13 May 1717, Vienna – 29 November 1780
Maria Theresia Walburga Amalia Christina was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg. She was the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands and Parma. She began her rule in 1740. She was also one of the most successful Habsburg rulers, male or female, while bearing sixteen children between 1738 and 1756.
Maria Theresa was courageous, generous and kind. She respected the rights of others and expected others to respect her rights. In the later part of her rule, the empress focused more on human concerns, and less on financial and administrative improvements. Some historians have termed Maria Theresa as the savior of the Habsburg Dynasty. Her efforts to transform her empire into a modern state solidified the Habsburg rule. Although when she came to the throne, her state appeared on the brink of dismemberment, Maria Theresa provided a strong foundation for the continuation of the Habsburg Dynasty into the modern era.