Catherine of Braganza


Catherine of Braganza

Infobox British Royalty|majesty|consort
name =Catherine of Braganza
title = Queen consort of England, Ireland and Scotland


caption =Portrait by Dirck Stoop, c. 1660-61
reign =23 April 1662 – 6 February 1685
spouse = Charles II
full name =Catherine Henrietta
"Portuguese: Catarina Henriqueta de Bragança"
royal house =House of Stuart
House of Braganza
titles = "HM" Queen Catherine
"HM" The Queen
"HRH" The Princess of Beira
"HH" The Infanta Dona Catherine
Dona Catherine of Braganza
father = John IV of Portugal
mother = Luisa de Guzmán
date of birth = 25 November 1638
place of birth = Vila Viçosa, Portugal
date of death = Death date and age|1705|12|31|1638|11|25|df=yes
place of death = Bemposta Palace, Lisbon, Portugal
place of burial = Jerónimos Monastery, Belém, Lisbon
style =|

Catherine Henrietta of Braganza (25 November 1638 – 31 December 1705) was a Portuguese Infanta and the queen consort of Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Early life

Infanta Catarina of Portugal (or of Braganza) was born in Vila Viçosa as the second surviving daughter of John IV of Portugal (at the time Duke of Braganza) and his wife, Luisa de Guzmán, a daughter of the duke of Medina-Sidonia. Through her mother, Catherine was a 2nd great granddaughter of Saint Francis Borgia. Although she was raised in a convent, Catherine's upbringing and education were closely supervised by her mother.

Following the restoration of a Portuguese Royal House, and her father's accession to the throne on 1 December 1640, she was variously proposed as a bride for John of Austria, Francois de Vendome, duc de Beaufort, Louis XIV and Charles II. She was seen as a useful conduit for contracting an alliance between Portugal and England, after the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 in which Portugal was arguably abandoned by France. Upon Charles' restoration to the English throne in 1660, Catherine's mother reopened negotiations with his counselors, and a marriage treaty was signed 23 June 1661.

As Queen Consort

She was married by proxy in Lisbon on 23 April 1662. After her arrival at Portsmouth on 14 May 1662, the couple were married in two more ceremonies – a Catholic one conducted in secret, followed by a public Anglican service – on 21 May.

Her large dowry brought the port cities of Tangier and Bombay to British control. The former had only a transitory significance, but the latter had a major lasting influence on both the development of the British Empire and the History of India, as the British would develop Bombay - which had only 10,000 inhabitants under the Portuguese - into a major centre of commerce.

At the time, she was not a particularly popular choice of queen, being a Roman Catholic, and her religion prevented her from ever being crowned, since Roman Catholics were forbidden to take part in Anglican services. She initially faced hardships due to the language barrier, the king's infidelities and the political conflicts between Roman Catholics and Anglicans. Over time, her quiet decorum, loyalty and genuine affection for Charles changed the public's perception of her.

Catherine became pregnant and miscarried at least twice, and during a severe illness in 1663 she thought for a time she had given birth. Charles comforted her by telling her she had indeed given birth to two sons and a daughter. Her position was a difficult one, as Charles continued to have children by his many mistresses, but he insisted that she be treated with respect, and sided with her over his mistresses in those cases where he felt she was not receiving the respect she was due. Throughout his reign, he firmly dismissed the idea of divorcing Catherine, even when Parliament exerted pressure on him to beget or declare a Protestant successor.

Though known to keep her faith a private matter, her religion and proximity to the king made her the target of anti-Catholic sentiment. In 1678, the murder of Sir Edmund Godfrey was ascribed to several of her servants. In November of the same year she was accused by Titus Oates, an instigator of the "Popish Plot", of being part of a conspiracy to poison the king, even though Charles himself disbelieved the entirety of the plot. Although both the evidence in her case and the Popish Plot were later discovered to be fabrications, the House of Commons voted unsuccessfully for an address calling for the Queen and her household to be banished from Whitehall. In 1679 she was defended against the allegations by the king himself.

Later years

At Charles' final illness in 1685 she showed anxiety for his reconciliation with the Roman Catholic faith, and exhibited great grief at his death. Later in the same year, she unsuccessfully interceded with James II for the life of James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, Charles's illegitimate son and leader of the Monmouth Rebellion. Catherine remained in England, living at Somerset House, through the reign of James and his deposition in the Glorious Revolution by William III and Mary II. Initially on good terms with William and Mary, her position deteriorated as the practice of her religion led to misunderstandings and increasing isolation. A bill was introduced to Parliament to limit the number of Catherine's Catholic servants, and she was warned not to agitate against the government. She finally returned to Portugal in March 1692.

She supported the Treaty of Methuen in 1703 with England and acted as regent for her brother, Peter II, in 1701 and 1704-05. She died at the Bemposta Palace in Lisbon on 31 December 1705 and was buried at the Jerónimos Monastery, in Belém, Lisbon.

Catherine introduced the custom of drinking tea in England, a custom that was already very popular among the Portuguese nobility at the time. The tea had been imported to Portugal from the Portuguese posessions in Asia as well as through the trade Portuguese merchants maintained with China and Japan.

Although some have claimed that Queens, a borough of New York City, was named after Catherine of Braganza, her name is not mentioned in the first 200 years of historical documents that have been preserved in the county archives.

Because it was alleged that the Queen and her family had profited from the slave trade a recent effort to build a 10 m (33 ft)-tall statue in her honour in Queens was defeated by local African American, Irish-American and community groups. [ [http://www.queenstribune.com/anniversary2003/queenscatherine.htm Catherine Of Braganza: The Fall Of A Queen] , Queens Tribune] A quarter-scale model survives at the site of Expo '98, in Lisbon, Portugal, facing Queens across the Atlantic.

Titles

*25 November 1638–1 December 1640: Dona Catarina of Braganza
*1 December 1640–17 November 1653: "Her Highness" The Infanta Dona Catarina
*17 November 1653–23 April 1662: "Her Royal Highness" The Princess of Beira
*23 April 1662–6 February 1685: "Her Majesty" The Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland
*6 February 1685–31 December 1705: "Her Majesty" Queen Catherine of England, Scotland and Ireland

References


* Fraser, Antonia (1979). "King Charles II"

External links

*Britannia.com [http://www.britannia.com/history/biographies/catherine_braganza.html Catherine of Braganza]

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