Marie-Thérèse et les Pays-Bas autrichiens :
la souveraineté à distance

The death of Maria Theresa and her memory in the Netherlands at the end of the Ancient Regime

Maria Theresa died in Vienna on November 29, 1780. This news reached Brussels a few days later. The authorities immediately took steps to settle the bereavement and organize the funeral. It took place in Brussels, in the Collégiale Sainte-Gudule on December 22 and 23, 1780. Ceremonies were held a few days later all over the country. Detailed description of those proceedings was recorded and is still available. Several funeral orations in honor of the late sovereign were published, all to the glory of Maria Theresa.

Emperor Joseph II soon put his stamp by accelerating the pace of reforms in the Netherlands, with direct impact upon the Church and State relationship, and further strengthening the government's grip on financial, economic and judicial policy. Although in-line with his mother's ruling, these measures were implemented without caution. Revolt rumbled as of 1787 and lead to the Brabant Revolution in 1789. Many pamphlets circulated, depicting the memory of Maria Theresa’s happy times, in contrast to the harshness of Joseph II’s approach. Such an idealized vision was however not undisputed; some hooked directly Josef II’s reforms to Maria Theresa’s initial way of handling. After the Brabant Revolution, during restoration of the Austrian regime in the Netherlands, the form of government as prevailed under Maria Theresa was restored, erasing the most irritating aspects of certain reforms put in place by her successor.

The death of Maria Theresa and her memory in the Netherlands at the end of the Ancient Regime