Little Bits of History

Strong Men; Great Leaders

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 14, 2013
Theresian Military Academy

Theresian Military Academy

December 14, 1751: The Theresian Military Academy is founded. The school was begun by Maria Theresa of Austria who put Fieldmarshall Leopold Josef Graf Daun (Lord Daun) in charge. The academy accepted 100 noblemen and 100 commoners per year. The Archduchess told Lord Daun to “make me hard working officers and honest men.” The world’s first military academy did provide officers although in the beginning it took 11 years to complete the course of study. It was eventually shortened by increments to 3 years.

Maria Theresa’s school continues to train Austrian Armed Forces officers. Their main building is the castle of Wiener Neustadt in Lower Austria located south of Vienna. The academy came under the command of various important personages through the years. During World War II, the only resistance offered in all of Austria to the German occupation came from the academy. The commander at the time refused the Wehrmacht entry into the castle. Today, it is a 4-year college and offers a masters degree in military leadership. Civilians as well as military students have shared space with women for a short time. The first female graduates left the school in 2003.

Maria Theresa held many titles. She was Holy Roman Empress; German Queen; Queen of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia; as well as the Archduchess of Austria. She was born in 1717 and her father worked at courting other monarchs to make sure his eldest daughter would be permitted to rule after his death. It mostly worked. She was permitted to rule countries, but her husband was made Holy Roman Emperor and she was empress consort. The titular head was male, but it was evident who wielded the power.

Maria Theresa’s rule saw many changes. She initiated financial and educational reforms and altered the face of commerce. She promoted agricultural improvements and reorganized the army. Her rule met with conflict and she was involved  in several wars. She managed to be a key player in 18th century European politics while strengthening the Habsburg rule. She also had 16 children. Joseph II and Leopold II both became Holy Roman Emperors and Marie Antoinette became Queen of France.

“A Bavarian is half-way between an Austrian and a human being.” – Otto von Bismarck

“Thus, by every device from the stick to the carrot, the emaciated Austrian donkey is made to pull the Nazi barrow up an ever-steepening hill.” – Winston Churchill

“The reason I beat the Austrians is, they did not known the value of five minutes.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

“An Austrian army, awfully arrayed, / Boldly by battery besieged Belgrade.” – Alaric Watts

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Maria Theresa’s husband was Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor and Grand Duke of Tuscany. He was born in Nancy, Lorraine in what is now France. He was connected to the Hapsburgs via his grandmother, Eleonor, daughter of Emperor Ferdinand III and the wife of Leopold of Loraine. Emperor Charles VI approved of the family and hoped to marry his daughter to Francis’s older brother. However, the older brother died and Francis was brought to Vienna. The two met as teens and it was understood that they were meant to marry. A real love developed between them. The two were married on February 12 in the Augustinian Church, Vienna but the wedding was held on February 14, 1736. Via the Treaty of Fűssen, Maria Theresa was able to effect his election to the Empire and his succession to Charles VII, making him co-regent to her inherited dominions.

Also on this day: Queen of Gems – In 1656, the first fake pearl was made.
Bushidō  – In 1702, the 47 Ronin avenge their daimyo.
Up, Up and Away – In 1782, the Montgolfier brothers took to the air in their flying balloon.


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