Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen


Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen
Maria Christina
Duchess of Teschen
Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria, Duchess of Teschen
Spouse Prince Albert of Saxony, Duke of Teschen
House House of Habsburg-Lorraine
Father Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Maria Theresa of Austria
Born 13 May 1742(1742-05-13)
Vienna, Austria
Died 24 June 1798(1798-06-24) (aged 56)
Vienna, Austria
Religion Roman Catholicism

Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen (Maria Christina Johanna Josepha Antonia; 13 May 1742 – 24 June 1798), called "Mimi", was the fourth daughter and fifth child of Maria Theresa of Austria and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. She was the Regent (governor) of the Austrian Netherlands in 1781-1793.

Contents

Background

Marie Christine

Born in 13 May 1742 at Vienna, Austria, Maria Christina was the fourth but second surviving daughter of Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia and ruler of all dominions. She was her mother's favourite child because they shared the same birthday. Mimi was not only beautiful but she was also highly intelligent and artistically gifted. The doting partiality that the Empress showed her caused intense jealousy in her brothers and sisters, especially the Emperor Joseph II. His first wife, Isabella of Parma became her best friend, and named her second daughter after her.

Marriage

A proposed husband was Prince Benedetto Maria Maurizio of Savoy, her first cousin and a member of the House of Savoy.

Maria Christina was a very intelligent woman who knew how to manipulate her parents, especially her mother. The sudden death of her father, Francis I, and the depression that overcame Maria Theresa following her widowhood meant that Maria Christina was able to convince her vulnerable and sentimental mother into permitting her to marry for love rather than for reasons of state. She was the only child allowed to do so. She chose her second cousin Prince Albert of Saxony, who had neither had great wealth nor a throne to offer; he was made Archduke, governor of Hungary and the couple was given the duchy of Teschen. In 1780, the couple was appointed joint governors of the Austrian Netherlands. The marriage was described as happy.

Cenotaph to Marie Christine of Austria in the Augustinerkirche, by Canova

Relationship with siblings

One of her sisters, the Archduchess Maria Amalia, was also in love with a minor prince, Charles of Zweibrücken, but was forcibly married off to Ferdinand of Parma rather than to her sweetheart. Maria Christina's luck in being permitted to marry the man she loved embittered Maria Theresa's other daughters, who already resented their mother's favouritism. Not only was she able to marry her prince of choice, but her mother also provided for a huge dowry and presented the couple with the Duchy of Teschen. Maria Amalia, the daughter most affected, remained estranged from her mother for the rest of the Empress's life. Although Marie Antoinette wrote her letters later on from France, Mimi did not enjoy the same closeness Marie Antoinette accorded to her other sisters, Maria Amalia and Maria Carolina, who all exchanged not only letters but also dresses, portraits and other gifts. It is interesting to note that it wasn't only her sisters who were affected by their mother's favouritism. Their brother Leopold also disliked Mimi for her scolding ways, her sharp tongue and above all, her habit of telling everything to the Empress, clearly indicating that Mimi used her paramount influence with their mother to tell on her siblings, make trouble, and treat her siblings unkindly. She used the preference and weakness that her sister in law, Isabella, had for her, to have some sort of control and ascendency over her brother and mother's heir, Joseph.

Maria Christina's siblings, especially her sisters, never reconciled with her, even after the death of their mother. Queen Marie Antoinette of France, her youngest sister, pointedly ignored her during her visit to France and treated her as just another state guest when she visited Versailles. Marie Christine's request to see the Petit Trianon, her sister's private retreat, was ignored. In her turn, when Marie Antoinette was guillotined in 1793, Maria Christina was reported to have remarked coolly that her sister ought never to have married.

Regent of the Austrian Netherlands

In 1780, after the death of Charles Alexander of Lorraine, Maria Christina and her spouse Prince Albert of Saxony, were appointed joint governors of the Austrian Netherlands. She kept her position as governor of the Austrian Netherlands for a period of twelve years; from 1781 until 1793.

The couple shared an interest for art, and ordered the construction of the palace of Laeken in 1782-84 for their residence, where they kept a great art collection. They were faced with many political difficulties, such as the Brabant Revolution. In 1793, they were forced to leave for Vienna during the French revolution.

Issue

Maria Christina had only one child, Princess Maria Theresa of Saxony, who died on 17 May 1767, the day after her birth. She was unable to have other children. The couple then became the adoptive parents of Mimi's nephew - son of her brother Leopold and Maria Ludovika of Two Sicilies (both died 1792 very young) - Archduke Charles of Austria.

Name Birth Death Notes
Maria Theresa of Saxony 16 May 1767 17 May 1767 Died shortly after her birth, is buried in the Imperial Crypt
Arms of Marie Christine of Austria and Albert of Saxony, Dukes of Teschen

Death and burial

Maria Christina is buried in the Tuscan Vault of the Imperial Crypt in Vienna, along with her husband and daughter. The famous and moving monument by Canova that her husband erected to her memory is in the Augustinerkirche.

Titles, honours and arms

Titles

Arms

The personal coat of arms of the Duchess of Teschen impales Consort's shield, the arms of King Augustus II of Poland – Quarterly, I and IV gules, a eagle argent, armed, beaked, langued, liée, and crowned Or (for Poland); II and III Gules, a knight armed cap-à-pie mounted on a horse salient argent, brandishing a sword proper and maintaining a shield azure charged with a cross of Lorraine Or (for Lithuania); overall and inescutcheon barry sable and Or, a crancelin vert (for Saxony); - enté en point azure a eagle or (for Teschen) (her husband's shield) to the dexter (viewer's left) with her brother's shield, the arms of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II – Quarterly, I barry of eight, gules and argent, impaling gules a patriarchal cross argent on a trimount vert (for Hungary); II gules a lion rampant argent, queue fourchée crossed in saltire, armed, langued, and crowned Or (for Bohemia); III bendy of six Or and azure, a bordure gules (for Burgundy); IV Or, in annulo six torteaux, the torteau in chief replaced by a roundel azure charged with three fleurs-de-lis Or (for the Medici family); overall and inescutcheon gules a fess argent (for Austria) impaling Or a bend gules three alerions argent (for Lorraine); - enté en point azure a eagle or (for Teschen).

Resources

  • Hanns Schlitter, Briefe der Erzherzogin Marie Statthalterin der Niederlande an Leopold II. nebst einer Einleitung zur Geschichte der französischen Politik Leopolds II. Gerold, Vienna 1896 on-line
  • Friedrich Weissensteiner, Die Töchter Maria Theresias, Heyne 1999 (German Book)

Sources

  • This page is a translation of its French equivalent.

Ancestry

External links

Media related to Archduchess Marie Christine, Duchess of Teschen at Wikimedia Commons

Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen
Cadet branch of the House of Lorraine
Born: 13 May 1742 Died: 24 June 1798
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Joseph II
Duchess of Teschen
1766-1798
with Albert
Succeeded by
Charles
Political offices
Preceded by
Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine
Governor of the Austrian Netherlands
1781-1793
Succeeded by
Archduke Charles of Austria

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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