Margaret Theresa of Spain

Margaret Theresa of Spain

Holy Roman Empress; German Queen;
Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia;
Archduchess consort of Austria
Tenure 25 April 1666 – 12 March 1673
Born 12 July 1651
Royal Alcazar, Madrid, Spain
Died 12 March 1673 (aged 21)
Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria
Burial Imperial Crypt, Vienna, Austria
Spouse Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor
Issue Maria Antonia, Electress of Bavaria
House Habsburg
Father Philip IV of Spain
Mother Mariana of Austria
Religion Roman Catholicism
House of Habsburg
Spanish line
Philip IV
Children include
Balthasar Charles, Prince of Asturias
Maria Theresa, Queen of France
Margaret, Holy Roman Empress
Philip Prospero, Prince of Asturias
Charles II of Spain

Margaret Theresa of Spain (Spanish: Margarita Teresa, German: Margarete Theresia; 12 July 1651 12 March 1673), was by marriage Holy Roman Empress, German Queen, Archduchess consort of Austria, Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia. Daughter of King Philip IV of Spain and elder full-sister of Charles II, the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, she is the central figure in the famous Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, and subject of many of his later paintings.


Early years

Margaret Theresa was born on 12 July 1651 in Madrid as the first child of King Philip IV of Spain born from his second marriage with his niece Archduchess Mariana of Austria. Because of this avunculate marriage, Margaret's mother was nearly thirty years younger than her father.[1]

On her father's side, Margaret's grandparents were King Philip III of Spain and his wife Archduchess Margaret of Austria. On her mother's side her grandparents were Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor and his wife Infanta Maria Anna of Spain.[1][2]

The marriage of her parents was purely made for political reasons, mainly the search of a new male heir for the Spanish throne after the early death of Balthasar Charles, Prince of Asturias in 1646. Besides him, the other only surviving child of Philip IV's first marriage was the Infanta Maria Theresa, who later became in the wife of King Louis XIV of France. After Margaret, between 1655 and 1661 four more children (a daughter and three sons) were born from the marriage between Philip IV and Mariana of Austria, but only one survive infancy, the future King Charles II of Spain.[1][3]

Margaret didn't develop the serious health issues and disabilities (because the close consanguinity of her parents) that her younger brother showed since his birth. During her childhood she was once seriously ill, but survived.[4] According to contemporaries, Margaret has an attractive appearance and lively character. Her parents and close friends called her the "little angel". She grew up in the Queen's chambers in the Royal Alcazar of Madrid surrounded by many maids and servants. The Infanta loved candies, which she constantly hid from the physicians who care for the health of her teeth.[5] Margaret's father and maternal grandfather Emperor Ferdinand III love her deeply. In his private letters King Philip IV called her "my joy".[6] At the same time, Margaret was brought up in accordance with the strict etiquette of the Madrid court, and received a good education.[7][8]

Betrothal and marriage

In the second half of the 1650s at the imperial court in Vienna the necessity developed of another dynastic marriage between the Spanish and Austrian branches of the House of Habsburg. The union was needed to strengthen the position of both countries, especially against the Kingdom of France. At first the proposals were of Maria Theresa, the eldest daughter of Philip IV, to marry with the heir of the Holy Roman Empire, Archduke Leopold Ignaz. But in 1660 and under the terms of the Treaty of the Pyrenees, the Infanta was married with the French King; as a part of her marriage contract, she was forced to renounce her claims to the Spanish throne in return for a monetary settlement as part of her dowry, which at the end was never paid.[9]

Then began discussion about a marriage between Margaret and the already Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I (who was her maternal uncle and her father's cousin). However, the Madrid court hesitated to agreed with this proposal. Philip IV already planned to give his younger daughter in marriage to King Charles II of England, in order to prevent his marriage with Catherine of Braganza. The Spanish King never resignated to the loss of the Portuguese crown, and tried to prevent the recognition of the House of Braganza by the European monarchies.[10]

In October 1662 the new Imperial ambassador in the Spanish Kingdom, Count Francis Eusebius of Pötting, began one of his main diplomatic assignments, which was the celebration of the marriage between the Infanta and the Emperor.[11] Negotiations by the Spanish side were led by Ramiro Núñez de Guzmán, Duke of Medina de las Torres.[12] On 6 April 1663 was finally announced the betrothal between Margaret and Leopold I; in the marriage contract signed on 18 December, besides the customary dowry, was particularly included, as a gift from her father, the famous Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond.[13][lower-alpha 1] It was also stipulated that Margaret (in contrast with her older half-sister), should maintain her position in the line of succession to the Spanish throne and would pass her rights to her descendants.[16] Before the official wedding ceremony (who according to custom had to take place in Vienna) was sent another portrait of the Infanta, in order that the Emperor could know his bride.[2]

King Philip IV died on 17 September 1665. In his will, he didn't mentioned Margaret's betrothal; in fact, the context in which was prepared the document suggests that the late monarch still hesitated to marry his daughter with his Austrian relative because he sought to ensure her rights as sole ruler of the Spanish crown in case of the extinction of his male line.[17] Mariana of Austria, now Dowager Queen and Regent of the Kingdom on behalf of her minor son Charles II, delayed the wedding of her daughter. Only after the intense Imperial diplomacy efforts, on 25 April 1666 was finally celebrated in Madrid the marriage by proxy in a ceremony attended not only by the Dowager Queen, King Charles II and the Imperial ambassador but also by the local nobility; the groom was represented by Antonio de la Cerda, 7th Duke of Medinaceli.[18]

On 28 April 1666 Margaret traveled from Madrid to Vienna, accompanied by her personal retinue. Upon her arrival at Denia, where she rested for some days, the Infanta embarked on 16 July in the Spanish Royal fleet, in turn escorted by ships of the Order of Malta and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Then (after a short stop in Barcelona because Margaret had some health issues)[19] the cortege sailed to the port of Finale Ligure, where arrived on 20 August. There, Margaret was received by Luis Guzman Ponce de Leon, Governor of Milan. The cortege leave Finale on 1 September and arrived to Milan ten days later, although the official entry wasn't celebrated until 15 September. After spending almost all September in Milan, the Infanta continued the journey through Venice, arriving in early October to Trento. At all the stops Margaret received celebrations in her honor. In 8 October the Spanish retinue arrived at the city of Roveredo, where the head of Margaret's cortege, Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, 8th Duke of Alburquerque official handed the Infanta to Ferdinand Joseph, Prince of Dietrichstein and Count Ernst Adalbert von Harrach, Prince-Bishop of Trento, representants of Leopold I. On 20 October the new Austrian cortege leaves Roveredo, crossing the Tyrol, through Carinthia and Styria, and arriving on 25 November at the district of Schottwien, twelve miles from Vienna where the Emperor came to receive his bride.[18]

Holy Roman Empress and German Queen

On 5 December 1666, took place the solemn entry of the Infanta in Vienna and the official marriage ceremony was celebrated seven days later, on 12 December. The celebrations that took place in the Austrian capital on the occasion of the imperial marriage (who were among the most splendid of all the Baroque era)[20] lasted almost two years.

Not far from the present Burggarten, the Emperor ordened the built of an open-air theatre, with a capacity of 5,000 people, where in July 1668 (on occasion of Margaret's birthday), took place the premiere of the opera Il pomo d'oro (The Golden Apple), composed by Antonio Cesti, which contemporaries called the "staging of the century" due to its magnificence and expense.[21] The year before, the Emperor gave an equestrian ballet, where he personally mounted on his horse, Speranza; due to technical adaptations, was create among the spectators the impression that horses and carriages hovering in the air.[22]

Despite the age difference, Leopold I's unattractive appearance and Margaret's appeared of goitre (a change of the thyroid gland), according to contemporaries they had a happy marriage. The Empress always called her husband "Uncle" (de: Onkel), and he called her "Gretl".[23] The couple had many common interests, especially in art and music.[24]

During her six years of marriage, Margaret gave birth four children, of whom only one survive infancy:[1]

Her multiple pregnancies weakened Margaret's already fragile health.[23] The Empress was very pious, and inspired her husband the expulsion of the Jews from Vienna, because she believe that they had the fault of her children's deaths. During the Corpus Christi celebration of 1670, the Emperor ordered the destruction of the Vienna synagogue and at the site was built a church on his orders.[24]

Even after her marriage, Margaret kept her Spanish customs and ways. She doesn't speak German, and the arrogance of her native retinue led to a strong anti-Spanish sentiment among the imperial court. The courtiers openly expressed the hope that the weak Empress will soon die and thus give the opportunity to Leopold I of a second marriage. This intolerable situation was the origin of Margaret's severe depression.[23][24] Besides her devoted husband, the only friend that she had at court was her stepmother-in-law, Dowager Empress Eleonora Gonzaga.[26]


During her last pregnancy Margaret fell ill with bronchitis; this, united with her already weakened health due to four living childbirths and at least two miscarriages during her marriage,[23] caused her early death on 12 March 1673 aged 21. She was buried in the Imperial Crypt, in Vienna. Only four months later, the widower Emperor –despite his grief for the death of his "only Margareta" (as he reminded her),–[27] entered into a second marriage with Archduchess Claudia Felicitas of Austria, member of the Tyrol branch of the House of Habsburg.[24]

After Margaret's death her rights over the Spanish throne were inherited by her only surviving daughter Maria Antonia, who in turn leave it to her only surviving son Prince Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria when she died in 1692. After Joseph Ferdinand's early death in 1699, the rights of inheritance were disputed by both Emperor Leopold I and King Louis XIV of France, son-in-law of King Philip IV. The outcome of the War of the Spanish Succession was the creation of the Spanish branch of the House of Bourbon in the person of King Philip V, Margaret's great-nephew.[24]

Depictions in art

Shortly before the birth of Margaret, returned to Madrid the Spanish court painter Diego Velázquez. From 1653 to 1659 a serie of portraits of the Infanta were performed. Three of them - "Infanta Margarita in a pink dress" (1653), "Infanta Margarita in a silver dress" (1656) and "Infanta Margarita in a blue dress" (1659) were sent to the Imperial court in Vienna, and now are displayed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum.[28] In the last paintings of the 8-years-old Infanta made by Velázquez was noted a more mature and formal attitude of Margaret, due to her upcoming marriage to the Emperor.[29]

The most famous painting by Velazquez in the series of portraits of the Infanta was "Las Meninas" (1656), currently in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. In it the artist painted the 5-years-old Infanta in his studio while working on a portrait of her parents. She is surrounded by her maids of honor and other courtiers, but her eyes riveted to her parents, whose reflection is visible in the mirror on the wall.[30] The canvas was the inspiration for Picasso, who in 1957 created more than forty variations of this pattern.[31]

The image of Margaret, embodied in the paintings of Velasquez brush, inspired not only painters. The poet Boris Pasternak mentions it in a poem of 1923 "Butterfly Storm", in which she appears to him as a vision during a thunderstorm in Moscow.[32] The first image in this poem who Pasternak contrasted with the portraits of the Infanta was mentioned by Vyacheslav Vsevolodovich Ivanov, in his work "Eternal Childhood".[33][34]

The "Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Pink Dress" (1660), formerly credited to Velázquez, was now considered one of the masterpieces of his son-in-law, Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo. To Martínez del Mazo also belongs the latter "Portrait of the Infanta Margarita in mourning dress" (1666), in which she is depicted shortly after her father's death and shortly before her wedding. Both paintings are also included in the collection of the Museo del Padro.[35] The authory of the "Portrait of the Infanta Margarita" (1655) currently at the Louvre, is still questioned by researchers.[36]

There are portraits of adult Margaret performed by a number of European artists, most of which are stored in the collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Among them, "a full-length portrait of the Infanta Margarita Teresa, the Empress" (1665) by Gerard Du Chateau[37] and "Portrait of Empress Margarita Teresa in a theatrical costume" (1667) by Jan Thomas van Ieperen.[38] One of the last portraits of Margaret is the "Portrait of Empress Margarita Teresa and her daughter Maria Antonia" (1671) by Benjamin Block, currently in the Hofburg Palace, on which she is depicted with her only surviving child.[39] Numerous copies of her portraits are also preserved, and are now kept in the museum collections around the world.


16. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
8. Philip II of Spain (=28)
17. Isabella of Portugal
4. Philip III of Spain (=14)
18. Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
9. Anna of Austria (1549-1580) (=29)
19. Maria of Spain
2. Philip IV of Spain
20. Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
10. Charles II, Archduke of Inner Austria (=24, 30)
21. Anna of Bohemia and Hungary
5. Margaret of Austria (=15)
22. Albert V, Duke of Bavaria
11. Maria Anna of Bavaria (1551-1608) (=25, 31)
23. Anna of Austria (1528-1590)
1. Margaret Theresa of Spain
24. Charles II, Archduke of Inner Austria (=10, 30)
12. Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor
25. Maria Anna of Bavaria (1551-1608) (=11, 31)
6. Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor
26. William V, Duke of Bavaria
13. Maria Anna of Bavaria (1574-1616)
27. Renata of Lorraine
3. Mariana of Austria
28. Philip II of Spain (=8)
14. Philip III of Spain (=4)
29. Anna of Austria (1549-1580) (=9)
7. Maria Anna of Spain
30. Charles II, Archduke of Inner Austria (=10, 24)
15. Margaret of Austria (=5)
31. Maria Anna of Bavaria (1551-1608) (=11, 25)


  1. The diamond was auctioned at Christie's in December 2008. Referred to as the Wittelsbach Diamond, it was given by her father king Philip IV of Spain as part of the dowry when she married Leopold I of Austria at the age of 15.[14] The diamond was obtained in India (as it was custom from the Royal Families at that time to bring their diamonds from India, either Hyderabad or Bihar). As of today, it is one of the few lasting Indian diamonds together with the Kohinoor (today part of the British Crown Jewels), the Régent (today in the Louvre), the Orlov (in the Kremlin) or the Hope Diamond, in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. Christie's sold the nearly 36-carat (7.2 g) diamond for $24.3 million, which was the highest price paid for a diamond sold at an auction until 2013.[15]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Margaret Teresa Habsburg, Infanta de España in: Darryl Lundy - [retrieved 27 October 2016].
  2. 1 2 Martin Mutschlechner: Philip IV: marriage and offspring in: [retrieved 27 October 2016].
  3. Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio Alvariño: La sacralización de la dinastía en el pulpito de la Capilla Real en tiempos de Carlos II, pp. 315–317 (in Spanish) [retrieved 27 October 2016].
  4. Olivan Santaliestra 2014, pp. 174–176.
  5. Olivan Santaliestra 2014, p. 178.
  6. Museum of Art History, Moscow: Directmedia 2014, vol. XXVI, pp. 89–95 (The great museums of the world). ISBN 978-5-87-107267-7.
  7. Olivan Santaliestra 2014, pp. 166, 176–183.
  8. Luis Tercero: La última emperatriz española: Margarita Teresa en el Hofburg in: (in Spanish) [retrieved 27 October 2016].
  9. W. R. de Villa-Urrutia: Relaciones entre España y Austria durante el reinado de la emperatriz Doña Margarita, Infanta de España, Esposa del emperador Leopoldo I, Madrid: Libreria de Fernando Fe 1905, pp. 67–69.
  10. Laura Oliván Santaliestra: Mariana de Austria en la encrucijada política del siglo XVII, Madrid: Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 2006. p. 304.
  11. Jaroslava Kašparová: Po stopách knižní sbírky Františka Eusebia hraběte z Pöttingu a Persingu (1626–1678) in: [retrieved 27 October 2016].
  12. Laura Oliván Santaliestra: Mariana de Austria en la encrucijada política del siglo XVII, Madrid: Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 2006. p. 184.
  13. UN DIAMANTE AZUL PARA UNA MENINA VIENESA in: [retrieved 27 October 2016].
  14. CBC News: Big blue diamond goes on display in London [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  15. 34-Carat Princie Diamond Fetches Nearly $40 Million, Setting Two Records [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  16. J. de Abreu y Bertodano: Coleccion de los tratados de paz, alianza, neutralidad, garantia...., Madrid: Antonio Marin, Juan de Zuñiga y la viuda de Peralta, 1751, pp. 620–627. [retrieved 27 October 2016].
  17. M. V. López-Cordón, J. M. Nieto Soria: El Testamento de Felipe IV: atencion al problema sucesorio - Gobernar en tiempos de crisis: las quiebras dinásticas en el ámbito hispánico, 1250—1808, Madrid: Silex Ediciones 2008, pp. 48–50 ISBN 978-8-47-737215-8.
  18. 1 2 A. Rodríguez Villa: Dos viajes regios (1679 — 1666), Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia 1903 N° 42, pp. 369–381.
  19. Verdadera relación de las fiestas y recibimiento que en Barcelona se hizo á la Majestad Cesárea de la Serma. Sra. D.a Margarita de Austria, emperatriz de Alemania, y juntamente de su embarcaciór, Y acompañamíento, Madrid 1666
  20. Friedrich Polleross: Entre "majestas" y "modestas": sobre la representación del emperador Leopoldo I (in Spanish). For more information about the celebrations see: Verdadera relación de la entrada y recibimiento que se hizo á la Sra. Emperatriz de Alemania, D. Margarita de Austria, en la ciudad de Viena, en cinco de Diciembre del año pasado de 1666, Granada, 1666.
  21. Pomp and circumstance: the baroque opera Il pomo d’oro in: [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  22. Julia Teresa Friehs: Party-time: The marriage of Leopold I and Margarita of Spain in: [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  23. 1 2 3 4 Bernhard Kathan: Frühe Gebärmaschinen in: [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  24. 1 2 3 4 5 Alfred A. Strnad: Margarethe (Margarita Maria Teresa), Infantin von Spanien in: [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  25. 1 2 3 4 Theodor Berger: Die Durchläuchtige Welt, Oder: Kurtzgefaßte Genealogische ..., Vol. 1 [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  26. Rotraut Schnitzer-Becker: Eleonora Gonzaga Nevers, imperatrice Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 42 (1993) in: [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  27. Wheatcroft 1997, p. 201.
  28. Velázquez. Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  29. Eva-Bettina Krems: Dynastische Identität und europäische Politik der spanischen Habsburger in den 1650er Jahren
  30. Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez: Las Meninas in: [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  31. A. G. Kostenevich: Picasso - The Art of Leningrad 1982, pp. 43–226.
  32. D. S. Likhachev, T. B. Knyazevskaya: Literature and Art in the system of culture, B. B. Piotrowski: Moscow Science 1988, pp. 476–500 ISBN 978-5-02-012677-0.
  33. Vyacheslav Ivanov: "Eternal Childhood" Pasternak,Literature and Art in the culture system. - Moscow Science, 1988, pp. 471–480.
  34. B. Pasternak: Complete Works applications: Poetry and poems 1912-1931, D. V. Tevekelyan DV Moscow 2003, pp. 505–573 ISBN 978-5-85-050680-3.
  35. Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo: Doña Margarita de Austria in: [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  36. Polémica sobre la autoría de un Velázquez prestado por el Museo del Louvre in: [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  37. Infantin Margarita Teresa (1651-1673), Kaiserin, Bildnis in ganzer Figur in: [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  38. Infantin Margarita Teresa (1651-1673), Kaiserin, im Theaterkostüm in: [retrieved 28 October 2016].
  39. Retrato de la Emperatriz Margarita Teresa de Austria in: [retrieved 28 October 2016].


External links

Margaret Theresa of Spain
Born: 12 July 1651 Died: 12 March 1673
Royal titles
Title last held by
Eleanor of Mantua
Holy Roman Empress
Queen consort of Germany
Archduchess consort of Austria

Title next held by
Claudia Felicitas of Austria
Queen consort of Hungary
Queen consort of Bohemia

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