Maria Theresa

Maria Theresa, b 13 May 1717 in Vienna, d 29 November 1780 in Vienna. Archduchess of Austria and queen of Hungary and Bohemia from 1740, and the de facto ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1745 (the emperor, Francis I, married her in 1736). She was the daughter of Emperor Charles VI, and in 1765 her son (later her successor) Joseph II became coregent. During Maria Theresa and Joseph's reign Austria annexed Galicia from partitioned Poland (1772) and Bukovyna from the Ottoman Empire (1774). The numerous modernizing administrative, fiscal, economic, judicial, ecclesiastical, educational, and military reforms Maria Theresa had introduced elsewhere in the empire, including Transcarpathia, were implemented in those lands. She introduced a number of reforms that improved the legal status of the peasantry, and limited the Polish magnates' powers and privileges and introduced various measures to stimulate the development of agriculture and commerce. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic clergy had their status raised to that of the Roman Catholic clergy (which they had not under Polish rule), a seminary was founded in Vienna (see Barbareum), and the Greek Catholic church was entrusted with establishing new elementary schools. Maria Theresa's reforms aimed to lift Galicia and Bukovyna out of the cultural restriction and economic stagnation they had endured under Polish and Ottoman rule.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]




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