Maria Theresa

Empress of Austria, Hungary, Germany, 1745 –1765

She was the only female ruler of the House of Habsburg who ruled for 650 years. Maria Theresa was the absolute sovereign who ruled with the counsel of her advisers. Maria Theresa understood the importance of her public persona and was able to simultaneously evoke both esteem and affection from her subjects.

 

 In the Austrian law, she limited arbitrary and occasionally ruthless power of nobles, created a system of appeals courts, abolished the use of torture to obtain a confession, prohibited local magistrates and liege lords from trying capital cases, and reduced the number of courts which had jurisdiction in each area to one. In the economy, she reduced the power of the guilds, encouraged immigration with compensation benefits, improved trasportation through roads and ports, promoted private enterprise over state industry, and abolished internal customs duties and public tolls.

 

She founded schools for military training, the central government conscripted military rather than nobles, created a professional army, Maria Theresa reformed education in 1775. In a new school system based on the Prussian one, all children of both genders from the ages of six to twelve were required to attend school.