- historical event:
- The young ruler was only 23, and possessed an attractive appearance (see picture). She had large blue eyes, fair hair with a hint of red, and a wide mouth. Her parents weren't close cousins, so that she was one of the rare members of the Hapsburg family who had a healthy genetic origin.
The famed Hungarian queen and Austrian archduchess, Maria Theresa, acceded to the throne on this day. Of course, this happened after the death of Emperor Charles VI – he didn’t have any sons, so that his throne passed to his eldest daughter, Maria Theresa.
Maria Theresa’s father was the last male descendant of the Hapsburg dynasty, and spent almost his entire reign securing his throne for his daughter. Namely, only male members of the dynasty were allowed to inherit the throne of the Holy Roman Empire at that time (the so-called Salic Law). Her father therefore had to convince the other European monarchs, as well as the ruling strata of his own society, to give their written approval. This was called the “Pragmatic Sanction”.
Maria Theresa’s father died on this day, according to some accounts from mushroom poisoning. He was only 55 years old at the moment of his death. The young Maria Theresa was 23 and inherited an expansive territory, together with an empty treasury. She later wrote: “I found myself without money, without credit, without an army, without experience and knowledge, and also without any advice, because everyone was waiting to see how things would develop.”
Indeed, the European monarchs took advantage of the new ruler’s weakness and caused her much harm. The Prussian king took Silesia, a wealthy northern province. The Duke of Bavaria was elected as the new German emperor, thus breaking a centuries-long Hapsburg tradition of holding that title. Foreign powers waged war against Maria Theresa. Luckily, her army remained loyal, so that the young ruler successfully defended her right to the throne.
She ruled her country wisely, introducing many reforms, but also keeping clear of excessive radicalism. Her son Joseph II was much more radical, and many of his reforms fell through.
The young Maria Theresa possessed an attractive appearance (see picture). She had large blue eyes, fair hair with a hint of red, and a wide mouth. Her parents weren’t close cousins, so that she was one of the rare members of the Hapsburg family who had a healthy genetic origin.