Margaret of Savoy, Vicereine of Portugal

For other uses, see Margaret of Savoy.
Margaret of Savoy
Duchess consort of Mantua and Montferrat

Margaret of Savoy, Duchess consort of Mantua and Montferrat (oil by Frans Pourbus)
Spouse(s) Francis IV, Duke of Mantua
Noble family House of Savoy (by birth)
House of Gonzaga (by marriage)
Father Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy
Mother Catherine Micaela of Spain
Born (1589-04-28)28 April 1589
Died 26 June 1655(1655-06-26) (aged 66)
Miranda de Ebro
Buried Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas, Burgos

Margaret of Savoy (28 April 1589 – 26 June 1655) was the last Habsburg Vicereine of Portugal. In Portuguese she is known as Duquesa de Mântua, being by marriage the Duchess of Mantua and Montferrat.


Early life and Duchess of Montferrat

She was born in Turin, as the fifth child of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy (1562–1630) and Infanta Catherine Micaela of Spain, the daughter of Philip II of Spain. She was married to the future Francis IV, Duke of Mantua (1586–1612) and Montferrat on 19 February 1608. The wedding was celebrated in Turin. In 1612 Margaret's husband succeeded his father, Vincent I, as Duke of Mantua. Their marriage produced three children, but only one daughter, Maria, survived childhood. Francis died in 1612.

As the couple had no surviving male issue, Duke Francis' next brother succeeded him in the Duchy of Mantua, whereas in the Duchy of Montferrat he was succeeded by his three-year-old daughter Maria, because it had been historically inherited by females, as it was a margraviate. Indeed, it had been brought to the Mantuan princely dynasty (the House of Gonzaga) by the marriage of Margherita Paleologa, Margravine of Montferrat, in 1531. Accordingly, Maria's claims were asserted and Dowager Duchess Margaret required to be made her regent in Montferrat.

This was a contested inheritance - Maria was a minor for the next decade - and ultimately, Duke Francis' brothers failed to produce any legitimate issue, and the entire inheritance became subject to Mantuan War of Succession (1627–32).

Duchess Margaret's daughter Maria was in 1627 married to Charles, the eldest son of the distant Gonzaga heir-male (at that point Charles I, Duke of Mantua), in order to join two of the Mantuan claims. They had to wage war, but in the end their line prevailed and they commanded universal recognition as Dukes of Mantua and Montferrat.

Vicereine of Portugal

Upon the death in 1633 of her maternal aunt, Archduchess Isabella Clara Eugenia, ruler of the Low Countries, her brother Victor Amadeus became heir to the rights of their maternal grandmother Elisabeth of Valois, eldest daughter and in her issue the heiress of Henry II of France and Catherine of Medici.

She had ancestral links to Portugal: two of her great-grandmothers (i.e. Empress Isabella and Beatrice, Duchess of Savoy) had been daughters of king Manuel I of Portugal.

The Duchess of Mantua is arrested, following the Restoration of Independence.

In 1635, after the demise of the Count of Basto, she was named by her cousin Philip IV of Spain Vicereine of Portugal, at the time in a dynastic union with Spain, where she moved to in 1634. This nomination was the result of the efforts of Diogo Soares, member of the Council of Portugal at Madrid, a friend of the Count-Duke of Olivares and a relative of Miguel de Vasconcelos who, in 1635, would be named secretary of state of Portugal.

As a result of the Portuguese revolution (called Restoration of Independence) of 1640, Vasconcelos was assassinated and the Duchess of Mantua tried to calm the Portuguese people during demonstrations in the Portuguese Terreiro do Paço (at the time Lisbon's main square). The Portuguese proclaimed the duke of Braganza as their new king. Margaret was surrounded in her headquarters in Lisbon, and her support collapsing, the new potentate allowed her to depart to Spain.

She died in Miranda de Ebro in 1655, her daughter Duchess Maria of Rethel and Montferrat surviving her, with two grandchildren, of whom the daughter Eleanor had in 1651 become the Holy Roman Empress and the son Charles in 1637 the reigning duke of Mantua. At her death, both her grandchildren had already produced great-grandchildren for her.


Margaret of Savoy's ancestors in three generations
Margaret of Savoy Father:
Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy
Paternal Grandfather:
Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy
Paternal Great-Grandfather:
Charles III, Duke of Savoy
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Beatrice, Infanta of Portugal
Paternal Grandmother:
Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry
Paternal Great-Grandfather:
Francis I of France
Paternal Great-Grandmother:
Claude of France
Catherine Michelle of Spain
Maternal Grandfather:
Philip II of Spain
Maternal Great-Grandfather:
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Maternal Great-Grandmother:
Isabella of Portugal
Maternal Grandmother:
Elisabeth of Valois
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Henry II of France
Maternal Great-Grandmother:
Catherine de' Medici


Margaret had three children

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