Monday, July 22, 2019
Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain (1566–1633) was sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands in the Low Countries & the north of modern France, together with her husband Albert, whom she did not marry until the age of 33.
She is often referred to as Clara Isabella Eugenia. By birth, she was an infanta of Spain & Portugal.
Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain was born in the city of Segovia in 1566, daughter of Philip II of Spain & his 3rd wife Elisabeth of Valois.
Her father, Philip II, was reportedly overjoyed at her birth & declared himself to be happier on the occasion than he would have been at the birth of a son. Philip already had a male heir, Don Carlos of Spain, the child of his 1st marriage to Infanta Maria of Portugal; however, father & son never developed a close relationship.
Isabella's mother, Elisabeth of Valois, gave birth to Isabella Clara Eugenia on 12 August 1566, & then to Isabella's younger sister Catherine Michelle 10 October 1567. Isabella did not get to know her mother, Elisabeth, who miscarried a son on 3 October 1568 & died the same day.
Isabella grew up with her sister Infanta Catherine Michelle of Spain, beloved by her father & her new stepmother Anna of Austria, Philip's 4th wife.
Isabella was also the only person whom Philip permitted to help him with his work, sorting his papers & translating Italian documents into Spanish. Isabella remained extremely close to her father, until his death in 1598. She served as his primary caretaker during the last 3 years of his life, when he was plagued by gout & frequent illness.
Since 1568, at the age of 2, Isabella was promised to marry Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor (1552 – 1612), son of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, & Maria of Spain. Isabella, however, had to wait for more than 20 long years; before her eccentric intended Rudolf declared, that he had no intention of marrying anybody.
After her uncle, Henry III of France, was assassinated by the fanatical young monk Jacques Clément in 1589, Isabella's doting father Philip II claimed the French Crown on behalf of Isabella.
The Parlement de Paris, in power of the Catholic party, gave verdict that Isabella Clara Eugenia is "the legitimate sovereign" of France. However, the Huguenot leader, Henry of Navarre, the rightful King by traditional French inheritance laws, ultimately made good his claim to the throne, converted to Catholicism, & was crowned in 1594. Isabella was no longer the "legitimate sovereign" of France.
Angered by this turn of events, her father decided to cede the Spanish Netherlands to her on condition that she marry her cousin, Archduke Albert of Austria. They were to reign over the Netherlands jointly as duke/count & duchess/countess.
On 18 April 1599, by now 33 years old, she married Albert, who was also the younger brother of her former fiancé of 20 years, Rudolf II. Albert was the joint sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands & the former viceroy of Portugal.
Shortly before her father Philip II died in 1598, he renounced his rights to the Netherlands in favor of his daughter Isabella & her fiancé. Isabella bore 3 children, Archdukes Philip (1605) & Albert (1607) & Archduchess Anna Mauritia; however, all 3 of Isabella's children died in infancy. Beginning in 1601, the couple ruled the Spanish Netherlands together, & after her husband Albert's death, Isabella was appointed Governor of the Netherlands on behalf of the King of Spain.
The reign of the Archdukes Isabella Clara Eugenia & Albert of Austria was a calming period in the history of the Spanish Netherlands. Political upheavals slowed down & their court became a meeting place for intellectuals, artists, & political envoys.
Isabella & her husband stimulated the growth of the region's artistic movement, which resulted in the creation of the Flemish Baroque period.
Their patronage of such artists as Peter Paul Rubens, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Coebergher, the De Nole family, the Van Veens & many others were the beginning of a Golden Age in the Southern Netherlands.
Brussels became a vital link in the chain of Habsburg Courts & the diplomatic conduits between Madrid, Vienna, Paris, London, Lisbon, Graz, Innsbruck, Prague & The Hague.
When Albert died in 1621, Isabella joined the Third Order of St Francis & was appointed the Governor of the Netherlands on behalf of the King of Spain.
In September 1609, Rubens was appointed as court painter by Albert VII, Archduke of Austria & Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain, sovereigns of the Low Countries. He remained close to the Archduchess Isabella until her death in 1633, & was called upon not only as a painter but also as an ambassador.
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Anne of Denmark (1574–1619) was queen consort of Scotland, England, & Ireland as the wife of James VI & I (1566-1625).
The 2nd daughter of alcoholic King Frederick II of Denmark & his wife Sophia of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, a descendant of King Hans of Denmark, Anne married James in 1589 at the age of 14.
Fourteen-year-old Anne was immediately under pressure to provide James & Scotland with an heir, but with no sign of a pregnancy in 1590-93, Presbyterian antagonists felt free to talk of James’s "fondness for male company" & whispered against Anne "for that she proves not with child."
Anne finally produced an heir, Prince Henry Stuart, in early 1594. The royal couple eventually had 7 children, of whom 3 survived infancy. Two sons, Henry & Charles (later Charles I), & a daughter, Elizabeth, survived into adult life.
A lady at court described Queen Anne, "Her features were not regular but her complexion was extremely fair & she had the finest neck that could be seen, which she took care it should be."
Fourteen-year-old Anne appears to have cared for James when they 1st married. On 28 July 1589, the English spy Thomas Fowler reported that Anne was "so far in love with the King's Majesty as it were death to her to have it broken off & hath made good proof divers ways of her affection which his Majestie is apt in no way to requite."
Anne was crowned queen in 1590. During the bazaar 7-hour ceremony, her gown was opened by the Countess of Mar for presiding minister Robert Bruce to pour "a bonny quantity of oil" on "parts of her breast and arm," so anointing her as queen. Ministers objected, but James insisted that the rite was from the Old Testament.
Although James had a mistress in 1593-1595, (Anne Murray, later Lady Glamis); in Basilikon Doron, written 1597–1598, James described marriage as "the greatest earthly felicitie or miserie, that can come to a man." Historians have noted, however, "All his life, except perhaps for 6 short months, King James disliked women, regarding them as inferior beings. All his interest was centered on the attractions of personable young men." The couple gradually came to live apart, though, apparently, some degree of mutual respect & affection survived.
Anne demonstrated an independent streak & was willing to use factional Scottish politics in her conflicts with James over the custody of Prince Henry. Anne would do whatever she had to in order to have a hand in the raising of her children.
After 1607, Anne & James lived apart, she in London & he in the countryside at Royston. Anne's chaplain, Godfrey Goodman, summed up the royal relationship: "The King himself was a very chaste man, and there was little in the Queen to make him uxorious; yet they did love as well as man and wife could do, not conversing together."
In England, Anne shifted her energies from factional politics to parenting & to patronage of the arts. She constructed a magnificent court of her own, hosting one of the richest cultural salons in Europe. She was a considerable force as a patron of the arts during the Jacobean age.
After 1612, she suffered sustained bouts of ill health gradually withdrawing from the center of court life. A bitter confrontation between James & Anne occurred in 1613, when Anne shot James's favorite dog dead during a hunting session. After his initial rage, James smoothed things over by giving her a £2,000 diamond in memory of the dog, whose name was Jewel.
By late 1617, Anne's bouts of illness had become debilitating. John Chamberlain wrote, "The Queen continues still ill disposed and though she would fain lay all her infirmities upon the gout yet most of her physicians fear a further inconvenience of an ill habit or disposition through her whole body." Though she was reported to have been a Protestant at the time of her death, some believe that evidence suggests that she may have converted to Catholicism at some stage in her life.
At her passing, James honored his late wife with verse:
"So did my Queen from hence her court remove
And left off earth to be enthroned above.
She's changed, not dead, for sure no good prince dies,
But, as the sun, sets, only for to rise."
Saturday, July 20, 2019
Anne of Austria (1601–1666) was Queen consort of France & Navarre, regent for her son, Louis XIV of France, & a Spanish Infanta by birth. During her regency (1643–1651) Cardinal Mazarin served as France's chief minister.
Born at Benavente Palace in Spain, & baptised Ana María Mauricia, she was the eldest daughter of 2 Habsburg parents, Philip III of Spain & Margaret of Austria. She held the titles of Infanta of Spain & of Portugal & Archduchess of Austria. Despite having been a native of Spain, she was referred to as "of Austria," because the Habsburgs were originally from Austria.
Anne was raised mainly at the Royal Alcazar of Madrid. Unusually, Anne grew up close to her parents, & lived a rather calm & orderly life compared to other royal children. Her parents were very religious; & she often visited monasteries as a child. When she was 10 in 1611, she lost her mother, who died in childbirth. As the oldest girl, Anne did her best to take care of her younger siblings, who referred to her with affection as mother.
Anne was betrothed at age 11 to Louis XIII. Her father gave her a dowry of 500,000 crowns plus costly jewels. For fear that Louis XIII would die early, the Spanish court stipulated that Anne would return to Spain with her dowry, jewels, & wardrobe, if he did die.
The financial pre-nuptual agreement, between nations rather than bride & groom, concluded, Anne was saluted as the Queen of France, "a dignity which her Highness accepts with marvellous dignity & gravity." By agreement, Anne renounced all succession rights of herself & her descendants by Louis, with a provision that, she would resume her rights should she be left a childless widow.
In 1615, Louis & Anne were married by proxy in Burgos, while Louis's sister, Elizabeth, & Anne's brother, Philip IV of Spain, were married by proxy in Bordeaux. These marriages followed the tradition of a matrimonial cementing of military, financial, & political alliances between France & Spain. Anne was lively & beautiful during her youth. She was also a noted equestrian. At the time, Anne had many admirers, including the handsome Duke of Buckingham, although her intimates believed their flirtations remained chaste.
Anne & Louis, both 14 years old, were pressured to consummate the marriage in order to forestall any possibility of future annulment, but Louis wasn't interested & ignored his bride.
Louis's domineering mother, Marie de' Medici, continued to conduct herself as queen of France, without showing any deference to her young, new daughter-in-law. Newlywed Anne, surrounded by her entourage of high-born Spanish ladies-in-waiting, continued to live according to Spanish etiquette & did not attempt to improve her French.
In 1617, Louis conspired with Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes, to dispense with the influence of his overbearing mother in a palace coup d'état, having her favorite Concino Concini assassinated in April of that year.
During the years he was influential at court, the duc de Luynes attempted to remedy the formal distance between Louis & his queen. He knew they would need an heir. He sent away the Spanish ladies & replaced them with French attendants, notably the princesse de Conti & Marie de Rohan-Montbazon, his wife, & organized court events that would bring the couple together under amiable circumstances.
With her Spanish friends dispatched back to their homeland, Anne began to dress & speak in the French manner; & in 1619, Luynes pressed the King to bed his queen. Some affection did develop, as Louis became distracted during a serious illness of his queen.
In 1622, while playing with her ladies, Anne fell on a staircase & suffered her 2nd miscarriage. Louis blamed her & was angry with Madame de Luynes for having encouraged the queen in what was seen as negligence. A series of continuing miscarriages discouraged the King & put a chill on their relationship.
The King began to have less tolerance for the influence the duchesse de Luynes had over Anne. Luynes died in 1621. The King's attention was monopolized by his war against the Protestants.
Louis XIII, Anne of Austria, and their son Louis XIV, flanked by Cardinal Richelieu and the Duchesse de Chevreuse.
Under the influence of the duchesse de Chevreuse, the queen let herself be drawn into political opposition to Richelieu & became embroiled in several intrigues against his policies.
Vague rumors of her betrayal circulated in the court, notably her supposed involvement with the conspiracies of the comte de Chalais that Chevreuse organized in 1626.
In 1635, France declared war on Spain, placing the Queen in an untenable position. Her secret correspondence with her brother Philip IV of Spain passed beyond the bonds of sisterly affection. In August 1637, Anne came under so much suspicion, that Richelieu forced her to sign covenants regarding her correspondence, which was henceforth open to court inspection.
Surprisingly, in such a climate of distrust, the queen became pregnant once more, a circumstance that contemporary gossip attributed to a single stormy night that prevented Louis from traveling & obliged him to spend the night with the queen.
Louis XIV was born on 5 September 1638, securing the Bourbon line. At this time, Anne was 37. The official newspaper Gazette de France called the birth "a marvel when it was least expected." One German diplomat would refer to the King's "quite extraordinary birth" 40 years after the event. The birth soon afterwards of a 2nd son failed to re-establish any affection between the royal couple. Anne's 2nd son, Philippe de France, Duke of Anjou & would found the modern House of Orléans.
Richelieu made Louis XIII a gift of his palatial hôtel, the Palais Cardinal, north of the Louvre, in 1636; but the king never took possession of it. Anne fled to the Louvre to install herself there with her 2 small sons, & remained as regent (hence the name Palais-Royal that the structure still carries). Louis tried to prevent Anne from obtaining the regency after his death, which came in 1643, not long after that of Richelieu.
Anne was named regent upon her husband's death in spite of her late husband's wishes. With the aid of Pierre Séguier, she had the Parlement de Paris revoke the will of the late king, which would have limited her powers. Their 4-year-old son was crowned King Louis XIV of France. Anne assumed the regency but to general surprise entrusted the government to the chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin, who was a protegé of Cardinal Richelieu. Mazarin left the hôtel Tuboeuf to take up residence at the Palais Royal near Queen Anne. Before long he was believed to be her lover.
With Mazarin's support, Anne overcame a revolt of aristocrats, led by Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, that became known as the Fronde. In 1651, when her son Louis XIV officially came of age, her regency legally ended. However, she kept much power & influence over her son until the death of Mazarin in 1661. In 1659, the war with Spain ended with the Treaty of the Pyrenees. The following year, peace was cemented by the marriage of the young King to Anne's niece, the Spanish Hapsburg princess Maria Theresa of Spain. In 1661, the same year as the death of her friend & confidant Mazarin, an heir to the throne was born, Anne's 1st grandchild Louis de France. Soon Anne retired to the convent of Val-de-Grâce, where she died of breast cancer 5 years later. Her lady-in-waiting Madame de Motteville wrote the story of the queen's life in her Mémoires d'Anne d'Autriche.