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Margaret of Austria 1480–1530 Habsburg Ruler

Margaret of Austria
Habsburg ruler

Amember of the powerful Habsburg dynasty, Margaret of Austria acted as regent* to her nephew, the future Charles V. The Habsburgs used Margaret as a political pawn, arranging marriages for her with various European rulers. However, she became a capable ruler in the Netherlands, a patron* of the arts, and a major force in the northern Renaissance.

By age 24, Margaret had been married three times. Her first marriage, to the future French king Charles VIII, was annulled* in 1491 when her husband sought a partner with greater political advantage. Her second marriage, to the son of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, was meant to unite the Habsburgs with Spain. When her husband died in 1497, Margaret returned to Flanders* and became godmother to her brother's son, the future Holy Roman Emperor* Charles V. In 1501 Margaret became the unwilling wife of Philibert, the duke of Savoy. When Philibert died three years later, Margaret refused to marry again.

Following her brother's death in 1506, Margaret became regent for her nephew Charles in the Netherlands. She pursued the interests of the Habsburgs and sought peaceful solutions to crises. Her greatest political achievement was a treaty with the French in 1529, which temporarily ended hostilities between Charles and the French king Francis I. Margaret also established a vibrant royal court. She employed artists and musicians, assembled a library and art collection, and was a patron to leading Renaissance intellectuals.

(See alsoNetherlands. )

* regent

person who acts on behalf of a monarch who is too young or unable to rule

* patron

supporter or financial sponsor of an artist or writer

* annul

to declare legally invalid

* Flanders

region along the coasts of present-day Belgium, France, and the Netherlands

* Holy Roman Emperor

ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, a political body in central Europe composed of several states that existed until 1806

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