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Archduchess Isabella Clara of Austria

Isabella Clara of Austria
Duchess consort of Mantua and Montferrat
Tenure7 November 1649 – 14 August 1665
Born(1629-08-12)12 August 1629
Innsbruck, County of Tyrol, Holy Roman Empire
Died24 February 1685(1685-02-24) (aged 55)
Mantua, Duchy of Mantua
SpouseCharles II, Duke of Mantua and Montferrat
IssueFerdinand Charles, Duke of Mantua and Montferrat
FatherLeopold V, Archduke of Further Austria and Count of Tyrol
MotherClaudia de' Medici

Isabella Clara of Austria (12 August 1629 – 24 February 1685) was a Duchess consort of Mantua, Montferrat, Nevers (until 1659), Mayenne (until 1654) and Rethel (until 1659) by marriage to Charles II, Duke of Mantua and Montferrat.

From 1665 to 1671, she was Regent of the Duchies of Mantua and Montferrat on behalf of her minor son. Accused of marrying her lover without Imperial consent, she was forced to take the veil as a nun and imprisoned at the Ursuline monastery of Mantua until her death.

Life

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Birth and family

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Isabella Clara was born in Innsbruck on 12 August 1629[1] as the third child and second (but eldest surviving) daughter of Leopold V, Archduke of Further Austria and Count of Tyrol and his wife Claudia de' Medici. Her grandparents on her father's side were Charles II, Archduke of Inner Austria and his wife Princess Maria Anna of Bavaria. Her grandparents on her mother's side were Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and his wife Princess Christina of Lorraine.[2]

From her mother's first marriage, she had an older half-sister, Vittoria della Rovere, Duchess of Rovere and Montefeltro suo jure and later Grand Duchess consort of Tuscany.[3] Of her four surviving full siblings, her sister Maria Leopoldine was briefly Holy Roman Empress, German Queen, Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia until her death in childbirth in 1649. Her two brothers Ferdinand Charles and Sigismund Francis were the last male members of their branch who ruled Further Austria and the County of Tyrol.[4][5]

Duchess of Mantua

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On 7 August 1649, the marriage contract between Isabella Clara and Charles II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua and heir of the Duchy of Montferrat, was signed at Innsbruck. Considering the size of the bride's dowry, the contract stipulated that all the revenues of the Gazzuolo district must be given to her.[6][7] The official wedding between them was solemnized three months later, on 7 November[a] in Mantua.[1] Thanks to this alliance with the House of Habsburg, Charles II was able to remove the French from Casale and then agreed with King Louis XIV of France that Spain should not control the Duchy of Montferrat; rather, it would remain with the Gonzaga family.[8]

Charles' mother Maria Gonzaga, Duchess of Montferrat and former Regent of the Duchy of Mantua –who was an adherent to follow a pro-Austrian foreign policy– and her paternal aunt Eleonora Gonzaga, Dowager Holy Roman Empress organized the union. In March 1651, together with her husband and mother-in-law, Isabella Clara accompanied her sister-in-law, Eleonora Gonzaga, for her wedding with Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor in Wiener Neustadt. They remained in the Imperial court until May, when they returned to Mantua.[6]

In Revere on 31 August 1652, Isabella Clara gave birth to her only child, Ferdinand Charles, the future and last Duke of Mantua and Montferrat of the House of Gonzaga; however, this didn't help the couple overcome their differences. Charles II was indifferent to his wife –whom he married purely for political reasons–, and had a long-standing relationship with the Countess Margherita della Rovere, also living at Casale with della Rovere openly. Isabella Clara, with the help of Pope Alexander VII, expelled her husband's mistress to Rome;[9] but this didn't stop the hypersexuality of Charles II, who continued taking lovers, both male and female.[6][7]

Isabella Clara soon tired of her husband's behaviors and, in spite of her mother-in-law's requests that she be prudent, Isabella Clara also took a lover, Count Charles Bulgarini, a secretary of the Duke and a baptized Jew from the Mantua ghetto.[10] They had a secret relationship initially, but the affair became well-known in time. Consequently, Isabella Clara suffered the rejection of and contempt from the ducal court. In June 1661, an assassination attempt was made against the Count Bulgarini, but the shot killed his father. In 1660, after the death of her mother-in-law, Isabella Clara also took the title of Duchess of Montferrat.[11] When Charles II died suddenly on 14 August 1665, there were rumors that his wife ordered that he would be poisoned. In fact, the Duke died either accidentally after drinking an aphrodisiac,[6][7][8] or in the midst of lascivious intercourse.[12]

Regency

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During her husband's life, Isabella Clara relied on the advice of her lover and controlled the political situation in the duchy. When she became a Regent on behalf of her minor son, she appointed Count Bulgarini as her First Minister and took a neutral position between the Spanish and French kingdoms and also kept a cautious policy to ensure that Mantua and Montferrat would become independent from the Holy Roman Empire.[6]

In November 1666, she received the ducal investiture from the Holy Roman Emperor on her son's behalf, which confirmed his ownership over the fiefs of Reggiolo and Luzzara that the Dukes of Guastalla had controlled since 1631. During her regency, Isabella Clara increased the Duchy of Mantua's territory, strengthening its defenses. Under the mediation of Luis de Guzmán Ponce de Leon, governor of Duchy of Milan, she also obtained several islands in the Po river without hostility; these were also claimed by the Duchy of Modena and Reggio. In addition, Count Bulgarini used his position to improve the economic situation of the state with several tax, judicial and law enforcement systems [6] and the quality of life of the local population.

Imprisonment and death

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In August 1669, the Dowager Duchess ended her regency and transferred all of her powers to her son. However, due to the dissolute behavior of the young duke, she had to continue participating in the affairs of the state. In August 1670, at Goito, Isabella Clara entered into a marriage contract with Ferrante III Gonzaga, Duke of Guastalla, under which their children Ferdinand Charles and Anna Isabella would marry one another. Under this contract, Ferrante III named his daughter and son-in-law joint heirs of the Duchy of Guastalla and the Dosolo, Luzzara and Reggiolo regions. Additionally, the Dowager Duchess obtained the approval of the Emperor that, after the death of Ferrante III (who had no surviving male heirs), the Duchy of Guastalla would be passed to her son, as his wife's inheritance, successfully.[6][13]

After the official wedding ceremony of her son with the Guastalla heiress in July 1671, Isabella Clara retired from court and moved to Goito Castle, where she lived with Count Bulgarini, whom she married secretly shortly thereafter. This may have been why, on 16 December 1671, Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor imprisoned Isabella Clara in an Ursuline monastery and Count Bulgarini in a Dominican monastery, both having been imprisoned with the consent of the Pope. At the request of the Imperial Commissioner, Count Gottlieb von Windisch-Graetz, both Isabella Clara and Count Bulgarini took monastic vows. The Dowager Duchess became a Poor Clare nun.[6]

Isabella Clara died on 24 February 1685 in the Ursuline monastery in Mantua.[1] Only her son attended her funeral and she was buried in the Church of Sant'Orsola.[14] Her public memorial service took place on 14 May in the Basilica palatina di Santa Barbara.[6]

Ancestors

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Notes

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  1. ^ Other sources dated the marriage ceremony on 13 June 1649. Ersch 1862, p. 161.

References

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  1. ^ a b c GONZAGA: LINEA SOVRANA DI MANTOVA in: www.genmarenostrum.com (Libro d'Oro della Nobiltà Italiana) [retrieved 4 December 2016].
  2. ^ a b c Wurzbach, Constantin von, ed. (1860). "Habsburg, Claudia von Florenz" . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). Vol. 6. p. 159 – via Wikisource.
  3. ^ Acton, Harold: The Last Medici, Macmillan, London, 1980, ISBN 0-333-29315-0, p. 111
  4. ^ Thomas Kuster (2011). "FERDINAND KARL von Habsburg". In Bautz, Traugott (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). Vol. 32. Nordhausen: Bautz. cols. 433–449. ISBN 978-3-88309-615-5.
  5. ^ Wurzbach, Constantin von, ed. (1861). "Habsburg, Sigismund Franz von Tirol" . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). Vol. 7. p. 148 – via Wikisource.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Raffaele Tamalio: Isabella Clara d'Asburgo, duchessa di Mantova e del Monferrato – Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani vol. 62 (2004) in: www.treccani.it [retrieved 4 December 2016].
  7. ^ a b c Gino Benzoni: Carlo II Gonzaga Nevers, duca di Mantova e del Monferrato – Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani vol. 20 (1977) in: www.treccani.it [retrieved 4 December 2016].
  8. ^ a b Paola Artoni, Paolo Bertelli, Vannozzo Posio: Carlo II Gonzaga Nevers (1629–1665) in: Storia di Mantova (www.fermimn.gov.it) Archived 3 July 2019 at the Wayback Machine [retrieved 4 December 2016].
  9. ^ Gregorio Leti: L’amore di Carlo Gonzaga, duca di Mantova e della contessa Margarita della Rovere in: nuovorinascimento.org [retrieved 4 December 2016].
  10. ^ Isabella Clara's time of regency for her son (1665–1669)
  11. ^ Raffaele Tamalio: Maria Gonzaga, duchessa di Monferrato e di Mantova – Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani vol. 70 (2008) in: www.treccani.it [retrieved 4 December 2016].
  12. ^ Harold Acton: The Last Medici. p. 84.
  13. ^ Paola Artoni, Paolo Bertelli, Vannozzo Posio: Ferdinando Carlo Gonzaga Nevers (1652–1708) in: Storia di Mantova (www.fermimn.gov.it) Archived 3 July 2019 at the Wayback Machine [retrieved 4 December 2016].
  14. ^ Isabella Clara of Tyrol in: findagrave.com [retrieved 4 December 2016].
  15. ^ a b Wurzbach, Constantin von, ed. (1860). "Habsburg, Leopold V." . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). Vol. 6. p. 416 – via Wikisource.
  16. ^ a b Wurzbach, Constantin von, ed. (1860). "Habsburg, Karl II. von Steiermark" . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). Vol. 6. p. 352 – via Wikisource.
  17. ^ a b Wurzbach, Constantin von, ed. (1861). "Habsburg, Maria von Bayern" . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). Vol. 7. p. 20 – via Wikisource.
  18. ^ a b c d "The Medici Granducal Archive" (PDF). The Medici Archive Project. pp. 12–13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 April 2005. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  19. ^ a b "Christine of Lorraine (c. 1571–1637)". Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Gale Research. 2002. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  20. ^ Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  21. ^ a b Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  22. ^ a b Obermayer-Marnach, Eva (1953), "Anna Jagjello", Neue Deutsche Biographie (in German), vol. 1, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, p. 299; (full text online)
  23. ^ a b Goetz, Walter (1953), "Albrecht V.", Neue Deutsche Biographie (in German), vol. 1, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 158–160; (full text online)
  24. ^ a b Wurzbach, Constantin von, ed. (1860). "Habsburg, Anna von Oesterreich (1528–1587)" . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). Vol. 6. p. 151 – via Wikisource.
  25. ^ a b Cesati, Franco (1999). Medici. Firenze: La Mandragora. p. 75. ISBN 88-85957-36-6.
  26. ^ a b "Christina of Denmark (1521–1590)". Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Gale Research. 2002. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  27. ^ a b "Medici, Catherine de (1519–1589)". Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Gale Research. 2002. Retrieved 28 August 2018.

Bibliography

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Archduchess Isabella Clara of Austria
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