Maria Theresa°

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MARIA THERESA ° (1717–1780), empress of Austria from 1740, the first female heir to the Hapsburg throne as a result of the "Pragmatic Sanction" (1713). She continued the hostile policy of *Charles vi, her father, against the Jews. Her passionate hatred, nurtured from childhood, culminated in the expulsion of *Prague Jewry (1744), which she revoked in 1748 after international intervention on behalf of the Jews. She declared in 1777 that she knew "no worse plague for the state than this nation, because of its deceitfulness, its usury," and noted that the Jews "bring the state more harm than good." She granted audiences to Jews from behind a partition. In spite of this, she profited from the services of such individuals as Diego d'*Aguilar, Israel von *Hoenigsberg, and Wolf Wertheimer. Pursuing a mercantilist policy on the advice of Joseph von Sonnenfels she granted special privileges to Jews, allowing them to establish factories with the condition that gentile labor be employed. She forbade the baptism of Jewish children against the will of their parents, and in 1754 issued the General Polizey Ordnung ("statute") for Moravian Jewry based on the longstanding Shai Takkanot. In 1742 she confirmed the judicial autonomy of Lombardian Jewry (reconfirmed in 1752 and 1764), and in 1744 refrained from carrying out her intention of expelling the Jews from *Naples. In 1753 she permitted the reestablishment of a prayer room at *Usov (Maehrisch-Aussee) and in 1762 reconfirmed the privileges of Mantuan bankers. The unified toleration tax introduced in 1749 in Hungary was called "malke-geld" ("queen money"); it was fear for the loss of the revenue from this tax that induced the empress to prohibit the spread of blood libels in 1764. Despite her concern for ensuring the revenues of the kingdom, her hatred of the Jews found frequent expression. In 1746 she ordered the expulsion of Jews from Buda (Ofen; see *Budapest) and *Timisoara, and in 1774 she expelled the Jewish community from *Hodonin (Goeding), her private domain. In 1752 she had a census taken of the Jews living in Vienna, checked personally on them every three months lest their number multiply illegally, and in 1764 issued a new statute for Lower Austria. Her reign was characterized by the attempt to modernize and centralize the country. As a result of the annexation of the former Polish territories Galicia (1772) and Bukovina (1775), the Hapsburg monarchy became the country with the largest population of Jews.


M. Grunwald, Vienna (1936), 139–44; R. Pick, Empress Maria Theresa (1966), index s.v. Jews; H. Tietze, Juden Wiens (1935), 98–110; B. Mevorakh, in: Zion, 28 (1963), 125–64 (bibliography about Prague expulsion: 125–7 in remarks 1–5); idem, in: Meh. karim… le-Zekher Z. evi Avneri (1970), 188–232; H. Gold, Juden und Judengemeinden Maehrens (1929), 220, 338; S. Simonsohn, Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Dukkasut Mantovah (1963), index; R. Kestenberg-Gladstein, Neuere… Boehmens, 1 (1969), index; C. Schieber, in: Zeitschrift fuer die Geschichte der Juden, 1 (1964), 55–58, 153–7; A. Newman, in: jhset, 22 (1970), 30–37. add. bibliography: I. Cerman, "Maria Theresa in the Mirror of the Mock Jewish Chronicles," in: Judaica Bohemiae, 38 (2003), 5–47; S. Plaggenborg, "Maria Theresa und die boehmischen Juden," in: Bohemia, 39:1 (1998), 1–16; G. Radichevich, "Das oesterreichische Judentum im Zeitalter der Aufklärung," in: F. Potoschnig et al. (eds.), Semitismus und Antisemitismus in Oesterreich (1988), 103–16; E. Dillmann, Maria Theresa (2000); F. Herre, Maria Theresia (2004); K. Schmal, Die Pietas Maria Theresias im Spannungsfeld zwischen Barock und Aufklärung (2001).

[Meir Lamed /

Bjoern Siegel (2nd ed.)]

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Maria Theresa°

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