In the first decade of the 18th century, Hungarians fought a very exhausting and, in the end, unsuccessful war to secede from the Habsburg Empire and re-establish their old kingdom.

That time, the Habsburgs were too powerful to topple.

However, only 30 years later, the Empire was crumbling, its former allies turning against it, and as Maria Theresa inherited her father's throne, France, Prussia, and Bavaria attacked her with overwhelmingly superior forces. Maria Theresa asked the Hungarians for help, and they agreed, crowned her as their monarch, and provided much needed assistance in the war which followed.

The events themselves are well known and well documented. What is not entirely clear to me, is the Hungarians' motivation. Why did they support her? What did they expect to achieve by that? This could have been the perfect opportunity to regain independence. They didn't even have to start another secession war, all they would have had to do is just stay home, don't intervene, and let Austria crumble by herself.

The Ottomans' strength was already declining at that time, so the Hungarians didn't have any strong enemies threatening them which they couldn't have faced alone.

The sole hint I was able to put together was that the Hungarian Catholic nobility might have feared the Protestant minority becoming too strong, and they wanted a dedicated Catholic ruling dynasty. However, had this been the only reason, they could have elected a Catholic ruler from among themselves; they did have the required legislation to do so, and there was more than one precedent in doing so. Also, although she later proved to be a strong Catholic ruler, she was only 23 years old at the time of her coronation, without any powerful mentor figure, and she practically went to the Hungarians begging them for support.

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    Hungarians weren't a monolithic group. Francis Rákóczi refused to recognise Habsburg rule and died in exile after his revolt failed, but conversely many Hungarians did not support the revolt in the first place - Rákóczi was largely based east of the Danube. I think you overstate Hungarian desire for independence; they were not forced to agree to the Pragmatic Sanction in 1723, but rather persuaded to ratify it. Likewise, they were persuaded to support Maria Theresa in 1741, by both political concessions, and by a dramatically staged personal appeal.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 20:08
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    Why is the Wikipedia article about this not enough?
    – Spencer
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 20:11
  • @Spencer : why would it be? How does it answer the question? Also, it was signed shortly after crushing Rákóczi, and things were different in the 1740's. From the events (Maria Theresa going to the Hungarians begging for help) it doesn't seem like the Hungarians were forced to do so without any possibility to say no.
    – vsz
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 20:18
  • @vsz: besides the above-linked wiki article the one on Maria-Theresa mentions further lavish placating. Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 20:31
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    @vsz It's your question; it's up to you to specify what's missing from Wikipedia that you want to know.
    – Spencer
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 21:36

1 Answer 1


In large part because she asked them to do so.

Almost no "king" would do this. But Maria Theresa was a woman, and a young, attractive, one at that. So she turned her woman's "weakness" into a strength.

Her father had paved the way 17 years earlier, by making large land grants to Hungarian nobles for signing the so-called Pragmatic Sanction. But a large part of (unexpected) support at the time came from their love of this branch of the royal family. (They had rebelled against one of Maria Theresa's uncles.) Maria Theresa's address reminded them of that.

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