Sunday 24 November 2013

The Many-Titles of Maria Luisa of Spain

Maria Luisa of Spain (Portici, Spain, 24th November 1745 - Vienna, Austria, 15th May 1792)

Maria Luisa of Spain by Lorenzo Baldissera Tiepolo, 1763
Maria Luisa of Spain by Lorenzo Baldissera Tiepolo, 1763

After our theatrical detour we are back in a royal house today to welcome a lady of many titles to the salon. Maria Luisa was born Princess of Naples and Sicily and eventually became a Grand Duchess, a queen and an empress!

Maria Luisa was born to Maria Amalia of Saxony and the future Charles III of Spain, at that point King of Naples and Sicily. Already a Princess, when Charles inherited the Spanish throne in 1759, Maria Luisa became known as Infanta of Spain. The bright and cheerful girl was already embarked on an education that would prepare her for the life of a royal wife and at age of 15 she and her family moved to their new Spanish kingdom to take up residence.

Leopold I, Grand Duke of Tuscany with his wife Maria Luisa and their children by Johann Zoffany, 1776
Leopold I, Grand Duke of Tuscany with his wife Maria Luisa and their children by Johann Zoffany, 1776
(L to R: Maria Theresa of Austria, Archduke Charles, Archduke Maximilian, Maria Anna of Austria, Archduke Alexander Leopold (seated with dog), Maria Luisa, Archduke Joseph, Leopold II, Archduke Francis, Archduke Ferdinand) 

Her future was decided on 16th February 1764 when Maria Luisa was married by proxy to Archduke Peter Leopold, the son of Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. The couple finally met in person in August 1765 for their formal wedding ceremony and when her father in law died within a week of the wedding, the new Grand Duke and Duchess of Tuscany moved to Florence to begin life as as husband and wife. Maria Luisa enthusiastically undertook her official duties and enjoyed life as the Grand Duchess, throwing herself into society. When the couple were crowned king and queen of Bohemia in 1790, they added one more impressive title to their collection, yet it was not yet the end of their rise through the noble ranks.

Despite its arranged beginnings and Leopold's penchant for extra-marital affairs, the couple's marriage was settled and friendly , Maria Luisa and Leopold's marriage was a happy one and the couple had 16 children, all but three of whom survived to adulthood. They lived in Florence for a quarter of a century until Leopold was elected Holy Roman Emperor at which point the family moved to Vienna. Sadly their life here proved to be short-lived; both the Emperor and Empress would be dead within two years, neither one yet 50 years old.

Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.

Pen and Sword
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)


Sassy Countess said...

I had not heard of her before. And, of course, I was extremely interested in reading your post. She sounds as interesting as she is beautiful!

Catherine Curzon said...

She isn't too well known, it was a pleasure to tell her story!

Rupert of Hentzau said...

She more or less gave birth to the Habsburg-Lothringen dynasty. Every extant branch descends from one of her many sons, but she also had time for a last one, Rudolf, the last Habsburg Cardinal, who was a pupil and later devoted patron and friend of Beethoven.

I was not aware Peter Leopold had extramarital affairs. When did he find the time? They were very rigorous parents during the Florentine years, and he was an exacting and modernizing monarch of Tuscany. Unfortunately, the revolutionary wars drove their eldest son into lifelong reaction. Ferdinand, who became Grand Duke of Tuscany, and John, regent of Styria, were the family liberals.

Catherine Curzon said...

Well, one wonders where he found the hours in the day!

Unknown said...

Hello: thank you so much for this post!!!!! ❤️

Catherine Curzon said...


Mari Christian said...

Thank you for showing another exquisite family portrait. Sixteen children! I can't imagine going through childbirth that many times.

Catherine Curzon said...

Oh I know; I love this portrait though, so vibrant!