A loving wife, caring mother of 16 children and hard-working absolute ruler, Empress Maria Theresa was the early prototype of the modern multi-tasking woman. Like the other three Proof quality 20 euro silver coins in our Empress Maria Theresa series, the second coin, Justice and Character, is minted in extra bold relief. The three-dimensional nature of the series, which celebrates the 300th anniversary of the birth of Maria Theresa in 1717, not only gives each coin a special antique look, but also underlines the multi-faceted role that the Empress played in the history of Austria.
Monarch and myth
Born on 13 May 1717, Empress Maria Theresa unexpectedly came to power at the age of 23. Although unprepared for the role of ruler, driven by the four cardinal virtues, Courage, Justice, Clemency and Prudence, Maria Theresa managed to take the helm of the Habsburg Empire for 40 years, during which she steered it on a highly successful course. The embodiment of both monarchic and matriarchal virtues, even during her own lifetime the imposing Empress made it difficult to distinguish between the woman and the myth. Featuring an amalgam of original motifs taken from medals issued during Maria Theresa’s 40-year reign (1740-1780), the obverse of Justice and Character shows the Empress as Justice. The reverse of the coin features a portrait, based on a medal by Anton Wiedemann (1724-1792), of Maria Theresa alongside her husband, Francis I.