Archduchess Maria Johanna Gabriela of Austria

This article is about the daughter of Maria Theresa. For the daughter of Ferdinand I, see Joanna of Austria, Grand Duchess of Tuscany.
Johanna Gabriela
Archduchess of Austria

Johanna by Jean-Étienne Liotard, 1762
Born (1750-02-04)4 February 1750
Hofburg Palace, Vienna
Died 23 December 1762(1762-12-23) (aged 12)
Hofburg Palace, Vienna
Burial Imperial Crypt
Full name
Maria Joanna Gabriella Josepha Antonia
House Habsburg-Lorraine
Father Francis I Stephen
Mother Maria Theresa

Maria Johanna Gabriela of Austria (English: Marie Joanna Gabrielle Josepha Antonia, German: Maria Johanna Gabriele Josefa Antonia; 4 February 1750  23 December 1762) was an Archduchess of Austria and Princess of Tuscany, Hungary and Bohemia as the eleventh child and ninth daughter of Francis Stephen of Lorraine, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria Theresa. She was described as likeable and good-natured, but died aged 12 of smallpox.[1]

Early life and education

Archduchess Maria Johanna Gabriela Josepha Antonia, commonly called Johanna or Johanna Gabriela, was born at the Vienna Hofburg on 4 February 1750 as the eleventh child and ninth daughter of Francis Stephen of Lorraine, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia. One year later, she was joined by a sister, Archduchess Maria Josepha.

Johanna's tomb in the Imperial Crypt.

Johanna Gabriela was part of a string of children born soon after one another and was thus placed in the Kindskammer (the imperial nursery) along with her siblings Maria Josepha, Maria Carolina, Ferdinand Charles, Maria Antonia and Maximilian Francis; they were mainly looked after by ladies-in-waiting and their attendants. At the age of five, Johanna received her own suite of rooms in the imperial palace and some additional tutors. She had a good relationship with her siblings, albeit with the regular fraternal quarrels, as Maria Theresa encouraged her children to get along.[2][3]

Johanna was very close to her sister Maria Josepha; the two were educated together and had the same aios and aias, as the male and female tutors were called in the imperial family.[2][4] The girls enjoyed a varied education which was closely monitored by their parents. Due to her untimely death, Johanna's education covered only one phase of the two that Maria Theresa had created for her children: she studied reading, writing, Latin, foreign languages, history, geography, land surveying, military architecture, mathematics, music, dancing and gymnastics, as well as religion from the age of three.[5]

Additionally, Johanna was highly educated in making music and dancing, both subjects her mother loved and had excelled at in her own childhood. While the boys were taught to play different instruments, Johanna and her sisters were given singing lessons. A special theatre was built at Schönbrunn especially for the children; Johanna and her siblings gave frequent musical performances. Another very important part of the Archduchess's education was art: she was educated in drawing and painting, a field where the girls excelled particularly.[6] All in all, Johanna and Josepha "developed satisfactory, worked hard at their lessons and were involved in numerous festivities in which they participated enthusiastically."[4]

Engagement and death

Maria Theresa pursued a deliberate marriage policy to which all of her children had to submit. Thus, she married most of her children off throughout Europe. She and King Charles III of Spain agreed that Maria Theresa's fourth daughter, Archduchess Maria Amalia, to marry Charles III's son, King Ferdinand III of Sicily and IV of Naples; but Charles later wanted to break off the engagement due to Maria Amalia being five years older than Ferdinand. Maria Theresa then turned her attention to Johanna, the closest sister who was just one year older than Ferdinand, so she betrothed Johanna to Ferdinand instead.

In the second half of the eighteenth century, smallpox was ravaging the Holy Roman Empire. Leopold Mozart, father of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, wrote that "in the whole of Vienna, nothing was spoken of except smallpox. If 10 children were on the death register, 9 of them had died from smallpox."[7] Johanna's older brother Karl Joseph died of smallpox in 1761 and Maria Theresa became a strong supporter of inoculation, a primitive way of immunization. In order to set a strong example, the Empress ordered the inoculation of all her remaining children. Although without incidents for the other children, Johanna became ill after the inoculation and died shortly thereafter. She was buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna.


Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles



  1. "Kaisergruft: Johanna Gabriela". Kaisergruft. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
  2. 1 2 Iby 2009, p. 29.
  3. Iby 2009, p. 34.
  4. 1 2 Iby 2009, p. 57.
  5. Iby 2009, p. 32.
  6. Iby 2009, p. 33.
  7. Magiels 2010, p. 21.


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