Maria Theresia, Empress of Austria, Queen of Hungary, etc. was the only woman to rule the Habsburg empire. Strong-willed and extremely capable, her legacy is that of a reformer who looked out for all of her subjects. In reality, this wasn't quite true - while many of her reforms did, indeed, help the poor and subservient, they were often instituted in order to strengthen her hold on some part of her government or lands.
For all that, she was also a mother. Giving birth to sixteen children in all, twelve of whom lived to adulthood, she wasn't the best of mothers nor was she the worst. In a book I have, The Habsburgs
by Dorothy Gies McGuigan, Ms. McGuigan describes the details she included in her dictates concerning the education of the little archdukes and archduchesses. The snippets of notes written to the army of governesses, tutors, and a variety of nursery attendants shows a woman who was not above structuring her children's days right down to the amount of time they should be allowed to play. Looking back on her reign, you might deduce she lived by the motto attributed to King Matthias of Hungary about the Habsburgs two centuries prior:
Bella gerant fortes; tu felix Austria, nube
Let the strong fight wars; thou happy Austria, marry
For, she certainly did exactly that. For twenty years, the marriages of her children occupied her completely and when she was done she had spread the Hapsburg influence throughout Europe. From the son who became the Archbishop of Cologne, to the daughter who became Queen of Naples, the son who became Grand Duke of Tuscany, and her crowning achievement, the daughter who became (the ill-fated) Queen of France, the Habsburg net was cast far and wide.This Day in History: Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina was born in Vienna on May 13 in what year?
Labels: Maria Theresa