Home Magazine The fight for love: How was the relationship between Maria Theresa and František Štěpán?

The fight for love: How was the relationship between Maria Theresa and František Štěpán?

by ona
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The television screens were lit up by a two-part film about the beginnings of the relationship between the young Archduchess Maria Theresa and František Štěpán Lotrinský. Was it really a passionate love that had to give way to state interests?

A discreet report sent by the Prussian envoy from Vienna to Berlin says: „František Štěpán is rather stocky, but not overly so. He is otherwise well built, although the posture is somewhat sloppy. His behavior is completely unforced, which distinguishes him from Emperor Charles VI. He is an enemy of any etiquette and his person does not at all radiate the seriousness of the office he holds. He can’t stand ladies kissing his hand, he hates the Spanish way of dressing and avoids it wherever he can. His character is very noble and I have never heard of him being rude or angry. In minor frictions with Maria Theresa, he is always the one who backs down.“

A dream wedding
As we already know, Duke František Štěpán also backed down in the matter of holding Lorraine. The post of viceroy in the Austrian Netherlands was supposed to be the first patch, but soon after that he received an analogous office in Hungary and thus briefly found himself close to his chosen one. When the Medici family died out in Tuscany in 1737, he went to Florence, which he acquired for himself (and thus also for the Habsburgs) in the course of merchant auctions as a more than cavalier compensation for the losses suffered.

But there was a wedding before that. It took place in Vienna and was written in February 1736. Francis of Lorraine married the nineteen-year-old Princess Maria Theresa, a hot and fiery blonde, at the age of twenty-eight. Feeling was behind their marriage, and not reason or the dynastic will of the monarch. Twelve years after they first saw each other, and after waiting patiently for years apart, they were united on February 12, 1736 in a truly magnificent wedding. If perhaps the bride was a uniquely advantageous match for the groom in the first place, then for Maria Theresa the duke became a great and lifelong love. Rézinka loved her prince from childhood and did not stop seeing him as a hero even in adulthood, even as a widow, although he failed as a soldier, statesman and politician, and even as a faithful husband.

Just moderate, sir!
When the ducal seat in Tuscany became vacant the following year, the newlyweds could retire to their new fiefdom. From that time, Maria Theresa’s daily schedule has been preserved, which she conscientiously followed according to the instructions of her mentor, Count Sylva-Taroucca: „Get up at half past six on weekdays. Get dressed, hear mass, two hours of spiritual reading, from nine to twelve audience of ministers, at twelve o’clock children, women and others, at one o’clock lunch, until three o’clock entertainment or rest, at three o’clock reading of prayers for the dead, from four to six o’clock officiating, writing or audience, at six o’clock the rosary, then until nine o’clock writing, conversation, a walk, quiet entertaining reading, audience on Sunday from five to ten in the evening.“

Although… In that routine, privacy has somehow disappeared. Sure it existed, but it wasn’t talked about. However, it can reasonably be assumed that Marie Terezia and František Štěpán enjoyed marital happiness to their heart’s content. Exactly a year and a half after their wedding, their first daughter, Marie Alžběta, was born, and others soon followed. In particular, the imperial grandfather perceived the harvest of children with understanding, but he longed far more for a grandson than for granddaughters. The Habsburg cradle needs a son! The two tried, but their young strength was enough. When the emperor learned that a heavy baroque bed had fallen with the young couple, he wrote to his son-in-law with a gentle reproach: „Only moderate, sir, don’t overdo it!“ However, the old emperor did not see the male heir to the throne. The future Joseph II. was born only on March 13, 1741, while Charles VI. died October 20, 1740.

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