Thursday 29 August 2013

The Political Manoeuvrings of Maria Anna, Electress of Bavaria

Maria Anna Sophia of Saxony (Maria Anna Sophia Sabina Angela Franciska Xaveria; Dresden, Germany, 29th August 1728 – Munich, Germany, 17th February 1797) 

Portrait of Maria Anna by Georg Desmarées
Maria Anna by Georg Desmarées

We're graced with the presence of another regal lady here on Gin Lane today, so we've got the best tea service out. A shrewd negotiator, talented politician and even more of a force to be reckoned with than grandmother Gilflurt herself, it's time to hear the story of Maria Anna Sophia, Electress of Bavaria.

Maria Anna was born to privilege as one of fifteen children of King Augustus III of Poland and his wife, Maria Josepha of Austria. Among her siblings she could count at least one monarch and the mother to three French kings; raised to expect the best of everything, she was by all accounts an intelligent and thoughtful young lady.

Maximilian III Joseph, Elector of Bavaria by Georg Desmarées, 1776
Maximilian III Joseph, Elector of Bavaria by Georg Desmarées, 1776

In 1747 Maria Anna married the Bavarian Elector, Maximilian III Joseph, son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles VII. Maximilian Joseph was noted as an enlightened monarch who championed industry and education. The couple were together for thirty years but their marriage remained childless, meaning that succession was far from assured when Maximilian Joseph died in 1777.

Fearing for the future of the lands her husband had commanded, Maria Anna watched in horror as Austria began to encroach on Maximilian Joseph's territory, heralding the start of the War of Bavarian Succession. With her late husband's sister, Maria Antonia of Bavaria, Maria Anna opened secret negotiations with Frederick II of Prussia. She set out the case for the independence of Bavaria against its ever-more aggressive Austrian neighbours and ensured the succession of the dynastic line of her choosing. Deals were struck, bargains were made and Maria Anna secured the future of her adopted homeland.

Photograph of Fürstenried Palace
Fürstenried Palace

This intervention secured her place in the affections of the Bavarian people and she remained beloved of both public and nobility for the remainder of her life. Retiring from the public eye, Maria Anna took up residence in Fürstenried Palace and remained there happily until her death.

Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.

Pen and Sword
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

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