Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily (6 June 1772 – 13 April 1807) was the last Holy Roman Empress and the first Empress of Austria by marriage to Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor. She was the eldest daughter of Ferdinand IV & III of Naples and Sicily (later Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies) (1751–1825) and Marie Caroline of Austria (1752–1814).
|Maria Theresa of Naples|
Portrait of Maria Theresa in her thirties by Johann Baptist von Lampi the Elder
|Holy Roman Empress,|
Queen consort of the Romans
|Tenure||1 March 1792 – 6 August 1806|
|Tenure||11 August 1804 – 2 March 1807|
6 June 1772|
Royal Palace, Naples
13 April 1807 (aged 34)|
Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria
|Burial||Imperial Crypt, Vienna, Austria|
|Spouse||Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor|
|Father||Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies|
|Mother||Maria Carolina of Austria|
Born Maria Teresa, and named after her maternal grandmother Maria Theresa of Austria, she was the eldest of 17 children born to her parents, the King and Queen of Naples and Sicily. She was her mother's favourite child from birth until she left the Neapolitan court to marry.
In February 1790, Duchess Elisabeth of Württemberg, Francis’ first wife, died in childbirth, and it was announced that Archduke Francis of Austria would marry one of the princesses of Naples. This was in accordance with the traditional Habsburg marriage policy. Maria Theresa and her sister Princess Luisa of Naples and Sicily where both considered for the match. In the end, Luisa was chosen to marry Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany instead, and Maria Theresa selected to marry Francis.
On 15 September 1790 she married her double first cousin Archduke Francis of Austria, who would in 1792 become Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, and (1806) Emperor Francis I of Austria.
The marriage is described as a happy one, despite differences in personality. Francis was described as a melancholic character, shy and reserved, serious and with a preference for a spartan lifestyle and duty, and with a pale and haggard appearance. Maria Theresa, on the other hand, was described as a vivacious personality with a hot temper and a sensual nature. To her appearance, she was viewed as a gracious blue eyed blonde with full lips, though too big of a nose. Despite these differences in appearance and personality, however, they were reported to have a good understanding of each other and had a very good relationship.
Maria Theresa reportedly accustomed well with her new home in Vienna and did not suffer from homesickness. She loved entertainment, and participated with enthusiasm in court life, and it was noted that she enjoyed dancing, participating in every carnival ball at court even while being pregnant. She particularly enjoyed the Waltz, which was recently introduced as an innovation during her life in Vienna and became fashionable during her time as empress.
Hedwig Elizabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp described the view of Maria Theresa and the relationship between the couple in her famous diary during her visit to Vienna in 1798–99:
The Empress is reputed to be so jealous that she does not allow him to take part in social life or meet other women. Vicious tongues accuse her of being so passionate that she exhausts her consort and never leaves him alone even for a moment. Although the people of Vienna cannot deny that she is gifted, charitable and carries herself beautifully, she is disliked for her intolerance and for forcing the Emperor to live isolated from everyone. She is also accused of interesting herself in unimportant matters and socializing exclusively with her lady-companions. With them she spends her evenings singing, acting out comedies and being applauded.
In February 1799, her seeming indifference to the revolution against her parents in Naples attracted some disfavour in Vienna. Hedwig Elisabeth Charlotte also recounts a scene described to her by a foreigner, who bribed his way into the private park at Laxenburg and came to witness a scene between the couple:
"He saw the Emperor sitting on a bench, alone in his thoughts. Immediately, the Empress came to fetch him, and he exlaimed: "Can't you ever leave me alone, so that I may breathe for one moment? For God's sake, don't follow me around all the time."
Empress Maria Theresa was interested in politics and came to play a certain role in state affairs due to her influence over her spouse, to whom she acted as an adviser. She was a conservative force and belonged to the critics of Napoleon I, and was reported to have encouraged Francis in an anti-French position during the Napoleonic Wars. She has also been pointed out for being partially responsible for the dismissal of Johann Baptist Freiherr von Schloissnigg and Graf Franz Colloredo.
An important patron of Viennese music, she commissioned many compositions for official and private use. Joseph Haydn wrote his Te Deum for chorus and orchestra at her request. He also composed numerous masses to celebrate her reign. Her favourite composers included Paul Wranitzky and Joseph Leopold Eybler, a composer of sacred music.
She died due to complications after her last premature childbirth.
|Children of Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily|
|By Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor|
|Archduchess Marie Louise||12 December 1791||17 December 1847 (aged 56)||Married first Emperor Napoleon I of France, had issue, married second Adam, count of Neipperg, had issue, married third to Charles, Count of Bombelles, no issue.|
|Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria||19 April 1793||29 June 1875 (aged 82)||Married Maria Anna of Savoy, Princess of Sardinia, no issue.|
|Archduchess Maria Caroline||8 June 1794||16 March 1795 (aged 0)||Died in childhood, no issue.|
|Archduchess Caroline Ludovika||22 December 1795||30 June 1797 (aged 1)||Died in childhood, no issue.|
|Archduchess Caroline Josepha Leopoldine||22 January 1797||11 December 1826 (aged 29)||Renamed Maria Leopoldina upon her marriage; married Pedro I of Brazil, had issue.|
|Archduchess Maria Clementina Franziska Josepha||1 March 1798||3 September 1881 (aged 83)||Married her maternal uncle Leopold, Prince of Salerno, had issue.|
|Archduke Joseph Franz Leopold||9 April 1799||30 June 1807 (aged 8)||Died some weeks after his mother in childhood, no issue.|
|Archduchess Marie Caroline||8 April 1801||22 May 1832 (aged 31)||Married Crown Prince (later King) Frederick Augustus II of Saxony, no issue.|
|Archduke Franz Karl||17 December 1802||8 March 1878 (aged 75)||married Princess Sophie of Bavaria; father of Franz Joseph I of Austria and Maximilian I of Mexico.|
|Archduchess Marie Anna||8 June 1804||28 December 1858 (aged 54)||Born intellectually disabled (like her eldest brother, Emperor Ferdinand I) and to have suffered from a severe facial deformity. Died unmarried.|
|Archduke Johann Nepomuk||30 August 1805||19 February 1809 (aged 3)||Died in childhood, no issue.|
|Archduchess Amalie Theresa||6 April 1807||9 April 1807 (aged 0)||Died in childhood, no issue.|
|Ancestors of Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily|
Media related to Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies at Wikimedia Commons
Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily
Cadet branch of the House of BourbonBorn: 6 June 1772 Died: 13 April 1807
Maria Luisa of Spain
| Holy Roman Empress
|Holy Roman Empire|
| Queen of the Romans
Title next held byAugusta of Saxe-Weimar
as German Empress
| Archduchess consort of Austria
Maria Ludovika of Austria-Este
| Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia|
Creation of Austrian Empire
| Empress consort of Austria|