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Maria Theresa's Accomplishments
Maria Theresa: Empress of the Hapsburgs

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    Though some doubted her ability to rule, Maria Theresa accomplished much in her 40-year reign.  She was vehemently opposed to Enlightenment, historian Robert Kahn states, "Maria Theresa probably could not have taken a position more in line with the political theories of the Enlightenment if she had wanted to; that she did not even want to is another matter."  Some of her changes include reforms in:
  • Goverment- Centralized decision-making, instituted taxes on the nobility, and required all elected officials (mayors, town counselors, etc.) to have their qualifications to hold office checked by the government.
  • Law-  Limited arbitrary and occasionally ruthless power of nobles, created a system of appeals courts, and abolished the use of torture to obtain a confession.
  • Economy- Reduced power of the guilds, encouraged immigration with compensation benefits, improved transportation through roads and ports, and promoted private enterprise over state industry.
  • Religion- Instituted a tax on the Catholic Churh, forbid the Church to send money to Rome, required government approval for excommunication and the purchase of Church land, and allowed some religious freedom to Protestants.
  • Military- founded schools for military training, and the central government conscripted military rather than the nobles.
  • Rural Life- Created a system of mandatory, state-supported education for male peasants, reduced peasant obligations to nobles, granted all pesants free-tenant status, and standardized landlord fees.

     These are only a few things that Maria Theresa accomplished for her empire while on the throne.  She ensured that her successors continued the reforms.  Maria is classified as an "enlightened despot", but she will always be remembered for altruistic reforms and sacrifices for her beloved country.

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