Maria Theresa

Maria Theresa was the queen of Hungary, Czechia, Croatia and Slavonia, archduchess of Austria, Duchess of Parma and Piacenza and archduchess of Tuscany. Despite such a vast area to rule over, she had always found some spare time to visit Bratislava and lighten the city with her characteristic lavish and pompous taste.  

One of the proofs of her spectacular style was her coronation, which took place on 25th June 1741 in the largest city church – St. Martin Cathedral, continuing towards the Main Plaza where the young empress bowed in front of her patron Virgin Mary. The statue had a personal meaning for Maria Theresa since it was built at the request of her grandfather Leopold. 

The procession continued by dubbing forty-five noblemen as knights of Gold Spur in the Franciscan church. Not far away ( currently Plaza of SNP) Maria Theresa recited the coronation vow and to impress onlookers as well as the nobility, she added a short ride on a black horse to a coronation hill (currently Plaza of Ludovit Stur). There, she carried out a ceremony of cutting with a sword in four directions, meaning that she was ready to protect the whole empire. During the ceremony, water in city fountains had been replaced with one of her favourite wines, most likely from Rača (now a city district in Bratislava). Aside from drinks, soldiers enjoyed fried meat while peasants got coronation coins. 

After the official part ended, Maria Theresa stayed in Bratislava to work on more administrative and diplomatic sides of her rulership. Her everyday duties made her move to the city part of her court from Vienna, which raised the niveau of both social and religious life. Her positive attitude towards the middle class of Bratislava could have been seen in her accepting their invitations for both formal and informal events, as well as joining people during masses in local churches. Contrary to Bratislava, Praha was neglected by the empress, for which she was also criticized. But the reason was a pragmatic one – she had bigger support from Hungarian noblemen that from the Czech ones.

The coronation and work were not the only reasons her visits to Bratislava were so frequent. Her favourite daughter Maria Christine, married the son of a Polish king and royal governor of Hungary. She was her only child to be allowed to choose her husband and it seemed like she had married out of love, not politics. Perhaps the atmosphere of such a harmonious household was one of the reasons she spent much time with Maria Christine and her husband in Bratislava.



Did you know?

To make the coronation of Maria Theresa possible, the law had to be changed. The Habsburg dynasty passed the throne only to their male descendants. Karol VI, the father of Maria Theresa, issued an edict known as the Pragmatic Sanction. In this document, he declared the indivisibility of all Habsburg lands and the succession in the direct line. The acceptance of the edict on an international level was not an easy task and the emperor had to pay the price. But in the end, it allowed Maria Theresa to become the queen and while the coronation in Bratislava took place on 25th June 1741, in Prague it was almost two years later, on 12th May 1743. 

Empress Maria Theresa (ruled 1740-1780) issued several reforms that reshaped the whole empire, for example:

  • School reform: mandatory school attendance- also for girls and children from poor families. Her advisor was Adam František Kollár, a native of Terchová, Slovakia
  • Healthcare reform: she introduced the smallpox vaccination
  • Army reform: mandatory uniforms, education of higher officers and regular payment for soldiers.
  • Urban patent: mandatory street names and house numbers
  • Tax reform: first use of paper money
  • Military Order of Maria Theresa: the highest military honour of the Habsburg monarchy
  • She ordered to build the largest printing house in Hungary (1750), publishing Pressburgerzeitung (Pressburg news)
  • She was a gourmand and enjoyed good food and drink, especially wine and chocolate

Authors: Juraj Hradský - FINS, Soňa Doroková