Archduchess Barbara of Austria

Archduchess Barbara
Duchess consort of Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio
Spouse(s) Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara
Noble family House of Habsburg (by birth)
House of Este (by marriage)
Father Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Anna of Bohemia and Hungary
Born 30 April 1539
Died 19 September 1572(1572-09-19) (aged 33)

Barbara of Austria (30 April 1539 19 September 1572) was born in Vienna to Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary. From 1547, in Innsbruck with her sisters Magdalena, Margareta, Helena and Johanna, she received a deeply religious upbringing.

Even though Barbara was regarded as plain, several proposals had been made for her hand, due to her connections with the Austrian and Spanish courts. In 1565 her marriage to Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara, was celebrated with much splendour. It was a happy marriage but it remained childless. Torquato Tasso who, in 1565, had been called to the court of Ferrara, dedicated some sonnets to her.

In 1570 and 1571, after an earthquake, using her own income she supported young girls without parents. She founded the Conservatore delle orfane di Santa Barbara which was very much appreciated by the population of Ferrara. She was in constant touch with the Jesuits but also had a very close relationship with her Protestant mother-in-law, Renée of France, daughter of Louis XII of France.

Having been sickly since 1566, she died, aged thirty-three, of tuberculosis on 19 September 1572.


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Archduchess Barbara of Austria
Born: 30 April 1539 Died: 19 September 1572
Royal titles
Title last held by
Lucrezia de' Medici
Duchess consort of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio
5 December 1565 – 19 September 1572
Title next held by
Margherita Gonzaga

Media related to Archduchess Barbara of Austria at Wikimedia Commons

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