Author Topic: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family  (Read 267611 times)

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Offline trentk80

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #240 on: July 24, 2011, 04:24:04 PM »
It seems to me that what prinzheinelgirl meant was what Maria Theresa would have done had she been in Maria Amalia's place (being Duchess of Parma, not wanting the exchange of Parma for Etruria... but still loving and supporting her son?) rather than what she would have done or thought regarding the treaty of Aranjuez had she been alive during the Napoleonic years.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2011, 04:34:33 PM by trentk80 »
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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #241 on: July 25, 2011, 01:03:50 AM »
Thank you, trentk80. That was the context that I had in mind... and also Maria Theresa's  tendency to get angry whenever her children did something she didn't approve of.


 
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Offline CountessKate

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #242 on: July 25, 2011, 05:42:03 AM »
It seems to me that what prinzheinelgirl meant was what Maria Theresa would have done had she been in Maria Amalia's place (being Duchess of Parma, not wanting the exchange of Parma for Etruria... but still loving and supporting her son?) rather than what she would have done or thought regarding the treaty of Aranjuez had she been alive during the Napoleonic years.

I would in that case in fact repeat my general statement - I think it is difficult, if not impossible, to answer.  Maria Theresa was shaped by her position, her history, her marriage and her family as it was, with her in the driving seat.  Because, as the acting sovereign of her country, she was domineering and demanded utter obedience from her children, it's doesn't necessarily follow that she would have behaved in the same way if she had been the younger daughter of an empress married into a much more limited sphere, with far less attention paid to her wishes.   We know from her past history as an empress that she swallowed unpalatable political situations which she could not help with a practical political shrewdness - she may very well have carried on in the same way if she had been a Duchess of Parma, and given way far less to her frustrations with anger, and engaged more tactfully and sympathetically with her children.  The question seemed designed to show Maria Theresa up as likely to have behaved nastily to Louis in this situation compared to the very supportive way in which Maria Amalia and Ferdinand behaved.  But I don't think it's as black and white as that.  Maria Theresa as Duchess of Parma would have been a different person, and might have been much more like her daughter than anyone imagined. 

Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #243 on: July 25, 2011, 06:13:12 PM »
Although Maria Theresa was deeply in love with Franz Stephen when she married him. Imagine if she had to marry Frederick the Great of Prussia !

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #244 on: July 25, 2011, 10:03:27 PM »
The question seemed designed to show Maria Theresa up as likely to have behaved nastily to Louis in this situation compared to the very supportive way in which Maria Amalia and Ferdinand behaved.  But I don't think it's as black and white as that.  Maria Theresa as Duchess of Parma would have been a different person, and might have been much more like her daughter than anyone imagined.  

For me, whether she ended up as  duchess or Empress, Maria Theresa had one trait -- she kept grudges and resentments -- which seemed to be largely absent in Maria Amalia. One of those people she had never forgiven was one of Franz Stephan's friends -- as a newly married couple, said friend gave an advice to FS which she didn't like. So she had it early on, even if she wasn't Empress-Queen yet. That is why I made that remark that I doubt her reaction would've been as positive.

However, I agree... assuming she was a mere duchess of a small state,  she probably wouldn't be so imperious.  One of her biographers said that it was fortunate that her hands were tied to certain things for if she had a free hand in everything, she would've likely committed more atrocities (referring to the fact that she planned the Seven Years War as revenge to Frederick the Great) for she was both stubborn and vengeful.      

The only clear traits I can think of that MT and Maria Amalia had in common were stubbornness, a tendency to being temperamental (more mother than daughter and Maria Amalia - as opposed to her  mother - grew calmer as she aged), and being generous (in giving money and presents) to a fault.

Although Maria Theresa was deeply in love with Franz Stephen when she married him. Imagine if she had to marry Frederick the Great of Prussia !

A deep love which later on turned Franz Stephan into bearing the brunt of her rages. She also discarded his interests when it served her own need for revenge on Frederick the Great and recovering Silesia (she turned to France for an alliance which put a permanent stop to FS's hopes of recovering Lorraince). No wonder FS turned to other women, the Princess Auersperg in particular later on. And no wonder she idealised him later on and made it up in her mind - but was opposed to reality - that all her actions were centered around him. She was lucky that FS wanted peace most of all, and he didn't oppose her in public. However, in private, things seemed quite different and she had to swallow certain things, i.e. Princess Auersperg dining en famille with her, FS and their older children!
« Last Edit: July 25, 2011, 10:12:47 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline CountessKate

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #245 on: July 26, 2011, 09:36:08 AM »
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One of her biographers said that it was fortunate that her hands were tied to certain things for if she had a free hand in everything, she would've likely committed more atrocities (referring to the fact that she planned the Seven Years War as revenge to Frederick the Great) for she was both stubborn and vengeful.   

That seems an extraordinary remark for any serious biographer to make.  She would likely committed more atrocities?  What atrocity was she accused of commiting in the first place?  She was far from the only person responsible for the Seven Years' War, given the keen involvement of France and Russia, and given the fact that Frederick the Great had grabbed Silesia by force without any rationnale except his own desire for more land for Prussia, it's not as if he occupied a higher moral ground than she did.  Of course, she didn't behave like a meek, biddable woman in seeking to attack Prussia, always something which frightened eighteenth and nineteenth century biographers in particular, but to accuse her of 'atrocities' in the first place seems pretty much of a stretch.  And then to remark that she would possibly have committed more if given her way just piles on the absurdity.  This is where I feel genuine history/biography starts to diverge from the path supported by evidence and becomes speculative fiction, and it is always heralded by the sort of remark that "X must have thought" or "X very likely did" without any convincing evidence.  I'm very willing to accept that Maria Theresa had poor parenting skills, was manipulative and could be harsh to her children, especially her daughters, and unfairly gave one daughter much greater favours which the daughter in question certainly took full advantage of.  But I really don't see the evidence for her being an atrocity-commiting vengeful monster of unbridled grudges and resentments.  And yes, her relationship with Franz Stephan was unsatisfactory on both sides - but although Franz Stephan has been portrayed as the 'softer' partner, and credited with a more amicable relationship with his children, he was fully as determined as she to force their son Joseph to marry again after Isabel's death, which Derek Beales' biography clearly demonstrates.  Yet it has been Maria Theresa who was usually given the complete responsibility for this parental insensitivity, which was actually not the case.  I agree absolutely with the view that Maria Theresa was not as great as she's often depicted, especially in her family relationships.  But neither am I convinced that she was as black as some have seen her, either.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #246 on: July 26, 2011, 11:34:34 PM »
That seems an extraordinary remark for any serious biographer to make.  She would likely committed more atrocities?  What atrocity was she accused of commiting in the first place?  She was far from the only person responsible for the Seven Years' War, given the keen involvement of France and Russia, and given the fact that Frederick the Great had grabbed Silesia by force without any rationnale except his own desire for more land for Prussia, it's not as if he occupied a higher moral ground than she did.  Of course, she didn't behave like a meek, biddable woman in seeking to attack Prussia, always something which frightened eighteenth and nineteenth century biographers in particular, but to accuse her of 'atrocities' in the first place seems pretty much of a stretch.  And then to remark that she would possibly have committed more if given her way just piles on the absurdity.  This is where I feel genuine history/biography starts to diverge from the path supported by evidence and becomes speculative fiction, and it is always heralded by the sort of remark that "X must have thought" or "X very likely did" without any convincing evidence.  I'm very willing to accept that Maria Theresa had poor parenting skills, was manipulative and could be harsh to her children, especially her daughters, and unfairly gave one daughter much greater favours which the daughter in question certainly took full advantage of.  But I really don't see the evidence for her being an atrocity-commiting vengeful monster of unbridled grudges and resentments.  

The biographer was Paul Tabori, who was Hungarian-British. One could say that due to his heritage, he would've been partial to make excuses for Maria Theresa. Although his biography ("Maria Theresa" in "the Women who made History" series) had some fanciful accounts and incorrect information (some names and titles were incorrect), I find it a fair biography of Maria Theresa. He covered both MT and Frederick the Great in almost equal parts in the course of the two wars, and I must say, Frederick the Great comes off better (even if he started their animosity), and I am no fan of his (except that I will acknowledge that he was truly a genius).  

The atrocity the author mainly pointed out was the Seven Years War, which was hatched by MT and Kaunitz. Why was the minister Kaunitz so highly favoured by her, for instance? Because he was the only one in the council who supported her intent to get back at Frederick the Great and recover Silesia. Kaunitz could boast of no special diplomatic success prior to being in charge of the Foreign Ministry and being Chancellor. In addition, he was a libertine who was a disciple of the Enlightenment, he was absurd in his eccentricities, etc. In short, not someone who would likely have MT's confidence... In Kaunitz, she found someone who shaped her grudges and resentments into a new policy, i.e. the alliance reversal in favour of France.    

There were many accounts in the book that clearly showed MT's need for revenge and/or feed on her grudges aside from Frederick the Great, with the Hungarians and Jewish population of Prague for example. Even her ministers had to plead with her that her orders were inhumane (i.e. she heard unsubstantiated gossip that the Jews in Prague profited from her war with the Bavarian Elector, Emperor Charles VII, and since she hated the Jews anyway, she gave orders that they be banished to nowhere and must leave Prague in the middle of the winter).  Accounts that are easily verified by history....  

Overall, I think the book, while it had some inaccuracies and fanciful accounts, still flattered Maria Theresa. At the end, it even presented her as very wise and "mellow"(?). But it presented her errors and motives in detail that supports the author's claim. I can post some excerpts/examples here.    The author also presented many of MT's good actions and decisions, i.e. wanting to have better conditions for the serfs in Hungary and trying to industrialise that country (which the Hungarians stubbornly resisted).

And yes, her relationship with Franz Stephan was unsatisfactory on both sides - but although Franz Stephan has been portrayed as the 'softer' partner, and credited with a more amicable relationship with his children, he was fully as determined as she to force their son Joseph to marry again after Isabel's death, which Derek Beales' biography clearly demonstrates.  Yet it has been Maria Theresa who was usually given the complete responsibility for this parental insensitivity, which was actually not the case.  I agree absolutely with the view that Maria Theresa was not as great as she's often depicted, especially in her family relationships.


I agree that Franz Stephan in Joseph's case (and also with Mimi, had he lived longer, she would've likely been married to her cousin the Duke of Chablais instead of Albert of Saxony) was also insensitive.  I also doubt if FS had much time for his children, especially the younger ones, as he was credited with.  But I give him credit for wanting to keep peace with his wife, at least in public, despite his strong feelings against some of her decisions and after making the  (extremely painful) decision of renouncing Lorraine in order to marry her, he never seemed to bring up said matter again, no matter their differences.      
« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 12:05:08 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline CountessKate

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #247 on: July 27, 2011, 08:59:39 AM »
Quote
The biographer was Paul Tabori, who was Hungarian-British. One could say that due to his heritage, he would've been partial to make excuses for Maria Theresa. Although his biography ("Maria Theresa" in "the Women who made History" series) had some fanciful accounts and incorrect information (some names and titles were incorrect), I find it a fair biography of Maria Theresa. He covered both MT and Frederick the Great in almost equal parts in the course of the two wars, and I must say, Frederick the Great comes off better (even if he started their animosity), and I am no fan of his (except that I will acknowledge that he was truly a genius). 

The atrocity the author mainly pointed out was the Seven Years War, which was hatched by MT and Kaunitz. Why was the minister Kaunitz so highly favoured by her, for instance? Because he was the only one in the council who supported her intent to get back at Frederick the Great and recover Silesia. Kaunitz could boast of no special diplomatic success prior to being in charge of the Foreign Ministry and being Chancellor. In addition, he was a libertine who was a disciple of the Enlightenment, he was absurd in his eccentricities, etc. In short, not someone who would likely have MT's confidence... In Kaunitz, she found someone who shaped her grudges and resentments into a new policy, i.e. the alliance reversal in favour of France.   

There were many accounts in the book that clearly showed MT's need for revenge and/or feed on her grudges aside from Frederick the Great, with the Hungarians and Jewish population of Prague for example. Even her ministers had to plead with her that her orders were inhumane (i.e. she heard unsubstantiated gossip that the Jews in Prague profited from her war with the Bavarian Elector, Emperor Charles VII, and since she hated the Jews anyway, she gave orders that they be banished to nowhere and must leave Prague in the middle of the winter).  Accounts that are easily verified by history.... 

Overall, I think the book, while it had some inaccuracies and fanciful accounts, still flattered Maria Theresa. At the end, it even presented her as very wise and "mellow"(?). But it presented her errors and motives in detail that supports the author's claim. I can post some excerpts/examples here.    The author also presented many of MT's good actions and decisions, i.e. wanting to have better conditions for the serfs in Hungary and trying to industrialise that country (which the Hungarians stubbornly resisted).

I agree that Franz Stephan in Joseph's case (and also with Mimi, had he lived longer, she would've likely been married to her cousin the Duke of Chablais instead of Albert of Saxony) was also insensitive.  I also doubt if FS had much time for his children, especially the younger ones, as he was credited with.  But I give him credit for wanting to keep peace with his wife, at least in public, despite his strong feelings against some of her decisions and after making the  (extremely painful) decision of renouncing Lorraine in order to marry her, he never seemed to bring up said matter again, no matter their differences.   

Thanks for the very helpful clarification.  I still don't find the viewpoint convincing, as it seems to hold Maria Theresa to a different standard than to her male contemporaries.  If it was atrocious to wish to gain territory by force of arms, then she was atrocious, but so were pretty much all the other sovereigns of Europe at the time, including Frederick.  Plotting to regain stolen territory, and bearing implacable hostility to the stealer, were not qualities which would have been considered inappropriate in male sovereigns and I can't see why Maria Theresa was worse for wanting to punish Frederick and regain Silesia than Frederick was in taking it in the first place. 

I agree that Maria Theresa's anti-semitic views were ugly (though not unique - they were opinions shared by many in her day) but I don't think it shows that she held grudges and wished for revenge so much as her conservative cultural/religious feelings overcame whashould have been better judgement.

With regard to Kaunitz, Franz Stephan was a child of the enlightenment in his scientific studies which caused Maria Theresa no problems, and so I think it's a bit simplistic to put her into a total anti-enlightenment camp.  There were certainly things about the new ideas she considered pernicious, as did other autocratic sovereigns, but she certainly didn't write all reform or new ideas off.  And as for his being a libertine, Kaunitz told her squarely it was no business of hers, and she presumably valued him enough to leave that issue alone.  She was pretty used to men having mistresses; her uncle Joseph I had them, her father Charles VI  had them, Franz Stephan had them, Franz Stephan’s father had them, her sons Joseph and Leopold had them – she may have wished for men to be more virtuous but she was hardly under much illusion about aristocratic male chastity in the eighteenth century.  She advised Maria Amalia to put up with her husband’s infidelity as she did herself, she negotiated with Madame de Pompadour, she advised Marie Antoinette not to get across Louis XV by ignoring Madame du Barry, and while it’s clear she herself had the usual double standard of the time where women needed to be absolutely spotless in reputation, she certainly saw no sense in getting rid of someone who could serve her well just because his morals with regard to women were not as she would have liked. 

I think it’s actually very hard not to like Frederick the great – for all his faults, he was an attractive character.  But I think it’s a mistake to compare him with Maria Theresa – it’s comparing pears and apples, and it seems to me that by doing so Paul Tabori came down on the Frederick side to the detriment of Maria Theresa, which I don’t think is a really useful historical approach, though I haven’t read the book so this is really a view at second hand.  I think we are really missing a modern biography in English of Maria Theresa of the thoroughness of Derek Beale’s biography of Joseph II – although this took about thirty years to complete, which I don’t think many publishers would be willing to wait for these days!

Can I just add, that although we aren’t always in agreement, it’s a real pleasure to argue about these matters with someone so knowledgeable and well read – and it encourages me so much to keep reading and researching.  So thank you!

Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #248 on: July 27, 2011, 01:23:11 PM »
I think the fundamental problem is that Frederick the Great did not have much respect for women (except his sister Wilhelmina, Margravine of Bayreuth). The shameful way he treated his own wife and of course "stolen" Silesia from Maria Theresa deemed him a rogue. Maria Theresa, lived a moralistic life (as opposed to Catherine the Great), loved her husband and bore children without complaint (even Queen Victoria & Queen Mary complained the trials of giving birth). She gave her children much freedom before the state have uses of them in marriages. Maria Theresa genuinely loved her children (Catherine the Great hated her son & heir) even though she could be a stern mother and disciplinarian at times. At her death bed, the Empress blessed all her children before she died, I found that very moving...

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #249 on: July 28, 2011, 12:30:07 AM »

Thanks for the very helpful clarification.  I still don't find the viewpoint convincing, as it seems to hold Maria Theresa to a different standard than to her male contemporaries.  If it was atrocious to wish to gain territory by force of arms, then she was atrocious, but so were pretty much all the other sovereigns of Europe at the time, including Frederick.  Plotting to regain stolen territory, and bearing implacable hostility to the stealer, were not qualities which would have been considered inappropriate in male sovereigns and I can't see why Maria Theresa was worse for wanting to punish Frederick and regain Silesia than Frederick was in taking it in the first place.  
Paul Tabori's view was that their animosity was started by Frederick but perpetuated by Maria Theresa... so overall she seemed more culpable. He had many quotes - unless he mainly fabricated them, which doesn't seem to be the case, to tilt favour to Frederick's credit - that show both sides.  He also wrote that on his deathbed, Charles VI advised his daughter not to presume on Frederick the Great's gratitude (because Charles VI persuaded his father to spare his son) nor friendship (he was a good friend of Franz Stephan) but to arrange things so that Frederick would see the benefit of staying at her side. But it seems she disregarded this advise.

He presented many details on the War on the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War, which showed that it was MT who mainly prolonged it - many of her allies urged her to give up the war, even his most trusted Kaunitz urged her at some point. It also showed Frederick's views on playing duplicity on both sides while profiting from the wars (well, he was the real winner on both wars, right?).  Europe was at peace after 1748, no one wanted a war - only MT did.  What struck me most was Kaunitz's remark to MT at the end of the Seven Years War when they signed the treaty: "It's fortunate we haven't been more humiliated."; it certainly pertains that they started said war with their intrigues and forming the coalition against Prussia but they did not achieve their goal while Frederick the Great's prestige went even higher after it.   

There are also two sections in the book that presented the views of the Hungarians in between the two wars and after 1763, when MT demanded more and taxes from them to improve the army and to pay for the loans of both.  The Hungarians were indifferent to her demands: not only were their many grievances left unanswered for so many years but what do they care about Frederick the Great and Silesia? Unfortunately for MT (and to their delight), she pledged during her coronation to preserve their privileges so her hands were tied. The Magyars were only willing to make concessions as long as it suited them, not what suited their sovereign. I think that was why the author wrote that it's fortunate that her hands were tied on certain things for had she had her way on everything, she could have more means to seek revenge.       



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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #250 on: July 28, 2011, 01:49:30 AM »
With regard to Kaunitz, Franz Stephan was a child of the enlightenment in his scientific studies which caused Maria Theresa no problems, and so I think it's a bit simplistic to put her into a total anti-enlightenment camp.  There were certainly things about the new ideas she considered pernicious, as did other autocratic sovereigns, but she certainly didn't write all reform or new ideas off.  And as for his being a libertine, Kaunitz told her squarely it was no business of hers, and she presumably valued him enough to leave that issue alone.  She was pretty used to men having mistresses; her uncle Joseph I had them, her father Charles VI  had them, Franz Stephan had them, Franz Stephan’s father had them, her sons Joseph and Leopold had them – she may have wished for men to be more virtuous but she was hardly under much illusion about aristocratic male chastity in the eighteenth century.  She advised Maria Amalia to put up with her husband’s infidelity as she did herself, she negotiated with Madame de Pompadour, she advised Marie Antoinette not to get across Louis XV by ignoring Madame du Barry, and while it’s clear she herself had the usual double standard of the time where women needed to be absolutely spotless in reputation, she certainly saw no sense in getting rid of someone who could serve her well just because his morals with regard to women were not as she would have liked.  

I made a slight mistake on my post above on this. Maria Theresa punished the Jews of Prague after hearing (public opinion/gossip) that they profited from the Prussians, not with the Elector of Bavaria. But it says that while only some of the (German and Czech) Bohemians were punished in Prague, she punished the Jews collectively. Tabori also states that MT in the end couldn't punish the Jews as she wished for the whole world (England, Turkey, the Dutch Republic, etc.) spoke for them.

With regard to Kaunitz, Franz Stephan was a child of the enlightenment in his scientific studies which caused Maria Theresa no problems, and so I think it's a bit simplistic to put her into a total anti-enlightenment camp.  There were certainly things about the new ideas she considered pernicious, as did other autocratic sovereigns, but she certainly didn't write all reform or new ideas off.  And as for his being a libertine, Kaunitz told her squarely it was no business of hers, and she presumably valued him enough to leave that issue alone.  

I think I read much earlier that Franz Stephan hid his free masonry/enlightenment involvement from her -- she had him watched and would try to catch him. But he always slipped away.... So I think FS did as he liked and she just resigned herself to it (like she eventually did with his womanising).

Overall, Kaunitz wa not a likeable character nor was he brilliant - and the shrine that he worshipped on, i.e. the alliance with France, proved to be utterly useless. He was lazy and inconsistent in his work, with his silly hypochondria and just lounging at times. He was also quite nasty in his dealings with other people. Yet, Maria Theresa extremely valued him until the very end even if he was proven wrong in the reversal of alliances. Not to mention the huge debt that Austria incurred for the Seven Years War. Certainly, she valued his advice over Franz Stephan's at times. Why? Was it because he was the only one who put up and encouraged certain ideas of hers?

I think it’s actually very hard not to like Frederick the great – for all his faults, he was an attractive character.  But I think it’s a mistake to compare him with Maria Theresa – it’s comparing pears and apples, and it seems to me that by doing so Paul Tabori came down on the Frederick side to the detriment of Maria Theresa, which I don’t think is a really useful historical approach, though I haven’t read the book so this is really a view at second hand.  I think we are really missing a modern biography in English of Maria Theresa of the thoroughness of Derek Beale’s biography of Joseph II – although this took about thirty years to complete, which I don’t think many publishers would be willing to wait for these days!

Frederick the Great was a very interesting and brilliant character.  Certainly, he deserved  "the Great" after his name for his achievements and being a genius.  But I haven't even read one biography of him.  But based on what I have read so far, he was not a very humane character.... which for me, counts the most. Paul Tabori in his book was categorical in stating that although it was no picnic to serve at Maria Theresa's army, it was much more humane there than at Frederick's, where human life had no value at all.

Like I said earlier, Tabori's book had errors ... and certainly, his was not a perfect view of Maria Theresa. Overall, I still find his book on her credible, especially the sections on Hungary... it's an old book, and just like Stefan Zweig's of Marie Antoinette it had no bibliography... but I checked out many quotes and accounts from there and they seem to hold very well (not all but certainly many...) I had no idea that Derek Beales' book on  Joseph II in 2 volumes took 30 years, but I agree that a new biography on Maria Theresa - a fair and thorough one - in English is on my wishlist.    


Can I just add, that although we aren’t always in agreement, it’s a real pleasure to argue about these matters with someone so knowledgeable and well read – and it encourages me so much to keep reading and researching.  So thank you!

The pleasure is mine, CountessKate. And I return the compliment many times!  :)


« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 02:20:05 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #251 on: July 28, 2011, 03:14:39 AM »
I think the fundamental problem is that Frederick the Great did not have much respect for women (except his sister Wilhelmina, Margravine of Bayreuth). The shameful way he treated his own wife and of course "stolen" Silesia from Maria Theresa deemed him a rogue.

That was one of the reasons why Maria Theresa despised Frederick the Great. In the course of the war, the Hungarian Hussars were able to capture papers from his tent, which clearly proved he slandered her. MT was beside herself with anger when she received those papers!

Maria Theresa genuinely loved her children (Catherine the Great hated her son & heir) even though she could be a stern mother and disciplinarian at times. At her death bed, the Empress blessed all her children before she died, I found that very moving...

While MT may have genuinely loved her children, I find her kind of love "exhausting" or inconsistent. If you followed her, she loved you. If you didn't, she withheld her love and got back at you at some way. It was not an unconditional love. But then, perhaps that was love in the 18th century royal world.... of course, some parents now still act like that.

I don't think Catherine the Great hated her son Paul -- I have a book on her and one on Potemkin, with accounts that  showed her love for her son. But like Maria Theresa (with some of her children), she didn't seem to like him, and their constant differences undermined their relationship. In one of her letters to Potemkin, she told him not to show up at certain hours for it was her time with her son, and seeing Potemkin with his pink bandanna would upset Paul! One can both love and like a person while it is also possible to love but not like a person. I think that was the case with Catherine the Great as far as her son was concerned.

Are you sure Maria Theresa blessed all her children at her deathbed? I seem to recall one source that categorically states that MT refused to bless Maria Amalia, despite the pleadings of Maria Anna and Maria Elisabeth..... 
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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #252 on: July 28, 2011, 03:20:45 AM »
Part of my reply earlier (reply #268) refers to the following paragraph, not the one after it! My apologies...and I'm adding to my earlier post as well (in bold font).

I agree that Maria Theresa's anti-semitic views were ugly (though not unique - they were opinions shared by many in her day) but I don't think it shows that she held grudges and wished for revenge so much as her conservative cultural/religious feelings overcame whashould have been better judgement.

I made a slight mistake on my post above on this. Maria Theresa punished the Jews of Prague after hearing (public opinion/gossip) that they profited from the Prussians, not with the Elector of Bavaria. But it says that while only some of the (German and Czech) Bohemians were punished in Prague, she punished the Jews collectively. Tabori also states that MT in the end couldn't punish the Jews as she wished for the whole world (England, Turkey, the Dutch Republic, etc.) spoke for them and it wouldn't do any good to her reputation internationally if she pushed through with her original plan.  Still, she made them pay a "penalty" tax of 300,000 guldens for alledgedly profiting from her enemy, the Prussians...
« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 03:27:07 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
kindness is the magic elixir of love

Offline ivanushka

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #253 on: July 28, 2011, 09:03:25 AM »
I think the fundamental problem is that Frederick the Great did not have much respect for women (except his sister Wilhelmina, Margravine of Bayreuth). The shameful way he treated his own wife and of course "stolen" Silesia from Maria Theresa deemed him a rogue. Maria Theresa, lived a moralistic life (as opposed to Catherine the Great), loved her husband and bore children without complaint (even Queen Victoria & Queen Mary complained the trials of giving birth). She gave her children much freedom before the state have uses of them in marriages. Maria Theresa genuinely loved her children (Catherine the Great hated her son & heir) even though she could be a stern mother and disciplinarian at times. At her death bed, the Empress blessed all her children before she died, I found that very moving...

It's funny, Eric.  I was thinking exactly the same thing.  To me, Frederick has always seemed a very damaged individual who wasn't really capable of genuine affection - his sister Wilhemina being the exception.  From the little I know of his relationship with his wife, his treatment of her does seem to have been utterly dismissive.  True, he didn't want to marry her, but she probably didn't have much say in the matter either and common decency would at least require him to endeavour to achieve friendly relations with her.  He was also very lucky that Empress Elizabeth of Russia died when she did as by that time Prussia was on the point of destruction.  Maria Theresa certainly had flaws as a human being - demanding total obedience from her children and often being rather hypocritical in her treatment of them - but I do believe that her heart was in the right place, that she did love them, did want the best for them and genuinely believed that she was doing her best to achieve it. 

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Empress Maria Theresa and her large family
« Reply #254 on: July 28, 2011, 09:50:46 AM »
It's funny, Eric.  I was thinking exactly the same thing.  To me, Frederick has always seemed a very damaged individual who wasn't really capable of genuine affection - his sister Wilhemina being the exception.  From the little I know of his relationship with his wife, his treatment of her does seem to have been utterly dismissive.  True, he didn't want to marry her, but she probably didn't have much say in the matter either and common decency would at least require him to endeavour to achieve friendly relations with her.  

His wife was the Austrian nominee. He didn't like the idea nor her. He also didn't seem to like women, particularly women who directed the policies in Europe -- Maria Theresa, Empress Elisabeth, Madame de Pompadour, and later on Catherine the Great (his own nominee!).  

He was also very lucky that Empress Elizabeth of Russia died when she did as by that time Prussia was on the point of destruction.  

Indeed. But since all the lucky stars seemed to be at his side, whether in the first war or the second,  it was divine will  that he got Silesia. It was something that the pious and God-fearing Maria Theresa never understood (which I find ironic) hence her hatred of him until the very end.

Maria Theresa certainly had flaws as a human being - demanding total obedience from her children and often being rather hypocritical in her treatment of them - but I do believe that her heart was in the right place, that she did love them, did want the best for them and genuinely believed that she was doing her best to achieve it.  

What greatly troubles me about Maria Theresa as a mother is that she never hesitated to harm her children (in whatever way she could) whenever she thought they were out of the line (she wasn't always right in her accusations)  -- by fueling/perpetuating slanders about them (i. e. believing unsubstantiated reports about Maria Amalia's so-called lovers, causing Du Tillot and his party- and perhaps even his successor Del Llano -- to continue their stories ), making damaging remarks about one to another child, telling everyone of her disputes with Joseph, etc. She did not always protect her children or even Austria's prestige whenever she felt slighted by them. Or did she simply not understand the effects of what she did?  
  
« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 10:06:38 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
kindness is the magic elixir of love