Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (1738–1789)

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Archduchess Maria Anna
Archduchess Maria Anne of Austria.jpg
Portrait of Archduchess Maria Anna by Martin van Meytens
House House of Habsburg-Lorraine
Father Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Maria Theresa of Austria
Born (1738-10-06)6 October 1738
Vienna, Austria
Died 19 November 1789(1789-11-19) (aged 51)
Klagenfurt, Austria

Archduchess Maria Anna Josepha Antonia of Austria (6 October 1738 – 19 November 1789) was the second but eldest surviving daughter of Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor.


Maria Anna was born on 6 October 1738 at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, the center of the vastly powerful Habsburg Monarchy. She was heiress presumptive of the hereditary lands of the Austrian Habsburgs between 1740 and 1741, until her younger brother Joseph (later to be the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II) was born. She was known as "Marianna".

Maria Anna was intelligent but physically disabled. She suffered from bad health and had a fusion of her spine which caused her to have a lump on her back. In 1757, she contracted pneumonia, which permanently damaged her breathing capacity. Unable to find a royal husband, she was, in 1766, made the abbess of the Imperial and Royal Convent for Noble Ladies in Prague with the promise of 80,000 florins per year. Later, she gave up the Prague position and became an abbess in Klagenfurt with a smaller provision. In 1771, she had a Palace built in Klagenfurt, where she lived from 1780. Close to her younger sister Maria Elisabeth, the two lived together in the same convents till their deaths. While her youngest sister, Marie Antoinette, was traveling on her way to Versailles, she stayed at the abbey for one night.

Despite being disabled, Maria Anna often played important roles in major events of state, including acting as sponsor at Marie Antoinette's christening.[1]

Maria Anna was described as her father's favourite. She shared his interest in science and conducted experiments in chemistry and physics. She completed her father's coin collection, wrote a book about her mother's politics, drew and painted. She financed social projects, archaeological exhumations, artists and scientists. Her mentor was Ignaz von Born. She was disliked by high society because her scientific interests were considered unsuitable for her gender, but she was appreciated by the scientific and art world.

Maria Anna was an honorary member of the Vienna Academy of Arts (1767) and elected member of the Florence Academy of Arts (1769).

Maria Anna's health deteriorated further in 1788, and she died on 19 November 1789.




  1. ^ A. Fraser, Marie Antoinette: The Journey, p. 6