Camarera mayor de Palacio

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The Camarera mayor de Palacio (First Lady of the Bedchamber) was the Official of the Royal Household and Heritage of the Crown of Spain, who was in charge of the person and the rooms of the Queen of Spain.

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Historical precedents and regime during the 17th and 18th centuries[edit]

This Office was created in 1526 when, during the Habsburg dynasty, the Royal Court was shaped after that one that existed in the Court of Burgundy. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, but also King of Spain, imported the etiquette styled in the Court of his paternal grandmother Mary of Burgundy and appointed the first “Camarera mayor de Palacio” for his wife, the Empress.

The principal responsibility of the “Camarera mayor de Palacio” was managing all that was related with the service to the Queen and she had authority over the different dignities and servants that composed her personnel. Her first obligation was the personal assistance to the Sovereign. She had to accompany her at all time, up to the point of sleeping in her chamber, when the King was not doing it. She was in charge of the clothes purveyors and directed the formal dressing of the Queen. In fact she had the high duty of delivering the Queen the water and the towel during morning toilette. All these functions gave the “Camarera mayor” a great intimacy with the Queen, as well as a big influence over her.

Regime during the 19th and 20th centuries[edit]

In the structure of the Royal Household, the Office “Camarera mayor de Palacio” had the same category as that of the Mayordomo mayor. Only a woman with the rank of Grandee of Spain could be nominated for this Office, and she was chosen between those of the class of “Dama de la Reina” (Lady of the Bedchamber) of major seniority. She was in charge of everything relative to the etiquette and organization of the Household of the Queen helped by the “Mayordomo mayor” (High Steward) to the Queen.

Between her duties there were signalling the dates for audiences to the Queen and accompanying her in every ceremony.

Under the “Camarera mayor de Palacio” they were the “Damas de la Reina” (Ladies of the Bedchamber) and the “Damas al servicio particular de la Reina” (Ladies-in-Waiting).

She had assigned an annual salary of 6.000 pesetas and had a private own office in the Royal Palace of Madrid.

She was styled “Excelentísima señora Camarera mayor de Palacio”.

This post was suppressed after the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931 and never re-created after the restoration of Monarchy in 1975.

List of “Camareras Mayores” (First Ladies of the Bedchamber) to the Queen of Spain between 1526 and 1931[edit]

“Camarera mayor” to Empress Isabella of Portugal, 1526-1539[edit]

“Camareras mayores” to Queen Anna of Austria, 1570-1580[edit]

  • 1570-1571: Aldonza de Bazán, Marchioness of Fromista, Grandee of Spain
  • 1571-1576: María Ángela de Aragón y Guzmán, Marchioness of Berlanga, Grandee of Spain
  • 1576-1580: Francisca de Rojas y Sandoval, Countess of Paredes de Nava, Grandee of Spain

“Camareras mayores” to Queen Margaret of Austria, 1601-1611[edit]

“Camareras mayores” to Queen Elisabeth of France, 1615-1644[edit]

“Camareras mayores” to Queen Mariana of Austria, 1649-1665[edit]

  • 1649-1653: Ana de Cardona y Aragón, Countess of Medellín, Grandee of Spain
  • 1654-1659: Elvira Ponce de León, Marchioness of Villanueva de Valdueza
  • 1660-1665: Margarita Zapata de Mendoza, Countess of Priego, Grandee of Spain

“Camareras mayores” to Queen Marie Louise d'Orléans, 1679-1689[edit]

  • 1679-1680: Juana de Aragón y Cortés, Duchess of Terranova, Grandee of Spain
  • 1680-1689: Juana de Armendáriz, Duchess dowager of Alburquerque, Grandee of Spain

“Camareras mayores” to Queen Maria Anna of Neuburg, 1689-1701[edit]

“Camareras mayores” to Queen Maria Luisa of Savoy, 1700-1714[edit]

“Camarera mayor” to Queen Elisabeth Farnese, 1714-1724[edit]

  • 1714-1724: Ángela Foch de Aragón, Countess dowager of Altamira, Grandee of Spain

“Camarera mayor” to Queen Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans, 1724[edit]

“Camareras mayores” to Queen Elisabeth Farnese, 1724-1746[edit]

  • 1724-1737: Ángela Foch de Aragón, Dowager Countess of Altamira, Grandee of Spain
  • 1737-1746: Laura Castelví y Coloma, Marchioness dowager of Torrecuso

“Camarera mayor” to Queen Barbara of Portugal, 1746-1758[edit]

“Camarera mayor” to Queen Maria Amalia of Saxony, 1759-1760[edit]

“Camareras mayores” to Queen Maria Luisa of Parma, 1788-1808[edit]

  • 1788-1793: Florentina de Pizarro Picolomino, Marchioness dowager of Bélgida, Grandee of Spain
  • 1792-1808: María Isidra de la Cerda y Guzmán, Duchess of Nájera, Grandee of Spain

“Camarera mayor” to Queen Maria Isabel of Portugal, 1814-1818[edit]

  • 1814-1818: Antonia Fernández de Cordoba Sarmiento, Countess of la Puebla del Maestre, Grandee of Spain

“Camareras mayores” to Queen Maria Josepha Amalia of Saxony, 1818-1829[edit]

  • 1819-1823: Maria Josefa Contreras y Vargas Machuca, Countess of Alcudia, Grandee of Spain
  • 1823-1829: María Cayetana Acuña y Dewitte, Marchioness of Bedmar, Grandee of Spain

“Camarera mayor” to Queen Maria Cristina of the Two Sicilies, 1829-1833[edit]

  • 1829-1834: María Cayetana Acuña y Dewitte, Marchioness of Bedmar, Grandee of Spain

“Camareras mayores” to Queen Isabella II, 1833-1868[edit]

  • 1834-1841: Joaquina María del Pilar Téllez-Girón y Alfonso Pimentel, Marchioness of Santa Cruz de Mudela, Grandee of Spain
  • 1841-1842: Luisa Álvarez de las Asturias Bohórquez y Guiráldez, Marchioness of Bélgida, Grandee of Spain
  • 1842-1843: Juana de Vega, Countess of Espoz y Mina
  • 1843- 1847: Joaquina María del Pilar Téllez-Girón y Alfonso Pimentel, Marchioness of Santa Cruz de Mudela, Grandee of Spain
  • 1847-1848: María Manuela Kirpatrick de Closeburn, Countess widower of Montijo, Grandee of Spain
  • 1848-1854: María de la O Guiráldez y Cañas, Duchess of Gor, Grandee of Spain
  • 1855-1866: Rosalía Ventimiglia y Moncada d,Aragona, Duchess widower of Berwick and Alba, Grandee of Spain
  • 1866-1867: María de la O Guiráldez y Cañas, Duchess of Gor, Grandee of Spain
  • 1867-1868: María de la Encarnación Álvarez de las Asturias Bohórquez y Guiráldez, Marchioness of Novaliches, Grandee of Spain

“Camarera mayor” to Queen Mercedes of Orléans and Maria Cristina of Austria, 1875-1884[edit]

  • 1875-1884: María de la Encarnación Fernández de Córdoba y Álvarez de las Asturias Bohorques, Marchioness of Santa Cruz de Mudela, Grandee of Spain

“Camareras mayores” to Queen Maria Cristina of Austria, 1884-1906[edit]

  • 1884-1888: María Eulalia Osorio de Moscoso y Carvajal, Duchess of Medina de las Torres, Grandee of Spain
  • 1888-1905: María Soledad Fernández de Córdoba y Alagón, Countess of Sástago, Grandee of Spain
  • 1905-1906: María Luisa Cárvajal y Dávalos, Duchess of San Carlos, Marchioness widower of Santa Cruz de Mudela, Grandee of Spain

“Camarera mayor” to Queen Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, 1906-1931[edit]

  • 1906-1931: María Luisa Cárvajal y Dávalos, Duchess of San Carlos, Marchioness widower of Santa Cruz de Mudela, Grandee of Spain

List of "Camareras mayores" to Queen Mother Maria Cristina of Austria, 1906-1929[edit]

During the reign of King Alfonso XIII, and after his marriage, it was created the own Household of her mother the Queen Maria Cristina of Austria with her own “Camarera mayor de la Reina Madre” (First Laidy of the Bedchamber of the Queen Mother). This Office was successively held by:

References[edit]

  • Archivo General de Palacio (AGP) [1]. Patrimonio Nacional. Sección Personal