Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Biography - Elisabeth of Austria 1554–1592 Queen of France devotes herself to God after death of husband & only child & being expelled by Catherine de' Medici



1571 Elisabeth of Austria (1554–1592) Queen of France by François Clouet (1515–1572)

Elisabeth of Austria (1554–1592) was a German princess of the House of Habsburg, by birth Archduchess of Austria & by marriage Queen of France. She was the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II & Maria of Spain. During her childhood, she lived with her older sister Anna & younger brother Matthias in a pavilion in the gardens of the newly built Schloss Stallburg near Vienna. The children enjoyed a privileged & secluded childhood & were raised as devout Catholics. Elisabeth's brothers were educated by the Flemish writer & diplomat Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq. The curious young princess soon joined & overshadowed them in their studies.


Elisabeth of Austria (1554–1592) Queen of France attr François Clouet (1515–1572)

When she turned 5 in 1559, a marriage between her & the future King Charles IX of France was plotted. In 1562, the Maréchal de Vieilleville, a member of the French delegation sent to Vienna, after seeing the 8-year-old princess, exclaimed: "Your Majesty, this is the Queen of France!" Elisabeth's grandfather, the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I, appeared interested in arranging such a marriage. Queen Catherine de' Medici the absolute power behind the throne, agreed to the marriage with Elisabeth, because she believed that France needed a Catholic marriage in order to combat the Protestant parties as well as to cement an alliance between the Habsburg emperors & the French Crown.


King Charles IX of France (1550-1574)

Elisabeth was first married by proxy in October of 1570, in the Cathedral of Speyer (Elisabeth's uncle, Archduke Ferdinand of Further Austria-Tyrol, served as proxy for the French King). After a week of celebrations, on November 4th, she left Austria for France, accompanied by a hoard of high-ranking German nobles. In France, the roads proved impassable due to constant rain. The royals decided that the official wedding was to be celebrated in the small border town of Mézières-en-Champagne. King Charles IX of France & Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria were formally married there on 26 November 1570. Since the wedding took place far away from Paris, it was not until the spring that the German-French alliance was celebrated with magnificent feasts in the French capital, as she officially became queen.


Elisabeth of Austria (1554–1592) Queen of France Joris van der Straeten (Georges van der Straeten 1570

Elisabeth was so delighted with her husband, that she did not hesitate to kiss him in front of others. However, King Charles IX had a long-term mistress, Marie Touchet, who declared, "The German girl doesn't scare me." After a brief infatuation with his teenage bride, the King soon returned to his long-time mistress. He was encouraged to do this by his own uber manipulative mother, Queen Catherine de Medici, who wanted to ensure that her new daughter-in-law was kept out of having any influence in the affairs of state.


Francois Clouet Catherine de' Medici (1519-89), Queen of France (1547-59)

Charles IX realized that excesses of the French Court might shock the sheltered, religious Elisabeth; &, along with his mother, so he made an effort to shield her. The young new Queen was indeed shocked with the licentious ways of the French court, & dedicated her time to embroidery work, reading, & the practice of charitable & pious works. She continued to hear Mass twice a day.


Elisabeth of Austria (1554–1592) Queen of France by François Clouet (1515–1572)

Despite her strong opposition to the Protestantism in France, she was horrified upon receiving news of the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre on 24 August 1572, when thousands of French Protestants were slaughtered on the streets of Paris. The morning after the massacre, the shocked Queen asked her husband if he knew about the massacre in advance. When her husband, the King, admitted that he was the initiator, she said she would pray for him & the salvation of his soul.


Elisabeth of Austria (1554–1592) Queen of France

A few months later, on 27 October 1572, the Queen gave birth to a daughter. By the time of Marie Elisabeth's birth, the already poor health of the King deteriorated rapidly, & he died on 30 May 1574. The young Queen, who was at his bedside weeping "tears so tender, & so secret," according to one eyewitness, was expelled from the King's chamber by her mother-in-law, Queen Catherine de Medici. After a 40 days mourning period, Elisabeth was compelled by her father to return to Vienna. In August of 1575, Elisabeth visited her almost 3-year-old daughter back in Paris. In December, she left Paris, leaving little Marie Elisabeth under the care of her conniving grandmother Queen Catherine de Medici. Elisabeth would never see her daughter again, the young princess Marie Elisabeth died 3 years later.


1580 Elisabeth of Austria (1554–1592) Queen of France in widow's clothes by Jakob de Monte

The widow Elisabeth turned to doing the work of God. In France, Elisabeth built a Jesuit college in Bourges. In 1580, Elisabeth bought lands near Stallburg & founded the Convent of Poor Clares - Queen of Angels, also called The Queen's Monastery. Elisabeth devoted her life to the example of her convent's holy patron Clare in the exercise of piety, poor relief & health care. Elisabeth died in 1592, & was buried in a simple marble slab in the church of her convent. In her will, Elizabeth donated money not only for the poor & sick, but also included funds for prayers for her late husband in the convent's church.


Biography - Bianca Capello de’ Medici 1548-1587



Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614) Portrait of Bianca Cappello (1548-1587) 1590

Bianca Capello de’ Medici (1548-1587) was a Venetian noblewoman, famed for her beauty & intellect. At the age of 17 in 1565, she impulsively eloped to marry Piero Buonaventura, an unfortunately impoverished Florentine suitor.


Fresco painting associated with the artist or the workshop of Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) Bianca Cappello (1548-1587)

The young couple fled to Florence, where Bianca soon attracted the attention of Francesco de’ Medici, the eldest son of Cosimo I, the Grand Duke of Tuscany (1519-1574).

Painting Associated with the Artist or the Worshop of Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) Portrait of Bianca Cappello (1548-1587)

Although he was married at the time to Johanna (1547-1578), a daughter of Emperor Ferdinand of Austria (1503-1564), Bianca became his mistress. Her husband Piero found employment in the Florentine public office.  He was murdered in a suspicious street attack.

Painting Associated with the Artist or the Workshop of Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) Bianca Cappello (1548-1587)

When Johanna died in 1578, Bianca & Francesco, now Grand Duke of Tuscany, married a few days later.  "In the 1570s and 1580s, Archduke Francesco de Medici (1541-1587) fumed that he would brook no interference in politics by women.  His mistress Bianca Cappello tactfully made Francesco believe her ideas had originated in his own brilliant mind.  The archduke sank so frequently into irretrievable pits of depression that Bianca effectively ran Tuscany with her friend Secretary of State Serguidi.  Together they made most of the political decisions and appointments to important posts.  Even after the archduke married his mistress in 1578, Bianca, now the archduchess of Tuscany, still remained seemingly in her woman's role in the background, quietly pulling all the strings."  (Herman, 2005, p. 156)

Painting Associated with the Artist or the Workshop of Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) Bianca Cappello (1548-1587)

In suspicious circumstances they both died on the same day in 1587 in their Villa at Poggio a Caiano following a banquet, possibly as a result of poisoning.  "...A daughter of one of the most illustrious patrician families of Venice, flourished in the sixteenth century. She became the mistress, and subsequently wife, of Pietro Bonaventura, son of the grand duke Cosmo Medici, to whom she was married privately in Florence. The grand duke of Tuscany having seen, became enamoured of Biancha; and Bonaventura was opportunely assassinated in 1574, she became first his mistress, and afterwards his consort in 1579. The grand duke, with his wife Biancha, dining in 1585 at the house of the cardinal Ferdinand de Medici, who was heir to the duchy, both were shortly after seized with violent convulsions and died. The cardinal was suspected of having contrived this catastrophe." (Wright, 1992, p. 501)

Painting Associated with the Artist or the Workshop of Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) Bianca Cappello (1548-1587)

The celebrated romance - and subsequent tragedy - of Bianca & Francesco became the subject of artists & playwrights through the 19th century.

Painting Associated with the Artist or the Workshop of Alessandro Allori (1535-1607) Bianca Cappello (1548-1587)

Unknown Artist Portrait of Bianca Cappello (1548-1587) 1580s Vienna

Unknown Artist Portrait of Bianca Cappello (1548-1587) 1580s Vienna


Biography - Anna of Austria 1549-80 marries her uncle Philip II of Spain 1527-98 & has 5 children



Anne of Austria, Queen of Spain (1549-80), Wife of Philip II of Spain (1527-98), 1571 by Alonso Sanchez Coello (Spanish Painter, c 1531-1588) Detail

Anna of Austria (1549–1580), was Queen consort of Spain & Portugal. She was the first daughter of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor & Maria of Spain. She was born in Spain, but lived in Vienna from the age of four.


Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II. of Austria and his wife Maria (1528-1603) of Spain with Anna (1549-1580), Rudolph (1552-1612 and Ernst (1553-1595)

Anna was considered the favorite child of her father. It is said that once a meeting of the State of Hungary was postponed, because Anna was sick. Anna received a Catholic education, even though her father was sympathetic to Lutheranism.


Archduchess Anna, Daughter of Emperor Maximillian II, attr to Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593)

As the eldest daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, Anna was a desirable party for marriage at the European courts. Her parents preferred to arrange a Spanish marriage for her because of its links between the Austrian & Spanish Habsburg families.


King Philip II of Spain by Sofonisba Anguissola (Italian artist, 1530s-1625) Paolo Fagolo in 1563 said about Philip II of Spain that he was "slight of stature and round-faced, with pale blue eyes, somewhat prominent lip, and pink skin, but his overall appearance is very attractive." The Ambassador went on to say "He dresses very tastefully, and everything that he does is courteous and gracious."

Marriage apparently was a Habsurg strategy to accumulate territory & sovereignty by tracking down appropriate foreign royals to marry. If no appropriate royal was available, then they kept things in the family by marrying cousins or by uncles marrying one of their nieces. In October 1568, Anna's uncle King Phillip II of Spain's 3rd wife, Isabel, died. Reportedly Anna's mother María was glad to read a letter from her own brother some months later asking for his niece's hand. She would become his 4th wife. In 1569, Anna's engagement to her uncle Philip II was announced. In 1570, they married by proxy. He was 43, & she was 21.


Anne of Austria, Queen of Spain (1549-80), Wife of Philip II of Spain (1527-98)

It is reported, that when Anna learned that she was going to marry her admired uncle, she couldn't be more pleased. She went to Spain with her brothers Wenceslass & Albert, who were to receive a Spanish education. When she crossed the border, she was joined by her brothers Rudolph & Ernest, who had already been living in Spain. Ana & Phillip married in Segovia in November of 1570.


Anne of Austria, Queen of Spain (1549-80), Wife of Philip II of Spain (1527-98), by Bartolome Gonzalez y Serrano (1564-1627)

Just as she was her father's favorite child, she was also Philip's most adored wife. But the marriage between the king & his neice was at first opposed by many, including Pope Pius V. According to diplomats, the determined king was in love with his young bride. It was Philip's 4th marriage, but the king still had no male heir.


Anne of Austria, Queen of Spain (1549-80), Wife of Philip II of Spain (1527-98)

Anna apparently completed her duties flawlessly. Not only was she a good stepmother to Philip's daughters Isabella Clara Eugenia and Catalina Micaela', she also gave birth to 5 children, 4 boys & a girl. Their son Philip III of Spain (1578–1621), succeeded his father. He was their only child to live to adulthood.


Anne of Austria, Queen of Spain (1549-80), Wife of Philip II of Spain (1527-98), by Anthonis Mor (1519–1575)

There are no records of the king having mistresses during the time of this marriage. Queen Anna was cheerful & calm and managed to ease some of the stiff atmosphere at the Spanish court. Anna busied herself mostly with child-bearing, child-rearing, & needlework.


Anne of Austria, Queen of Spain (1549-80), Wife of Philip II of Spain (1527-98), by Sofonisba Anguissola (Italian artist, 1530s-1625)

When the couple traveled to Portugal, after the death of Henry of Portugal, they both became seriously ill. The king became ill first, and Anna prayed for his recovery. At the time, Anna was pregnant. She became more even ill than her much older husband. In pain after a premature childbirth, she died at the age of about 30. Her uncle & husband King Phillip II was devastated.


Anne of Austria, Queen of Spain (1549-80), Wife of Philip II of Spain (1527-98), by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz (Spanish painter, 1553-1608)

This marriage was the 1st of 3 uncle-niece marriages in the pedigree of the great grandson of Philip II, Charles II of Spain. Over time, the problems caused by Habsburg inbreeding got worse and would end the Habsburg line in Spain.  In 1700, the last Spanish Habsburg king died. Most folks have 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great great grandparents. Charles II of Spain had just 9 total.  He died without issue at age 35.


Anne of Austria, Queen of Spain (1549-80), Wife of Philip II of Spain (1527-98), 1571 by Alonso Sanchez Coello (Spanish Painter, c 1531-1588)


Biography - Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency 1594–1650 very young favorite of French King Henry IV 1553-1610



Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Conde (1594–1650) by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency (1594–1650) was an heiress of one of France's leading families, & later became Princess of Condé by her marriage to Henry II de Bourbon, Prince of Condé (1588-1646). She was the daughter of Henry de Montmorency & his 2nd wife, Louise de Budos.


Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Conde (1594–1650)

Towards the end of his life, King Henri IV of France 1553-1610 became infatuated with the very young Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency.  Some observers insist that her groom saved her from becoming his mistress by spiriting her away from the royal court after their wedding. In 1609, the nearly15-year-old Charlotte Marguerite wed the Henry II, Prince of Condé. The smitten king died in 1610.


Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Conde (1594–1650)

Along with many other French nobles, her husband bitterly opposed the rule of Marshal d'Ancre, who abandoned the policy of the late, amorous King Henry IV. In September 1616, Henry II, Prince of Condé & Charlotte Marguerite were arrested & imprisoned at Vincennes, where their daughter Anne Genevieve was conceived & born 3 years later, in 1619. They had 3 children, Anne-Geneviève, Louis II, & Armand, all of whom distinguished themselves during the Fronde period.


Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Conde (1594–1650) ? This portrait is perhaps the Princess of Conde.

In 1632, Charlotte-Marguerite's only brother, Henri, Duke of Montmorency was executed for reported intrigues against Cardinal Richelieu. The title passed to her. Her husband died 4 years, before she did. She was buried at the Carmel du faubourg Saint-Jacques, a Carmelite convent in Paris.


Charlotte Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Conde (1594–1650)


Biography - Joanna of Austria 1547–1578 married Francesco I de'Medici & suffered a sad life & death



1562-65  Joanna of Austria (1547–1578) attributed to Giuseppe Archimboldo.

Joanna of Austria (1547–1578) was born an Archduchess of Austria as the youngest daughter of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor & Anna of Bohemia & Hungary. One of her daughters was Marie de Medici, 2nd wife of King Henry IV of France. Joanna was born in Prague as the youngest of 15 children. She never knew her mother who died 2 days after Joanna's birth.


1565 Joanna of Austria (1547–1578) by Francesco Terzio

Her arranged marriage to Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1541-1587), took place in 1565 in Florence, when she was just turning 18. Joanna was homesick & unhappy in Tuscany. Ignored by her husband, & despised by the Florentines for her Austrian heritage, she never felt at home in Florence.


Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1541-1587)

While her husband was not charming & was constantly unfaithful, her father-in-law, Cosimo I de' Medici, was reasonably kind to Joanna. He had the courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio specially decorated for her; the lunettes were painted with murals of Austrian towns by pupils of Vasari. Her father-in-law had Verrocchio's Putto with Dolphin fountain was brought to Florence from the Careggi villa, where it had been set up in the garden by Lorenzo de' Medici.


1570 Joanna of Austria (1547–1578) Giovanna d’Austria by Alessandro Allori

Joanna's job was not to be happy, it was to produce a male heir for a family she did not know in a country she did not like. Between 1566 & 1575, she gave birth to 6 daughters, of whom only 3 survived infancy. Daughters were just not acceptable.  The absence of a male heir to continue the dynasty was the cause of constant conflict with her husband, who preferred the company & love of his mistress Bianca Capello, who reportedly gave birth a son, Antonio, in 1576.


Joanna of Austria (1547–1578) Follower of Anthonis Mor van Dashorst

Finally, in 1577, Joanna gave birth to the long-awaited heir, baptized Filippo in honour of the King Philip II of Spain, Joanna's 1st cousin. The birth was celebrated with great joy by all the court, because it secured the succession of the Grand Duchy for another generation & eliminated  Bianca Capello's hopes to have her "son" Antonio as heir of Tuscany.


Joanna of Austria (1547–1578) after Bizzelli

In April of 1578, Joanna, nearly ready to give birth to her 8th child, fell down the stairs in the Grand Ducal Palace in Florence. Some hours later, she gave birth to a premature son, who died immediately. Joanna herself died the next day. Francesco subsequently married his mistress, Bianca Cappello.


Joanna of Austria (1547–1578) Juana de Austria by Giovanni Bizzelli

The gossip which swirled around this accident for years hinted that her husband & his mistress of murdered Joanna, so that they could be married. However, modern medical investigation of her remains confirm the official reports of her death as caused by the birth (the child presented arm first, & Johanna suffered a ruptured uterus). The examination also showed that Johanna suffered from scoliosis, her spine & pelvis were severely deformed. Doctors say that from the condition of her pelvis, her previous births had been difficult, & that it is remarkable that she had survived them.


Joanna of Austria (1547–1578)

Her short, unhappy life had been dedicated to producing male children for a royal family she did not know or like; but only 2 of Johanna's daughters, Eleonora & Marie lived to adulthood, the rest dying in childhood.


1586 Joanna of Austria (1547–1578) posthumous portrait with her son Filippo (1577-1582) by Giovanni Bizzelli


1621 Joanna of Austria (1547–1578) Attributed to Peter Paul Rubens (after her death)


Portraits of women, plus a spouse or two, from the 1500s by Lorenzo Lotto (1480 - 1556)


Lorenzo Lotto (1480 - 1556) Lucretia 1528


Lorenzo Lotto (1480 - 1556) Husband and Wife 1523


Lorenzo Lotto (1480 - 1556) Portrait of Laura da Pola 1544


Lorenzo Lotto (1480 - 1556) Portrait of a Woman c 1506


Lorenzo Lotto (1480 - 1556) Messer Marsilio and his Wife 1523


Lorenzo Lotto (1480 - 1556) Saint Catherine of Alexandria 1522