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Celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Empress Maria Theresa in 1717, this four-coin series is based on the four cardinal virtues, Courage, Justice, Clemency and Prudence, which drove the only ever female ruler of the Habsburg Empire. The most fascinating female figure in Austrian history unexpectedly came to power at the age of 23. Although unprepared for the role of ruler, Maria Theresa managed to take the helm of the Habsburg Empire for 40 years, during which she steered it on a highly successful course while managing to give birth to 16 children. The embodiment of both monarchic and matriarchal virtues, even during her own lifetime the imposing Empress made it difficult to distinguish between the woman and the myth.
The series combines the four cardinal virtues with four different portraits that show the Empress as a young woman, a wife, a widow and a mother. Featuring an amalgam of original motifs taken from medals issued during Maria Theresa’s reign (1740–1780), each 20 euro Proof quality coin is minted in extra bold relief to give it a special antique look.