Saturday, March 27, 2010

Maria Josepha of Bavaria, Holy Roman Empress

The second wife of Joseph II, unloved and neglected. According to the Mad Monarchist:
Joseph had previously been married to Isabella of Parma who had died in 1763, whom he had adored, as had most everyone. The rather difficult “enlightened despot” was heartbroken and had not wanted to remarry at all but Empress Maria Theresa was adamant that her son take another wife and produce an heir to the Hapsburg throne. Maria Josepha came to Austria in the shadow of Isabella and she could never hope to take her place. Going into the marriage reluctantly, Joseph criticized his new wife for her weight and her bad teeth but also admitted that her character was “irreproachable”, that she did love him and that she had many admirable qualities. Yet, Joseph declared it a pity for all of that as he simply had no love for her in return.

If Maria Theresa had pushed the marriage to obtain an heir she was to be disappointed. Joseph always kept Maria Josepha at a distance and it is doubtful that their marriage was ever even consummated. He went to considerable lengths to stay apart from her and avoid even having to see her. Maria Josepha suffered on under these conditions which did not improve in 1765 when her husband became Emperor Joseph II and she became Holy Roman Empress beside him. Whereas ordinarily she would have the place of ‘first lady’ in Vienna, that post was still very much filled by the formidable Empress Maria Theresa, a very religious and conservative woman, who distrusted the more liberal “enlightenment” tendencies in her son.

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