Just a few quick recommendations for books about Maria Theresa.
Maria Theresa by Edward Crankshaw
A book that might be better described as the "Times of Maria Theresa" than a strict biography, Crankshaw delved into the Vienna archives to give readers a look into the social and political worlds behind the only woman to rule the Habsburg lands.
Empress Maria Theresa: The Earlier Years by Robert Pick
Pick's biographical study on Maria Theresa presents her significant history through a parrellel of her personal life and the actions taken during her early reign.
Empress Maria Theresa and the Politics of Habsburg Imperial Art by Micheal Yonan
Maria Theresa played a pivitol role in the development of artistic culture in the 18th century. She used artistic culture - such as paintings, gardens, sculptures and decorative objects - both as means to strengthen her multiple social roles as monarch, mother, wife and woman and to strengthen her position as the first female Habsburg ruler. By examining Maria Theresa's patronage and support of the arts, Yonan "demonstrates how women, art, and power interrelated in an unusual historical situation in which power was legitimated in women's terms."
The Emancipation of the Austrian Peasant, 1740-1798 by Edith Murr Link
The serf reforms initiated by Maria Theresa led to an 'emancipation' in the lives of the regular Austrian people. Link's work vividly describes the lives of the peasant in Austria before, during and after the reforms of Maria Theresa.