As the last male in the Hapsburg line, Holy Roman emperor Charles IV wanted a graceful transition for whatever child would succeed him. He wrote the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, which declared his possessions and empire to his heir, male or female. Many of the greatest European countries supported the Sanction, including Great Britain, France, Prussia, Russia, and the Netherlands, though they rescinded their agreement when Charles VI died without a male heir.
The Hapsburg family was proud of their German heritage and lineage of excellent rulers. Maria Theresa was the eldest child of the Holy Roman emperor and his wife Elizabeth von Braunschweig-Wolfenbuettel on May 13, 1717. She gave hope to Charles VI because his son Leopold died a few years earlier. When her father died suddenly on October 20, 1740, Maria Theresa was not educated in political training, yet her grace and love for her country earned her much support.