Brass medal Maria Theresa of Austria standard
Maria Theresa, was the oldest daughter of the last male Habsburg ruler Charles VI (II) and Elisabeth Christine Brunswick-Wolfenbütel, and wife of Francis I Stephen of Lorraine. She acceded to the throne after the death of her father Charles VI on the basis of so-called Pragmatic Sanction – a law which enacted the indivisibility of the Habsburg lands and the possibility of female succession and inheritance in the Habsburg family. Despite this measure, the rulers in neighbouring countries did not recognize her heritage claims and her accession was met with the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession. Charles Albert of Bavaria presented a claim on Bohemia and the Austrian lands, Frederick II of Prussia (Frederick the Great) on Silesia and Frederick Augustus II of Saxony on Moravia. At the beginning of the conflict she was losing– Charles Albert became the Czech king in 1741 as Charles III (and, subsequently, also the Roman emperor as Charles VII in 1742) and Frederick II seized Silesia. However, thanks to her clever policy and political circumstances Maria Theresa managed to regain major part of her inheritance. At the end of 1742 she won back Bohemia, and the only substantial and permanent loss was the secession of the majority of Silesia from the Czech crown. In 1745, her husband Francis I Stephen became the emperor and Maria Theresa the empress consort. After his death in 1765, their oldest son Joseph II became emperor and co-ruler of the Habsburg family’s hereditary lands.