On 5 February 1737, Maria Theresa gave birth to her first child, named Maria Elisabeth. The birth of a daughter was a great disappointment as a son and heir would have solidified her mother’s position as heiress to the Habsburg lands. Despite this, she was a lively child and a favourite of her grandfather the Emperor Charles VI. He nicknamed her Liesl.
She was at Laxenburg Castle when she suddenly fell ill with stomach cramps and vomiting. She was ill all throughout the day and died at 9 o’clock in the evening of 7 June 1740. She was still only three years old. Her father wrote of her death:
At eight o’clock I was summoned and handed over to me a letter of the doctor, from which I deduced that it is time to take my wife away, for the child will not live longer. I walked away a little confused, and found my wife completely burst in tears when I arrived. I took them by the hand and took them to her apartments. Then I went back with the sick child. I had only been for a while when she sat up, looked at me, and said with a clear voice, “I command myself, O my God!“. Then she fell back and died in my arms.
She was buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna. A younger sister would later be named after her.