Author Topic: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family  (Read 270208 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

  • Graf
  • ***
  • Posts: 478
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #225 on: July 03, 2011, 03:00:43 AM »
From a German forum on Marie Antoinette, on the imperial family's heights:

Empress Maria Theresia was about  1.60 m tall and weighed at the end of her life over 120kg. At her wedding, however, had barely weighed 50kg ...

Joseph II was conisdered the  prettiest man of his family because he was, for a time, astonishingly tall and slender. He was about 172m to max. 1.75 m. All other brothers were shorter than him. Leopold  II was 1.68 m tall, athletic, and later on, also overweight. Ferdinand should have been only 1.63 m tall and pretty soon after his departure from Vienna had become very corpulent, was fond of drinking, and was also very lazy. Good-natured Maximilian as an adult was only  1.60 m tall (maximum), and as time went by grew extremely corpulent. His waist circumference  measured at 1.80 m. As for Karl, who died at 15-16 years old,  he was not fully grown, but he will certainly have moved from a scale of 1.60 m-1. 65m.  

Maria Josepha likely at 1.57m, Maria Elisabeth at 1.59 m and Maria Anna 1.56 m tall. Maria Christina was as tall as her mother at 1.60 m and Maria Carolina seemed to be the tallest among the girls at almost 1.70 m but both were rather big-boned. Marie Antoinette was said to be no taller than 1.55m.

======
Maria Amalia was not mentioned, but the studies on her remains put her height at 1.62-63m. I think she was taller in her youth and later on, she also had a back problem, in which she was said to have a small hump. Old-aged people also tend to be smaller than in their prime as well.    
« Last Edit: July 03, 2011, 03:03:41 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
kindness is the magic elixir of love

Offline prinzheinelgirl

  • Graf
  • ***
  • Posts: 478
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #226 on: July 03, 2011, 08:47:44 PM »
Very interesting facts on Maria Elisabeth and Joseph II:

Friedrich Weissensteiner in  Die Töchter Maria Theresias (Daughters of Maria Theresa) stated  that Maria Elisabeth took a foundling under her care, a little girl, later on but unfortunately it was just mentioned in passing.....

I've also read that Joseph II also "adopted" a girl from one of his visits in Russian Empire.  Supposedly he sent a courtier to procure a beautiful slave girl (*ahem*) but ended up with a little girl, then 6 years old, who was educated at Viennese court. He left her 1000 florins in annual pension in his will, and she married the valet of a nobleman later on.....(Source: the book  "Potemkin, Prince of Princes" by Simon Sebag Montefiore -- an excellent book and author, by the way).

I guess with these "adoptions" (albeit informally), it was only Maria Anna and Maximilian who didn't experience "parenthood" in some way (well, Joseph was a father but both his daughters died very young)...
« Last Edit: July 03, 2011, 09:08:35 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
kindness is the magic elixir of love

Offline prinzheinelgirl

  • Graf
  • ***
  • Posts: 478
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #227 on: July 04, 2011, 09:29:07 AM »
Collection of digital portraits at the Austrian National Library :

http://www.bildarchivaustria.at

(Click on Portratsammlung then Osterreich then Habsburg-Lothringen then 18.Jh.)

You'll find Maria Amalia (But it looked to me her mother-in-law Louise Elisabeth of France, with Ferdinand of Parma as a toddler), Maria Elisabeth, Maria Anna, Archduke Ferdinand, Franz Stephan at the beginning, then Joseph II and Leopold II at the middle, with Maria Theresa, Maria Christina, Marie Antoinette, and Archduke Maximilian at the end.... I guess Maria Carolina, Maria Josepha, Archduke Karl Joseph and the rest are somewhere there.)....

Enjoy!  

« Last Edit: July 04, 2011, 09:53:38 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
kindness is the magic elixir of love

Offline prinzheinelgirl

  • Graf
  • ***
  • Posts: 478
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #228 on: July 10, 2011, 11:31:24 PM »
Link to a (supposed) portrait of Archduchess Maria Christina:

http://www.artnet.com/artists/lotdetailpage.aspx?lot_id=F17B613DCC7F11D5DAB02EACF466F63A
« Last Edit: July 10, 2011, 11:33:23 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
kindness is the magic elixir of love

Offline prinzheinelgirl

  • Graf
  • ***
  • Posts: 478
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #229 on: July 19, 2011, 03:43:51 AM »
Leopold II in 1776 on Marie Christine:

She lives for herself and refuses to associate with any of her sisters…She has a lot of talents and knows how to take advantage of the Empress’s weak spots. She commiserates with her, agrees with her, is with her at all hours and all the time, writes her notes constantly, and in this way she has won her over fully and does with her what she wishes, answering and often talking back to her, demanding a lot, and the Empress gives her what asks for so as not to agitate her, because then she shows her worst side and because she doesn’t want to lose her…She treats everyone with great haughtiness, and in the course of things, despite some occasional courtesies, she is hated and feared by everyone, because she has a sharp tongue and repeats everything to the Empress…”

So, Mimi was also quite nasty to her mother when she wanted something .... MT was absolutely blind regarding this child. I don't know who was more culpable, mother or daughter?
kindness is the magic elixir of love

Offline Eric_Lowe

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 16997
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #230 on: July 20, 2011, 02:53:24 PM »
Well every parent has a favorite in their hearts even if they do not admit it. Mimi was MT's favorite. Plain & simple.  ;)

Offline prinzheinelgirl

  • Graf
  • ***
  • Posts: 478
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #231 on: July 21, 2011, 12:35:32 AM »
It does say something about the real character of Maria Theresa, though. I don't see why she is so idealised...
kindness is the magic elixir of love

Offline ivanushka

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 141
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #232 on: July 21, 2011, 09:40:47 AM »
I understand that the ill fated Karl/Charles was the favourite son, and even though I don't think he was quite as favoured as Mimi I still think the favouristism caused friction between him and his siblings.  I guess that if you do have a very large number of children then inevitably you may end up feeling closer to some than others.  However you should never let your children see it.  I think that Maria Theresa was an admirable woman in many ways but the blatant way she favoured some children over others was a great failing and makes her far less attractive as a personality.

Offline CountessKate

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1085
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #233 on: July 21, 2011, 10:16:42 AM »
Quote
I understand that the ill fated Karl/Charles was the favourite son, and even though I don't think he was quite as favoured as Mimi I still think the favouristism caused friction between him and his siblings.  I guess that if you do have a very large number of children then inevitably you may end up feeling closer to some than others.  However you should never let your children see it.  I think that Maria Theresa was an admirable woman in many ways but the blatant way she favoured some children over others was a great failing and makes her far less attractive as a personality.

I agree absolutely, and would add that Leopold also considered Ferdinand was favoured above him, which says something about Leopold as well (and it is interesting that he and Maria Christina made common cause when Maria Theresa was dead and the brake was off with Joseph, who seemed likely to lose them a chunk of Habsburg lands - he got on much better with her when they were on a more even footing).  Still, I do feel that Maria Theresa's shortcomings as a parent shouldn't obscure her very real success as a ruler, nor that she felt strongly for all her children, even if she had her favorites.  Nor should the fact that Maria Christina was unduly indulged - and behaved slightingly to some of her siblings - obscure her successes as a ruler also - and her policies in the Austrian Netherlands were better than Joseph's.  I don't think it emerges as a black and white situation.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

  • Graf
  • ***
  • Posts: 478
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #234 on: July 21, 2011, 10:09:43 PM »
Still, I do feel that Maria Theresa's shortcomings as a parent shouldn't obscure her very real success as a ruler, nor that she felt strongly for all her children, even if she had her favorites.  Nor should the fact that Maria Christina was unduly indulged - and behaved slightingly to some of her siblings - obscure her successes as a ruler also - and her policies in the Austrian Netherlands were better than Joseph's.

I don't find her such a bad ruler, although her need for vengeance and strong biases left much to be desired. But from all I have read, she seemed "unstable" as well -- her rages, her illusions of many things. I also find her love for her children very inconsistent. What matters more, professions of love or her actual actions? I, for one, find it so untruthful  of her to claim that she loved Maria Anna best of all her children when Maria Anna was on the verge of death at age 17. However, her actions (before and after such illness) speak otherwise. Maria Elisabeth was favoured when she was still a beauty but later on, she treated her as badly as she did Maria Anna because Maria Elisabeth no longer had a "purpose".  Even her claim of Marie Antoinette being so dear to her (when MA was about to leave Vienna) do not seem to be 100% true... if MA was so dear to her, she could've paid her more attention with regard to her development. There is a certain discrepancy between her words and her actions.                                                                                                                                                                                                      
I think there was more than Mimi being the favourite.... it's likely that her siblings would not have resented her so much if she wasn't nasty to them. But then, that was part of her strategy to win over her mother, to tell on her siblings. Mimi certainly knew how to play on her mother's suspicions (real or imagined).  
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 10:19:19 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
kindness is the magic elixir of love

Offline CountessKate

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1085
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #235 on: July 22, 2011, 10:31:15 AM »
I think Maria Theresa wasn't a hypocrite in that she genuinely believed she loved all her children equally (it was just that she thought Maria Christina deserved more!), and felt especially emotional when they were needy (e.g. Maria Anna when gravely ill) or about to leave home (Marie Antoinette), and couldn't understand why her children were so ungrateful as to doubt that she was doing everything possible for their benefit.  But the emotional highs did not last, although in fairness she continued to take an intense interest in all her children until the last, even if the interest was intrusive or inappropriate.  One of the difficulties I have always had with the correspondence between Maria Theresa and Marie Antoinette is how it depicts a rather grim struggle between mother and daughter, where the mother had very detailed reports available to her on all her daughter's doings, and yet wrote to her daughter as if she was not aware of the latest contretemps, while the daughter wriggled or fibbed or outright lied about what she was up to, without knowing her mother was perfectly well aware of this - both of them professing the greatest love for one another.  It was rather a model of her relations with her other children in many ways, though I've always thought she and Maria Amalia had the most healthy relationship - a huge blowup, followed by the daughter appearing unfazed by her mother's severence of relations, and the mother having to resign herself to keeping out of her daughter's business.  But with Maria Anna and Maria Elisabeth, who Leopold certainly thought were ill-treated by their mother towards the end of her life, I think it was rather a case of their having to bear the brunt of an ageing and increasingly infirm woman who was starting to decline in mental abilities and very much resented the whole business.  It is not, unfortunately, a phenomenon unknown to caregivers with the elderly today.


Offline prinzheinelgirl

  • Graf
  • ***
  • Posts: 478
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #236 on: July 23, 2011, 08:00:58 AM »
Thanks, CountessKate, for helping me understand Maria Theresa. I truly have quite a hard time understanding her psyche. Her contradictions simply astonish me, that's why I have hard time just "swallowing" what many authors state about her, i.e. idealising her. I think what she lacked was also self-reflection. If her children were so ungrateful and rebelled in different ways, she never appeared to realise her role in such. I understand that she was monarch and used to being blindly obeyed but she did have some analysis done with her spiritual adviser, Taroucca. It's a pity she didn't seem to continue with it... it seems that she only did because she wanted to analyse why the Frederick the Great got Silesia, after all.   I think what Isabella of Parma said, that MT lacked trust in herself (in modern parlance self-esteem) and she transferred such to her children, is true.

Even with  Franz Stephan, she played "tricks" on her mind, perhaps to make herself feel better because she didn't treat him very nicely. After his death, she claimed that all her actions were centered around him but going into an alliance (which FS abhorred) with France permanently put a stop to any remaining hopes FS had in recovering Lorraine. And that was just one example. Another instance is that she called her cousin Maria Antonia of Bavaria (Electress of Saxony) earlier as her "dear cousin and friend" during the Seven Years War while much later on, to rally Marie Antoinette to Bavarian cause of Austria, she called the Electress an "intriguer".  Let's not go into her declarations of spying (to her son Archduke Ferdinand) as not good: that people, even servants,  have the right to privacy but she engaged on it for years. And if she didn't like to hear gossip (i.e. bad things) about other people, why was she so ready to believe all the stories coming to Vienna about her children abroad?  

I find MT and Marie Antoinette's correspondence to be sad, laced with professions of love but both sides playing a game with each other. So I have never been convinced that Marie Antoinette did right in "charming" her mother in letters. I don't think Maria Amalia was always right in disobeying her mother on certain matters but, at very least, she was honest (see reply to her mother's 23 rules of conduct). In that respect, I agree -- I can see that their relationship was the healthiest in terms of honesty. Both sides eventually knew their limits as far as the other was concerned: MT could never dictate to her as long as Ferdinand of Parma shielded Maria Amalia, and Maria Amalia not given permission to visit Vienna (and according to what I have recently read, didn't receive that many presents as some of her other siblings from their mother).  I read that MT destroyed majority of her children's letters but kept many by Marie Antoinette and Joseph II.  I have to say, Maria Anna seemed to love her mother - she didn't feel loved by her but Maria Anna wanted it nevertheless. I have not read anything about Maria Elisabeth wanting her mother's love after she got disfigured by smallpox.  

I have to say though that I've read many accounts stating that MT had a terrible temper even as a young lady (newly married to FS) so it was there all along, old age and her ill health simply aggravated it.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 08:31:29 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
kindness is the magic elixir of love

Offline ivanushka

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 141
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #237 on: July 23, 2011, 12:34:22 PM »
I've always thought she and Maria Amalia had the most healthy relationship - a huge blowup, followed by the daughter appearing unfazed by her mother's severence of relations, and the mother having to resign herself to keeping out of her daughter's business.

I agree and think they had a relationship far more typical of modern mothers and daughters than those of the eighteenth century.  Nowadays most newly married women would resent their mothers constant interference in their lives and even the most timid of new mothers would probably be furious if her own mother tried to tell her how to raise her children.  At the same time the older mother would feel that she had more experience of life, knew better than her daughter and was simply trying to help.  This could well lead to a huge blow up which hopefully would soon, but not in all cases, be forgiven and forgotten.  I think Amalia's attitude to her mother was a simple and pragmatic one being "You are my mother.  I love you and would naturally like to make you happy.  However I now have a new husband and children and their needs and the interests of my new home state have to come first.  Ideally Parma policy will always favour Austria, but if I feel another policy is better for Parma (and thus for my husband and children) then so be it, and if you can't accept that then it's your problem, not mine."

Offline prinzheinelgirl

  • Graf
  • ***
  • Posts: 478
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #238 on: July 24, 2011, 06:48:22 AM »
The article on Parma's online library is not fawning over Maria Amalia. However, it does state that the duchess fought against foreign interference in the duchy all her life, which strongly suggests that her "rebellion" was not personally directed at her mother -- she was against any kind of interference, period. I'm certain that she loved her mother, but unfortunately Mara Theresa took it personally and bore grudges/resentment.

I must add, though, that MT was especially angry at the world at large in the later years --- she was dissatisfied with everything and everyone, except her beloved Mimi. She never learned to let go as well.  What a sad way to end a life.   

I can't help but think about what MT's reaction would be had her grandson in Parma, Louis, been her son instead? Although dismayed and presumably hurt and angry by their son's decision to exchange Parma for Etruria, both Maria Amalia and Ferdinand still supported their son. Their love as parents was greater than their anger/dismay over his decision. I somehow have a hard time picturing Maria Theresa, had she been his mother and assuming she was against such an exchange, reacting in a similar way......
« Last Edit: July 24, 2011, 07:19:26 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
kindness is the magic elixir of love

Offline CountessKate

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1085
    • View Profile
Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #239 on: July 24, 2011, 07:54:08 AM »
Quote
I can't help but think about what MT's reaction would be had her grandson in Parma, Louis, been her son instead? Although dismayed and presumably hurt and angry by their son's decision to exchange Parma for Etruria, both Maria Amalia and Ferdinand still supported their son. Their love as parents was greater than their anger/dismay over his decision. I somehow have a hard time picturing Maria Theresa, had she been his mother and assuming she was against such an exchange, reacting in a similar way......

I think it is very hard to know what Maria Theresa would have done had she been alive during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars.  The exchange of Parma for Etruria was not a matter of Louis' personal preference, but one of political treaty and essentially he had no real choice.  Maria Theresa would not have been entirely unfamiliar with the situation from her own earlier reign - Franz Stephan had to give up Lorraine, which was very distressing for him, and she herself had to give up Silesia to Prussia following the war of the Austrian succession, so she knew that some loss of lands was unavoidable in the political arena.  And she would have had another Habsburg enemy - Napoleon - to add to her original one in Frederick the Great, so she would have known exactly who to blame and it was unlikely to have been Louis.  But frankly, I don't see her surviving the upheavals of the period and the deaths of her French family members, to be in much shape by that stage (aged 84!) to put up too much of a fuss about the treaty of Aranjuez, amongst all the other disasters, even if Louis had been her son rather than her grandson.