Family Tree: Meet Marie's Sister Marianne | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Family Tree: Meet Marie's Sister Marianne

January 04, 2010

Family Tree: Meet Marie's Sister Marianne

Archduchess Marianne was born second to Maria Elizabeth in 1738.  Unfortunately for the family, it was the second daughter and not a son.  It was said that Maria Theresa acknowledged that she would be destined for a convent, when at birth she was born with a slight deformity.

Her full name, Maria Anna Josepha Antonia of Austria, was chosen after Maria Theresa's sister Maria Anna, who died in 1744.  On July 26, 1750 a large celebration was held for St. Anne's Day, in honor of both Marianne and her deceased aunt.   The theme of the celebration was the legend of Orpheus, and the symbolosim suggested that the young Marianne carried the spirit of her beloved aunt. 

When she was just seventeen she had two younger sisters whose future marriages were already being discussed.  The eldest archduchess was not born to find a royal husband due to her deformity which became more pronounced later in life, and as been noted as a 'hump' most likely in the back.

In 1767 the archduchess had the misfortune of contracting smallpox most likely caught from her sister who had developed it first. Her face was permanently scarred.  She spent her days with her younger sister Maria Elizabeth who was also badly affected by the pox.  The two would continue to live together.  Marianne was very pious and giving, spending much of her time studying. Once, she was asked to aid in founding a convent of nuns called the Delight of Jesus.  She agreed, but would lateer regret, when the new institution was broken up due to Jesuitism.

The rest of her days were spent at the palace, and while Maria Theresa was alive, she was devoted and at her side.  Her mother found both daughters "lived more as nuns than princesses."  Marianne never married but lived with her sister Maria Elizabeth and became the the abbess of the Imperial and Royal Convent for Noble Ladies in Prauge.  She lived until 1780.


  1. *jumps for joy* FINALLY someone posts something on Marianne! I posted a small bio on my blog and it seemed that would be the last I'd ever see about her. Thank you so much for this informative article! :)

  2. I do love your posts about the fam!

  3. It's so sad they couldn't just find men for themselves. Why should they be barred from marriage and children because of a small hump and smallpox scars? People have full and happy lives with worse.

  4. @Meghan Jordan: I agree with you! It is very hard to find information on her! And some of it out there is not even correct!

    @heather carroll THANKS I am going to work on them throughout the year!

    @Tulip you are too kind! :D Honestly I love to keep the blog but I love you guys even more! Readers and commenters have been beyond sweet and always have interesting things to add. So thank YOU for hanging out here :o)

  5. Learned something new today. Thanks for the interesting information about Marianne! Small pox scars were unattractive, but her features must have been greatly softened by candlelight.

  6. Her frail health ive read was caused by malnourishment when she was a child (during the war of the sucession,) known as "The scholarly duchess" later in life.

    Please visit my flickr for some more image of Maria Anna (and her sisters)

    Great Post!

  7. Hi Sophia,
    I had not heard that, thank you for sharing with us!! And thank you for your link with all the wonderful images :o)

  8. Thank you I have ahem a slight obsession with finding portraits of 18th century Like a young archduchess (read empress) Maria Theresia dressed in pinK(found 2!)

    Feel free to use them^^