Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

Georgiana

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, was a fashionista, a gambler, a political activist, a writer and a figurehead of England’s Georgian age.

Georgiana married the Duke of Devonshire when she was 17-years-old. Her marriage to the duke was unconventional because of his many affairs, especially with her best friend, Bess, who eventually lived with the Cavendishes in their home.

Her unhappy marriage did not deter Georgiana for making a fabulous name for herself in London society. She was a close friend with Marie Antoinette and England’s royal family.

Georgiana was a celebrity in eighteenth-century England. She not only dictated fashion, but she became a political activist for the Whig party. Her notoriety and popularity among commoners and politicians were large factors in the elections that the Whigs were able to win.

Georgiana lived a glamorous lifestyle, and she unfortunately had much debt from frequent gambling.

Because of her unhappy marriage, Georgiana fell in love and had an affair with a lord. When the duke, Georgiana’s husband, discovered the affair he would not allow her to see their three children. Georgiana was a devoted mother and eventually renounced the affair to be with her them.

Despite the unhappiness of her marriage, Georgiana cared for her husband in his later years and committed herself to her children, writing and scientific ventures.

Georgiana was a celebrity of her day, however she is an example of how selflessness and devotion to those closest to you is the most important thing.

Source: http://www.cherylbolen.com/georgiana.htm

Photo source: http://www.historyhome.co.uk/people/georgia.htm

Maria Theresa, Holy Roman Empress of Austria (1717-1780)

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Maria Theresa, Holy Roman Empress of Austria, was another extraordinary woman of her time. Even though she is better known for being the mother of Queen Marie-Antoinette of France, Maria Theresa and her dedication to her country deserves recognition.

Maria Theresa was the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, who was the last of the Hapsburg dynasty because he had no sons. Charles had no intention of letting the Hapsburg rule end as long as he had a capable daughter like Maria Theresa. Before his death, he changed the Salic law that did not allow a daughter to succeed a father, and he issued the Pragmatic Sanction to ensure Maria Theresa’s right to the throne.

Once Maria succeeded her father as Empress, she was met with resistance to her reign from European powers, especially King Frederick II of Prussia.

Maria was faced with a disadvantage because she was uneducated in foreign relations and was faced with disloyal members in her military. However, she was determined and not afraid of confrontation in order to protect her lands. Frederick instigated two wars (the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War) during her reign, which lost Austrian territories to both Prussia and France.

Instead of dwelling on defeat, Maria empowered Austria for the rest of her reign. She surrounded herself with knowledgeable people and began to strengthen the government from the inside out. Empress Maria began to financially and politically empower Austria as she strengthened the military, centralized the government and formed alliances with both France and Prussia.

Maria Theresa is a phenomenal example of what women can accomplish through commitment and a positive effort.

Source: http://www.biography.com/people/maria-theresa-9398965?page=1

Photo source: http://www.biography.com/people/maria-theresa-9398965