Marie Louise of Austria, first child of the Emperor of Austria Franz I of Hapsburg and Princess Maria Teresa Bourbon of the Two Sicilies, was born in Vienna on December 12th, 1791.
At her father’s Court she received an excellent cultural education and acquired a strong dislike of Napoleon Bonaparte, the man who was destroying the ancient, sacred dynastic order all over Europe. In 1810 she had to marry him for reasons of political convenience, thus becoming Empress of France. A year later their son was born: Bonaparte chose for his much desired heir the name of Napoléon François and the title of King of Rome.
In 1814, following a number of military defeats, Bonaparte abdicated and the throne of France was occupied by Louis XVIII of Bourbon. Napoleon was sent to Elba, while the Empress left France with their son and headed to Austria, hoping for protection from her father.
In 1815 the Congress of Vienna exiled Napoleon to St. Helena and confirmed the Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla to Marie Louise who became better known as Maria Luigia. On April 19th, 1816 the new Duchess entered her States, wishing, as she wrote to a friend, to prove herself a caring and attentive sovereign.