Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Biography - Claudia de’ Medici, regent of the County of Tyrol for her son from 1632 to 1646 (d. 1648)



Claudia de' Medici (1604-1648) was daughter of the art collector & founder of the Villa Medici in Rome, Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, & his wife Christina of Lorraine. Claudia was born in Florence, & named after her grandmother Claude of Valois, herself granddaughter of Claude, Duchess of Brittany, consort to King Francis I of France. 


 Claudia de' Medici (1604-1648) with her dog.

Her parents had already commited her to a politically expedient marriage by the age of four.  Her parents then sent her to a convent to be prepared for a noble marriage.  There she had lessons in the harp & the lute, painted pictures, & learned piety. The young princess had been promised to the heir to the throne of Urbino, who at age 16 wrote her a passionate love-letter, afraid that her family might give her as a bride to Emperor Ferdinand II. But her family kept to its agreement. 


 Claudia de' Medici (1604-1648) with her dog.

In 1620, she married Federico Ubaldo della Rovere, the only son of Francesco Maria II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino. The young bride set out for Urbino fully expecting to bear many princes. But on her arrival she learned that her husband had installed his mistress in the palace as well & had no intention of giving up his freedom for this arranged marriage. Outraged, she fled to Pesaro. Only when Federico promised to change did she return to Urbino. Here she bore her first child in 1622, a daughter, Vittoria.  The promise of her fertility proved useless with the sudden death of Federico on 29 June 1623, as she had to leave Urbino & return to the convent.  


Claudia de' Medici (1604-1648) Archduchess of Austria & Countess of Tyrol

After her husband's premature death, she married a man 18 years older than she, on 19 April 1626, Leopold V, Archduke of Austria, becoming Archduchess consort of Austria.  Leopold the Pious, a bishop & the sovereign of Tirol, was a friend of the fine arts, just as her father had been.  Another benefit for Claudia was that she could marry a former cleric, presumably free of sin & debauchery which accompanied her 1st marriage. 


Claudia de' Medici (1604-1648) wearing the coronet of an Archduchess of Austria by Lorenzo Lippi (1606-1665)

Both newlyweds enjoyed their unexpected new companionship. Between 1627 & 1632, she bore 5 children, 3 princesses & 2 princes.  At age 28, Claudia de’ Medici was widowed again.  But Leopold had decreed in his will that in the event of his demise, she should continue to rule Tyrol. 


Claudia de' Medici (1604-1648), As a Widow wearing a veil on her forehead where the lace of the veil imitates the widow’s peak, a tradition for widows for at least 2 prior centuries.

Before her son came of age, she would rule as an independent reign of 14 years.  In 1632, she assumed a regency in the name of her son Ferdinand Charles who was the ruler of the Princely County of Tyrol. Claudia held the post until 1646.


Claudia de' Medici (1604-1648) Archduchess of Austria by Franz Luycx (Flemish artist, 1604-1668) c 1635 wearing a veil on her forehead where the lace of the veil imitates the widow’s peak, a tradition for widows for at least 2 prior centuries.

During her reign, the Thirty Years War threatened Tyrol.  Troops of France & of the Swedish king threatened the borders of Tyrol. Claudia de’ Medici strengthened the Tyrolian militia, had fortifications built, & concluded an alliance with Spain & Emperor Ferdinand II.  


 Claudia de' Medici (1604-1648), Widow wearing a veil on her forehead where the lace of the veil imitates the widow’s peak, a tradition for widows for at least 2 prior centuries.

In internal affairs, she wamted Innsbruck to become a clean city. Innsbruck’s streets were paved, & preventive measures were taken against fires & epidemics. She fostered trade, developed fisheries, & planted mulberry bushes for silk production. Claudia de' Medici died within 2 years of Ferdinand Charles taking control.

Claudia de' Medici (1604-1648) Archduchess of Austria by Franz Luycx (Flemish artist, 1604-1668) c 1640  Here she is painted with 2 dogs & wearing a veil on her forehead where the lace of the veil imitates the widow’s peak, a tradition for widows for at least 2 prior centuries.


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