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Maria Theresa
Queen of Hungary

(1717-80)


Other Titles

Queen of Bohemia, 1740-80†[J92]
Archduchess of Austria[J92]
Titular Queen of Jerusalem, 1740-80†[F86A]

Biographical

When her father Charles VI died in 1740, she succeeded him on the throne of Germany in accordance with the act called the Pragmatic Sanction. Her title was soon disputed by the Electors of Saxony and Bavaria and the Kings of Prussia, Spain, and Sardinia, each claiming some portion of Germany in the name of the Austrian princesses with whom they were connected. Maria Theresa immediately repaired to Vienna, where she received the homage of her Austrian states, and thence proceeding to Presburg was crowned Queen of Hungary in 1741.[Q35C]

She received offers of assistance from Frederick II of Prussia on condition of her ceding to him Lower Silesia, but she firmly refused. Her capital being soon after threatened with a siege by the Elector of Bavaria and his French allies, the empress convoked the Hungarian Diet at Presburg, where, with her infant children, she said to the deputies that, 'being assailed by enemies on every side, she had no hopes except in their loyalty, and she had come to place under their protection the daughter and son of their kings.' The Hungarian nobles responded with enthusiasm to this appeal, and drew their swords, exclaiming, 'We will die for our king, Maria Theresa !'[Q35C]

The French and Bavarians were soon driven out of her hereditary states by the Imperial forces under General Kevenhuller and Prince Charles of Lorraine. In 1742 a treaty of peace was concluded between Maria Theresa and the King of Prussia, by which the latter obtained Silesia. The Elector of Bavaria, who had been previously chosen Emperor of Germany under the name of Charles VII., having died in 1745, Francis, the husband of Maria Theresa, was elected to that dignity.[Q35C]

In 1746 the Imperialists gained important victories in Italy, and defeated the French and Spaniards at Piacenza. The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1748, put an end to the war of the Austrian succession, leaving the empress in possession of all her hereditary estates except Silesia. The Seven Years’ war, carried on by Prussia against France, Russia, and Austria, terminated in 1763, leaving the boundaries of Austria and Prussia the same as before.[Q35C]

The emperor Francis having died in 1765, his son Joseph was elected to the imperial dignity; but Maria Theresa still retained the administration of the government. She is said to have refused to take any part in the partition of Poland (1772) until prevailed upon by the representations of Joseph II and Prince Kaunitz.[Q35C]

Among the important reforms of her reign was the abolition of the torture (1776) and of feudal service. She also abolished the Inquisition at Milan, and suppressed the order of Jesuits.[Q35C]

Place of birth: Vienna[J92]
Place of death: Vienna[J92]



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