick II signed an agreement on peace on the conditions that Silesia would remain under the rule of Prussia.

The last years of government and death

In 1765 the husband of Maria Theresa died. After his death, the eldest son, Joseph II, was appointed the new emperor and co-ruler. Mother and son often argued because of their beliefs. Reflecting on the idea of ​​abdication in favor of his son and abandoning it, Maria Theresa allowed Joseph to reform the army, as well as deal with the issues of the foreign policy of the empire, along with Count Wenzel Anton Kaunitz-Rietberg.

And although Maria strove for peace and preferred a diplomatic solution to problems, during her co-management with her son, the War of the Bavarian inheritance began, which lasted from 1778 to 1779. Maria Theresa died on November 29, 1780 in Hofburg, where she ruled for forty years, leaving a solid base for future generations of the imperial family. With her death, Joseph II became a full emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.


“I found myself without money, without trust, without an army, without experience and understanding of who I was, and no one gave me advice, because everyone wanted to wait to see what happens next.”

“I will always have few children, because I’m insatiable in this regard.”

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

Biography of Maria Theresa