rchduchess Maria Elisabeth Josepha Antonia of Austria

born on August 13, 1743 in Vienna, Austria
died on September 22, 1808 in Linz, Austria

She was a daughter of the Grand Duke of Tuscany and later Emperor Francis Stephen I. of Lorraine and the Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, Maria Theresia of Austria.

Reference to the Goldener Adler

Archduchess Maria Elisabeth was probably the most frequent visitor of all famous personalities.

She had many guests whom she visited, picked up and accommodated in the Goldener Adler. She herself was probably a guest in the Goldener Adler in 1799. She is also mentioned very often in the chronicles of the town.

Among others, she and the Goldener Adler received the Elector of Trier, Clemens August, in 1782, the Elector Karl Theodor of Palatinate-Bavaria in 1783, the King of Sweden Gustav III. in 1783, as well as Louise Maria Josepha of Savoy, born Princess of Sardinia, in 1792.


xcursion tip

The father of Archduchess Maria Elisabeth, Emperor Franz I. Stephan died in 1765 unexpectedly of a stroke in the Innsbruck Hofburg during the wedding celebrations of his son Archduke Leopold with Maria Ludovica of Spain. His wife Maria Theresa was very shocked by this and mourned him deeply.

In perpetual memory she founded in the same year the secular noble ladies’ convent at the place of her husband’s death. It had its seat in a building adjoining the Hofburg to the south, which was rebuilt and extended for this purpose.

The common prayer room was the death chamber of Emperor Franz Stephan, which had been converted into a chapel. The main task of the nuns was to pray for the deceased. The complex of the monastery adjoins the Hofburg and the Hofkirche and has access to the Silver Chapel.

Therefore, our today’s excursion tip: Visit the Hofburg Innsbruck and follow in the footsteps of Archduchess Maria Elisabeth, but also of course Emperor Maximilian I, Maria Theresa or Sisi –

Life and facts

Maria Elisabeth was the sixth child of Maria Theresia and she was considered the prettiest of all daughters. Her mother herself called her “coquette of beauty”.
Already at the age of twelve, Maria Elisabeth received numerous marriage proposals, but they were all rejected by her mother.

Maria Theresia saw in her daughter’s beauty an important political asset that had to be used to advantage in the marriage policy, and for this reason they wanted to arrange an important political marriage.

When they wanted to marry her at the age of 24 to the widowed King Louis XV. of France, she contracted smallpox three days before the wedding, which, with the permanent scars afterwards, cost her beauty. Thus, her husband did not want to marry her again.

When Maria Theresia died in 1780, Maria Elisabeth, like her sisters Maria Anna and Maria Christine, had to leave Vienna because her brother Joseph II wanted to put an end to the “women’s economy” at court.

So, she became abbess of the noble ladies’ convent in Innsbruck, which Maria Theresa had founded after the death of Emperor Franz I in 1765, because of the mourning.

She thus complied with her mother’s wishes and prayed for the rest of her life for her deceased father; this was the only alternative for the archduchesses instead of marriage.

However, it was by no means to be understood as a punishment; they resided in appropriate apartments and could pursue their interests undisturbed. Due to her extroverted personality, Maria Elisabeth soon became the centre of convent life and was described as “a fiery and very popular lady even in old age”. She was feared in Tyrol because of her sharp tongue.

In 1805 she fled from Napoleon’s troops to Vienna, and the convent was dissolved three years later during the Bavarian occupation of Innsbruck. She spent the last years of her life in Linz, where she died. She is buried in the crypt of the Jesuit Church in Linz (Alter Dom).


Brigitte Hamann (Hrsg.): Die Habsburger: Ein biographisches Lexikon. 2., korr. Aufl., Wien 1988, S. 320 f.

Ellinor Langer: Die Geschichte des Adeligen Damenstiftes zu Innsbruck. Innsbruck 1950.

Charlotte Pangels: Die Kinder Maria Theresias: Leben und Schicksal in kaiserlichem Glanz. 2. Aufl., München 1983, ISBN 3-7667-0695-0, S. 223–270.

Friedrich Weissensteiner: Die Töchter Maria Theresias. Kremayer & Scheriau 1991, ISBN 3-218-00591-4.

Constantin von Wurzbach: Habsburg, Maria Elisabeth Josepha. In: Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich. 7. Theil. Kaiserlich-königliche Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, Wien 1861, S. 48 (Digitalisat).

Geschichte von Innsbruck. II. S. 264 u. 265. 1404).

Zoller. Geschichte von Innsbruck. II. S. 266 u. 267. 1419

https://www.burghauptmannschaft.at/Betriebe/Hofburg-Innsbruck/Geschichte-.html Website Stand 22.07.2021 22:57

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data.cfm (innsbruck.gv.at) – Chronik von Innsbruck, zusammengestellt von Carl Unterkircher, Scriptor an der k.k. Universitäts-Bibliothek in Innsbruck. Druck und Verlag der Vereinsbuchhandlung. 1897. UB Innsbruck Separatabdruck der „Neuen Tiroler Stimmen“ 1892–1896.