Spanish Historical Royal of the Month: Maria of Austria

  October 23, 2012 at 3:57 am by

On October 18th, 1558 Maria of Austria, Archduchess of Austria, Infanta of Aragon and Castile, Princess of Burgundy, Queen Dowager of Hungary and Bohemia and Imperial Regent of the Low Countries died at Cigales, north of Valladolid in Spain. Though largely forgotten by history, Maria (or Mary) was nonetheless an important figure in the politics of 16th century Europe, although she is somewhat overshadowed by her brothers, Holy Roman Emperors Charles V and Ferdinand I.

Maria, as Queen of Hungary, painted circa 1820

Maria was born in Brussels on September 15th, 1505 as the second youngest child of Philip the Handsome and Queen Joanna I of Castile. Following the sudden death of her father in 1506 and her mother’s unstable mental health, Maria along with her siblings Charles, Eleanor and Isabella, were raised by their aunt, the Archduchess Margaret of Austria, Imperial Regent of the Low Countries, at her court in Mechelen, Flanders.

In 1515, Maria left her aunt’s court for that of her grandfather, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I in Vienna, where she was married to the future Louis II of Hungary in July of that year. Louis’s sister, Anne of Hungary, was later married to Maria’s younger brother, future Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I. As Maria was still quite young, she did not travel to Hungary, but resided at Innsbruck with her sister-in-law until 1521.

Louis II had become King of Hungary during that period following the death of his father, and Maria was anointed and crowned Queen of Hungary at the Royal Basilica of Székesfehérvár on December 11th, 1521.

Though her marriage to Louis II was short, it is believed to have been a happy but childless union. The happiness was cut short due to the Ottoman Invasion of Hungary in August 1526. King Louis II, with an army of 20,000, marched from Buda to confront the invading Ottomans. Both armies met near Mohács in southern Hungary, and the battle that ensued was a disaster for Hungary: King Louis drowned having fallen from his horse into a marsh with his shattered army in retreat. Mary was in Buda when she was informed of the terrible news, she was later appointed Regent of Hungary until the summer of 1527.

In 1528, Archduchess Margaret proposed a marriage between Maria and James V of Scotland which Maria rejected, her brother Archduke Ferdinand also tried to have his sister marry the the Duke of Bavaria, which she also rejected.

In December 1530, Archduchess Margaret died leaving the position of Regent vacant, and her brother Charles requested that Maria assume the Regency, which she did in January 1531. Maria also assumed the guardianship of her two nieces, Princesses Dorothea and Christina of Denmark, who were the children of her deceased older sister, Isabella of Austria.

Filed under Austria-Hungary, Historical Royals, Spain
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4 Responses to Spanish Historical Royal of the Month: Maria of Austria

  1. Artemisia says:

    How very interesting! I’ve always been very interested in fate of the children of Juana la Loca, so thanks for the article, An Ard Ri.

  2. An Ard Rí says:

    Hi Artemisia

    Many thanks for your kind words and support .

  3. natalya says:

    Thank You for your interesting glimpse of the past times of Europe…

  4. Contessa Iris von Brandstatter says:

    Fascinating history and article – thanks so much for sharing!

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