Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Royal Lady: Archduchess Maria Therese

Marlene A Eilers Koenig collection

Archduchess Maria Theresa  was born Infanta Maria Teresa of Portugal, second daughter of Miguel I of Portugal and  Princess Adelheid of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg.

Miguel overthrew Portugal's righful queen, Maria II, in 1828.  He remained on the throne until 1828, when he was deposed, and Queen Maria's rights were restored.  Miguel went into exile,  and was never able to return to Portugal.  In 1851, at the age of 48, he married 20-year-old Princess Adelheid of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg.  The couple had six daughters and one son, Miguel, who was the grandfather of the Duke of Braganza, present head of the former royal house of Portugal.  Former King Miguel died in 1866, leaving his young widow to raise their children at her family home, Schloss Kleinheubach. 

Adelheid did rather well in finding husbands for her six daughters.  The eldest daugher, Maria das Neves married Alfonso Carlos, Duke of San Jaime, Carlist pretender to the Spanish throne.  Maria José was the second wife of Duke Karl-Theodor in Bavaria.  Adelgundes married Prince Enrico of Bourbon-Parma, Count of Bardi.  Maria Ana made a grand marriage with Guillaume IV, Grand Duke of
Luxembourg, and the youngest daughter, Maria Antonia was the second wife of Roberto I, Duke of Parma.
In spite of her Portuguese title,  Infanta Maria Teresa, was raised in a German-speaking home.  Once described as one of Europe's most beautiful princess, Maria Teresa was seen as a good catch for a prince.  Her mother arranged for a marriage between Maria Teresa and Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria, a younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph.  
This was Karl Ludwig's third marriage.  His first wife, Princess Margarete of Saxony, died  from typhoid in 1858, after nearly two years of marriage.  In 1862, he married Princess Maria Annunziata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, who succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 28 in 1871.    Karl Ludwig's first marriage was childless, and he had four children, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Archduke Otto, Archduke Ferdinand Karl and Archduchess Margarete.

Maria Teresa and Karl Ludwig were married on July 23, 1873 at Kleinheubach.   The couple had two daughters, Archduchess Maria Annunziata and Archduchess Elisabeth. 

The marriage was not a happy one, as Karl Ludwig abused his wife, physically and mentally.   After the death of Crown Prince Rudolf in 1889,  Archduchess Maria Teresa stood in for Empress Elisabeth after the latter had withdrawn from society.  She remained at the court's forefront until Karl Ludwig's death from typhoid in 1896.

She continued to wield power from behind the scenes, and was a vocal supporter of her stepson, Archduke Franz Ferdinand's wish to marry Countess Sophie Chotek.   She brought Sophie into her home, and begged the emperor to allow the marriage.  After the emperor had acquiesced,  Maria Teresa arranged for the marriage to take place in her private chapel.

Maria Teresa remained close to her stepson and his wife.  She broke the news of their deaths to their three children, and she succeeded in having the Emperor provide an allowance for the three children, as most of their father's property had been inherited by his nephew, Archduke Karl, who was married to Maria Teresa's niece, Zita.

She went into exile to Madeira with Karl and Zita, but after some thought, she decided to return to Vienna, where she remained for the rest of her life.   In 1929, she made arrangements to sell the Napoleon Diamond necklace, which she had inherited from her  husband.  Unfortunately, she was nearly scammed by her grand-nephew, Archduke Leopold and the two agents, who called themselves Col. Townsend and Princess Baronti. 
The necklace was valued at $450,000, but due to the economic depression, no one believed that the necklace would sell for full value.   The two "agents" offered the necklace in New York for $100,000.  Archduke Leopold was drawn into the scam, stating that the necklace was real.  But after it was sold to David Michel of New York for $60,000,  the scammers took nearly $54,000 for expenses.

When Archduchess Maria Teresa learned of what had happened,  she filed suit in a New York, and was able to have the necklace returned to her.  The two scammers ran off, and were never caught.  Archduke Leopold spent time in a New York jail for his role in the scam. 

After Maria Teresa's death, members of her family sold the necklace to Paul-Louis Weiller, a French industrialist. In 1960, he sold the necklace to the famed jeweler, Harry Winston, who then sold it to American heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post.  Two years, later, Mrs. Post donated the necklace to the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.


Archduchess Maria Teresa died in Vienna on February 12, 1944.

She died in Vienna on February 12, 1944.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Paul Louis weiller, princesa Sybila's oficina Luxemburg grande father