History is an important part of genealogy, as the knowledge about history helps you understanding your family history.
300 years ago, on 13th of May 1717, Austrian Empress Maria Theresia was born in Vienna.
In 1736, she married Franz Stephan of Lorraine. She and her husband had 16 children, of which 10 survived infancy.
After the death of her father Karl VI in 1740, she assumed the reigns of government of Austria. (She was never officially Empress of Austria, although people did call her Empress.)
Her first years of regency were impacted by a European war, the „Österreichischen Erbfolgekrieg/The War of Austrian Succession“ (1740 to 1748).
Under her regency, many reforms were implemented. Some of those reforms had a clear impact on the daily lives of our ancestors:
- The empress initiated a reform of state finances which also included the introduction of a uniform income tax for all inhabitants – thus ending the tax privileges of nobility and clergy. The following taxes had to be paid per year (1 Gulden = 60 Kreutzer):
(Source: „Felix Austria” by Stephan Vajda, published 1980 Verlag Carl Überreuther)
- Ordinary workmen/farmhands: 4 Kreutzer
- Day labourers: 12 Kreutzer
- Farmers: 48 Kreutzer
- Craftsmen: 1-3 Gulden
- Lords of the manor: 200-400 Gulden, depending on the size of the property
- Bishops: 600 Gulden(To compared those amounts: a meal cost about 12 Kreutzer, as stated here.)
- Maria Theresia also introduced the first paper money in Austria.
- In 1770, the numbering of houses in Vienna was concluded and other Austrian cities followed.
Maria Theresia also ordered the first census in Austria-Hungary in 1754 which was then called „Seelenbeschreibung“. The Census covered 17,437,181 inhabitants of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy. She implemented the first form of a land register (then a register of houses) in 1770.
Maria Theresia died on 29th of November 1780 in Vienna.
If you would like to find out more about Empress Maria Thresia, I recommend this link.