THE CORONATION of the Empress Maria Theresa in Bratislava’s St Martin Cathedral was re-enacted on June 26, exactly 270 years and one day after the actual event. Maria Theresa was the daughter of Emperor Charles VI who failed to father a son and who, by means of the “pragmatic sanction” of 1713, secured the throne for his daughter. Until then only male descendants had been allowed to rule.
Maria Theresa was born on May 13, 1717. She married Francis I of Loraine on February 12, 1736 and bore him three children in rapid succession. Her coronation was delayed because of her pregnancy with a fourth child who later succeeded her to the throne as Emperor Joseph II. On June 25, the entire aristocracy of Hungary had come to witness the coronation in Bratislava, which at the time was known by its Hungarian name, Pozsony, as well as its German name, Pressburg.
The ceremony began at 8:00 when the coronation entourage, accompanied by a delegation of Bratislava burghers headed by the mayor, left Bratislava Castle and entered the city through the Vydrica Gate. The coronation itself took place in St Martin’s Cathedral. It was presided over by the Archbishop and primate of the country, Count Imrich Esterházy. Maria Theresa was crowned in a ceremony that until then had been reserved for male rulers. After she received the sceptre of office in her right hand and an apple, a symbol of the empire, in her left and the Crown of St. Stephen was placed on her head, all present called: “Vivat Domina et Rex Noster!” (Long live our Lady and King!). The anthem was played accompanied by the ringing of bells and the firing of cannons.
After a festive mass, Maria Theresa mounted a horse and led a procession through the city. During her ride, the Prefect of the Royal Chamber tossed silver coronation coins to the gathered crowd. The empress stopped at Františkánske Square in front of the Statue of Our Lady, erected by her grandfather, Emperor Leopold I, then moved on to the Franciscan Church where Palatine Count Ján Pálffy introduced 45 noblemen to her who were then knighted. Then she rode through the city in a coach, passing under Michael’s Gate, stopping at Church of the Brothers of Mercy and finally moved on to the coronation hill on the bank of the Danube where she recited the oath and made crosses with her sword in four cardinal directions to show her resolution to defend the country. After the ceremony the common folk lingered in the city until well past midnight enjoying free food and drink.
Between 1563 and 1830, nineteen kings and queens of the Great Hungarian Empire were crowned in St Martin’s Cathedral. Maria Theresa’s son, Joseph II, however, refused to be crowned and ordered St Stephen’s crown be taken to Vienna on May 13, 1784 where it was deposited in the imperial treasury.
4. Jul 2011 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff