Maria Luisa of Savoy

Not to be confused with Princess Marie Louise of Savoy.
Maria Luisa of Savoy
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure 2 November 1701 – 14 February 1714
Born (1688-08-17)17 August 1688
Royal Palace of Turin, Savoy
Died 14 February 1714(1714-02-14) (aged 25)
Royal Alcazar of Madrid, Spain
Burial El Escorial
Spouse Philip V of Spain
Louis I of Spain
Ferdinand VI of Spain
Full name
Maria Luisa Gabriella di Savoia
House House of Savoy
Father Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy
Mother Anne Marie d'Orléans
Religion Roman Catholicism

Maria Luisa of Savoy (Maria Luisa Gabriella; 17 September 1688 14 February 1714) was a Savoyard princess and the first wife of Philip V of Spain.[1] She acted as Regent of Spain and had great influence over her husband. She is closely associated with Princesse des Ursins.

Infancy and background

She was the third daughter and second surviving child of Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy and his French-born wife Anne Marie d'Orléans, the youngest daughter of Philippe of France and Henrietta of England. Throughout her life, Maria Luisa remained close to her older sister Maria Adelaide who later married Louis, Duke of Burgundy, the eldest grandson of Louis XIV. In her youth, Maria Luisa was described as playful and fun loving and had received a good education.[2]


Philip V of Spain, a French prince, was recently crowned King of Spain upon the death of childless Charles II. In order to enforce his shaky authority over Spain due to his French birth, Philip V decided to maintain ties with Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy. Philip V's brother, Louis, Duke of Burgundy, had married the elder sister of Maria Luisa several years earlier, and in mid-1701, Philip V asked for Maria Luisa's hand with the permission of his grandfather Louis XIV.[3]

Maria Luisa was wed by proxy to Philip V on 12 September 1701 at the age of barely thirteen and was escorted to Nice, arriving there on 18 September. While in Nice, she was greeted by Pope Clement XI who gave her the Golden Rose on 20 September as a ritualistic gift for the young princess.[2] Within a week, she sailed from Nice for Antibes and was taken to Barcelona. The official marriage took place on 2 November 1701.[2] The Princesse des Ursins was a member of the household of the Queen. She would maintain great influence over Maria Luisa as her Camarera mayor de Palacio, chief of the household to the young queen, who was still a child. The Princesse des Ursins maintained as strong dominance of Maria Luisa by using all the rights of proximity to the queen that her position entitled her to: she was almost non-stop in the presence of the queen, accompanied her wherever she went as soon as she left her private rooms, followed her to the council meetings, where she listened sitting by the side sewing; followed her back to her rooms, where she was present at the most intimate personal tasks, dressing and undressing her, controlling whoever wished to come into her presence. As Philip V, contrary to the custom of the time, actually shared a bedroom with Maria Luisa, the Princesse also had enormous influence over the king as well.[4]

Philip V was deeply in love with her from the start: as would be the case of his next consort, he was sexually dependent on her, as his religious scruples prevented him from exercising any sexual life outside of marriage. She was also said to be very beautiful and intelligent.[4] Unlike what was normal for a Spanish monarch, he usually slept in her bed the entire night, and insisted upon his conjugal rights.[4] Already shortly after their marriage, the French ambassador, the Duke of Gramont reported to Philips' grandfather, Louis XIV, that Philip would be completely governed by his spouse as long as he had one, a report that led Louis XIV to warn him not to allow his queen to dominate him.[4] Marie Luisa is described as remarkably mature for her age, politically savvy, articulate and hardworking, and she has been credited with giving the normally passive Philip V the energy he needed to participate in warfare.[4]

Maria Luisa's coat of arms

In 1702, Philip V was obliged to leave Spain to fight in Naples as part of the ongoing War of Spanish Succession.[5] During her husband's absence, Maria Luisa acted as Regent from Madrid. She was praised as an effective ruler, having successfully implemented various changes in government and insisted upon all complaints being investigated and reports made direct to her. Her leadership encouraged the reorganization in the junta and, in doing this, inspiring people and their cities to make donations towards the war effort.[1] Despite her young age, Maria Luisa's effective regency made her admired in Madrid and throughout Spain. During her tenure as regent, she presided daily at the committee of government, gave audiences to ambassadors, worked for hours with ministers, corresponded with Philip and worked with preventing Savoy from joining the enemy.[4]

After her husband's return in 1703, she resumed her role as queen consort. In 1704, the Princesse des Ursins was exiled at the order of Louis XIV, devastating Maria Luisa. However, in 1705, the Princesse returned to Madrid, much to the joy of the young queen.[6]

Maria Luisa gave birth to the couple's first child, Infante Luis Felipe in 1707. Maria Luisa gave birth to three more children, two of whom would survive infancy. Towards the end of her life, the Queen became ill. She eventually died from the effects of tuberculosis on 14 February 1714. She was buried at San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Maria Luisa died in her 25th year.

In December 1714, just months after Maria Luisa's death, her widower Philip V remarried, to Elisabeth Farnese, the only child and heiress of the Duke of Parma. All of Maria Luisa's children were to die without issue, thus there are no descendants of Maria Luisa of Savoy.


She was nicknamed La Savoyana by her adoring subjects and was well-loved in Spain. After her death, two of her sons, her youngest and oldest, were to become Kings of Spain. Her niece, Princess Maria Luisa was named after her.


  1. Louis I of Spain (25 August 1707 31 August 1724) married Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans, no issue.
  2. Infante Philip of Spain (2 July 1709 18 July 1709).
  3. Infante Philip of Spain (7 June 1712 29 December 1719) died in childhood.
  4. Ferdinand VI of Spain (23 September 1713 10 August 1759) married Infanta Maria Barbara of Portugal, no issue.



  1. 1 2 Sharp. Martin Andrew: Queens of old Spain, New York, McClure, Phillips & company, 1906, p 532
  2. 1 2 3 The Gentleman's magazine, Volumes 302-303, F. Jefferies, 1789, p 284
  3. The Gentleman's magazine, Volumes 302-303, F. Jefferies, 1789, p 286
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Clarissa Campbell Orr: Queenship in Europe 1660-1815: The Role of the Consort. Cambridge University Press (2004)
  5. Sharp. Martin Andrew: Queens of old Spain, New York, McClure, Phillips & company, 1906, p 531
  6. Sharp. Martin Andrew: Queens of old Spain, New York, McClure, Phillips & company, 1906, p 535

Media related to Maria Luisa of Savoy at Wikimedia Commons

Maria Luisa of Savoy
Born: 17 November 1688 Died: 14 February 1714
Spanish royalty
Preceded by
Mariana of Neuburg
Queen consort of Spain
2 November 1701 – 14 February 1714
Succeeded by
Elisabeth Farnese
Queen consort of Naples and Sardinia
Succeeded by
Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Queen consort of Sicily
Succeeded by
Anne Marie d'Orléans
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