Maria Luise of Bourbon-Parma

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Maria Luise of Parma, Portrait by Goya (1789)

Maria Luise von Bourbon-Parma (Spanish: Luisa María Teresa Ana de Parma ) (born December 9, 1751 in Parma , †  January 2, 1819 in Rome ) was Princess of Bourbon-Parma and, as the wife of Charles IV, Queen from 1788 to 1808 of Spain . Among other things, she became the mother of the future King Ferdinand VII , gained significant influence on the government and gave her favorite Manuel de Godoy a significant share in the management of politics. After the overthrow of the Spanish Bourbons by Napoleon (1808), she went with her husband and Godoy into exile.

Lineage and Early Life

Maria Luise at the age of 14 (1765), portrayed by Anton Raphael Mengs .

Maria Luise von Bourbon-Parma was born on December 9, 1751 as the second daughter of Louise Élisabeth of France , the eldest daughter of King Louis XV. of France, and her husband, Duke Philip of Parma, was born in Parma . Her father had received this duke title in the Peace of Aachen (1748).

Together with her two older siblings Isabella (* 1741; † 1763) and Ferdinand (* 1751; † 1802) - who later became Joseph (II.) And his sister Maria Amalia , children of Empress Maria Theresia and her husband Emperor Franz Stephan , should marry - Maria Luise received a thorough training in Parma, among others by the French philosopher Étienne Bonnot de Condillac . A collection of 13 texts, which were used to teach the children of the duke, was included in the complete edition of Condillac's works.

In contrast to her mother and older sister Isabella, who suffered from depression , Maria Luise developed into a self-confident and headstrong young woman.

Marriage to Charles IV .; Spanish Crown Princess

A marriage plan proposed by Louise Élisabeth between her daughter Maria Luise and the then French heir to the throne Ludwig (an older brother of the later kings Louis XVI , Louis XVIII and Charles X ) failed due to the dauphin's early death (1761) . Instead, Maria Luise was betrothed to the Prince of Asturias , later King Charles IV of Spain , in 1762 . On September 4, 1765, 13-year-old Maria Luise married the Spanish Crown Prince in the palace of La Granja . As part of this wedding, the relations between the Bourbons ruling Spain and Parma were to be strengthened.

Charles (IV.) Initially showed no affection for his wife, which is why his father, the Spanish King Charles III. , was sharply reprimanded. Maria Luise suffered from the strict etiquette at the court of her father-in-law Karl III., Who liked her very much, but had her closely monitored because of her youthful frivolity. Two young ladies-in-waiting, whose behavior could have set a bad example for them, were removed from their surroundings. These ladies had encouraged the Crown Princess to roam incognito alone through Madrid , which the strict Charles III. did not tolerate. For the same reason Maria Luise had to do without the presence of several young gentlemen such as that of the Duke of Lancaster.

During the lifetime of her royal father-in-law, Maria Luise was unable to exert any political influence, but gradually won the heart of her less ambitious and little resolute husband, whom she increasingly controlled. It is not least due to their influence that Charles IV joined the Aragonese or military party that existed at his father's court and was grouped around the Count of Aranda , while Charles III. skilfully maneuvered between this and the second dominant court party of the golillas (" ruff bearers "), who advocated strong centralism. Aranda had to go to Paris as ambassador in 1773 and felt at the end of the reign of Charles III. too little supported by the Prince of Asturias, while at that time the Count of Floridablanca , a member of the Golillas party, exercised great power as the First Minister of State and the Crown Prince couple was almost entirely kept away from public life.

Maria Luise gave birth to a total of 14 children (see below). Even though she was somewhat pretty in her youth, her numerous births made her less attractive and her contemporaries often described her as ugly. She tried to hide this impairment of her appearance by wearing elegant clothes and expensive jewelry. The famous Spanish painter Francisco de Goya made several portraits of her.

Queen of Spain

King Charles III died on December 14, 1788. and Maria Luise became Queen of Spain as the wife of Charles IV. She soon began to interfere in government affairs and, despite her unsightliness, is said to have kept changing lovers according to the gossip that was circulating at the time. She fought rivalries with several high-ranking women, including the Duchess of Alba , the Duchess of Osuna and her sister-in-law, Queen Maria Karolina of Naples.

The coat of arms of Queen Maria Luise

Floridablanca had initially been able to keep his ministerial post after Charles IV took office, but was replaced in February 1792 by his rival Aranda, who also had to vacate his office in November 1792. Both statesmen had above all the Spanish policy towards revolutionary France , in which Charles IV was concerned with the rescue of Louis XVI. and whose family went, not properly managed. Manuel de Godoy , who belonged to the royal guard and from September 1788 to the inner circle around Karl IV. And Maria Luise, rose to Aranda's successor . He had become an important companion and gallant of the Queen; Rumor had it that he had an intimate long-term relationship with Maria Luise.

Godoy used the favor he enjoyed from Maria Luise, but also from her husband, in order to be able to decisively determine the politics of Spain. He had the ability to manipulate the Spanish royal couple in his mind. On October 2, 1797, at the instigation of Maria Luise, he married the young María Teresa de Borbón y Vallabriga , who came from an morganatic marriage of the Infante Luis de Borbón y Farnesio , an uncle of Charles IV. In addition, however, he also had a permanent lover from around 1800 in Pepita Tudó . In May 1798 he was dismissed as the first Minister of State, but the royal couple remained benevolent.

Soon after Napoleon usurped rule in France (November 1799), he began to exert political pressure on Spain to get its participation in his lofty intentions. But he also tried to build a good relationship with Maria Luise, as he was well informed about her great influence on Spanish government affairs. So he wrote her polite letters and sent her valuable gifts, such as an artfully crafted gold hair wig. The Spanish queen felt flattered and in return sent the French ruler a diamond-studded sword. After Lucien Bonaparte was sent to Madrid as the French ambassador (November 1800), Napoleon corresponded only with Godoy, who had come back to power at the time, but had Maria Luise treated with courtesy by his diplomats. Therefore, the queen held Napoleon in high esteem and promoted Spain's alliance with France.

Thanks to her unlimited support for Godoy, who was now almost unreservedly ruling, Maria Luise became less popular with the Spanish population. While there was an economic crisis and food prices continued to rise, the already very wealthy favorite received an additional income of 500,000 ducats. When the queen was walking along the Manzanares once, she was surrounded by an angry crowd, who blamed her for the dreary situation in the country and threatened her. Her bodyguards found it difficult to protect her; the ringleaders were then severely punished. Nevertheless, the queen was publicly cheered as much as her husband Charles IV when the royal couple went on a trip to Barcelona to celebrate the double wedding of the Prince of Asturias, Ferdinand , with Maria Antonia and his sister María Isabel with the crown prince in October 1802 Celebrating Francis (I) of Naples-Sicily. In the following years, Maria Luise was very averse to her daughter-in-law Maria Antonia, as she tried to undermine her power. Maria Antonia died of tuberculosis in 1806 .

Abdication, exile and death

The opponents of Manuel Godoy aroused the jealousy of the Crown Prince Ferdinand (VII) on the influential favorite, who was still unshakably in the favor of the Spanish royal couple. Ferdinand began to conspire against his father, but his plot was exposed. The Aranjuez uprising of March 17, 1808 ultimately led to the overthrow of Godoy; Charles IV abdicated in favor of Ferdinand. Napoleon took advantage of the turbulent situation in Spain. He invited Ferdinand and his parents to Bayonne . There Charles IV ceded his sovereign rights over Spain to the French Emperor on May 5, 1808; the following day Ferdinand also had to do without the crown. Maria Luise is even said to have denied the legitimacy of her son's claims to the Spanish throne and accused him. As a result, Napoleon appointed his brother Joseph Bonaparte as the new monarch of Spain.

Maria Luise was first brought to Compiègne and Fontainebleau with Charles IV, Godoy and their children María Luisa , Queen of Etruria, and Francisco de Paula . Maria Luise then spent her further years in exile in Marseille , Nice and finally in Rome . She lived there with her husband for several years until her death, but initially only received insignificant and irregular payments from the imperial government; but after Ferdinand VII had ascended the Spanish throne again in 1814, he transferred much larger amounts to his parents. Maria Luise died in Rome on January 2nd, 1819 at the age of 67. Her husband followed her to death just 18 days later. Ferdinand VII had his parents' bones transferred to the pantheon of the kings of the El Escorial monastery .


The plant genus Aloysia Ortega ex Juss is named after her . from the verbena family (Verbenaceae). The generic names Carludovica Ruiz & Pav. And Ludovia Pers. from the disk flower family (Cyclanthaceae) have been named in honor of Carlos IV , King of Spain and Maria Luisa of Bourbon-Parma.


Ludwig , Dauphin of France (1661–1711)
Philip V King of Spain (1683–1746)
Maria Anna of Bavaria (1660–1690)
Philip Duke of Parma (1720–1765)
Odoardo II Farnese (1666-1693)
Elisabetta Farnese (1692–1766)
Dorothea Sophie of the Palatinate (1670–1748)
Maria Luise of Bourbon-Parma
Ludwig Duke of Burgundy (1682–1712)
Louis XV King of France (1710–1774)
Maria Adelaide of Savoy (1685-1712)
Marie Louise Élisabeth de Bourbon (1727-1759)
Stanislaus I. Leszczyński (1677–1766)
Maria Leszczyńska Queen of France (1703–1768)
Katharina Opalińska (1680–1747)


Maria Luise in Goya's picture The family of Karl IV.

The 14 children of Maria Luise were:

  • Carlos Clemente (born September 19, 1771 - † March 7, 1774)
  • Carlota Joaquina (April 25, 1775 - January 7, 1830) ⚭ 1785 Johann VI. , King of Portugal
  • María Luisa (September 11, 1777 - July 2, 1782)
  • María Amalia (born January 9, 1779 - † July 22, 1798) ⚭ 1795 her uncle Antonio Pascal (1755–1817)
  • Carlos Domingo (March 5, 1780 - June 11, 1783)
  • María Luisa (July 6, 1782; † March 13, 1824) ⚭ 1795 Ludwig (1773–1803), King of Etruria
  • Carlos Francisco (September 5, 1783 - November 11, 1784)
  • Felipe Francisco (September 5, 1783 - October 18, 1784)
  • Ferdinand VII (October 14, 1784 - September 29, 1833), King of Spain
  1. ⚭ 1802 Maria Antonia of Naples and Sicily (1784–1806)
  2. ⚭ 1816 Maria Isabella of Portugal (1797–1818)
  3. ⚭ 1819 Maria Josepha of Saxony (1803–1829)
  4. ⚭ 1829 Maria Christina of Naples and Sicily (1806–1878)


  • Gonzalo Anes y Álvarez de Castrillón, marqués de Castrillón: María Luisa de Parma , in: Diccionario biográfico español , Madrid 2009–2013, online version
  • Ursula Tamussino: Isabella of Parma. Wife of Joseph II. ÖBV, Vienna 1989, ISBN 3-215-07068-5 .
  • Kendall W. Brown: Maria Luisa Teresa of Parma . In: Anne Commire (Ed.): Women in World History , Vol. 10 (2001), ISBN 0-7876-4069-7 , pp. 330f.
  • Marie-Louise-Thérèse de Parma . In: Nouvelle biography générale . Vol. 33 (1860), Col. 668f.

Individual evidence

  1. a b Lotte Burkhardt: Directory of eponymic plant names - extended edition. Part I and II. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin , Freie Universität Berlin , Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-946292-26-5 doi: 10.3372 / epolist2018 .

Web links

Commons : Maria Luise von Bourbon-Parma  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
predecessor Office Successor
Maria Amalia of Saxony Queen of Spain
Julie Clary