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Maria Theresa's Political Testament (1749-50)

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Section V

shows the benefits accruing to posterity from the reorganization, which was the only way of consolidating the Monarchy and preserving it for my successors.

It is the less necessary to expatiate on this because I have described so fully the evils now passed, and the advantages of the present Constitution are as clear as day. For just as – everyone must agree – only a miracle was able to save the Monarchy in its previous condition of disintegration, confusion, and malpractices, so that I myself was constantly anticipating its end, so my successors will themselves understand that the measures and dispositions which I then took were the only way to preserve the Monarchy and transmit it to those who shall come after me. And here, in

Section VI

follows the necessity of maintaining these institutions, in self-preservation, and as for the maxims my successors have to follow to this end, I can give them no other counsel than not to allow themselves to be misled by anyone, for most people’s advice is governed by their private ends and interests. I myself, when taking these most salutary measures, would have been led into confusion by the many insinuations and misleading accounts given me, had I not taken the utmost pains to acquaint myself through firsthand observation with the real nature of affairs, and this is why I feel myself obliged to enjoin my successors, for their own good and for the sake of the preservation of the Monarchy and its dominions, to alter nothing in the arrangements and Constitution laid down by me, but rather to preserve them as the apple of their eye, lest evil recur. And to this end they have especially to endeavor to seek out honorable and efficient servants and, no less, to train up young men diligently, that from their youth up they may form a right picture of the work and through their zeal and application may fit themselves to render salutary, ample, and effective service according to the systematic order described above to their sovereign and to the public.

Source of English translation: C. A. Macartney, ed., The Habsburg and Hohenzollern Dynasties in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. The Documentary History of Western Civilization. New York, Evanston, and London: Harper & Row, 1970, pp. 97-132. Introduction, editorial notes, chronology, translations by the editor; and compilation copyright © 1970 by C.A. Macartney. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source of original German text: Kaiserin Maria Theresias Politisches Testament [Empress Maria Theresa's Political Testament], edited by Josef Kallbrunner. Vienna: Verlag für Geschichte und Politik, 1952, pp. 25-73.

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