Barbara Stollberg-RilingerMay 4, 2022
The Habsburg Empress in Her Time
Princeton University Press 2022
Maria Theresa (1717–1780) was once the most powerful woman in Europe. At the age of twenty-three, she ascended to the throne of the Habsburg Empire, a far-flung realm composed of diverse ethnicities and languages, beset on all sides by enemies and rivals. Master historian, Professor Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger provides the definitive biography of Maria Theresa, in her outstanding biography, Maria Theresa: The Habsburg Empress in her Time (Princeton University Press, 2022). Situating this exceptional empress within her time while dispelling the myths surrounding her.
Drawing on a wealth of archival evidence, Professor Stollberg-Rilinger examines all facets of eighteenth-century society, from piety and patronage to sexuality and childcare, ceremonial life at court, diplomacy, and the everyday indignities of warfare. She challenges the idealized image of Maria Theresa as an enlightened reformer and mother of her lands who embodied both feminine beauty and virile bellicosity, showing how she despised the ideas of the Enlightenment, treated her children with relentless austerity, and mercilessly persecuted Protestants and Jews. Work, consistent physical and mental discipline, and fear of God were the principles Maria Theresa lived by, and she demanded the same from her family, her court, and her subjects.
A panoramic work of scholarship that brings Europe’s age of empire spectacularly to life, Maria Theresa paints an unforgettable portrait of the uncompromising yet singularly charismatic woman who left her enduring mark on the era in which she lived and reigned. In the words of John Adamson in the Literary Review, Professor Stollberg-Rilinger’s treatment of the Habsburg ruler will stand "as the basic reference point for studies of Maria Theresa for decades to come".
Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written for Chatham House’s International Affairs, the Institute of Historical Research's Reviews in History and the University of Rouen's online periodical Cercles.