Maria Luisa of Parma

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Maria Luisa of Parma
Maria Luisa of Parma, Queen of Spain.jpg
Portrait of the Queen by Vicente López, after original by Goya (1816).
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure 14 December 1788 – 19 March 1808
Spouse Charles IV
Carlota Joaquina, Queen of Portugal
Infanta Maria Amalia
Maria Luisa, Queen of Etruria
Ferdinand VII
Carlos, Count of Molina
Maria Isabel, Queen of the Two Sicilies
Infante Francisco de Paula
Full name
Luisa María Teresa Ana
House House of Bourbon
Father Philip, Duke of Parma
Mother Princess Louise Élisabeth of France
Born (1751-12-09)9 December 1751
Parma, Italy
Died 2 January 1819(1819-01-02) (aged 67)
Barberini Palace, Italy
Burial El Escorial
Religion Roman Catholicism

Maria Luisa of Parma (9 December 1751 – 2 January 1819) was Queen consort of Spain from 1788 to 1808 as the wife of King Charles IV of Spain. She was the youngest daughter of Duke Philip of Parma and his wife, Princess Louise-Élisabeth of France, the eldest daughter of King Louis XV.


The family of the Duke of Parma.

Born in Parma, she was christened Luisa Maria Teresa Anna, but is known to history by the short Spanish form of this name: María Luisa.[1] Her parents had been the Duke and Duchess of Parma since 1749, when the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) awarded the duchy to the Bourbon family; Austria had owned the duchy previously. She, her brother Ferdinand, and her sister Isabella were educated in Parma by Étienne Bonnot de Condillac, a well-known French philosopher. A collection of 13 texts used to educate the ducal children were included in a complete edition of Condillac's works published in 1798.

María Luisa was the favourite child of her mother, who tried to engage her to Louis, Duke of Burgundy, heir to the French throne. However, the young duke died in 1761. In 1762 Maria Luisa instead became engaged to Charles, Prince of Asturias (heir to the Spanish throne), later King Charles IV of Spain, whom she married on 4 September 1765 in La Granja Palace.

As there was no queen in Spain at that time, María Luisa became the first lady in precedence at the court from the beginning of her residence there. Her husband was the son and heir of the widowed Charles III of Spain, previously Duke of Parma and King of Naples and Sicily. His wife, Maria Amalia of Saxony (aunt of the Duke of Burgundy), had died in 1760 having been Queen of Spain for just a year.

Portrait of Maria Luisa as Princess of Asturias, in the gardens of Aranjuez (ca. 1766), by Anton Raphael Mengs.

María Luisa was often described as vicious, coarse, and thoroughly in control of the king.[citation needed] She had well-known rivalries with the Duchess of Alba, the Duchess of Osuna and her sister-in-law Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples.[citation needed] Her beauty was damaged by her many childbirths - among other things, she lost her teeth - but she made many efforts to look attractive and dress elegantly; she had beautiful arms and she often wore short-sleeved dresses to expose them.[citation needed] The famous Spanish artist Goya painted several portraits of her.

María Luisa was believed to have had many love affairs, but there is no direct evidence that she had any lovers, not even Manuel de Godoy, her husband's prime minister, whom contemporary gossip singled out in particular as a long-time lover. She was unpopular during her reign and had a bad historical reputation, mainly because of her alleged love affairs and support of pro-French political policies that were not beneficial for Spain in the long term.[citation needed]

María Luisa did not maintain good personal relations with her daughter-in-law Princess Maria Antonia of Naples and Sicily, because the princess tried to undermine her power, guided by her mother, Maria Carolina. After several miscarriages, Maria Antonia died from tuberculosis, an illness she had suffered for several years, and was only present at the court of Spain as Princess of Asturias for less than four years between 1802 and 1806. According to the memoirs of Laure Permont, Duchess of Abrantès, it was rumored that she was poisoned by María Luisa, although there is actually no evidence that Maria Antonia was poisoned.[citation needed]

Due to pressure from Napoleon, María's husband Charles IV abdicated the throne of Spain in 1808, and together with his wife and Godoy spent the rest of his life in exile. When Napoleon's army invaded the country, several pamphlets blamed her for the abdication. María Luisa spent some years in France and then in Rome. Both María Luisa and her husband died in Italy in early 1819.

In 1792, the Order of Queen Maria Luisa was founded on her suggestion, an order that was given only to women.


Maria Luisa's 14 children were:




  1. ^ E. Harding, A Chronological Abridgement of the History of Spain (Frogmore Lodge, Windsor, 1809), xxxi
  2. ^ Queen Arms description. Encuadernación Real Biblioteca. Royal Library. Royal Palace of Madrid (In Spanish).


  • EPTON, Nina, The Spanish mousetrap: Napoleon and the Court of Spain (London: Macdonald, 1973).
  • HILT, Douglas, The troubled trinity: Godoy and the Spanish monarchs (Tuscaloosa; London: University of Alabama Press, 1987).
  • HUGUES, Robert, Goya (London: Harvill Press, 2003).

See also[edit]

Maria Luisa of Parma
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 9 December 1751 Died: 2 January 1819
Spanish royalty
Preceded by
Maria Amalia of Saxony
Queen Consort of Spain
Succeeded by
Julie Clary