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Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily (6 June 1772 – 13 April 1807) was the last Holy Roman Empress and the first Empress of Austria by marriage to Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor. She was the eldest daughter of Ferdinand IV & III of Naples and Sicily (later Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies) (1751–1825) and Marie Caroline of Austria (1752–1814).


Maria Theresa of Naples as a young child
Maria Theresa of Naples as a young child

Born Maria Teresa, and named after her maternal grandmother Maria Theresa of Austria, she was the eldest of 18 children born to Ferdinand IV & III and Maria Carolina of Austria, the King and Queen of Naples and Sicily. She was her mother's favourite child from birth until she left the Neapolitan court to marry.

In February 1790, Archduke Francis of Austria's first wife, Duchess Elisabeth of Württemberg, died in childbirth, and it was announced that he would marry one of the princesses of Naples. This was in accordance with the traditional Habsburg marriage policy. Maria Theresa and her sister Princess Luisa of Naples and Sicily were both considered for the match. In the end, Luisa was chosen to marry Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany instead, and Maria Theresa to marry Francis.


Maria Theresa with her husband and children.
Maria Theresa with her husband and children.

On 15 September 1790 she married her double first cousin, who would in 1792 become Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, and in 1806 Emperor Francis I of Austria.

The marriage is described as a happy one based on good mutual understanding, despite differences in personality. Francis was described as a melancholic character, shy and reserved, serious and with a preference for a spartan lifestyle and duty, and with a pale and haggard appearance. Maria Theresa, on the other hand, was described as a gracious blue-eyed blonde with full lips, but a large nose, with a vivacious personality, a hot temper and a sensual nature. Despite these differences in appearance and personality, however, they were reported to have a good understanding of each other and had a very good relationship.

Maria Theresa reportedly adapted well to her new home in Vienna and did not suffer from homesickness. She loved entertainment, and participated with enthusiasm in court life, and it was noted that she enjoyed dancing, participating in every carnival ball at court even while pregnant. She particularly enjoyed the Waltz, which had been recently introduced as an innovation and became fashionable during her life in Vienna.

Hedwig Elizabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp described the view of Maria Theresa and the relationship between the couple in her famous diary during her visit to Vienna in 1798–99:

The Empress is reputed to be so jealous that she does not allow him to take part in social life or meet other women. Vicious tongues accuse her of being so passionate that she exhausts her consort and never leaves him alone even for a moment. Although the people of Vienna cannot deny that she is gifted, charitable and carries herself beautifully, she is disliked for her intolerance and for forcing the Emperor to live isolated from everyone. She is also accused of interesting herself in unimportant matters and socializing exclusively with her lady-companions. With them she spends her evenings singing, acting out comedies and being applauded.[1]

In February 1799, her seeming indifference to the revolution against her parents in Naples attracted some disfavour in Vienna.[2] Hedwig Elisabeth Charlotte also recounts a scene described to her by a foreigner, who bribed his way into the private park at Laxenburg and came to witness a scene between the couple:

"He saw the Emperor sitting on a bench, alone in his thoughts. Immediately, the Empress came to fetch him, and he exclaimed: "Can't you ever leave me alone, so that I may breathe for one moment? For God's sake, don't follow me around all the time."[3]

Empress Maria Theresa was interested in politics and came to play a certain role in state affairs due to her influence over her spouse, to whom she acted as an adviser. She was a conservative force and belonged to the critics of Napoleon I, and was reported to have encouraged Francis in an anti-French position during the Napoleonic Wars. She has also been pointed out for being partially responsible for the dismissal of Johann Baptist Freiherr von Schloissnigg and Graf Franz Colloredo.

An important patron of Viennese music, she commissioned many compositions for official and private use. Joseph Haydn wrote his Te Deum for chorus and orchestra at her request. Her favourite composers included Paul Wranitzky and Joseph Leopold Eybler, a composer of sacred music.

She died due to complications after her last premature childbirth.




  1. ^ Charlottas, Hedvig Elisabeth (1927) [1797-1799]. af Klercker, Cecilia (ed.). Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok [The diary of Hedvig Elizabeth Charlotte] (in Swedish). VI 1797-1799. Translated by Cecilia af Klercker. Stockholm: P.A. Norstedt & Söners förlag. pp. 160–61. OCLC 14111333. (search for all versions on WorldCat)
  2. ^ Charlottas, Hedvig Elisabeth (1927) [1797-1799]. af Klercker, Cecilia (ed.). Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok [The diary of Hedvig Elizabeth Charlotte] (in Swedish). VI 1797-1799. Translated by Cecilia af Klercker. Stockholm: P.A. Norstedt & Söners förlag. pp. 171–72. OCLC 14111333. (search for all versions on WorldCat)
  3. ^ Charlottas, Hedvig Elisabeth (1927) [1797-1799]. af Klercker, Cecilia (ed.). Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok [The diary of Hedvig Elizabeth Charlotte] (in Swedish). VI. Translated by Cecilia af Klercker. Stockholm: P.A. Norstedt & Söners förlag. pp. 171–72. OCLC 14111333. (search for all versions on WorldCat)
  4. ^ Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. pp. 1, 9.
  • This article is based on its equivalent on German Wikipedia


  • Richard Reifenscheid, Die Habsburger in Lebensbildern, Piper 2006
  • John A. Rice, Empress Marie Therese and Music at the Viennese Court, 1792–1807, Cambridge 2003
  • Friedrich Weissensteiner: Frauen auf Habsburgs Thron – die österreichischen Kaiserinnen, Ueberreuter Wien, 1998, ISBN 3-8000-3709-2

External links

Media related to Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies at Wikimedia Commons

Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 6 June 1772 Died: 13 April 1807
German royalty
Preceded by
Maria Luisa of Spain
Holy Roman Empress
Holy Roman Empire
Queen of the Romans
Title next held by
Augusta of Saxe-Weimar
as German Empress
Archduchess consort of Austria
Succeeded by
Maria Ludovika of Austria-Este
Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia
New title
Creation of Austrian Empire
Empress consort of Austria
This page was last edited on 19 January 2021, at 06:53
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