Maria Theresa of Austria

ruler of the Habsburg Dominions (1717-1780)
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Maria Theresa of Austria (13 May 1717 – 29 November 1780) was the only female sovereign of the Habsburg Dynasty. She reigned as the de facto Empress Regnant of the Holy Roman Empire and Queen of Germany. She was also queen of Hungary and Bohemia, archduchess of Austria, and held many other titles.

Maria Theresa of Austria
Portrait by Martin van Meytens, 1759
Empress Regnant of the Holy Roman Empire (de facto)
Queen of Germany
Reign13 September 1745 – 18 August 1765
Archduchess of Austria
Queen of Hungary and Croatia
Reign20 October 1740 – 29 November 1780
Coronation25 June 1741
PredecessorCharles III
SuccessorJoseph II
Queen of Bohemia
Reign20 October 1740 – 19 December 1741
PredecessorCharles II
SuccessorCharles Albert
Reign12 May 1743 – 29 November 1780
Coronation12 May 1743
PredecessorCharles Albert
SuccessorJoseph II
Born(1717-05-13)13 May 1717
Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria
Died29 November 1780(1780-11-29) (aged 63)
Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria
(m. 1736; died 1765)
Full name
Maria Theresia Walburga Amalia Christina
FatherCharles VI, Holy Roman Emperor
MotherElisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
ReligionRoman Catholicism
SignatureMaria Theresa of Austria's signature

During her rule she changed the royal palace outside Vienna (the Austrian capital) to look much like Versailles. Vienna itself became an important center for the arts, especially music. Maria Theresa added support to her absolute power by tightening her hold on the government. She also improved conditions for the peasants. She is generally known to history as the Empress Maria Theresa.


Maria Theresa of Austria in 1772.
Coin with Maria Theresa's face.

Maria Theresa was born in Vienna, Austria, on 13 May 1717. Her parents were Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor and Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Her father had made the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, a decree which allowed a female ruler despite the Salic law prohibition.

Maria Theresa married Duke Francis Stephan I of Lorraine for love. They had sixteen children:

  1. Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria (1737–1740)
  2. Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (1738–1789)
  3. Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria (1740–1741)
  4. Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (1741–1790)
  5. Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria, Duchess of Teschen (1742–1798)
  6. Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria (1743–1808)
  7. Archduke Charles Joseph of Austria (1745–1761)
  8. Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria (1746–1804)
  9. Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II (1747–1792)
  10. Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria (stillborn 1748)
  11. Archduchess Maria Johanna Gabriela of Austria (1750–1762)
  12. Archduchess Maria Josepha of Austria (1751–1767)
  13. Queen Maria Carolina of Austria of Naples and Sicily (1752–1814)
  14. Queen Marie Antoinette of France and Navarre, born Maria Antonia (1755–1793)
  15. Archduke Maximilian Francis of Austria (1756–1801)

Maria Theresa died in Vienna, Austria, on 29 November 1780.