Maria Theresia, Holy Roman Empress, Arch-Duchess of Austria, Duchess of Lorraine and Barr, Great-Duchess of Tuscany etc etc etc ruled her territories from 20 October 1740 till 29 November 1780. She issued two principal Postal Decrees to regulate the Post and to curb abuses.
This Essay on The Age and Times of Maria Theresia as Reflected in Her Postal Decrees explains the background. The Post in these far-off times was mostly concerned with the transport of people; packages and letters came a definite second. Maria Theresia wished to improve the mail handling, so that the middle classes, townspeople etc could trade and prosper - and her tax revenue would rise. She had to do this in two stages.
The 1748 Decree is available on-line here. The 1772 Decree is more elusive - so far we have traced a paper copy in the Vienna Archives but not an on-line version.
Both Decrees were accompanied by a longer explanatory document: the Decree states "This is what you will do" and the accompanying document says "Here are enlargements of how to do it, and what will happen to you if you don't". We have translations of these latter into flowery English, but not the originals. They are here: the 1748 Decree and the 1772 Decree.
Both these Decrees feature in "The Story of the Austrian Post up to 1850" published in 2021 by the Austrian Philatelic Society.
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©APS. Last updated 10 June 2010