Maria Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Massa

Maria Beatrice d'Este
Duchess of Massa

Maria Beatrice Ricciarda de Este.jpg
Born (1750-04-07)7 April 1750
Ducal Palace, Modena, Italy
Died 14 November 1829(1829-11-14) (aged 79)
Vienna, Austria
Burial Imperial Crypt, Vienna
Spouse Ferdinand, Duke of Breisgau
Maria Teresa, Queen of Sardinia
Maria Leopoldina, Electress of Bavaria
Francis IV, Duke of Modena
Archduke Maximilian Joseph
Archduke Karl, Archbishop of Esztergom
Maria Ludovika, Empress of Austria
Full name
Italian: Maria Beatrice Ricciarda d'Este
House House of Este (by birth)
House of Habsburg-Lorraine
(by marriage)
Father Ercole III, Duke of Modena
Mother Maria Teresa, Duchess of Massa

Maria Beatrice d’Este (Italian: Maria Beatrice Ricciarda; 7 April 1750 – 14 November 1829) was heiress of Modena and Reggio as well as the sovereign of Massa and Carrara from 1790 until 1796 and from 1815 until her death in 1829.


Maria Beatrice was born in Modena, the eldest child of two monarchs, Ercole III d'Este, Duke of Modena and Maria Teresa Cybo-Malaspina, reigning duchess of Massa and princess of Carrara.

Maria Beatrice of Modena and her husband Archduke Ferdinand

Her parents' marriage was unhappy and they lived separated from each other; they only produced two children: Maria Beatrice, born on 7 April 1750 and Rinaldo Francesco, born on 4 January 1753. The death of Rinaldo aged four months old (5 May 1753) led to Maria being acknowledged as an heiress. Her paternal ancestors included Louis XIII of France and Philippe d'Orléans, Regent of France for Louis XV and Mary Stuart. Her maternal ancestors were members of the House of Cybo-Malaspina, members of the Italian nobility.

As heiress to four states (Modena, Reggio, Massa and Carrara), she was a very attractive wedding partner. Empress Maria Theresa sought to arrange a marriage between Maria Beatrice and the Archduke Leopold (future Holy Roman Emperor) but this never materialised. Instead she married Leopold's brother, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, in a union through which the Austrians aimed to expand their influence in Italy.

The couple was engaged from 1754. As the children were so young, the marriage was not celebrated till 1771 when a ceremony in Milan on 15 October officially united them. Festivities arranged for this occasion included the operas Ascanio in Alba by Mozart and Il Ruggiero by Johann Adolph Hasse.

The couple moved between Modena and Milan, where they lived in the Royal palace. As the Duchy of Modena did not allow female succession, Maria Beatrice's rights to the throne of Modena and Reggio passed to her son when her father died. When her mother died in 1790, however, she succeeded her as Duchess of Massa and Carrara. After the French conquest of Northern Italy, she spent her life mostly in Austria and left the rule to administrators. By her marriage, the House of Austria-Este was created, a cadet branch of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, which ruled Modena between 1814 and 1859. After Maria Beatrice d'Este's death at Vienna in 1829, Massa and Carrara were added to the Duchy of Modena.


Name Portrait Lifespan Notes
Archduke Josef Franz
Died in infancy
Archduchess Maria Theresa
Queen of Sardinia
Married Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia and had issue
Archduchess Josepha
Died in infancy
Archduchess Maria Leopoldine
Electress of Bavaria
Married first Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria no issue;
married second Ludwig Count of Arco, had issue,
Francis IV
Duke of Modena
Married Maria Beatrice of Savoy and had issue
Archduke Ferdinand Karl Joseph
Commander-in-Chief of the Austrian army during the Napoleonic Wars
Died unmarried
Archduke Maximilian Joseph
Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights
Died unmarried;
Archduchess Maria Antonia
Died in infancy
Archduke Karl Ambrosius
Archbishop of Esztergom
Died unmarried;
Archduchess Maria Ludovika
Empress of Austria
Married her cousin Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor and had no issue


Media related to Maria Beatrice Ricciarda d'Este at Wikimedia Commons

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Maria Teresa
Duchess of Massa and Carrara
Cispadane Republic
Elisa Bonaparte Duchess of Massa and Carrara
Succeeded by
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