The presence of Maria Theresa in the public space
Though Maria Theresa never went to the Netherlands and was constantly represented by a Governor General, successive symbolic marks of sovereignty manifested her ruling over our regions. First in row, legislative power: ordinances were taken in her name and put on display all over the targeted territories. Official documents wear all due regalia of sovereignty: coat of arms and sovereign’s seal authenticated them. The sovereign's arms were widely displayed, on public buildings such as post houses, but even on industrial facilities having been granted the privilege of imperial and royal manufacture status, enlightening their privileged link with political power. Empress's coins and medals also broadcasted her image all over distant countries.
Important events related to Maria Theresa’s exercise of power or private life, were systematically reported on in the Gazette des Pays-Bas, the official journal, and celebrated empire-wide during religious ceremonies organized by the government, such as: the sovereign’s birthday, the birth of her children, military victories ... Tragic events were also taken into account. To mention just one example, in June 1767, one feared for the life of the Empress, struck by the pandemics of smallpox. Public prayers were organized in all parishes over the Netherlands, to obtain relief. All inhabitants, from large cities to the deepest countryside, could be reached by the sound of the bells calling for meditation. When she finally recovered, after the throes of waiting, public festivities allowed the population to exult in the happy news all over the Netherlands. Rejoicing, Te Deum services punctuated by artillery bursts, banquets, wine fountains, open balls and illuminations are carefully described in the Gazette des Pays-Bas, and mentioned in Charles of Lorraine’s autograph diary.