Maria Ludovika of Austria-Este
Maria Ludovica d
Empress consort of Austria
Queen consort of Hungary
Tenure6 January 1808 – 7 April 1816
Coronation7 September 1808, St. Martin's Cathedral
Born(1787-12-14)14 December 1787
Monza, Duchy of Milan
Died7 April 1816(1816-04-07) (aged 28)
Verona, Lombardy-Venetia
(m. 1808)
FatherFerdinand Karl, Archduke of Austria-Este
MotherMaria Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Massa

Maria Ludovika of Austria-Este, also known as Maria Ludovika of Modena, (German: Maria Ludovika Beatrix von Modena; 14 December 1787 – 7 April 1816) was the daughter of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este (1754–1806) and his wife, Maria Beatrice Ricciarda d'Este (1750–1829). She was a member of the House of Austria-Este, a branch of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine.


Maria Ludovika was born in Monza, but her family fled from Italy to Austria when Northern Italy was conquered by Napoleon in 1796. This caused her a hostility for Napoleon. In Austria, the Emperor fell in love with her during his visits to her mother.

On 6 January 1808 she married her first cousin Francis I, Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary and Bohemia. They had no children. She is not to be confused with Marie-Louise of Austria (who was given the Latin baptismal name of Maria Ludovica Leopoldina Francisca Theresa Josepha Lucia), who married Napoleon in 1810.

She, as leader of the war party in Austria,[1] was a great enemy of the French Emperor Napoleon I of France and therefore also in opposition to the Austrian foreign minister Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich. The French had protested against the marriage because of her political views. She had considerable influence on her husband, and her talent at ruling marvelled many officials, including the Prussian minister who considered her the ruling genius at court. Maria Ludovika was also immensely popular with her subjects who hailed her a second Maria Theresa. Together with her brother-in-law Archduke Johann, she made the war effort popular.[2][3] During her coronation in Pressburg, she impressed the Hungarians so much that they declared large financial and military support for the monarchy if needed.[4] But the Emperor hesitated and Archduke Karl who had extensive control over military matters advised caution. Only the effects of the Spanish revolt in 1808 allowed the war party to prevail.[5]

Empress Maria Ludovica, with three of her stepchildren: Ferdinand, Maria Leopoldina and Franz Karl
Empress Maria Ludovica, with three of her stepchildren: Ferdinand, Maria Leopoldina and Franz Karl

Metternich showed her private correspondence with her relatives to her husband, the Emperor Francis I, in the hope that it would miscredit her. She was conservative in her views, suspicious of peasant revolts,[6] but also patriotic towards her adopted land,[3] and genuinely disturbed by atrocities that Napoleon's armies created in Spain.[7] She supported the war against Napoleonic France in 1808. From this year, her health deteriorated. She was opposed to the marriage between Napoleon and her step-daughter Marie Louise in 1809. In 1812, she was a reluctant guest to the assembly of German monarchs gathered by Napoleon to celebrate his war against Russia.

She was the hostess of the Vienna congress in 1815. When Napoleon was finally defeated she traveled at the end of the year 1815 to her home country, North Italy, but died of tuberculosis in Verona. She was only 28 years old.[8] She is buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna.

The Ludovica Military Academy in Budapest established in 1808 was named after Maria Ludovika who contributed 50,000 Forint for its upkeep from the funds of the Honours list proclaimed at the Coronation in St. Martin's Cathedral, in Pressburg.

Goethe admired Maria Ludovika greatly, and felt tortured because he promised never to pay a public tribute to her nor mention her name in public.[9]


Monument to Empress Maria Ludovika in Budapest
Monument to Empress Maria Ludovika in Budapest

A large marble memorial plaque mentioned her visit with the emperor in 1816 is located at Monza Cathedral.

A large bronze monument depicting her in the centre, and Archduke Joseph, Palatine of Hungary and János Buttler on either side was unveiled in 1901 at the Royal Hungarian Ludovica Military Academy.



  1. ^ Musulin, Stella (1975). Vienna in the Age of Metternich: From Napoleon to Revolution, 1805–1848. Westview Press. p. 56. ISBN 9780891585015.
  2. ^ Langsam, Walter Consuelo (1930). The Napoleonic Wars and German Nationalism in Austria, Issue 324. Columbia University Press. p. 34.
  3. ^ a b Herold, J. Christopher (2016). Napoleon. New Word City. ISBN 9781612308623.
  4. ^ Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Historische Kommission (1990). Neue deutsche Biographie: Maly-Melanchthon. Duncker & Humblot. p. 192. ISBN 9783428001811.
  5. ^ Esdaile, Charles J. (2014). Wars of Napoleon,The. Routledge. p. 30. ISBN 9781317899181.
  6. ^ Englund, Steven (May 11, 2010). Napoleon: A Political Life. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781439131077.
  7. ^ Dwyer, Philip (2013). Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power 1799–1815. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781408837818.
  8. ^ Brigitte Hamann: Die Habsburger. 1988, p. 333f.
  9. ^ Mommsen, Katharina (2014). Goethe and the Poets of Arabia. Boydell & Brewer. p. 262. ISBN 9781571139085.