Mary Theresa


May 17, 2022

Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina (Vienna, 13 May 1717 - 29 November 1780) was the sole female ruler of the Habsburg estates and the last member of the Habsburg dynasty. She ruled as the Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia and Lodomeria, as the Duchess of Mantua, Milan, Parma, Piacenza and Guastala and as the Ruler of the Austrian Netherlands and numerous counties. By marriage, she was the empress of the Holy Roman Empire of the German people, the German queen, the Grand Duchess of Tuscany and briefly the Duchess of Lorraine.

Beginning of rule

She became ruler after the death of her father, Emperor Charles VI, in October 1740. With her Pragmatic Sanction from 1713, her father enabled her to inherit his territories, which could otherwise be inherited only through the male line and by men. After his death, Saxony, Prussia, Bavaria and France, which had promised Charles VI that they would support Maria Theresa in inheriting his crowns, withdrew their promises. Prussia invaded Austria, sparking an eight-year conflict known as the War of the Austrian Succession. Maria Theresa encouraged and implemented various and numerous reforms with the help of her ministers. It reformed education and financing, encouraged trade and agricultural development, which significantly strengthened Austria. However, she did not allow religious tolerance, and travel writers from the 18th century considered her regime intolerant and superstitious. The reign of Maria Theresa is characterized by absolutist and centralist efforts associated with Germanization. It deprived the Jesuits of schoolwork and censorship. On the other hand, she put torture and lawsuits against witches under her control, which soon led to the final liquidation of that medieval bloody legacy. Under the pressure of the new age, she tried to prevent the excessive exploitation of serfs, determining the maximum of their obligations to their masters, so that the feudal lord was no longer allowed to demand levies from his subjects at his own discretion, but had to stick to Maria Theresa's land register. She introduced a general school obligation, so that all children from 6 to 14 had to go to school. She encouraged the development of manufactories in Austria. Although she was expected to power prep