Maria Theresa

Maria Theresa

biographical name

(born May 13, 1717, Vienna, Austria—died Nov. 29, 1780, Vienna) Archduchess of Austria and queen of Hungary and Bohemia (1740–80). She was the eldest daughter of Emperor Charles VI, who promulgated the Pragmatic Sanction to allow her to succeed to the Habsburg domains. Opposition to her succession led in 1740 to the War of the Austrian Succession. After Emperor Charles VII died (1745), she obtained the imperial crown for her husband, who became Francis I. She helped initiate financial and educational reforms, promoted commerce and the development of agriculture, and reorganized the army, all of which strengthened Austria's resources. Continued conflict with Prussia led to the Seven Years' War and later to the War of the Bavarian Succession. After her husband's death (1765), her son became emperor as Joseph II. She criticized many of his actions but agreed to the partition of Poland (1772). A key figure in the power politics of 18th-century Europe, Maria Theresa brought unity to the Habsburg monarchy and was considered one of its most capable rulers. Her 16 children also included Marie-Antoinette and Leopold II.


Maria Theresa German Maria Theresia

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