On 20 October 1740, Archduchess Maria Theresa suffered the loss of her father – Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor.
When Maria Theresa was born on 13 May 1717, the Holy Roman Emperor was quite disappointed that his wife did not give birth to a son to carry on the legacy. It has been said that Charles was never able to overcome this feeling after her birth.
Since she replaced Archduchess Maria Josepha as the heir presumptive at the moment of her birth, she was trained from a young age to hold the role of a queen consort. Her father allowed her to attend meetings of the council from the age of 14. The Holy Roman Emperor spent much of his time ensuring her inheritance; however, he never stopped wanting a son. As a result, Charles VI did not do much to prepare Archduchess Maria Theresa to one day take the throne.
Of course, the Holy Roman Emperor wanted to marry Maria Theresa to another royal in Europe – as was the custom during this time. He married her off to the future Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor in 1736.
Just four years later, Charles VI would lose his life to what many believe was mushroom poisoning after a hunting trip across the Hungarian border; the journey during October was said then to be the wettest and coldest in memory. The Holy Roman Emperor fell ill during his trip in Vienna at Favorita Palace. He left the Habsburgs swarming in massive debt and an ill-equipped army. At the time, many people thought that Austria-Hungary would pull itself away from the Habsburgs after his passing, but this would not be the case.
As her father did not prepare her to rule, she found herself in a tricky situation upon her ascension to the throne. She did not know much about the matters of state. Taking the advice her father had given before his death, she retained his ministers to advise her during her reign.
After his death, Maria Theresa was forced to defend her inheritance in what would be called the War of Austrian Succession. She would come out victorious, only losing the Duchy of Silesia to Prussia and the Duchy of Parma to Spain.