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Margarita Aldobrandini, Duchess of Parma, painting by Bartolome Gonzalez
29 March 1588|
9 August 1646 (aged 58)|
|Spouse||Ranuccio I Farnese|
|Father||Giovanni Francesco Aldobrandini|
The first child of Gianfrancesco and Olimpia Aldobrandini (1567–1637), grandchildren of pope Clement VIII. She was married to Ranuccio I Farnese on 7 May 1600 in Rome to seal the peace between the Aldobrandini and Farnese families, with the pope himself presiding at the ceremony. The marriage guaranteed Ranuccio a rich dowry and the independence of his duchy, still a fiefdom of the church entrusted to the Farnese family. Ranuccio was then aged 30 and Margherita only 11 and she only bore him a child ten years after the marriage. In view of this situation, Ranuccio's superstitious nature began to make itself felt - he convinced himself that his wife was suffering under curses and witchcraft. A short investigation concluded that Claudia Colla (a former lover of Ranuccio) and her mother (known as 'le Romane') were the witches and they were tried and convicted of witchcraft. The couple's first child, Alessandro, was finally born in 1610, but he was born deaf. In 1612 Odoardo was born, followed in 1615 by Maria, who married Francesco I d'Este, in 1618 by Vittoria and in 1619 by Francesco Maria, the future cardinal.
A political marriage like most Farnese marriages, it proved unhappy and Margherita was not accounted a beauty, despite being devoted to her husband, an angry and dissolute man who had several affairs and illegitimate children. He died on 5 March 1622 and at first his heir Odoardo was put under the regency of cardinal Odoardo then, on Odoardo's death, of his mother, who then held it until he reached sixteen. She then continued living at the court until her death in 1646, which also saw Odoardo's death.
Margherita and Ranuccio had five children: