Barbara of Portugal
|Barbara of Portugal|
|María Bárbara of Portugal|
|Tenure||9 July 1746 – 27 August 1758|
|Spouse||Ferdinand VI of Spain|
|Maria Madalena Josefa Teresa Bárbara|
|House||House of Bourbon
House of Braganza
|Father||John V of Portugal|
|Mother||Maria Anna of Austria|
4 December 1711|
|Died||27 August 1758
|Burial||Convent of the Salesas Reales|
Barbara of Portugal (Maria Madalena Bárbara Xavier Leonor Teresa Antónia Josefa; 4 December 1711 – 27 August 1758) was an Infanta of Portugal and later Queen of Spain as wife of Ferdinand VI of Spain.
Life in Portugal
She was the eldest child of King John V of Portugal and his wife, Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria, a daughter of Emperor Leopold I. She was a first cousin of the future Empress Maria Theresa as well as Maria Josepha of Austria. Her parents were married in 1708, but for nearly three years the queen did not give birth to any children. The King then made a promise to God that if an heir to the throne was born, a great convent would be built to thank Him. On 4 December 1711 Barbara was born, and the Convent of Mafra was built.
She was born as heiress-presumptive to the Portuguese throne, but her status as heiress lapsed when the Queen gave birth to a son, Pedro, two years later. Her title while she was heir to the throne was Princess of Brazil or Princesa do Brasil in its Portuguese form. Pedro died at the age of two, but another son, Joseph, had been born before Pedro's death. Though Barbara was never heiress-presumptive again, she was second-in-line to the throne throughout much of her life.
The Princess was baptised Maria Madalena Bárbara Xavier Leonor Teresa Antónia Josefa, her names honouring a number of saints and relatives. She was usually referred to as Bárbara or Maria Bárbara, a name never before used among Portuguese royals, in honour of Saint Barbara, the saint of her birthday.
She had a fine education and loved music. An accomplished keyboard player, she was a student of Domenico Scarlatti, the famous harpsichordist and composer, from age 9 or 10 until age 14. She was considered to marry Louis XV of France.
Life in Spain
In 1729 at age 18, she married the future Ferdinand VI of Spain, two years her junior. Her brother Joseph married Ferdinand's half-sister, the Spanish Infanta Mariana Victoria, previously rejected bride of Louis XV. The double marriage was meant to repair the Portuguese-Spanish alliance. Scarlatti followed her to Madrid on her marriage and remained with her, composing hundreds of harpsichord sonatas for her. During her husband's reign, Barbara presided over magnificent parties and concerts at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, which was her favourite retreat.
Although Barbara was not beautiful — her homely looks were thought by observers to cause the prince a visible shock when he was first presented to her — 'Ferdinand the Learned' (as he was called) became deeply attached to her, sharing her passion for music. Ferdinand soon became dependent on Barbara for advice and support; when he ascended the Spanish crown as Ferdinand VI, the French ambassador noted "it is rather Barbara who succeeds Elizabeth [step-mother of Ferdinand] than Ferdinand succeeding Philippe." Barbara was well-educated, adept at languages, an avid reader of many varied subjects, and had a love of music.
The couple produced no children, though Barbara had a stillborn son in 1733. Barbara suffered from severe asthma for most of her life. She became quite overweight later in life. Barbara's death was said to have broken her husband's heart. She died at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, on the outskirts of Madrid on 27 August 1758.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles
- 4 December 1711 – 19 October 1712 Her Royal Highness the Princess of Brazil
- 19 October 1712 – 20 January 1729 Her Highness the Infanta Barbara of Portugal
- 20 January 1729 – 9 July 1746 Her Royal Highness the Princess of Asturias
- 9 July 1746 – 27 August 1758 Her Majesty the Queen of Spain
- Noel, p. 174.
- Noel, p. 177.
- Noel, Charles C. (2004). "'Barbara Succeeds Elizabeth...': The Feminisation and Domestication of Politics in the Spanish Monarchy, 1701–1759". In Campbell Orr, Clarissa. Queenship in Europe 1660–1815: The Role of the Consort. Cambridge University Press. pp. 155–185. ISBN 0-521-81422-7.
Barbara of PortugalBorn: 4 December 1711 Died: 27 August 1758
Elisabeth of Parma
|Queen consort of Spain
Maria Amalia of Saxony