Recently, I have noticed that Empress Maria Theresa’s daughters’ names all begin with Maria.

  • Archduchess Maria Elisabeth
  • Archduchess Maria Anna
  • Archduchess Maria Carolina
  • Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen
  • Archduchess Maria Elisabeth
  • Maria Amalia, Duchess of Parma
  • Archduchess Maria Johanna Gabriela
  • Archduchess Maria Josepha
  • Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples and Sicily
  • Maria Antonia, Queen of France

And then the empress had 2 younger sisters: Maria anna and Maria Amalia. Joseph II, the empress’ son and heir, also had two daughters: Maria Theresa and Maria Christina. Leopold II, another son, named all of his daughters Maria something.

The empress’s grandfather, Leopald I, the Holy Roman emperor also named all his daughters Maria something.

Is it a tradition of the 18th century to name archduchess maria something? Or is it just a Hapsburg thing?—like protruding jaw? Why is that? And also why Maria something—not Theresa something or Elizabeth something or whatsoever? I know Maria is a common name but still, why?

  • 10
    It was also very common to name a child after an ancestor. See all the Louises in France and Alfonsos in Spain.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Feb 6, 2021 at 8:46
  • 2
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    – MCW
    Commented Feb 6, 2021 at 12:21
  • @NotMaria SomthingK You wote: Is it a tradition of the 18th century to name archduchess maria something? Or is it just a Hapsburg thing?—like protruding jaw?" You seem to think that there were any other archduchesses except for Habsburgs, which is inaccurate. Almost every single archduke and archduchess ever was a Habsburg. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archduke
    – MAGolding
    Commented Feb 6, 2021 at 21:42
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    I understand that in Catholic Europe, it was common to give both girls and boys Maria/Marie, as a first or additional name, given the Catholic theology surrounding Mary the Mother of Jesus. The German officer pivotal in the 20th July attempt on Hitler's life was Claus Philipp Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg.
    – TheHonRose
    Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 1:02

1 Answer 1


Because they are Catholic. No other reason. Doesn't matter if you are a boy or girl. It's very common practise to give children many baptismal names, including Maria. To both girls and boys. Perhaps not today, but when I was baptized 60 years ago, it definitely was.

My parents 'blessed' me with that name too. Being a boy, and attending a non-Catholic school, I wasn't particularly happy with it. (We are in no way related to the Habsburgs!)

It is - or was - a Catholic custom. Not related to Germany or Eastern Europe. I grew up in The Netherlands where this was practised too.

With regard to the Habsburgs, it was very likely also family tradition. Especially as it was a first name for girls.

  • 8
    In Germany today, especially the catholic regions it is not uncommon to have „Maria“ as a second name even today. It‘s not as common as it was but still not unusual. I suspect it’s the same for Austria and Switzerland aa well.
    – jmk
    Commented Feb 6, 2021 at 8:09
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    Well ... also pretty much every family has a name they like to reuse. There's an unwritten rule in mine that at least one female in every nuclear unit has to have a first or middle name of Elisabeth (after my grandmother, who raised 5 young children alone in the 1950's after her husband died in a plane crash). That's added up now to 6 living Elisabeth's. Its not at all weird that in a Catholic family like theirs, "Maria" might serve as the name in question.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Feb 6, 2021 at 21:32
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    In my ex wife's culture, all girls are named Maria. They are distinguished by their middle names.
    – MCW
    Commented Feb 6, 2021 at 23:28
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    I guess this is the right answer. Sources?
    – bonzo-lz
    Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 3:52
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    Not just Catholics, but European Christians in general. My mother was Maria Magdalena, her mother was also Maria something or other, my other grandmother was xxx Maria, etc. etc.
    – jwenting
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 12:02

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