…and Queen of Bohemia and “King” of Hungary, as well, but never officially an Empress. This year marks the 300th anniversary of her birth, and Vienna is abuzz with new exhibits commemorating everything from her policies to the actresses who portrayed her in movies.
The first exhibit to open in Vienna is in the State Hall of the Austrian National Library, well worth a visit in its own right.
A primer on Maria Theresia I shall leave to the historians; this is a sampling of my highlights of the exhibit. To set the stage: Emperor Charles VI, Maria Theresia’s father had no male heirs, so, viola! she became an Archduchess. By the by she married Francis Stephan and in-between his extramarital dalliances she bore him 16 children, 10 of whom survived childhood. Her most notable daughter was Maria Antonia (Antoinette), Queen of France.
Under Maria Theresia education was formalized, not only for her children but across the empire. Beautiful panels covering religion, culture and customs, ways of expressing thoughts, mathematics, geography, history and the liberal arts formed the foundation for formalized learning. The “AEIOU” at the bottom is loosely shorthand for, Alles Erdreich ist Österreich untertan, or, “All the world is subject to Austria,” and was part of Emperor Frederick III’s “signature” carried over in later years.
School regulations for Hungary. Six years of formal education was compulsory for the, “True happiness of the nation,” and instruction was highly monitored.
The sciences flourished under her reign, too, with several cabinets (coins, natural history, and physics) being established early. The texts were beautiful to look at; and, I think, might inspire anyone to learn the life cycle of the locust.
Finally, “Preventative Censorship” during the Enlightenment. Not exactly a reform to be remembered for, the Archduchess, self-regarded as a ruler by the grace of God and a staunch supporter of faith and tradition, expanded Papa’s requirement that every book printed to receive a special permit by a censor. Those writings deemed by the censor (typically priests) to be an affront to the Catholic Church were banned and cataloged; this ledger includes theatrical works and writings by Goethe. Eventually this book was banned.
I look forward this year to learning more about the, Hapsburg’s Mightiest Woman.