Maria Theresa
Maria Teresa di Borbone-Napoli.jpg
Holy Roman Empress
German Queen
Tenure5 July 1792 – 6 August 1806
Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia
Archduchess consort of Austria
Tenure1 March 1792 - 13 April 1807
Coronation11 August 1793, Prague
Empress consort of Austria
Tenure11 August 1804 – 13 April 1807
Born(1772-06-06)6 June 1772
Royal Palace, Naples, Naples
Died13 April 1807(1807-04-13) (aged 34)
Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria
(m. 1790)
Among others..
Maria Teresa Carolina Giuseppina di Borbone
HouseBourbon-Two Sicilies
FatherFerdinand I of the Two Sicilies
MotherMaria Carolina of Austria
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily (6 June 1772 – 13 April 1807) was the first Empress of Austria and last Holy Roman Empress as the spouse of Francis II. She was born a Princess of Naples as the eldest daughter of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and Queen Maria Carolina.


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

Early life

Born on 6 June 1772 at the Royal Palace of Naples, Maria Theresa Carolina Giuseppina was the eldest child of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Queen Maria Carolina. She was her mother’s favorite child from birth, and was henceforth named after her maternal grandmother Empress Maria Theresa.[1] Princess Maria Theresa was taught French, mathematics, geography, theology, music, dancing, and drawing.[1]

In the February of 1790, Archduke Francis’s wife, Duchess Elisabeth, died in childbirth, and it was announced that he would marry one of the princesses of Naples. Maria Theresa and her sister Luisa were both considered for the match. In the end, though, Luisa was chosen to marry Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Maria Theresa was to marry Francis.[1] The marriage was in accordance with the traditional Habsburg marriage policy.


On 15 September 1790, at the age of 18, Princess Maria Theresa married her double first cousin Archduke Francis.[2] Francis would, in 1792, become Holy Roman Emperor. Eventually, in 1806, he would become the first Emperor of Austria.[2][3] The marriage was described as a happy one based on mutual understanding,[2] despite differences in personality. Francis was described as a melancholic character. He was shy and reserved, and was serious with a preference for a spartan lifestyle and duty. Maria Theresa, on the other hand, was described as a gracious blue-eyed blonde with a vivacious personality, a hot temper and a sensual nature. Despite these differences in personality, 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 participated with enthusiasm in court life, and it was noted that she enjoyed dancing and partaking in carnival balls—even while pregnant.[2] She particularly enjoyed the Waltz, which had been recently introduced as an innovation and became fashionable during her years in Vienna.

Hedvig Elisabeth 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.[4]

On 12 December 1791, the firstborn child of Princess Maria Theresa and Archduke Francis was born: Marie Louise.[5] She was educated specifically in French, English, Spanish, Italian and Latin, with the expectation of her native language German.[6] Marie Louise would soon marry King Napoleon, due to the ongoing wars with France that were effecting her parents and grandparents.

Holy Roman Empress

Portrait of Empress Maria Theresa, by Johann Baptist von Lampi the Elder
Portrait of Empress Maria Theresa, by Johann Baptist von Lampi the Elder

In 1792, Maria Theresa’s husband Francis ascended the throne as King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, and she became queen consort. In the same year, she would become Holy Roman Empress.[2] The-then 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 King Napoleon, 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.

In the February of 1799, her seeming indifference to the revolution against her parents in Naples attracted some disfavour in Vienna.[3] Although she was her mother’s favorite child, she was bias when it come to their exile during the War.

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.


Empress Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies lying in state.
Empress Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies lying in state.

In the winter of 1806, Empress Maria Theresa (pregnant with her 12th child) contracted tuberculous pleurisy, which the imperial physician, Andreas Joseph von Stifft, treated with bloodletting. However, it did not trigger an improvement in health, but a premature birth. When Empress Maria Theresa died after following complications after her last childbirth (the daughter died a few days before the mother) on 13 April 1807 at the age of 34, the Emperor was inconsolable and had to be removed by force from the corpse of his wife. She was buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna. The shattered Emperor stayed away from the funeral, instead traveling to Buda with his two eldest children.[7] The urn containing her heart was placed in the Heart Crypt and the urn with her entrails in the Ducal Crypt. Empress Maria Theresa is one of the 41 people who received a "separate burial" with the body divided between all three traditional Viennese burial sites of the Habsburgs (Imperial Crypt, Heart Crypt, Duke Crypt).




  1. ^ a b c Bloks, Moniek (2022-01-25). "Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily - The last Holy Roman Empress (part one)". History of Royal Women. Retrieved 2022-06-27.
  2. ^ a b c d e Susan (2013-06-05). "Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily, Empress of Austria". Unofficial Royalty. Retrieved 2022-06-27.
  3. ^ a b "Maria Theresa - the last Holy Roman Empress". Italy On This Day. Retrieved 2022-06-27.
  4. ^ Charlottas, Hedvig Elisabeth (1927) [1797-1799]. af Klercker, Cecilia (ed.). Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok [The diary of Hedvig Elizabeth Charlotte] (in Swedish). Vol. 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)
  5. ^ de Saint-Amand, p. 1
  6. ^ Schom, Alan, p. 548
  7. ^ Friedrich Weissensteiner: Frauen auf Habsburgs Thron – die österreichischen Kaiserinnen (in German), Ueberreuter Wien, 1998, ISBN 3-8000-3709-2
  8. ^ 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.


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

Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily House of Bourbon-Two SiciliesCadet branch of the House of BourbonBorn: 6 June 1772 Died: 13 April 1807 German royalty Preceded byMaria Luisa of Spain Holy Roman Empress 1792–1806 Holy Roman Empiredissolved Queen of the Romans 1792–1806 VacantTitle next held byAugusta of Saxe-Weimar as German Empress Archduchess consort of Austria 1792–1807 Succeeded byMaria Ludovika of Austria-Este Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia 1792–1807 New titleCreation of Austrian Empire Empress consort of Austria 1804–1807