Theresian Institution of Noble Ladies

The Theresian Institution of Noble Ladies, officially the Imperial and Royal Theresian Stift for Noble Ladies in the Castle of Prague, was a Catholic monastic chapter of secular canonesses in Hradčany that admitted women from impoverished noble families from 1753 until 1918.

Installation of Archduchess Therese of Austria as Princess-Abbess in 1836


Original seal 1755, foundation of the Theresian Institute of Noblewomen in Prague by the Empress Maria Theresa

The Theresian Stift was founded in 1755 by Empress Maria Theresa in order to serve as a religious order for impoverished noblewomen.[1] The Institute officially opened in 1755 and was housed in Prague Castle, enrolling thirty unmarried young women from Austrian and Hungarian aristocratic families who were financially strained.[2] The noblewomen lived as secular canonesses and were not required to take vows of celibacy and were allowed to leave the chapter in order to marry.[3]

The Institution was run by a Princess-Abbess, who was selected by the Emperor. Each Princess-Abbess was, by birth, an Austrian archduchess from the House of Habsburg-Lorraine.[4] With the closing of the neighbouring St. George's Abbey in 1782, the Princess-Abbess of the Theresian Institution inherited the privilege of crowning the Queens of Bohemia.[5] Other administrative roles within the Institution included a deaconess, a sub-deaconess, and two canoness assistants.

The Institution closed in 1919 after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the creation of the Republic of Czechoslovakia.


Notable Princess-Abbesses of the Institution include:


  1. ^ "Maria Theresa: the empress who left a mixed impression on the Czech lands - Radio Prague". Radio Praha. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  2. ^ Trollope, Anthony (7 June 1870). "Saint Pauls Magazine". Virtue and Company. Retrieved 7 June 2019 – via Google Books.
  3. ^, 2019, FG Forrest, a s. "Prague Castle - Rožmberk Palace–Institute of Noblewomen (Rožmberský palác – Ústav šlechtičen)". Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  4. ^ Timms, Elizabeth Jane (27 May 2018). "Maria Amalia of Austria, Duchess of Parma in Prague". Prague Post. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  5. ^ Pacovský, Karel (2017). "Úloha svatojiřských abatyší při korunovacích českých královen" [The Role of St. George's Abbesses in Coronations of Bohemian Queens]. Folia Historica Bohemica (in Czech). 35 (1–2): 177. ISSN 0231-7494.