Archduchess Isabella Clara of Austria

Not to be confused with Isabella Clara Eugenia, sovereign of the Netherlands.

Isabella Clara
Duchess of Mantua and Montferrat

Anonymous painting of Isabella Clara
Born (1629-08-12)12 August 1629
Died 24 February 1685(1685-02-24) (aged 55)
Mantua, Italy
Spouse Charles Gonzaga
Issue Ferdinand Charles, Duke of Mantua and Montferrat
Father Leopold V, Archduke of Austria
Mother Claudia de' Medici

Isabella Clara of Austria (12 August 1629 24 February 1685) was the eldest surviving daughter of Leopold V, Archduke of Austria, and his wife Claudia de' Medici. She was a member of the House of Habsburg and was an Archduchess of Austria.


Isabella married on 7 November 1649 Charles II, Duke of Mantua and Montferrat (31 October 1629 – 14 August 1665), who had become Duke of Mantua and Monferrato in 1637. The marriage between the two was to create an alliance between the Gonzaga and Habsburg families. As well as the marriage of Isabella and Charles, Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, married Charles's sister Eleonor Gonzaga.[1]

In response to this important alliance, Charles was able to remove the French from Casale, then agreed with Louis XIV of France that the Monferrato should not be controlled by Spain but would remain with the Gonzaga family. Charles kept a lover, Margaret Oak and sometimes neglected Isabella, but they had one son, Charles (31 August 1652 – 5 July 1708) who in 1665 became Duke of Mantua.


Duke Charles died suddenly on 14 August 1665, when Isabella assumed the role of Regent on behalf of her thirteen-year-old son, to be assisted in the affairs of government by Count Charles Bulgarini, a nobleman of Jewish origins with whom Isabella had long had an amorous relationship.[2]

Charles reached his majority and attained full ducal power in 1670. A year later, on the advice of his mother, he married Anna Isabella Gonzaga of the Guastalla branch of the Gonzagas. Isabella retired to private life in the Goito palace, then on 16 December 1671, on the orders of the emperor, she entered a convent where she remained for the rest of her life. Isabella died in 1685.



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