Maria Theresa – Europe’s Mother-in-Law

1 x 52 min
Worldwide except for Germany, France and the Czech Republic

No-one played the game of diplomacy better than Austria’s Empress Maria Theresa. She made peace between the Habsburg Empire and its oldest enemies, the Bourbons, rulers of France, Spain and the kingdoms of Parma and Naples. To gain an ally against the Prussian upstarts to the north, this deeply Catholic mother of 16 was even prepared to deal with the woman whose morals she most despised: Madame Pompadour, mistress of Louis XVI. Their unlikely alliance helped usher in a new era in European politics, poised between absolutism and Enlightenment. Maria Theresa’s most powerful strategic tool was a weapon that had always come in handy in the Habsburg arsenal: “Tu felix Austria, nube”. “Others make war, but you, happy Austria, marry!” As a result, six of her children were married into the House of Bourbon. Maria Theresa knew these marriages would largely be unhappy. When her youngest daughter Marie-Antoinette wed King Louis XVI of France in 1770, all her political goals were won, but at a high personal price. Only Maria Theresa’s death in 1780 spared her from experiencing Marie-Antoinette’s tragic end, executed by guillotine. The biography of Maria Theresa and of the Habsburg family is the story of the clash between private life and political power-play, between dynastic responsibility and motherly love. The blue chip drama-documentary „Maria Theresa – Europe’s Mother-in-Law“ marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of the most famous member of the Habsburg dynasty, and reveals a previously unseen side of the regent based on recently-discovered personal letters of the Empress to Countess Enzenberg, her lady-in-waiting.


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