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Margaret of Parma

Margaret of Parma, 1522–86, Spanish regent of the Netherlands; illegitimate daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. She was married (1536) to Alessandro de' Medici (d. 1537) and (1538) to Ottavio Farnese, duke of Parma. Appointed Spanish governor of the Netherlands (1559), she was restricted in her authority by a council of state headed by Cardinal Granvelle. Charged with the difficult task of carrying out the religious policy of her half-brother Philip II of Spain, she urged and finally secured the recall of the unpopular prelate. She subsequently showed favor to the national party, but after the outbreak of violence she turned against the popular leaders (Egmont, Hoorn, and William the Silent). In 1567 the duke of Alba arrived at Brussels to suppress the opposition by force. Margaret warned Philip II against harsh measures and resigned as regent, being unable to agree with Alba. She was a woman of great ability and firmness, and her resignation was generally regretted. Margaret's son was the noted general Alessandro Farnese, duke of Parma and Piacenza.

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Margaret of Parma (1522–1586)

Margaret of Parma (15221586)

Duchess of Parma and regent of the Netherlands. Margaret was the illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V and Johanna van der Gheynst, the servant of a Flemish noble. Her great aunt was Margaret of Austria, who was regent of the Netherlands from 1507 until her death in 1530. In 1533, Charles recognized her as his legitimate daughter. She was engaged to Alexander de' Medici, the son of the pope, and married him in 1536. After her husband was assassinated in the next year, she married the Duke of Parma. She was an able and intelligent woman who was appointed regent of the Netherlands by Philip II in 1559. Her reign was marked by a general revolt against Habsburg rule by the Protestant Netherlanders. In 1567, Margaret resigned her regency and fled the troubled Netherlands for Italy. Her son Alexander Farnese succeeded her as governor-general.

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