Maria Theresa of Austria (13 May 1717 – 29 November 1780) was the only female head of the Habsburg Dynasty. She was the Holy Roman Empress, queen of Hungary and Bohemia, archduchess of Austria, and many other titles.
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 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 who are named here:
- Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria (1737–1740)
- Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (1738–1789)
- Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria (1740–1741)
- Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (1741–1790)
- Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria, Duchess of Teschen (1742–1798)
- Archduchess Maria Elisabeth of Austria (1743–1808)
- Archduke Charles Joseph of Austria (1745–1761)
- Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria (1746–1804)
- Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II (1747–1792)
- Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria (stillborn 1748)
- Archduchess Maria Johanna Gabriela of Austria (1750–1762)
- Archduchess Maria Josepha of Austria (1751–1767)
- Queen Maria Carolina of Austria of Naples and Sicily (1752–1814)
- Queen Marie Antoinette of France and Navarre, born Maria Antonia (1755–1793)
- Archduke Maximilian Francis of Austria (1756–1801)