Renata of Lorraine

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Renata of Lorraine
Duchess of Bavaria
Portret van Renata van Lotharingen, hertogin van Beieren, Johann Sadeler (I), 1588 - 1595.jpg
Portrait by Johann Sadeler, ca. 1588-1595.
Spouse William V, Duke of Bavaria
Father Francis I, Duke of Lorraine
Mother Christina of Denmark
Born (1544-04-20)20 April 1544
Died 22 May 1602(1602-05-22) (aged 58)

Renata of Lorraine (20 April 1544 – 22 May 1602), was by birth a member of the House of Lorraine and by marriage Duchess of Bavaria.

Born in Nancy, France, she was the second child and eldest daughter of Francis I, Duke of Lorraine and Christina of Denmark. Her paternal grandparents were Antoine, Duke of Lorraine and Renée of Bourbon-Montpensier and her maternal grandparents were Christian II of Denmark and Isabella of Austria.


In the early 1560s, king Eric XIV of Sweden (1533–77, reigned 1560–68), a Lutheran, hoped to marry her and sent a deputation to propose her. Eric had several unsuccessful royal marriage plans at different times, but ultimately married his low-born mistress Karin Månsdotter. As to Renata, Eric's desire was mostly based on her being the granddaughter of king Christian II of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and thus one of heirs of that deposed monarch.

On 22 February 1568, Renata married with William, Hereditary Prince of Bavaria in a large ceremony in Munich, which was described in detail by Massimo Troiano in his Dialoghi (1569). The festival lasted 18 days, it took about 5,000 riders part in it, and the festival music was the occasion by Orlande de Lassus to compose.

Despite her status, Renata -along with her husband- had a life of charity and humility. They left the Munich Residenz and lived in the Jesuit Kollegienbau at the west of Munich. Renata took care of sick, poor and pilgrims. In this task, she was completely supported by her husband. After her William became reigning Duke in 1579, Renata spent much of her time in the Herzogspitalkirche, founded in 1555 by her father-in-law.

Renata died in Munich, aged 58. Her grave is located in the St. Michael's Church, whose consecration was the last high point in both she and her husband's lives. She was revered as a saint by the people, but never canonized. Her husband (who abdicated in 1597) survived her twenty-four years, dying in 1626.

Among her direct descendants was Josephine of Leuchtenberg, who married one of Eric XIV's successors, the future king Oscar I of Sweden and Norway in 1823. Renata's descent ascended the Swedish and Norwegian thrones in 1859 in person of Charles XV of Sweden and Norway and the Danish throne in person of Christian X of Denmark in 1912. All current monarchs of the three Scandinavian countries are Renata's direct blood descendants. Among her other numerous notable descendants are Franz Josef of Austria and Maximilian I of Mexico.



  • Anna de Crignis-Mentelberg: Herzogin Renata. Die Mutter Maximilians des Großen von Bayern. Freiburg im Breisgau 1912.
  • Helmut Dotterweich: Der junge Maximilian. Jugend und Erziehung des bayerischen Herzogs und späteren Kurfürsten Maximilian I. von 1573 bis 1593. München 1962.
  • Andrea Rueth: Renata von Lothringen, Herzogin von Bayern. In: Wurst, Jürgen und Langheiter, Alexander (Hrsg.): Monachia. München: Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, 2005. p. 142.


Renata of Lorraine
Born: 20 April 1544 Died: 22 May 1602
Preceded by
Anna of Austria
Duchess of Bavaria
Succeeded by
Elisabeth of Lorraine