Maria Theresa

*1717 (Vienna, Austria), †1780 (Vienna, Austria)

Queen of Hungary and Bohemia and Archduchess of Austria, Maria Theresa founded the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty. Her reign began on the death of her father in 1740, but the rulers of Prussia, Bavaria, France and Saxony rejected her right of succession. During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48) she asserted her rights to most of the empire, with the exception of Silesia, Kladsko and Parma. In 1741 she became Queen of Hungary and in 1743 Queen of Bohemia, while her husband, Francis I was elected Emperor of Rome in 1745. On her husband’s death in 1765 she continued to rule with her son, Joseph II. The poor economic health of the monarchy and the new philosophy of liberalism forced Maria Theresa to carry out reforms in public administration, the courts of law, education, the economy and other areas and her son, Joseph II and, after him, his brother Leopold II, continued to implement reforms after her death. These reforms moved the country towards greater centralization and bureaucratization and reinforced the pressure on it to become more Germanic. The Habsburg dynasty began to come to an end with the death of Maria Theresa. She is buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna.


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