Marie Antoinette's mother, Empress Maria Theresa, lived a life quite different from that of her daughter. She was very focused on her work, and you may have heard when Antoinette was born Maria Theresa was reading through some documents and had to sit low in her chair when labor kicked in. As soon as the baby came mother went right back to work!
If that doesn't suggest the level of devotion the Habsburg Empress had, and while considering this in contrast to Antoinette, we might wonder how this lady spent her time? It couldn't have all been spent working, right?
When she was younger she liked to attend masked balls held at court. Who wouldn't?! Antoinette certainly shared this joy, however, Maria Theresa grew out of this phase when she married and started her family.
After her husband Francis passed away August 18, 1765, every 18th day of each month was devoted to him, in his memory. The entire month of August was spent in celebratory masses and other events to remember the late husband.
Typically, at 5am, a chamberlain would enter her room to open the shutters and light the stoves. Breakfast was a cup of milk-coffee. She could attend mass without being seen as the chapel was beneath her room and her floor opened to it. The benefit here was she could save time, get through with the morning routine quickly and then off to work!
Her schedule was split up, certain days were open for peasants and strangers to be presented. They were each presented to Maria Theresa as was customary at court. Tuesdays were solely for meeting with ministers of various departments.
Other days were reserved for the subjects who were very bad off, and even "mean." They were admitted the same, and were even allowed to have private meetings with her if needed! She was very popular and felt the attachment her subjects held for her. For everyone else, the first day of each month was an open court day and they could pay visits at that time.
Finally it would be supper time! So at 12 noon her supper was brought, always very simple food (Antoinette always ate very simple meals as well) She would dine alone, as it was conducive to saving time. From then until 6pm she would busy herself with public business. Prayer was at 6pm and her daughters would join her. Unless they were ill they had no reason not to attend. Finally with a full day behind her she would head to bed at 8:30 or 9pm.
And that, is a day in the life of Maria Theresa! I feel a bit tired now....