Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies


Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies
Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure 11 December 1829 – 29 September 1833
Spouse Ferdinand VII of Spain
Agustín Fernández Muñoz, Duke of Riansares
Issue
Isabella II of Spain
Luisa Fernanda, Duchess of Montpensier
Maria Amparo, Countess of Vista Alegre
more
House House of Bourbon
Father Francis I of the Two Sicilies
Mother Maria Isabella of Spain
Born 27 April 1806
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Died 22 July 1878(1878-07-22) (aged 72)
Le Havre, France
Burial El Escorial, Spain
Religion Roman Catholic

Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies (Italian: Maria Cristina Ferdinanda di Borbone, principessa delle Due Sicilie, Spanish: María Cristina de Borbón, princesa de las Dos Sicilias; 27 April 1806 – 22 August 1878) was Queen consort of Spain (1829 to 1833) and Regent of Spain (1833 to 1840).

Contents

Early years and first marriage

Born in Palermo, Sicily, Italy on 27 April 1806, she was the daughter of King Francis I of the Two Sicilies by his second wife, Maria Isabella of Spain.

Maria Christina married King Ferdinand VII of Spain on 11 December 1829 in Madrid. Ferdinand was her uncle by birth and by marriage. Like her mother Maria Isabella, Ferdinand was a child of King Charles IV of Spain and his wife, Maria Luisa of Parma. With the death of the King's third wife on 27 May 1829, Ferdinand's desperation to father an heir for his crown resulted in his fourth marriage just seven months later.

The new queen, Maria Christina, rapidly gave birth to two daughters, Isabella (the future Queen Isabella II, 1830–1904) and the Infanta Luísa Fernanda (1832–1897).

Regency

When Ferdinand died on 29 September 1833, Maria Christina became regent for their daughter Isabella. Isabella's claim to the throne was disputed by her uncle, the Infante Carlos, Count of Molina, who claimed that his brother Ferdinand had unlawfully changed the succession law to permit females to inherit the crown (see Carlism). Some supporters of Don Carlos went so far as to claim that Ferdinand had actually bequeathed the crown to his brother but that Maria Christina had suppressed that fact. It was further alleged that the Queen had signed her dead husband's name to a decree recognizing Isabella as heir.

Carlos' attempt to seize power resulted in the Carlist Wars. Despite considerable support for Carlos from the Roman Catholic Church and conservative elements in Spain, Maria Christina successfully retained the throne for her daughter. The Carlist Wars grew from a dispute about the succession into a dispute over the future of Spain. The supporters of Maria Christina and her daughter favored a liberal constitution and progressive social policies. In contrast, Carlos' supporters (called Carlists) favored a return to traditional society and an absolute monarchy. Ultimately, the army's loyalty to Isabella II proved the decisive issue in the war.

Remarriage and downfall

Coat of arms of Maria Christina as Queen Consort

On 28 December 1833, shortly after the death of Ferdinand VII, Maria Christina had secretly married an ex-sergeant from the royal guard, Agustín Fernando Muñoz (1808–1873). Maria Christina and Muñoz had several children together while trying to keep their marriage a secret.

  • Maria Amparo, Countess of Vista Alegre (17 Nov 1834 - 19 Aug 1864) married Prince Władysław Czartoryski (1828–1894)
  • Maria de los Milagros, Marchioness of Castillejo (8 November 1835 – 9 July 1903) married to Filippo del Drago, Principe di Mazzano e d'Antuni (1824–1913).
  • Agustín, 1st Duke of Tarancón (15 March 1837 - 15 July 1855)
  • Fernando, 2nd Duke of Riansares and Tarancon (27 April 1838 – 7 December 1910) married to Eladia Bernaldo de Quirós y Gonzalez de Cienfuegos (1839–1909).
  • Maria Christina, Marchioness of La Isabella (19 April 1840 – 20 December 1921) married to Jose Maria Bernaldo de Quirós y Gonzalez de Cienfuegos, Marques de Campo Sagrado (1840–1911).
  • Juan, Count of Recuerdo (29 August 1844 – 2 April 1863)
  • Jose, Count of Gracia (21 December 1846 – 17 December 1863)

Muñoz enlisted in the royal bodyguard, and attracted the attention of Maria Christina. According to one account, he distinguished himself by stopping the runaway horses of her carriage; according to another, he only picked up her handkerchief; a third explanation of his fortune has been given. Maria Christina's husband, King Ferdinand VII of Spain died on 29 September 1833, and on 28 December 1833 she and Muñoz were privately married.

If Maria Christina had officially made the marriage public, she would have forfeited the regency; but her relations with Muñoz were perfectly well known within the Spanish court. When on 13 August 1836 the soldiers on duty at the summer palace La Granja mutinied and forced the regent to grant a constitution, it was generally, though wrongly, believed that they overcame her reluctance by seizing Muñoz, whom they called her guapo, or fancy man, and threatening to shoot him.

Eventually, news of Maria Christina's marriage to this low-ranking soldier became public. That news made Maria Christina deeply unpopular. Her position was undermined by news of her remarriage and concerns that she was not actually supportive of her liberal ministers and their policies. Eventually, the army, which was the backbone of Isabella II's support, and the liberal leadership in the Cortes combined to demand that Maria Christina stand aside from the regency. In 1840 Maria Christina found her position intolerable; she renounced the regency and left Spain with Muñoz. The army commander, General Baldomero Espartero, Count of Luchana, replaced her as regent.

Exile

Queen Maria Christina

In 1842 Maria Christina purchased the Château de Malmaison as their residence. In 1843, on the overthrow of General Baldomero Espartero they returned to Spain. In 1844, Muñoz's stepdaughter Queen Isabella II was declared to be of age. On 23 June 1844 Isabella gave to Muñoz the title duque de Riánsares, to which was attached a Grandeza de España;[1] the title came from the river Ánsares, near Muñoz's birthplace in Tarancón. On October 12 1844 Isabella gave official consent to the marriage between her mother and Muñoz, and it was publicly performed. In 1846 Isabella made Muñoz a Knight of the Golden Fleece. On 30 May 1846 she gave Muñoz a second title, marqués de San Agustín.[1] Muñoz was made a Captain General, the highest rank in the Spanish Army. In 1847 Louis Philippe, King of the French, gave Muñoz the title duc de Montmorot; he also invested Muñoz with the Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur. In 1854, Maria Christina left for France a second time. France remained her primary residence for the remainder of her life.

A revolution forced daughter Isabella II from her throne on 30 September 1868 and she joined her mother in exile in France. Isabella II renounced the throne in favor of her son, Alfonso XII, on 25 June 1870. Supporters of Alfonso XII made it clear that neither his mother nor grandmother could play an active role in the effort to restore the monarchy. When Alfonso XII regained the Spanish crown on 29 December 1874, Maria Christina and Isabella II were permitted to return to Spain as visitors but denied permission to live there permanently. Neither was allowed to exercise influence in the Spanish government.

The marriage to Muñoz and the events of Maria Christina's turbulent regency drove a permanent wedge between her and her Spanish royal offspring. Neither Isabella II nor Alphonso XII had much interest in a relationship with the former Queen.

Death and burial

Maria Christina died in Le Havre, France on 22 August 1878. As the widow of Ferdinand VII and the mother of Isabella II, Maria Christina was buried in the royal crypt of El Escorial monastery.

Ancestry

References

  1. ^ a b Elenco de Grandezas y Títulos Nobilarios Españoles. Madrid: Ediciones Hidalguia, 1996; ISBN 8487204848.

External links

Media related to Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies at Wikimedia Commons

Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 27 April 1806 Died: 22 August 1878
Spanish royalty
Preceded by
Maria Josepha of Saxony
Queen consort of Spain
1829–1833
Succeeded by
Francis of Spain

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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