Margherita Farnese

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Margherita Farnese (7 November 1567 – 13 April 1643) was a daughter of Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma and Infanta Maria of Guimarães. She was named after her father's mother Margaret of Parma, natural daughter of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

Margherita was born in Parma. On 2 March 1581 she married Vincenzo Gonzaga, the future duke of Mantua, probably with the political aim of creating an anti-Florentine alliance between the Gonzaga and Farnese families, after their long feud since 1547, when Ferrante Gonzaga had organised a plot against Pier Luigi Farnese first duke of Parma and Piacenza. The couple made a solemn entry into Mantua on 30 April 1581, but the marriage ended in annulment on grounds of non-consummation on 26 May 1583, with Vincenzo claiming she had been unable to do so due to a deformity and Margherita accusing him of impotence. Vincenzo's brother Ranuccio then took her back to Parma a year after the marriage and Vincenzo remarried in 1584 to Eleonora de' Medici. His first marriage was the basis for the 1966 film A Maiden for a Prince, with Vittorio Gassman, Virna Lisi and Anna Maria Guarnieri, who played Margherita.

Thought unable to have children, Margherita was forced to retire to a convent and take vows as a nun. She joined the Benedictine order at the San Paolo monastery in Parma, under the name of sister Maura Lucenia. In 1616 she intervened, supported by financial aid offered by the devotees, in order to complete the Franciscan church of Santi Gervaso e Protaso, now dedicated to the Santissima Annunziata, according to the plans by Giambattista Fornovo. She died in Piacenza.

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