Maria Teresa of Spain (1638–1683)

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Charles Beaubrun : Queen Marie Therese of France in French lily robes , around 1660. Versailles Palace .

Maria Teresa of Spain (also Maria Theresa of Spain ; Spanish María Teresa de Austria , French Marie-Thérèse d'Autriche ; born September 10, 1638 in the Escorial near Madrid , †  July 30, 1683 in Versailles ) was a European noblewoman. As the daughter of the Spanish King Philip IV , she was Infanta of Spain and as a princess from the House of Austria she is also called Maria Theresa of Austria ; she also held the title Archduchess of Austria. In 1660 she was married to the Sun King Louis XIV and was therefore Queen of France and Navarre from June 9, 1660 to July 30, 1683 . The conclusion of this marriage sealed the agreed peace between France and Habsburg Spain after a long war . This marriage was very unhappy for her and she was soon permanently in the shadow of Ludwig's changing mistresses . She died at the age of 44. She was the grandmother of Philip V of Spain and great-grandmother of Louis XV. from France.

Origin and youth

Juan Bautista Martinez del Mazo : Infanta Maria Teresa , ca 1642. Metropolitan Museum of Arts, New York
Diego Velázquez : Infanta Maria Teresa at the age of 14 or 15, 1652-1653. Kunsthistorisches Museum , Vienna .

Maria Teresa was the youngest daughter of the Spanish King Philip IV from his first marriage to Isabella of France , the daughter of the French King Henry IV. The seven full siblings Maria Teresas all died very young, most recently in 1646 Baltasar Carlos at the age of only 17 years. She also lost her mother in 1644 when she was six. In 1649 she had a stepmother who was only four years older than Philip IV when he was married to his niece Maria Anna , daughter of Emperor Ferdinand III.

Maria Teresa was raised very strictly and religiously in the Counter-Reformation sense and received a relatively modest education. Although her possible marriage to Louis XIV was discussed relatively early on , she received practically no lessons in French. Three Franciscans watched over their upbringing one after the other . At the age of five she was entrusted to Father Jean de la Palme, then André de Guadalupe and finally Alfonso Vázquez, who was also to accompany her to France. The famous painter Diego Velázquez created a portrait of the Infanta that has hung in the bathroom of Anna of Austria , the mother of Louis XIV, since 1653 .

Negotiations for the marriage to Louis XIV.

In 1656 France tried to end the war with Spain, which had been going on since 1635, and sought a marriage between Maria Teresa and Louis XIV to seal the peace. This was the cousin of his chosen bride from both fatherly and motherly side, since his father Ludwig XIII. a brother of Maria Teresa's mother Isabella, and his mother Anna was a sister of Maria Teresa's father, Philip IV. The marriage project desired not only by Queen Mother Anna, but also by Cardinal Mazarin , was rejected by Philip IV during the peace negotiations in Madrid because he had no male descendants at that time (1656) and therefore his daughter Maria Teresa would have become the heir to the throne because Salian law was not valid in Spain . Thus, after the death of Philip IV , the kingdom of the Spanish line of the Habsburgs would have fallen to Louis XIV, which the Spanish king did not like. Another obstacle to the marriage project arose from Emperor Leopold I's interest in marriage to Maria Teresa; this idea was supported by Queen Maria Anna, Philip IV's second wife, since Leopold was her brother.

From Cardinal Mazarin's point of view, his own niece Maria Mancini jeopardized his marriage plan in 1658 because the young Louis XIV fell seriously in love with her and was considering marrying her. On the other hand, the war had developed unpleasant for Spain in the meantime and in addition Philip IV had received an heir to the throne, Felipe Próspero , from his second wife in 1657 . But because the Madrid court still hesitated, the cardinal resorted to a ruse and went to Lyons with the French king and his mother in late autumn 1658 , where he apparently initiated negotiations for a marriage between Louis XIV and Margarete Jolande of Savoy. This bogus candidate was the second daughter of Duchess Christina of Savoy, a sister of Louis XIII. The cardinal's plan worked: Philip IV decided in December 1658 to a serious peace agreement including his consent to the marriage of his daughter to Louis XIV. He quickly sent his state secretary Antonio Pimentel to Lyon as a special envoy to forward his offer to Mazarin. Thereupon the marriage talks with the House of Savoy were stopped immediately and Pimentel followed the French royal family to Paris in February 1659 . There Mazarin conducted tough negotiations with the Spanish special envoy. At the beginning of June Philip IV was ready to sign a preliminary peace. From August 13th, the decisive, months-long talks between Mazarin and the Spanish Minister Luis Méndez de Haro y Guzmán took place. They were conducted on Pheasant Island in the middle of the Bidassoa River , the lower reaches of which separated France and Spain. In the meantime, however, Louis XIV was still in love with Maria Mancini, and it was only with great difficulty that his mother and the cardinal succeeded in getting him to submit to the reasons of state.

Finally, the negotiating partners were so far in agreement that Marshal de Gramont traveled with a French delegation to Madrid, where he arrived on October 17th and asked Louis XIV for the hand of the Infanta. On November 7, 1659, Mazarin and Luis de Haro signed the final peace treaty. This so-called Pyrenees Peace brought France territorial gains and included the marriage between the Spanish Infanta and Louis XIV. A clause of the marriage contract stated that the Infanta waived all claims to the Spanish crown for herself and her descendants when it came into effect - provided that that her father Philip IV paid a very high dowry of 500,000 gold Écus . However, Spain's treasury was empty and could not raise this amount. The fact that Spain accepted such a clause shows that France had already gained supremacy in Europe at this point in time.


Jacques Laumosnier: Wedding of Louis XIV to Maria Teresa of Spain in the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church of Saint-Jean-de-Luz on June 9, 1660 . Musée de Tessé, Le Mans

After the peace was concluded, it was seven months before the Spanish Infanta and the French king actually married. Philip IV accompanied his daughter to the wedding ceremony. Maria Teresa first married by procurationem on June 3, 1660 in the cathedral of Fuenterrabia on Spanish territory, with Luis de Haro taking over the role of bridegroom. Three days later, the Spanish and French royal families met with their respective court in a pavilion on Pheasant Island, but Anna of Austria visited her brother Philip IV and his daughter on June 4th, where Louis XIV also sneaked a first look threw at his bride. At the official meeting on June 6th, the two kings solemnly swore peace. The fashionable and colorfully dressed French nobles represented a striking contrast to the Spanish courtiers, who were clad in black, ancient-looking robes. An imaginary dividing line, indicated by carpets, ran between the two delegations, which represented the border between the two kingdoms, the Spanish one King was not allowed to step on a meter of French soil and vice versa. The next day, Maria Teresa was handed over to the French side. Before, she said goodbye to her father forever in tears, as it was not customary for foreign princesses or queens to visit her homeland from time to time in order not to let their emotional ties to their homeland become too big. After she was picked up, the Infanta was immediately dressed in French costume.

On June 9, 1660, the wedding of Louis XIV, who was 22 years old, and his bride, who was only five days younger, was celebrated with great splendor in the church of Saint-Jean-de-Luz . She wore a crown and a dress on her hair that demonstrated her new status as French queen: It was made of blue velvet and embroidered with golden lilies - like the fleur-de-lys on a blue background in the royal arms of France; the train was carried by two younger princesses from the House of Orléans . From then on, Maria Teresa was: Marie-Thérèse , Queen of France.

When Louis XIV wanted to quickly leave for his night's quarters with his wife after the wedding banquet, she initially hesitated to go to her husband's bed with her aunt and mother-in-law Anna of Austria. But after the couple had arrived at the patrician house intended for them, the bride gave the news that the king was already undressed, instructing her ladies-in-waiting to hurry to the ceremony of her undressing. The next morning, both spouses seemed completely satisfied.

On August 26, 1660, the royal couple made their entry into Paris, modeled on a Roman triumph . It was u. a. Received by the nobility, church dignitaries and the professors of the Sorbonne, walked through triumphal arches and received the city key. Statues of Hercules and other gods lined his way.


The marriage of Marie Therese and Louis XIV had three sons and three daughters. With the exception of her eldest son, Dauphin Louis , who died in 1711 , all of her children died in infancy or early childhood.

  1. Louis of France "Grand Dauphin" (November 1, 1661 - April 14, 1711)
  2. Anne Élisabeth of France (November 18, 1662 - December 30, 1662)
  3. Marie Anne of France (November 16, 1664 - December 26, 1664)
  4. Marie-Thérèse of France, "Madame Royale" (January 2, 1667 - March 1, 1672)
  5. Philippe Charles of France (August 11, 1668 - July 10, 1671), Duke of Anjou (1668–1671)
  6. Louis François of France (14 June 1672 - 4 November 1672), Duke of Anjou (1672)

At the French court

Charles Beaubrun: Queen Marie Therese of France with her son, the Dauphin Louis , circa 1663.

In France, of course, the name of the former infanta and current queen of the country was changed into the French form of the name Marie-Thérèse d'Autriche . Just like her aunt and mother-in-law Anna of Austria, the mother of Louis XIV and also a Spanish infanta, in French Anne d'Autriche . D'Autriche means translated "from Austria", but in these cases does not refer to the country Austria, but to their descent from the Habsburg family (= Italian and Spanish Austria , French Autriche ).

Although the marriage of the royal couple was considered happy at the beginning, Louis XIV only paid his undivided attention to his blond, blue-eyed wife in the first year of their marriage; then he turned to various mistresses . This was probably due to the poor attractiveness and education of his wife. Marie Therese was very small and chubby; she had the typical features of the Spanish Habsburgs, a fair complexion, and - since she liked to drink cocoa and hot chocolate - bad teeth. Outstanding advantages of her personality were above all her modesty and virtue, as well as her sincere love and admiration for her husband. The pious, shy and, despite her age, childishly naive queen struggled with the frivolous ease of the French court, which was in complete contrast to the stiff and old-fashioned Spanish court ceremonies . She hardly understood French and would never speak it fluently later on. Because of her lack of command of the language, she was unable to survive in the spirited, ironic conversation of court society, and was ridiculed behind her back as clumsy and clumsy. Therefore, she could not follow the example of her mother-in-law and rise to the center of the court. Furthermore, she showed no interest in dance, art, or literature.

With the consent of his wife, Louis XIV soon sent the numerous courtiers who had come to France with Marie Therese back to Spain. In particular, her personal physician, her first chambermaid Maria Molina and her confessor Alfonso Vázquez stayed. The latter, however, soon appeared to the king not to be compliant. Therefore, Vázquez had to leave the court and was appointed Bishop of Cadiz by Philip IV in his homeland . The Queen's new confessor was Michel de Soria, who was followed four years later by Bonaventura de Soria.

For her complete submission to the will of her husband, the queen asked for a promise that he would never order her to part with him. The king gladly agreed and ordered his quartermarshal that she should never stay apart from him, not even during a trip, even if that meant spending the night together in a very small house. Even when he later entertained numerous affairs, he was outwardly embarrassing to pay all her due honors to his wife. This also meant that he kept his promise until her death and, to keep appearances, lay in the marriage bed for at least a quarter of an hour every night. When he had fulfilled his marital duties adequately, his wife would show her joy to the whole court the next day by laughing and rubbing hands, as Liselotte von der Pfalz , the second wife of Duke Philippe of Orléans , brother of Louis XIV, reports.

After the death of Cardinal Mazarin (March 9, 1661), the king personally took over the affairs of state and became so much an absolute monarch that the high nobility and even the other members of the royal family practically led the way in political matters. The queen also had no influence on political decisions, but even played a less important role than the king's favorites. She spent large sums of money on her dogs and on her six court dwarfs , who were regularly allowed to dine at her table. Her frequent participation in the card games that were widespread at the court, in which she usually lost, cost the king a lot of money. For her personal court, she preferred Spanish servants with whom she could communicate in her mother tongue.

Simon Renard de Saint-André: Queen Marie Therese of France (right) with the Dauphin Louis and with the Queen Mother Anna of Austria (left) in an allegorical representation as Anna selbdritt (Mary, Jesus and Saint Anne), around 1663. Castle Versailles.

The queen mother Anna of Austria looked after the young queen like a daughter and tried to protect her from court intrigues. A close mutual friendship developed. Marie Therese often withdrew to her mother-in-law's circle, where she could talk in Castilian and drink hot chocolate. Her confessor Soria encouraged the further development of her religiosity and found that she was so afraid of God's judgment that she trembled even while talking about it. Like Marie Therese, Anna of Austria was also very devout. Together they often prayed, practiced charitable works, made donations for the poor and visited monasteries and churches. The Queen’s reading included a. Works by Peter of Alcantara and Francis de Sales .

Soon after the royal brother Philippe of Orléans had married the youngest daughter of the beheaded King Charles I of England, Henrietta , on March 31, 1661 , she was courted by Louis XIV. The relationship between the king and his sister-in-law was short-lived, however, as Louis XIV quickly turned his affection to one of Henrietta's lady-in-waiting, Louise de La Vallière . This affair, which lasted several years, was tried to hide from the Queen for a long time until she was informed of it by the Countess of Soissons, Olympia Mancini , another Mazarin niece. Marie Therese, although she had probably already suspected her husband's love affairs, was very dismayed and angry about his infidelity. But the jealous queen had no way of doing anything about it. In the next few years she had to watch how the king and various lovers had numerous children, some of whom were later legitimized and given high offices and honors. After all, Marie Therese had given birth to the heir to the throne on November 1, 1661, fulfilling her most important duty and proving her fertility, which cemented her position as queen. A ballet performed under her window during the act of giving birth, with Spanish dancers and the sounds of guitars and castanets, was intended to remind her of her homeland and distract her from the pain of childbirth.

From 1661 onwards, Louis XIV had the Palace of Versailles gradually built on the site of his father's modest hunting lodge . After the gardens were completed, he held the splendid week-long festival of the Plaisirs d'Île enchantée (i.e. the pleasures of the enchanted island ), which was officially to honor his wife and mother, in Reality, however, was intended as an ovation for his mistress Louise de La Vallière.

A severe blow for Marie Therese was the death of her mother-in-law Anna (January 20, 1666), with whom she lost an important support at court. Louise de La Vallière had the boldness to sit in the gallery to the right of the Queen at the funeral mass held in Saint-Germain seven days after Anna's death. Soon afterwards, Louis XIV took Madame de Montespan as the new mistress . Louise de La Vallière had to play her role as lover for another seven years, albeit only as second in line.

Two years after the death of Philip IV of Spain (September 17, 1665), Louis XIV used the irregular payment of his wife's dowry as an excuse to regard the renunciation of her Spanish inheritance given at the time of marriage as null and void, and in 1667 opened the War of devolution with an incursion into the Spanish Netherlands . In his argumentation he also relied on the Brabantian inheritance law, according to which children from the first marriage had priority as heirs over the children from the second marriage. Since only Marie Therese from the first marriage of Philip IV was left, the French king laid claim to the Spanish Netherlands on her behalf. During the rapidly conducted offensive, Louis XIV had the court follow him to the theater of war, forcing the queen to let his two mistresses ride along in her carriage. The people spoke gleefully of the "three queens". The monarch notes in his memoir that the ladies could feel just as safe in the conquered territories as in France.

Later years of marriage

In contrast to Louise de La Vallière, Madame de Montespan behaved very haughty and arrogant towards Queen Marie Therese, who more than ever had to lead a shadowy existence and who insulted Montespan as a “royal whore”. While Louis XIV had seven children from this mistress, the queen had to mourn the death of a son and a daughter in 1672, after she had already lost three of her children at an early age. Her third child Marie Anne was born disabled in 1664 and is said to have had a "Moorish appearance"; it died shortly after birth. Legend has it that this daughter was a mulatto and that Louis XIV had Marie Therese's black pages killed. With the death of five children, the queen was left with her eldest son, the Dauphin.

Louise de La Vallière was only allowed to leave the farm in 1674 and move into a monastery. She previously apologized publicly to the Queen for the suffering she had done to her, but Marie Therese replied that she had long since forgiven her.

Queen Marie Therese of France, approx. 1670–1680. Carnavalet Museum , Paris .

The Queen's earlier jealousy eventually gave way to resignation, and she responded to her dismissal by further emphasizing her piety and virtue. She now endured her fate with dignity and did not make any scenes to her husband, who continued to give her all the honors due to her position and made sure that Madame de Montespan did not take too much out of her. She was also allowed to move around undisturbed in the small circle of her Spanish court ladies and dwarfs. She gladly fulfilled the old custom of French queens of washing the feet of twelve poor women and often served the sick, for example in the hospital of Saint-Germain-en-Laye , as a compassionate sister. She also promoted the Franciscan order, which she venerated, and founded a hostel in Poissy for those foreign people suffering from scrofula who came to Paris hoping to be cured by the laying on of hands by the French king.

Despite her neglect, Marie Therese seems to have loved her husband only; at least she is said to have replied to the question of her confessor whether she had loved no man at the Spanish court: "How could that have crossed my mind, since there was no other king than my father?"

After Madame de Montespan had been the uncrowned Queen of France for more than ten years, she was ousted by Madame de Maintenon . This prompted Louis XIV in 1680 to pay more attention to his wife in the last years of her life, which Marie Therese the Maintenon repaid with great kindness.


When Marie Therese returned to Versailles on July 20, 1683 from a trip with the court to Burgundy and Alsace , she seemed still healthy, but soon afterwards suddenly developed an abscess on her left arm. The doctors' treatment brought no improvement; on the contrary, her body was weakened as a result of the medically ineffective bloodletting and administration of laxatives that were common at the time . Despite the increasing pain, she hardly complained about her situation. The king made sure that she received the sacraments quickly and in time. On her deathbed she is said to have said: " Since I became queen, I have only been happy for one day ." She passed away on July 30, 1683 at the age of 44 and received a splendid state funeral. The famous preacher Jacques Bénigne Bossuet gave her funeral oration. A number of other epitaphs were written on Queen Marie Therese, extolling her virtues, including a. by the pulpit speaker Esprit Fléchier , by Georges d'Aubusson de La Feuillade , Bishop of Metz, and by Armand de Béthune, Bishop of Le Puy-en-Velay.

Funerary monument of Queen Marie Thérèse d'Autriche in the burial place of the French kings in the cathedral of Saint Denis

The late queen was buried in the cathedral of Saint-Denis . Her death came as a surprise, fueling rumors that she had been poisoned. However, there is no evidence of this. Louis XIV seems to have sincerely mourned them; at least his saying has come down to us: " That was the first sorrow that she ever caused me ". The king's mourning for his deceased wife did not last long, however, and he probably secretly married Madame de Maintenon two months later.

When Charles II of Spain , the son of Marie Therese's stepmother Maria Anna, died childless in 1700, he appointed her grandson Philippe d'Anjou as his successor, who was able to prevail in the War of the Spanish Succession and when Philip V ascended the Spanish throne.

When the royal tombs of Saint-Denis were sacked during the French Revolution , their grave was opened and looted on October 15, 1793, and their remains were buried in a mass grave outside the church. During the Bourbon restoration after 1815, the bones and mortal remains buried in the two pits outside the cathedral were recovered and, since they could no longer be assigned to individual individuals, were buried in a shared ossuary in a crypt of the cathedral.


Philip II (Spain) (1527–1598)
Philip III (Spain) (1578-1621)
Anna of Austria (1549–1580)
Philip IV (Spain) (1605–1665)
Charles II (Inner Austria) (1540–1590)
Margaret of Austria (1584–1611)
Maria Anna of Bavaria (1551–1608)
Maria Theresa of Spain (1638–1683)
Antoine de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme (1518–1562)
Henry IV (France) (1553-1610)
Johanna III. (Navarre) (1528–1572)
Isabella of France (1602–1644)
Francesco I de 'Medici (1541–1587)
Maria de 'Medici (1575-1642)
Joan of Austria (1547–1578)


Web links

Commons : Maria Teresa of Spain (France)  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Uwe Schultz, 2006, pp. 50–64; B.-R. Schwesig, 1993, p. 25 f.
  2. Benedetta Craveri, 2008, pp. 185-190; Uwe Schultz, 2006, pp. 65–68.
  3. ↑ However, this corresponded completely to the fashion of the time and was not a disadvantage at all.
  4. Benedetta Craveri, 2008, pp. 188-191; Uwe Schultz, 2006, pp. 65 and 150–152.
  5. The question is, however, whether the intellectually brilliant Marie Therese was even interested in political issues.
  6. Benedetta Craveri, 2008, pp. 195-202; Uwe Schultz, 2006, pp. 152–161.
  7. Benedetta Craveri, 2008, pp. 201f .; Uwe Schultz, 2006, p. 161f.
  8. Benedetta Craveri, 2008, pp. 205, 207ff .; Uwe Schultz, 2006, p. 163f.
  9. Uwe Schultz, 2006, pp. 167 and 205–207; B.-R. Schwesig, 1993, p. 39 f. and 58-61.
predecessor Office Successor
Anna of Austria Queen of France and Navarre
1660 - 1683
Maria Leszczyńska