Pragmatic Sanction of 1713


Pragmatic Sanction of 1713

The Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, a legal mechanism designed to ensure that the Austrian throne and Habsburg lands would be inherited by Emperor Charles VI's daughter, Maria Theresa, was part of the law of the house of Austria.

Events leading to the Pragmatic Sanction

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, was the most powerful member of the Habsburg dynasty, being both King of Spain with its new world empire (inherited from his maternal grandparents), and Emperor of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire because of his possession of Austria (inherited from his paternal grandfather).

In 1520, a year after his election as emperor, he ceded his Austrian territories to his brother Ferdinand I of Germany to satisfy the Prince-electors who feared he would be too powerful if he retained them. This created two branches of the house of Habsburg: the Spanish branch and the Austrian branch.

The Austrian branch later acquired the hereditary crowns of Bohemia and Hungary. The throne of the Holy Roman Empire was virtually also an Austrian heirloom; although nominally an elected post, it was held by the house of Habsburg from 1439 to 1806 with only a single five-year interruption.

The Spanish branch died out in 1700 with the death of King Charles II of Spain and the War of the Spanish Succession resulted.

As the war was in progress, Emperor Leopold I, head of the Austrian branch, tried to establish an explicit law of succession within his surviving branch of the family. Leopold I and his two sons Joseph and Charles signed a succession pact ("Pactum mutuae successionis") on 12 September 1703.

This pact specified that females could succeed only when all male lines had become extinct and further specified the priorities of the then living Habsburgs.

Leopold died in 1705, and was succeeded by his son Joseph I as Emperor. Joseph I died in December 1711 leaving two daughters, who were at the time of his death unmarried. Soon afterward the Croatian parliament under the presidency of Emerik Eszterhazy voted its Pragmatic Sanction of 1712 (9 March) in which the Kingdom of Croatia accepted female inheritance of its crown after extinction of the male line [http://www.sabor.hr/Default.aspx?art=1760]

Joseph was succeeded as Emperor by his brother Charles VI, who wrote a will specifying an order of succession different from that specified in the "Pactum" of 1703, giving precedence to his own daughters, ahead of his late brother's daughters. Because of this conflict a convocation of the Privy Council and the Ministers of the Emperor in Vienna was called, the "Pactum" was read aloud, and Charles VI's modifications announced. This declaration of 19 April 1713 is called the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713.

Events following the Pragmatic Sanction

Hungary, which had an elective kingship, had accepted the house of Habsburg as hereditary kings in the male line without election in 1687, but had not accepted semi-Salic inheritance. The Emperor-King agreed that if the Habsburg male line became extinct, Hungary would once again have an elective monarchy. This was rule in the Kingdom of Bohemia too.

Maria Theresa, however, still gained the throne of Hungary.

The Pragmatic Sanction's failure

Charles VI spent the time of his reign preparing Europe for a female ruler, but he did not prepare his daughter, Maria Theresa. He would not read her documents, take her to meetings, not be introduced to ministers or have any preparation for the power she would receive in 1740. Charles VI did not prepare Maria because that meant giving up hope of having a son to succeed him.

Charles VI managed to get the great European powers to agree to the Pragmatic Sanction (for the time being), and died in 1740 with no male heirs. However, France, Prussia, Bavaria and Saxony reneged, and contested the claims of his daughter Maria Theresa on his Austrian lands, and initiated the War of the Austrian Succession, in which Austria lost Silesia to Prussia. The elective office of Holy Roman Emperor was filled by Joseph I's son-in-law Charles Albert of Bavaria, marking the first time in several hundred years that the position was not held by a Habsburg. As Charles VII, he lost Bavaria to the Austrian army and then died. His son, Maximilian III Joseph, Elector of Bavaria, supported Austria's claims in exchange for the return of Bavaria, and Maria Theresa's husband was elected Holy Roman Emperor as Francis I in 1745.

The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1748, finally recognized Maria Theresa's Habsburg inheritance.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pragmatic sanction — A pragmatic sanction is a sovereign s solemn decree on a matter of primary importance and has the force of fundamental law. In the late history of the Holy Roman Empire it referred more specifically to an edict issued by the Emperor.When used as… …   Wikipedia

  • Pragmatic Sanction — • An edict formally issued by the emperor or king Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Pragmatic Sanction     Pragmatic Sanction      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Pragmatic Sanction of Emperor Charles VI — ▪ Holy Roman Empire       (April 19, 1713), decree promulgated by the Holy Roman emperor Charles VI with the intent that all his Habsburg (Habsburg, House of) kingdoms and lands descend as an integral whole without partition. It stipulated that… …   Universalium

  • Pragmatic Sanction of King Ferdinand VII — ▪ Spanish history       (March 29, 1830), decree of Ferdinand VII of Spain, which promulgated his predecessor Charles IV s (Charles IV) unpublished decision of 1789 revoking the Salic Law of Succession, which had denied royal succession to… …   Universalium

  • pragmatic sanction — 1. any one of various imperial decrees with the effect of fundamental law. 2. (caps.) Hist. a. any of several imperial or royal decrees limiting the power or privilege of the papacy, as the decree of Charles VII of France in 1438 or that of the… …   Universalium

  • Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor — Charles VI Charles VI in the regalia of the Order of the Golden Fleece Holy Roman Emperor; King of the Romans (King of Germany) Reign …   Wikipedia

  • Maria Theresa — For other uses, see Maria Theresa (disambiguation). Maria Theresa …   Wikipedia

  • Habsburg Empire —    The Habsburg Empire comprised the territories ruled by the Habsburg family, one of the most prominent royal dynasties in European history. The Habsburgs originated in the southwestern regions of the Holy Roman Empire, a conglomeration of… …   Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914

  • Maria Josepha of Austria — Queen consort of Poland Grand Duchess consort of Lithuania Electress consort of Saxony Tenure 1734 – 5 October 1763 Coronation …   Wikipedia

  • Battle of Dettingen — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Battle of Dettingen caption=George II at Dettingen partof=the War of the Austrian Succession date=27 June, 1743 place=Dettingen, Bavaria result=Allied victory combatant1=flagicon|United Kingdom|1606 Great… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.