Sunday, December 13, 2009

Austria - Infanta Margarita Teresa

Margaret Theresa of Spain; 12 July 1651 – 12 March 1673) was Holy Roman Empress, German Queen, Archduchess consort of Austria, Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia She was the daughter of King Philip IV of Spain and his second wife Mariana of Austria. She was the elder sister of Charles II the Bewitched, the last of the Spanish Habsburgs. She is the central figure in the famous Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, and subject of many of his later paintings.
Despite the extensive history of inbreeding between the Austrian and Spanish Habsburg family branches, Margaret Theresa exhibited few or none of the genetic defects inherited by her brother and some other relatives. She was the favourite child of her father, Philip IV of Spain, who referred to her as "my joy" in his private letters. She was an extraordinarily beautiful child, with porcelain skin, blue eyes, and blond hair.
For political reasons, Margaret Theresa was betrothed as a child to her maternal uncle and paternal cousin, Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. Her father stipulated that she should maintain her position in the line of succession to the Spanish throne and would pass her succession rights to her descendants, something Leopold I gladly accepted.
In the summer of 1666, saddened by her father's death, the fifteen-year-old infanta left her native Spain and traveled to Austria. She was accompanied by several Spanish attendants, and was solemnly welcomed by her future husband/uncle, Leopold. Their wedding took place in the city of Vienna, one of Europe's most beautiful capitals, on 12 December 1666. Despite the difference in their ages and Leopold's unattractive appearance, they were very happy together, as they shared a number of interests, especially theatre and music. She called him "Uncle" (even after they were married); he called her "Gretl", a German nickname for Margaret.
One of the most outstanding events during their reign was the splendid performance of the opera Il pomo d'oro ("The golden apple") by the Italian composer Antonio Cesti. It was performed as a celebration of Margarita's 17th birthday in July of 1668. This magnificent performance is frequently considered to be the peak of Baroque opera in Vienna during the seventeenth century.
After giving birth to six children, and weakened by many miscarriages, Margaret Theresa died at the young age of twenty-one — leaving Leopold heartbroken. Her only surviving child was the Archduchess Maria Antonia. She was buried in the Imperial Crypt, in Vienna.
This lovely mini-sheet was issued on 22nd October 2009 to commemorate this very famous historical personality from Austria. Anita sent me this lovely sheet from Austria.

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