Archduchess Maria Johanna Gabriela of Austria - Early Life and Education

Early Life and Education

Archduchess Maria Johanna Gabriela Josepha Antonia, commonly called Johanna or Johanna Gabriela, was born at the Vienna Hofburg on 4 February 1750 as the eleventh child and ninth daughter of Francis Stephen of Lorraine, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia. One year later, she was joined by a sister, Archduchess Maria Josepha.

Johanna Gabriela was part of a string of children born soon after one another and was thus placed in the Kindskammer (the imperial nursery) along with her siblings Maria Josepha, Maria Carolina, Ferdinand Charles, Maria Antonia and Maximilian Francis; they were mainly looked after by ladies-in-waiting and their attendants. At the age of five, Johanna received her own suite of rooms in the imperial palace and some additional tutors. She had a good relationship with her siblings, albeit with the regular fraternal quarrels, as Maria Theresa encouraged her children to get along.

Johanna was very close to her sister Maria Josepha; the two were educated together and had the same aios and aias, as the male and female tutors were called in the imperial family. The girls enjoyed a varied education which was closely monitored by their parents. Due to her untimely death, Johanna's education covered only one phase of the two that Maria Theresa had created for her children: she studied reading, writing, Latin, foreign languages, history, geography, land surveying, military architecture, mathematics, music, dancing and gymnastics, as well as religion from the age of three.

Additionally, Johanna was highly educated in making music and dancing, both subjects her mother loved and had excelled at in her own childhood. While the boys were taught to play different instruments, Johanna and her sisters were given singing lessons. A special theatre was built at Schönbrunn especially for the children; Johanna and her siblings gave frequent musical performances. Another very important part of the Archduchess's education was art: she was educated in drawing and painting, a field where the girls excelled particularly. All in all, Johanna and Josepha "developed satisfactory, worked hard at their lessons and were involved in numerous festivities in which they participated enthusiastically."

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