Today in Marie Antoinette History: February 12

12 February 1736

Maria Theresa and Francis Wedding Breakfast by Martin van Meytens ca 1736

Martin van Meytens ca 1736

Marie Antoinette’s parents, Maria Theresa and Francis I, tied the knot. Interestingly enough, the future Holy Roman Empress was originally engaged to Leopold Clement of Lorraine, Francis’ older brother. Leopold was due to visit court in 1723 but word arrived that the fiancé had died of smallpox. Francis was sent as a substitution. Francis was famous in Vienna for his good looks, so it looks like Maria Theresa lucked out.

The above painting is entitled “Maria Teresa and Francis’ Wedding Breakfast.” I realize that a wedding breakfast is a tradition and practically routine in some circles but to paint a picture of it? Seems strange to me…

12 February 1768

Marie Antoinette’s first nephew was born. Her older brother Leopold and his wife María Luísa, the Duke & Duchess of Tuscany, welcomed their first child, first son and first Hapsburg heir born since Emperor Joseph II.

maria luisa, leopold II and Francis II

mamma maria luisa, papa leopold II and son: Francis II at age 2

That evening the baby archduke was christened in the Pitti Palace chapel and named after his two godfathers, Emperor Joseph II and King Carlos III of Spain, and Leopold’s father, Emperor Francis I. Fitting that a future emperor be named for two emperors and a king, n’est-ce pas?

Three days of festivals, gala parties and fireworks erupted in jubilant Florence to celebrate the new Archduke Francis. When Empress Maria Teresa received the news in Vienna she burst into the imperial theater at the Hofburg, still wearing only her nightgown and interrupted the performance. Maria Teresa proclaimed to the theater, “My Poldy’s got a boy! And just on my wedding anniversary, that’s quite polite of him isn’t it?”

At the time, most agreed with the Empress that the heir’s birthday was a good omen. As the Hapsburg luck would have it, Francis II would be the last Holy Roman Emperor.

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About ♔ la dauphiine ♔

Connecticut-based jewelry monger, history buff, Mets fan. On the hum-drum side, call me a lauded poet, novelist and ghost-writer. (That's right, I haunt prose.)
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