Maria Luisa of Parma
|Maria Luisa of Parma|
|Portrait of Queen Maria Luisa by Vicente López, after an original by Goya (1816).|
|Carlota, Queen of Portugal
Maria Luisa, Queen of Etruria
Carlos, Count of Molina
Maria Isabella, Queen of the Two Sicilies
Infante Francisco de Paula
|Luisa María Teresa Ana|
|House||House of Bourbon|
|Father||Philip, Duke of Parma|
|Mother||Princess Louise Élisabeth of France|
9 December 1751|
|Died||2 January 1819
Barberini Palace, Rome, Italy
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, Louise-Élisabeth of France, the eldest daughter of King Louis XV.
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. 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.
María Luisa was often described by contemporaries as ugly (albeit pretty in her youth), vicious, and coarse, but thoroughly in control of the king. She had well-known rivalries with the Duchess of Alba, the Duchess of Osuna and her sister-in-law Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples. 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. 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 has 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.
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.
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:
- Carlos Clemente (19 September 1771 – 7 March 1774)
- Carlota Joaquina (25 April 1775 – 7 January 1830), later Queen consort of Portugal
- Maria Luisa (11 September 1777 – 2 July 1782)
- Maria Amalia (9 January 1779 – 22 July 1798), married in 1795 to her uncle Infante Antonio Pascual of Spain (1755–1817), no issue
- Carlos Domingo (5 March 1780 – 11 June 1783)
- Maria Luisa (6 July 1782 – 13 March 1824), later Queen consort of Etruria and Dowager Duchess of Parma
- Carlos Francisco (5 September 1783 – 11 November 1784)
- Felipe Francisco (5 September 1783 – 18 October 1784)
- Ferdinand VII of Spain (14 October 1784 – 29 September 1833), succeeded his father as King of Spain
- Carlos, Count of Molina (29 March 1788 – 10 March 1855), later the first Carlist pretender. Issue: 3 males reached adulthood.
- Maria Isabella (6 July 1789 – 13 September 1848), later Queen consort of Francis I, King of the Two Sicilies
- Maria Teresa (16 February 1791 – 2 November 1794)
- Felipe Maria (28 March 1792 – 1 March 1794)
- Francisco Antonio de Paula, Duke of Cadiz (10 March 1794 – 13 August 1865). He married his niece, Princess Luisa Carlotta of Naples and Sicily, fathering no fewer than 11 children.
|Ancestors of Maria Luisa of Parma|
- E. Harding, A Chronological Abridgement of the History of Spain (Frogmore Lodge, Windsor, 1809), xxxi
- Queen Arms description. Encuadernación Real Biblioteca. Royal Library. Royal Palace of Madrid (In Spanish).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Maria Luisa of Parma.|
- 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).
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles
- 9 December 1751 - 4 September 1765 Her Royal Highness Princess Maria Luisa of Parma, Infanta of Spain
- 4 September 1765 - 14 December 1788 Her Royal Highness the Princess of Asturias
- 14 December 1788 - 19 March 1808 Her Majesty the Queen of Spain
- 19 March 1808 - 2 January 1819 Her Majesty Queen Maria Luisa
Maria Luisa of Parma
Cadet branch of the House of BourbonBorn: 9 December 1751 Died: 2 January 1819
Maria Amalia of Saxony
|Queen Consort of Spain