When Charles VI and his wife, Elisabeth Christine, had their first child the year was 1716 and the whole empire rejoiced. It was a baby boy, and both parents could not have been more thrilled. Sadly, by fall that year the health of the baby had failed and he passed away. The following May a second child was born to the couple, and after the devastating blow of last year, there was even more rejoicing. Born on May 13, 1717 was their first daughter Maria Theresa. Cathedrals rang with bells and song, and that very evening she was baptized.
Right away her parents prepped this child for an important future. Unsure of any male succession, her father worked very hard to pass a succession law guaranteeing the throne to his daughter. While he worked out the political kinks of the law her mother started reviewing proper instructors and educators for a very important position. The little child would be brought up as a prince of the empire, with all the education needed to succeed in the political realm.
Elisabeth Christine watched over her education very carefully. A few things were well known about the young empress-to-be, she had intellect, grace and of course, she was very lovely. Early on Maria Theresa was taught several languages. Most importantly she learned to speak Latin fluently. As a ruler she would learn not to trust translators who may have alternative motives, and this gives an idea of the spectrum of languages the little girl learned. Her teachers were the most notable persons at the time, and she learned liberal arts such as religion, history, math, painting, music etc.
All this education and work was put to the test when she turned 16. A very important political matter rose over the election of a new king of Poland. Called to the council were the top statesmen of the day, the meeting was held in the imperial council chamber. Her father decided to have Maria Theresa accompany him to this important and high pressure meeting. A bit like take your daughter to work day, however a bit more pressure.
She attended and sat next to her father. The debate and discussion began with all the men expressing issues, concerns and opinions. Charles VI motioned to Maria Theresa at one point that he would like her to take a moment and express her opinion on the matter. She had been listening closely to the statesmen and spoke her mind. "...the astonishment of the ministers was unbounded, as was the Emperor's delight also, at the clearness and accuracy of her judgment, and the acuteness and keenness of her perceptions." Needless to say she passed her first real test, and both mother and father felt a bit more confident that their daughter, who was so well prepped would do well once on the throne!