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Maria Josepha (Marie Josephe Antonie Walburga Felicitas Regula, 30 March 1739 - 28 May 1767), Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, Princess of Bavariamarker, was the daughter of Charles Albert, Elector of Bavaria and Maria Amalia of Austria and the second wife of Emperor Joseph II. She was a member of the house of Wittelsbach and was born in Munichmarker, Bavaria.


On 23 January 1765, she married the widowed Joseph, King of the Romans, and heir of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, in Schönbrunn Palace. She was two years older than her husband.

The marriage was never happy; it had taken place only under pressure from Joseph's mother, Maria Theresa, who wanted her son to provide an heir to the throne. Joseph, however, had never wanted to remarry after the death of his beloved first wife, Isabella of Parma, although he had made some overtures toward Isabella's younger sister Maria Luisa of Parma. Maria Luisa, however, was already promised to the crown prince of Spain and in any case was not interested. Joseph did not find Maria Josepha physically attractive either—he described her in a letter as a "short, fat little person" with "ugly teeth". He admitted, however, that as far as her character was concerned, Maria Josepha was an "irreproachable woman" who loved him, and that he valued her for her positive traits but suffered because he could not love her.

The marriage was probably never consummated. Joseph declined to sleep in their shared bedroom and even had the balcony which joined their rooms in Schoenbrunn Palacemarker divided so that he never had to see his wife. Upon her father-in-law's death on August 18, 1765, Maria Josepha became Empress consort of the Holy Roman Empire. Her mother-in-law, however, remained the most powerful and important figure in the Empire and at court in Vienna.


On May 28, 1767, after only two years of marriage, Maria Josepha died of smallpox as had her predecessor Isabella. Her husband did not visit her during her illness, although her mother-in-law, Maria Theresa, did. In doing so, Maria Theresa also caught the disease but survived.

Maria Joseph was buried in the Imperial Cryptmarker in Vienna, but Joseph did not attend her burial.

The unloved young empress played a role in her husband's life once more after her death, when he laid claim to a large part of Bavaria in 1778-1779. He based his claim on, among other grounds, his marriage to his Bavarian second wife. This conflict eventually grew into the War of the Bavarian Succession. In the end, the Habsburg dynasty gained only the Innviertelmarker.



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