Family Tree: Meet Marie's Family From the top! | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Family Tree: Meet Marie's Family From the top!

September 22, 2008

Family Tree: Meet Marie's Family From the top!

Maria Theresa had her first child just before her twentieth birthday! It was a daughter and she was born on February 5, 1737. (Maria Theresa would turn 20 just a month later). The baby was named Maria Elisabeth, Maria in honor of the Virgin, and Elisabeth, named after her grandmother Elisabeth Christine. Unfortunately, as was so common, little Maria Elisabeth died at age 3, when she was just a toddler.

While there is not very much to say on the young archduchess, I can take a moment to talk about her grandma! Elisabeth Chirstine, born in 1691 was engaged when she was 13 years old to marry the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. At 17 she stood against the marriage because the arrangement would force her to switch her religion from Protestant to Catholic. She did make the change, and was married in 1707. Not only was she famous for her beauty but she worked hard to retain her husbands land. Her life was not the happiest, and it took a downward turn when her husband left her a widow.

Within the short span of ten years Elisabeth's beauty deteriorated, as she gained immense weight, and developed what was like erysipelas, giving her once deemed classical features a purplish and rough appearance. So sad! It was like she just didn't want to bother anymore and let herself go. The weight in her face has been described as "cascades of fat" changing the mere look of her considerably. Naturally her health began to fail with the new weight. She was prone to shortness of breath and dropsy (Edema). As well as suffering insomnia, the dowager empress had a hard time getting around. To help her stay mobile and take the strain off her swollen legs, “a machine was invented which lifts her into and out of the berlin in her sedan chair.”

Although her health was not well and her husband was gone, she did live out the rest of her life quite comfortably. She was surrounded by a staff of 197 and spent her days playing cards and chatting with her ladies. She died in December of 1750.


  1. Very interesting! Her health issues remind me of Queen Ann

  2. I enjoyed reading this...and I love the family tree with all the pictures!

    Have you seen this video on Versailles? I noticed it on yahoo news and was intrigued, but unfortunately I don't have audio at work.