Monday, October 5, 2015

Biography - Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain 1566–1633 (and lots more ruffs, of course)



Frans Pourbus the Younger (Flemish Baroque Era painter, 1569-1622) Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain (1566–1633), Archduchess of Austria

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.


Alonso Sánchez Coello The Infantas Isabel Clara Eugenia and Catalina Micaela

She is often referred to as Clara Isabella Eugenia. By birth, she was an infanta of Spain & Portugal.


Anguissola Sofonisba (Italian painter, 1530s-1625) Infantas Isabella Clara Eugenia and Catalina Micaela

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.


Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633) by Alonso Sanchez Coello (Spanish painter, c 1531-1588)

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.


1579 Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633) by Alonso Sanchez Coello (Spanish painter, c 1531-1588) Detail

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.


after Alonso Sanchez Coello (Spanish painter, c 1531-1588) Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633)

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.


Anguissola Sofonisba (1530s-1625). Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633)

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.


Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633) of Spain and Governess of The Low Countries by Marcus Geeraerts the Younger, 1618

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.


Alonso Sanchez Coello (Spanish painter, c 1531-1588) Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633) Detail 

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.


Studio of Alonso Sanchez Coello (Spanish painter, c 1531-1588) Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633)

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.


Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633) by Frans Pourbus II

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.


Archdukes Albrecht and Isabella of Austria, by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

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.


15991599 Frans Pourbus the Younger (Flemish Baroque Era painter, 1569-1622) Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633)

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.


1599 Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633) by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz

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.


1599 Sofonisba Anguissola (1530-1625) Infantin Isabella Clara Eugenia, 1599

Isabella & her husband stimulated the growth of the region's artistic movement, which resulted in the creation of the Flemish Baroque period.


1605 Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633) Alonso Sanchez Coello (Spanish painter, c 1531-1588)

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.


Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633) 1598

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. 


Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633) by the workshop of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

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.


Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633) Princess of Portugal by Flemish school

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.


Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633), 1615


Workshop of Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel (I). Portrait of Isabella Clara Eugenia, Archduchess of Austria, with the château Mariemont in the background. 1615-1625.


Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633)


Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633) as a Nun by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) 1625


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