Maria Theresa (or, in German and Latin, Maria Theresia) von Habsburg was one of the most remarkable rulers in European history. When her father died in 1740 without male issue, she came to the Habsburg throne. She was young, amiable but over-sheltered, and her father had amazingly neglected to train her properly, though in fairness this was likely because he had to devote most, if not all, of his time fighting tooth and nail for her succession. Despite those crippling disadvantages, she learned on the job. During her forty-year-long reign, she defended her territory from neighboring rulers as well as beginning many social reforms, which her son Joseph would expand, and is admired by many to this day - except children, who usually only remember that she had the bright idea of mandatory basic schools. Speaking of children, she had sixteen; in an era when hygiene was non-existent, surviving sixteen childbirths was little short of miraculous.
Most people aren't aware that she never held the title Holy Roman Empress, because it didn't exist. She was archduchess of Austria and King of Hungary and Queen of Bohemia, and had dozens of other titles in her own right, but for the first five years of her reign, the title of Holy Roman Emperor went to her cousin's husband, the duke of Bavaria. When he died, her own husband got it, and so she was the HRE's wife. Additionally, she was the last 'actual' Habsburg. Her children would have belonged to the dynasty of Lorraine, but due to the prominence of the Habsburg dynasty, her children became von Habsburg-Lothringen.
Tropes as portrayed in fiction:
- Beauty Equals Goodness: She was notably attractive in her youth. She looks better in the Andreas Moeller portrait given in the other wiki. Presumably she was younger or Andreas was a better painter.
- Military Maverick: According to legend the Order of Maria Theresa medal requires you to win a victory by disobeying orders. There is partial truth to this. It is a medal for "initiative" given out because she was frustrated at having to prod her officers and wanted them to have a motive to look for trouble.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: It is said that she was travestied as the Queen of the Night in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte for her anti-progressivism and favoring the Jesuits.
Appearances in Fiction:
- In the Civilization series:
- She appears in Civilization II as the female representative for Germany.
- She is a playable figure in the Civilization V: Gods and Kings expansion, as Austria's leader. Her unique ability is one of only two ways you can peacefully annex a city-state in the game. note In addition, her unique building is a Coffee House, which should tell you all you need to know.
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, a young and recently crowned Maria Theresa is seen alongside the embodiments of Austria and Hungary during both the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War. Even in the more historically recent, Austria still recalls her fondly alongside descendant Franz Joseph.
- Played by Marianne Faithfull in Marie Antoinette, in which she spends most of her limited screen time pleading with her daughter to consummate her marriage.
- Maria also appears in Riyoko Ikeda's Rose of Versailles. She arranges Antoniette's marriage to Louis and gives her advice on how to behave as the Queen of France, like never giving jobs and money as favors and always listening to Count De Mercy. Antoinette doesn't listen. And we all know how it ended.