The fact that Maria Theresa gave birth to sixteen children is a well-
Maria Elisabeth (1737–1740)
died while still a young child.
was Maria Anna (1738–1789), who developed strong intellectual interests and was very similar in character to her father.
Afflicted by a deformation of the ribcage, she was not considered marriageable and remained with her mother until the latter’s death in 1780. Subsequently Maria Anna spent her remaining years as abbess of the St Elizabeth convent in Klagenfurt, to which she left her considerable estate.
Born in 1740, died in infancy.
Maria Theresa’s favourite daughter and perhaps for this favouritism she was certainly not popular with her brothers and sisters. She was the only one of Maria Theresa’s children allowed to marry for love, not political considerations. She married Duke Albert of Saxe-
Maria Elisabeth (1743–1808) was said to be very pretty, naturally this additional ‘plus’ took a central role in her mother’s plans for her marriage, a plan which often started maturing at the point of birth and once the sex of the child was known. However, smallpox was to play a major role yet again in Maria Theresa's world, when Maria Elisabeth was struck by smallpox and destroyed her beauty.
She was never to marry and it is said she became somewhat difficult to get along with and would argue over everything with real ill-
The birth of her 2nd son, Karl Joseph (1745–1761), was to give Maria Theresa her greatest joy it was said. Karl Joseph was charming and intelligent and was favoured by most he encountered to his withdrawn and shy brother Joseph. This was not unexpected as he was a type of rival in reality, and would have taken the role of successor had anything happened to his brother. However, Karl Joseph died at the age of 16, yet again when smallpox became an epidemic and swept through taking several other members of his family. His death was particularly hard for his parents.
The birth of Maria Amalie (1746–1804) typified the role and often purpose of children in such families when she was married off to Duke Ferdinand of Parma. Marie Amalie was opposed to the marriage, a feeling she expressed without question, however, her marriage was part of the rapprochement with the Bourbons, so the sacrifice was made. Strong in character and spirit she would never forgive her mother and their relationship was never to recover and remained somewhat strained and cool for the remainder of their lives.
Her 3rd son Peter Leopold (1747–1792) was seen at first to have little purpose as 3rd in line to the throne. The early death of his brother Karl catapulted him to 2nd in line, which with all the dangers of the time and with smallpox being such a major player at the time, was not that far from ruling! Indeed, upon the death of his father he succeeded his father as Grand Duke of Tuscany, adding some purpose to his life. When his elder brother Joseph died in 1790 without issue, no children to succeed, Peter Leopold became his successor on the imperial throne, an office he would hold for only two years until his own death in 1792.
Maria Karoline was next to be born in 1748, but died shortly after her birth.
Maria Josepha (1751–1767) was next, she however died of smallpox shortly before she was due to marry the Neapolitan crown prince. Her loss was not his, as he would marry her sister Maria Karolina, the next daughter to be born.
Maria Karolina (1752–1814) would marry the Neapolitan crown prince following the death of her sister Maria Josepha. She would however prove a controversial Queen of Naples and Sicily and it was said that she was a true daughter of Maria Theresa. She would go on to give birth to 18 children.
would be the 2nd to last boy born. It is said that he possessed a somewhat lacking and nondescript character and would go unnoticed in a room. He would go on to marry the heiress to the d’Este dynasty, which ruled over the northern Italian principality of Modena.
As Maria Antonia would become queen of France as Maria Antoinette and eventually meet her end under the blade of the guillotine.
She would certainly become the face and name of French extravagance and waste in a period when the ordinary man and woman lived hand to mouth.
She would become the bet known of
Maria Theresa's children.
Maximilian would become or of Cologne and was the employer and patron of the young Ludwig van Beethoven.