Countess Emilia of Nassau

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Countess Emilia
Princess of Portugal (disputed)
Portrait of Countess Emilia by Daniël van den Queborn in c. 1590–95
Born10 April 1569
Died16 March 1629(1629-03-16) (aged 59)
SpouseManuel of Portugal
IssueMaria Belgica of Portugal
Manuel António of Portugal
Emilia Louise of Portugal
Christopher William Louis of Portugal
Anna Louise of Portugal
Juliana Catherine of Portugal
Mauritia Eleonora of Portugal
Sabina Delphica of Portugal
FatherWilliam the Silent
MotherAnna of Saxony

Countess Emilia of Nassau (10 April 1569 – 16 March 1629) was the third and youngest daughter of William the Silent and his second wife Anna of Saxony.


Emilia was born in Cologne. She is named after Amalia of Neuenahr who was in charge of her mother's household at the time of her birth. Emilia's mother had an affair with the father of painter Peter Paul Rubens. Due to this infidelity Emilia and her siblings, Anna and Maurice, were taken out of their mother's care and went to live with their uncle John VI, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg at Dillenburg. Emilia later went to live in Delft with her father and, in Friesland, with her sister, Anna.

Emilia of Nassau

After her father's death she acted as hostess at the court of her brother, Maurice. It was on one of those occasions that she met Dom Manuel of Portugal, son of the Avis claimant of the Portuguese throne, António, Prior of Crato). She secretly married him in 1597 in The Hague.[1] Maurice was firmly opposed to the marriage, because the Nassaus were Calvinists and Dom Manuel was a Catholic. Maurice put Emilia under house arrest; Dom Manuel had to flee to Wesel. When Maurice found he could not convince her to divorce her husband, he banished her from court for ten years. They eventually made peace and she and Dom Manuel were at Maurice's deathbed.

Emilia and her husband had ten children. The last years of their lives, they lived separately when her husband decided — due to financial concerns — to live in Brussels at the court of Isabella of Spain, archenemy of the House of Orange. Emilia went to Geneva with her daughters, where she died three years later, at the age of 59.


Dom Manuel of Portugal



  1. ^ Portugal de Faria, Antonio de (1917). Descendance de D. Antonio, prieur de Crato, XVIIIe roi de Portugal (in French) (3 ed.). p. 12.
  2. ^ a b c Dek: De afstammelingen..., p. 243 et seq.

General references[edit]

  • Dek, Anders W. E. (1968). "De afstammelingen van Juliana of Stolberg tot aan het jaar van de Vrede van Munster" [The Offspring of Juliana of Stolberg until the Year of the Peace of Münster]. Spiegel der Historie (in Dutch). 3 (7/8).

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