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Empress Maria Theresa was the first and only female head of the Habsburg dynasty. She was Archduchess of Austria, and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia and ruler of other territories from 1740 until her death. She also became the Holy Roman Empress when her husband was elected Holy Roman Emperor. She was one of the so-called "enlightened monarchs". She was one of the most powerful rulers of her time, ruling over much of central Europe. Her Imperial and Royal Highness Maria Theresa, Princess Imperial and Archduchess of Austria, Princess Royal of Hungary and Bohemia was the eldest daughter of Charles VI, whose sole male heir - his son Leopold Johann - died as an infant in 1716. In 1713 Charles issued the Pragmatic Sanction which guaranteed his daughter the right to succeed to the Austrian throne and inherit his united lands on his death. Initially, many European monarchs agreed to the Pragmatic Sanction when it was issued. However, soon after Maria Theresa assumed the throne upon Charles' death on October 20, 1740, the War of Austrian Succession began.
Maria Theresa was married to Francis Stephen, Duke of Lorraine. In the end, she had 16 children by him, with 11 daughters (all of whom had the first name "Marie") and 5 sons surviving to adulthood. Her youngest daughter was Maria Antonia (better known under her French name Marie Antoinette) who would be promised in marriage to Louis, heir apparent to the king of France, later King Louis XVI. After her husband's death, she made her son Joseph II co-regent of her Austrian dominions, but she actually kept most of the power to herself, which led to tension between her and her son. It was not until her death that he could fully exercise his powers.

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Empress Maria Theresa was the first and only female head of the Habsburg dynasty. She was Archduchess of Austria, and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia and ruler of other territories from 1740 until her death. She also became the Holy Roman Empress when her husband was elected Holy Roman Emperor. She was one of the so-called "enlightened monarchs". She was one of the most powerful rulers of her time, ruling over much of central Europe. Her Imperial and Royal Highness Maria Theresa, Princess Imperial and Archduchess of Austria, Princess Royal of Hungary and Bohemia was the eldest daughter of Charles VI, whose sole male heir - his son Leopold Johann - died as an infant in 1716. In 1713 Charles issued the Pragmatic Sanction which guaranteed his daughter the right to succeed to the Austrian throne and inherit his united lands on his death. Initially, many European monarchs agreed to the Pragmatic Sanction when it was issued. However, soon after Maria Theresa assumed the throne upon Charles' death on October 20, 1740, the War of Austrian Succession began.
Maria Theresa was married to Francis Stephen, Duke of Lorraine. In the end, she had 16 children by him, with 11 daughters (all of whom had the first name "Marie") and 5 sons surviving to adulthood. Her youngest daughter was Maria Antonia (better known under her French name Marie Antoinette) who would be promised in marriage to Louis, heir apparent to the king of France, later King Louis XVI. After her husband's death, she made her son Joseph II co-regent of her Austrian dominions, but she actually kept most of the power to herself, which led to tension between her and her son. It was not until her death that he could fully exercise his powers. More...

 
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