I have a great passion for the women throughout history and even more so for the women who receive almost no attention or recognition at all. Certainly many of them did not have extraordinary lives, but at the same time, I believe most of them have just the right amount of charm, and in most cases compassion, that makes them at least worthy of blog post.
The Queens of Spain, from Isabel of Castilla and onward, are not some well-known or most fascinating women in history, each of them has story that I feel is worth knowing. As most fans of history know, there is much behind closed doors and official reports that makes any Royal family worthy of it's own soap opera.
The first Queen I will touch on is the very Habsburg, Margaret of Austria, known as Margarita de Austria in Spain.
Margarita was born on Christmas day in 1584 to the Archduke Charles II of Austria and his Maria Anna of Bavaria, they were uncle and niece, something quite common in the Habsburg dynasty.Margarita wasn't a conventional beauty, surely the chin she inherited from generations of inbreeding played into how others perceived her but she had strawberry blonde hair, a pale complexion, and dark blue eyes.
On April 18, 1599, Margaret married her first cousin Felipe III (Philip) and became Queen consort of Spain. Margaret and Felipe had a very loving and caring relationship by all accounts, which was occasional rarity in arranged dynastic marriages.
Margaret also exerted a great deal of influence over husband. She was considered to be a very pious Catholic and by some she was criticized for being too devout. Margaret constantly pushed for more conservative religious policies within Spain and was able to get her husband to do so. She also promoted Austrian influence and relations, which she was able to succeed in until her death. But it was not always easy for her to get husband to agree to ideas
Margaret had to compete with the Duke of Lerma, Felipe's chief minister. Margarita was convinced that the Duke's policies were corrupt and often became distressed.
A heavily pregnant Margaret and her daughter Maria Anna
Margaret and Felipe had 8 children, 5 of whom survived into adulthood. Her eldest daughter Anne, would become Queen of France and mother to Louis XIV. Her eldest son Felipe would succeed his father as King of Spain. Her second surviving daughter Maria Anna would become Holy Roman Empress. Her second son Carlos died without issue at age 25. Her third son Ferdinand became a Cardinal. She had two additional daughters, Maria (1 day) and Margarita (7 years), both of whom died young.
Her last child, Alfonso, would result in her death. In fall of 1611 Margarita gave birth to a son who would live to his first birthday, but Margaret died a little over a week later as a result from complications during birth. Margaret was 26 years old.
Felipe was greatly shaken by his wife's death and never remarried. In the end, Margaret's confessors and priest would gain some influence over Felipe in the next 10 years before his death, leaving somewhat of a legacy behind from their former mistress.
Margarita by Diego Velazquez
20 years or so after her death in 1611, Felipe IV commissioned a grand portrait of his mother on horseback. The painting was recently restored in 2011. The portrait is known for showing Margaret wearing the infamous La Peregrina Pearl which belonged to several queens of Spain and eventually Elizabeth Taylor.