Margaret Theresa of Spain

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Margaret Theresa of Spain
Francisco Ignacio Ruiz de la Iglesia (attributed to) - Infanta Margarita.jpg
Margaret Theresa, around 1665
Holy Roman Empress; German Queen;
Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia;
Archduchess consort of Austria
Tenure25 April 1666 – 12 March 1673
Born12 July 1651
Royal Alcazar, Madrid, Spain
Died12 March 1673 (aged 21)
Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria
Spouse Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor
Maria Antonia, Electress of Bavaria
House Habsburg
Father Philip IV of Spain
Mother Mariana of Austria
Religion Roman Catholicism
House of Habsburg
Spanish line
Royal Coat of Arms of Spain (1580-1668).svg
Philip IV
Children include
Balthasar Charles, Prince of Asturias
Maria Theresa, Queen of France
Margaret, Holy Roman Empress
Philip Prospero, Prince of Asturias
Charles II of Spain

Margaret Theresa of Spain (Spanish : Margarita Teresa, German : Margarete Theresia; 12 July 1651 12 March 1673) was, by marriage, Holy Roman Empress, German Queen, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia. She was the daughter of King Philip IV of Spain and the elder full-sister of Charles II, the last of the Spanish Habsburgs. She is the central figure in the famous Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, and the subject of many of his later paintings.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Philip IV of Spain King of Spain

Philip IV was King of Spain and Portugal. He ascended the thrones in 1621 and reigned in Spain until his death and in Portugal until 1640. Philip is remembered for his patronage of the arts, including such artists as Diego Velázquez, and his rule over Spain during the Thirty Years' War.



Early years

Margaret Theresa was born on 12 July 1651 in Madrid as the first child of King Philip IV of Spain born from his second marriage with his niece Mariana of Austria. Because of this avunculate marriage, Margaret's mother was nearly thirty years younger than her father. [1]

Madrid Capital of Spain

Madrid is the capital of Spain and the largest municipality in both the Community of Madrid and Spain as a whole. The city has almost 3.3 million inhabitants and a metropolitan area population of approximately 6.5 million. It is the third-largest city in the European Union (EU), smaller than only London and Berlin, and its monocentric metropolitan area is the third-largest in the EU, smaller only than those of London and Paris. The municipality covers 604.3 km2 (233.3 sq mi).

Mariana of Austria Queen consort of Spain

Mariana of Austria or Maria Anna was Queen of Spain from 1649 until her husband Philip IV died in 1665. She was appointed regent for their three-year-old son Charles II and due to his ill health remained an influential figure until her own death in 1696.

An avunculate marriage is any marriage between an uncle/aunt and a niece/nephew. It may refer to a marriage between biological relatives or people related by marriage. In some countries, avunculate marriages are prohibited by law, while in others marriages between biological relatives of this kind are both legal and common.

Margaret's paternal grandparents were King Philip III of Spain and his wife Archduchess Margaret of Austria. Her maternal grandparents were Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor and his wife Infanta Maria Anna of Spain, the daughter of her paternal grandparents. [1] [2]

Philip III of Spain King of Castile and León and King of Aragon and Portugal

Philip III was King of Spain. He was also, as Philip II, King of Portugal, Naples, Sicily and Sardinia and Duke of Milan from 1598 until his death.

Margaret of Austria, Queen of Spain Queen consort of Spain

Margaret of Austria was Queen consort of Spain and Portugal by her marriage to King Philip III and II.

Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire

Ferdinand III was Holy Roman Emperor from 15 February 1637 until his death, as well as King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia and Archduke of Austria.

The marriage of her parents was purely made for political reasons, mainly the search for a new male heir for the Spanish throne after the early death of Balthasar Charles, Prince of Asturias in 1646. Besides him, the other only surviving child of Philip IV's first marriage was the Infanta Maria Theresa, who later became the wife of King Louis XIV of France. After Margaret, between 1655 and 1661, four more children (a daughter and three sons) were born from the marriage between Philip IV and Mariana of Austria, but only one survived infancy, the future King Charles II of Spain. [1] [3]

Balthasar Charles, Prince of Asturias Prince of Asturias

Balthasar Charles, Prince of Asturias, Prince of Girona, Duke of Montblanc, Count of Cervera, and Lord of Balaguer, Prince of Viana was heir apparent to all the kingdoms, states and dominions of the Spanish monarchy until his death.

Maria Theresa of Spain French queen consort

Maria Theresa of Spain, was by birth Infanta of Spain and Portugal and Archduchess of Austria as member of the Spanish branch of the House of Habsburg and by marriage Queen of France.

Louis XIV of France King of France and Navarra, from 1643 to 1715

Louis XIV, known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who reigned as King of France from 1643 until his death in 1715. Starting on 14 May 1643 when Louis was 4 years old, his reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country in European history. In the age of absolutism in Europe, Louis XIV's France was a leader in the growing centralisation of power.

Margaret didn't develop the serious health issues and disabilities (because of the close consanguinity of her parents) that her younger brother had shown since his birth. During her childhood she was once seriously ill, but survived. [4] According to contemporaries, Margaret had an attractive appearance and lively character. Her parents and close friends called her the "little angel". She grew up in the Queen's chambers in the Royal Alcazar of Madrid surrounded by many maids and servants. The Infanta loved candies, which she constantly hid from the physicians who cared for the health of her teeth. [5] Both Margaret's father and maternal grandfather Emperor Ferdinand III loved her deeply. In his private letters King Philip IV called her "my joy". [6] At the same time, Margaret was brought up in accordance with the strict etiquette of the Madrid court, and received a good education. [7] [8]

Consanguinity property of being from the same kinship as another person; quality of being descended from the same ancestor as another person

Consanguinity is the property of being from the same kinship as another person. In that aspect, consanguinity is the quality of being descended from the same ancestor as another person.

Betrothal and marriage

Infanta Margarita Teresa in mourning for her father. The Infanta left Spain to become Holy Roman Empress the same year. Margarita Teresa of Spain Mourningdress.jpg
Infanta Margarita Teresa in mourning for her father. The Infanta left Spain to become Holy Roman Empress the same year.

In the second half of the 1650s at the imperial court in Vienna the necessity developed for another dynastic marriage between the Spanish and Austrian branches of the House of Habsburg. The union was needed to strengthen the position of both countries, especially against the Kingdom of France. At first the proposals were for Maria Theresa, the eldest daughter of Philip IV, to marry the heir of the Holy Roman Empire, Archduke Leopold Ignaz. But in 1660 and under the terms of the Treaty of the Pyrenees, the Infanta was married to the French King; as a part of her marriage contract, she was forced to renounce her claims to the Spanish throne in return for a monetary settlement as part of her dowry, which was never paid. [9]

Vienna Capital city and state in Austria

Vienna is the federal capital, largest city and one of nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today, it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

House of Habsburg Austrian dynastic family

The House of Habsburg, also called the House of Austria, was one of the most influential and distinguished royal houses of Europe. The throne of the Holy Roman Empire was continuously occupied by the Habsburgs from 1438 until their extinction in the male line in 1740. The house also produced emperors and kings of the Kingdom of Bohemia, Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Germany, Kingdom of Hungary, Kingdom of Croatia, Kingdom of Illyria, Second Mexican Empire, Kingdom of Ireland, Kingdom of Portugal, and Kingdom of Spain, as well as rulers of several Dutch and Italian principalities. From the 16th century, following the reign of Charles V, the dynasty was split between its Austrian and Spanish branches. Although they ruled distinct territories, they nevertheless maintained close relations and frequently intermarried.

Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and Croatia and King of Bohemia

Leopold I was Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia. The second son of Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, by his first wife, Maria Anna of Spain, Leopold became heir apparent in 1654 by the death of his elder brother Ferdinand IV. Elected in 1658, Leopold ruled the Holy Roman Empire until his death in 1705, becoming the longest-ruling Habsburg emperor.

Then began discussion about a marriage between Margaret and the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I (who was her maternal uncle and paternal cousin). However, the Madrid court hesitated to agree to this proposal, because the infanta could inherit the Spanish crown if her little brother died. [10] The count of Fuensaldaña, Spanish ambassador in France, suggested the infanta as a possible bride for King Charles II of England. However, King Philip IV rejected this idea, replying that the King of England should look for a wife in France. [11]

In October 1662, the new Imperial ambassador in the Spanish Kingdom, Count Francis Eusebius of Pötting, began one of his main diplomatic assignments, which was the celebration of the marriage between the Infanta and the Emperor. [12] Negotiations by the Spanish side were led by Ramiro Núñez de Guzmán, Duke of Medina de las Torres. [13] On 6 April 1663, the betrothal between Margaret and Leopold I was finally announced. In the marriage contract signed on 18 December, besides the customary dowry, was particularly included, as a gift from her father, the famous Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond. [14] [lower-alpha 1] It was also stipulated that Margaret (in contrast with her older half-sister), should maintain her position in the line of succession to the Spanish throne and would pass her rights to her descendants. [17] Before the official wedding ceremony (which, according to custom, had to take place in Vienna) another portrait of the Infanta was sent, in order for the Emperor to know his bride. [2]

King Philip IV died on 17 September 1665. In his will, he did not mention Margaret's betrothal; in fact, the context in which the document was prepared suggests that the late monarch still hesitated to marry his daughter to his Austrian relative because he sought to ensure her rights as sole ruler of the Spanish crown in case of the extinction of his male line. [18] Mariana of Austria, now Dowager Queen and Regent of the Kingdom on behalf of her minor son Charles II, delayed the wedding of her daughter. The marriage was agreed upon only after intense Imperial diplomacy efforts. On 25 April 1666, the marriage by proxy was finally celebrated in Madrid, in a ceremony attended not only by the Dowager Queen, King Charles II and the Imperial ambassador but also by the local nobility; the groom was represented by Antonio de la Cerda, 7th Duke of Medinaceli. [19]

A 1666 publication flyer promoting Infanta Margarita, the future bride of her uncle Emperor Leopold Publications relating to the wedding of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, and Margarita Teresa, Infanta of Spain (1666) (14747195662).jpg
A 1666 publication flyer promoting Infanta Margarita, the future bride of her uncle Emperor Leopold

On 28 April 1666 Margaret traveled from Madrid to Vienna, accompanied by her personal retinue. The Infanta arrived at Denia, where she rested for some days before embarking on the Spanish Royal fleet on 16 July, in turn escorted by ships of the Order of Malta and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Then (after a short stop in Barcelona because Margaret had some health issues) [20] the cortege sailed to the port of Finale Ligure, where arrived on 20 August. There, Margaret was received by Luis Guzman Ponce de Leon, Governor of Milan. The cortege left Finale on 1 September and arrived in Milan ten days later, although the official entry was not celebrated until 15 September. After spending almost all September in Milan, the Infanta continued the journey through Venice, arriving in early October in Trento. At every stop Margaret received celebrations in her honor. On 8 October the Spanish retinue arrived at the city of Roveredo, where the head of Margaret's cortege, Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, 8th Duke of Alburquerque officially handed the Infanta to Ferdinand Joseph, Prince of Dietrichstein and Count Ernst Adalbert von Harrach, Prince-Bishop of Trento, representants of Leopold I. On 20 October the new Austrian cortege left Roveredo, crossing the Tyrol, through Carinthia and Styria, and arrived on 25 November at the district of Schottwien, twelve miles from Vienna where the Emperor came to receive his bride. [19]

Holy Roman Empress and German Queen

Empress Margaret in theatre dress Jan Thomas - Infanta Margaret Theresa, Empress, in theater dress.jpg
Empress Margaret in theatre dress

On 5 December 1666, the solemn entry of the Infanta in Vienna took place and the official marriage ceremony was celebrated seven days later, on 12 December. The celebrations that took place in the Austrian capital on the occasion of the imperial marriage (which were among the most splendid of all the Baroque era) [21] lasted almost two years.

Not far from the present Burggarten, the Emperor ordered the construction of an open-air theatre, with a capacity of 5,000 people. It is in this theatre, in July 1668 (on the occasion of Margaret's birthday), that the opera Il pomo d'oro (The Golden Apple), premiered. This opera, composed by Antonio Cesti, was called the "staging of the century" by contemporaries due to its magnificence and expense. [22] The year before, the Emperor gave an equestrian ballet, where he personally mounted on his horse, Speranza; due to technical adaptations, the ballet gave spectators the impression that horses and carriages were hovering in the air. [23]

Despite the age difference, Leopold I's unattractive appearance and Margaret's apparent goitre [ citation needed ] (a change of the thyroid gland), according to contemporaries they had a happy marriage. The Empress always called her husband "Uncle" (de: Onkel), and he called her "Gretl". [24] The couple had many common interests, especially in art and music. [25]

During her six years of marriage, Margaret gave birth to four children, of whom only one survived infancy: [1]

The Empress was intensely anti-Semitic,[ citation needed ] and inspired her husband to expel the Jews from Vienna, because she believed that they were to blame for her children's deaths. During the Corpus Christi celebration of 1670, the Emperor ordered the destruction of the Vienna synagogue and a church was built on the site on his orders. [25]

Even after her marriage, Margaret kept her Spanish customs and ways. She did not speak German, and the arrogance of her native retinue led to a strong anti-Spanish sentiment among the imperial court. The courtiers openly expressed the hope that the weak Empress would soon die and thus give Leopold I the opportunity of a second marriage. [24] [25]


During her last pregnancy Margaret fell ill with bronchitis;[ citation needed ] this, along with her already weakened health due to four living childbirths and at least two miscarriages during her marriage, [24] caused her early death on 12 March 1673, at the age of 21. She was buried in the Imperial Crypt, in Vienna. Only four months later, the widower Emperor – despite his grief for the death of his "only Margareta" (as he remembered her) [27] – entered into a second marriage with Archduchess Claudia Felicitas of Austria, member of the Tyrol branch of the House of Habsburg. [25]

After Margaret's death, her rights over the Spanish throne were inherited by her only surviving daughter Maria Antonia, who in turn passed them to her only surviving son Prince Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria when she died in 1692. After Joseph Ferdinand's early death in 1699, the rights of inheritance were disputed by both Emperor Leopold I and King Louis XIV of France, son-in-law of King Philip IV. The outcome of the War of the Spanish Succession was the creation of the Spanish branch of the House of Bourbon in the person of King Philip V, Margaret's great-nephew. [25]

Depictions in art

Shortly before the birth of Margaret, painter Diego Velázquez returned to the Spanish court on Madrid. From 1653 to 1659 a series of portraits of the Infanta were painted. Three of them – "Infanta Margarita in a pink dress" (1653), "Infanta Margarita in a silver dress" (1656) and "Infanta Margarita in a blue dress" (1659) were sent to the Imperial court in Vienna, and now are displayed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. [28] In the last paintings of the 8-year-old Infanta made by Velázquez, a more mature and formal attitude of Margaret can be seen, due to her upcoming marriage to the Emperor. [29]

The most famous painting by Velazquez in the series of portraits of the Infanta was "Las Meninas" (1656), currently in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. In it, the artist painted the 5-year-old Infanta in his studio while working on a portrait of her parents. She is surrounded by her maids of honor and other courtiers, but her eyes are riveted to her parents, whose reflection is visible in the mirror on the wall. [30] The canvas was the inspiration for Picasso, who in 1957 created more than forty variations of this pattern. [31]

The image of Margaret in the paintings by Velázquez inspired not only painters. The poet Boris Pasternak mentions it in a poem of 1923 "Butterfly Storm", in which she appears to him as a vision during a thunderstorm in Moscow. [32] The first image in this poem who Pasternak contrasted with the portraits of the Infanta was mentioned by Vyacheslav Vsevolodovich Ivanov, in his work "Eternal Childhood". [33] [34]

The "Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Pink Dress" (1660), formerly credited to Velázquez, is now considered one of the masterpieces of his son-in-law, Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo. To Martínez del Mazo also belongs the latter "Portrait of the Infanta Margarita in mourning dress" (1666), in which she is depicted shortly after her father's death and shortly before her wedding. Both paintings are also included in the collection of the Museo del Prado. [35] The authority of the "Portrait of the Infanta Margarita" (1655) currently at the Louvre, is still questioned by researchers. [36]

There are portraits of an adult Margaret by a number of European artists, most of which are stored in the collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Among them, "a full-length portrait of the Infanta Margarita Teresa, the Empress" (1665) by Gerard Du Chateau [37] and "Portrait of Empress Margarita Teresa in a theatrical costume" (1667) by Jan Thomas van Ieperen. [38] One of the last portraits of Margaret is the "Portrait of Empress Margarita Teresa and her daughter Maria Antonia" (1671) by Benjamin Block, currently in the Hofburg Palace, where she is depicted with her only surviving child. [39] Numerous copies of her portraits are also preserved, and are now kept in the museum collections around the world.



  1. The diamond was auctioned at Christie's in December 2008. Referred to as the Wittelsbach Diamond, it was given by her father king Philip IV of Spain as part of the dowry when she married Leopold I of Austria at the age of 15. [15] The diamond was obtained in India (as it was custom from the Royal Families at that time to bring their diamonds from India, either Hyderabad or Bihar). As of today, it is one of the few lasting Indian diamonds together with the Kohinoor (today part of the British Crown Jewels), the Régent (today in the Louvre), the Orlov (in the Kremlin) or the Hope Diamond, in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. Christie's sold the nearly 36-carat (7.2 g) diamond for $24.3 million, which was the highest price paid for a diamond sold at an auction until 2013. [16]

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Margaret Theresa of Spain
Born: 12 July 1651 Died: 12 March 1673
Royal titles
Title last held by
Eleanor of Mantua
Holy Roman Empress
Queen consort of Germany
Archduchess consort of Austria

Title next held by
Claudia Felicitas of Austria
Queen consort of Hungary
Queen consort of Bohemia