Elisabeth of France (1602–1644)

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Elisabeth of France
Isabel de Borbón, by Diego Velázquez.jpg
Élisabeth by Diego Velázquez
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure 31 March 1621 – 6 October 1644
Queen consort of Portugal
Tenure 31 March 1621 – 1 December 1640
Born 22 November 1602
Palace of Fontainebleau, France
Died 6 October 1644, (aged 41)
Royal alcázar, Madrid, Spain
Burial El Escorial
Spouse Philip IV of Spain
Issue Balthasar Charles, Prince of Asturias
Maria Theresa, Queen of France
House House of Bourbon
Father Henry IV of France
Mother Marie de' Medici
Religion Roman Catholicism
Élisabeth of France may also refer to Princess Élisabeth of France, the sister of Louis XVI of France, who was guillotined during the French Revolution, or Isabella of Bourbon, mother of Mary of Burgundy.

Elisabeth of France (22 November 1602 – 6 October 1644) was Queen consort of Spain (1621 to 1644) and Portugal (1621 to 1640) as the first wife of King Philip IV of Spain. She was the eldest daughter of King Henry IV of France and his second spouse Marie de' Medici. As a daughter of the King of France, she was born a Fille de France. As the eldest daughter of the king, she was known at court by the traditional honorific of Madame Royale.

Life[edit]

Childhood[edit]

Elisabeth as young girl in France

Élisabeth, Madame Royale, was born at the Château de Fontainebleau on 22 November 1602; reportedly her mother showed a cruel indifference to her, because she blindly believed the prophecy of a nun who assured her that she would give birth three consecutive males.[1] Shortly after her birth, she was betrothed with Philip Emmanuel, Prince of Piedmont, eldest son and heir of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy by his wife Catherine Michelle, a daughter of King Philip II of Spain, who died young in 1605.[2][3]

The early years of Madame Royale were spent at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a quiet place away from the Parisian court in which she shared education and games with her legitimate siblings (besides Dauphin, the other Fils de France were Christine Marie –later Duchess of Savoy-, Nicholas Henri, Duke of Orléans -who died in infancy-, Gaston, Duke of Orléans and Henrietta Maria -later Queen of England-) and the bastard children that his father had from his constant love affairs.[1] When King Henry IV was assassinated outside the Palais du Louvre in Paris on 14 May 1610, her brother the Dauphin (with whom Élisabeth had a very close relationship) succeeded him to the throne as King Louis XIII of France under the Regency of their mother Marie de' Medici.

When Elisabeth was ten years old, in 1612, negotiations were begun for a double marriage between the royal families of France and Spain; Elisabeth would marry the Prince of Asturias (the future Philip IV of Spain) and her brother Louis the Spanish Infanta Anne.

Marriage[edit]

After her proxy marriage to the Prince of Asturias and Louis's proxy marriage to the Infanta Anne, Elisabeth and her brother met their respective spouses for the first time on 25 November 1615 on the Pheasant Island in the river Bidassoa that divides France and Spain between the French city of Hendaye and the Spanish city of Fuenterrabía. This was the last time Louis would see his sister. In Spain, Elisabeth's French name took on the Spanish form of Isabel. The religious ceremony took place in the Saint Mary Cathedral in Burgos. At the time of her marriage, the thirteen-year-old Isabel became the new Princess of Asturias.

This marriage followed a tradition of cementing military and political alliances between the Catholic powers of France and Spain with royal marriages. The tradition went back to 1559 with the marriage of King Philip II of Spain with the French princess Elisabeth of Valois, the daughter of King Henry II of France, as part of the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis. The Exchange of the Princesses at the Spanish Border was painted by Peter Paul Rubens as part of his Marie de' Medici cycle.

Elisabeth portrayed by Diego Velázquez, c. 1625.

Queen[edit]

In 1621, by the time of the birth of the couple's first child, the couple had ascended to the throne of Spain upon the death of Philip III of Spain. The new queen of Spain was aware that her husband had mistresses {Memoirs of Madame de Mottville}

Elisabeth herself was the subject of rumors about her relations with the noted poet Peralta (Juan de Tassis, 2nd Count of Villamediana), who was her gentleman-in-waiting. On 14 May 1622, a fire broke out while the Peralta masque La Gloria de Niquea was being acted before the court. Peralta carried the queen to a place of safety, which caused suspicion about their relationship to deepen. Peralta neglected a significant warning that his life was in peril, and "he was murdered as he stepped out of his coach. The responsibility for his death was divided between Philip IV and Olivares" (at the time, prime minister and king's favorite).

Elisabeth's last child, Infanta Maria Theresa of Spain, would later become queen of France as the wife of her nephew, the future Louis XIV. Unlike her husband and sister-in-law, she would not see the wedding that cemented the peace between her homeland and adopted country, Spain; the countries would be at war until 1660.

Coat of Arms of Elisabeth of France as Queen Consort of Spain

Elisabeth was renowned for her beauty, intelligence and noble personality, which made her very popular with the Spanish people. She was regent of Spain during the Catalan Revolt and supported the Duke of Nochera against the Count-Duke of Olivares in favor of an honorable withdrawal from the Catalan Revolt.

The Queen Consort of Spain died in Madrid on 6 October 1644 at the age of forty-one, leaving two small children: Balthasar Charles and Maria Theresa. After her death, her husband married his niece Mariana of Austria. One of her great-grandsons, Philip, Duke of Anjou, became King Philip V of Spain, and through him, Elisabeth is an ancestor of the present king of Spain, Felipe VI.

Children[edit]

  • Maria Margaret of Austria, Infanta of Spain (14 August 1621 – 15 August 1621)
  • Margaret Maria Catherine of Austria, Infanta of Spain (25 November 1623 – 22 December 1623)
  • Maria Eugenia of Austria, Infanta of Spain (21 November 1625 – 21 August 1627)
  • A miscarried daughter (16 November 1626)
  • Isabella Maria Theresa of Austria, Infanta of Spain (31 October 1627 – 1 November 1627)
  • Balthasar Charles of Austria, Infante of Spain, Prince of Asturias (17 October 1629 – 9 October 1646), Prince of Asturias.
  • Francis Ferdinand of Austria, Infante of Spain (12 March 1634)
  • Maria Anna Antonia Dominica Jacinta of Austria, Infanta of Spain (17 January 1636 – 5 December 1636)
  • Maria Theresa of Austria, Infanta of Spain (10 September 1638 – 30 July 1683), married Louis XIV of France and had issue.
  • A miscarried daughter (1640).
  • A miscarried son (1644).

Gallery[edit]

Ancestors[edit]

References[edit]

Elisabeth of France (1602–1644)
Born: 22 November 1602 Died: 6 October 1644
Spanish royalty
Vacant
Title last held by
Margaret of Austria
Queen consort of Portugal
1621–1640
Vacant
Title next held by
Luisa of Medina-Sidonia
Queen consort of Spain
1621–1644
Vacant
Title next held by
Mariana of Austria