October 20, 1740

Maria Theresa assumes the rule of Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary upon the death of her father Karl VI. Maria Theresa von Habsburg was one of the most remarkable rulers in European history. When her father died in 1740, she came to the Habsburg throne. She was young, amiable but over-sheltered, and her father had amazingly neglected to train her properly. Despite those crippling disadvantages she learned on the job. During her forty-year-long reign, she defended her territory from neighboring rulers as well as beginning many social reforms, which her son Joseph would expand, and is admired by many to this day – except children, who usually only remember that she had the bright idea of mandatory basic schools. One of her children was Marie Antoinette, who became even more famous than her mother, although for very unfortunate reasons.

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