Anne of Austria (1601–1666)

views updated Jun 27 2018

Anne of Austria (1601–1666)

Spanish princess who ruled France as regent and gave birth to its most famous king, Louis XIV. Name variations: Anne d'Autriche; Anne Hapsburg or Habsburg. Born Ana Maria Mauricia on September 22, 1601, in Valladolid, Castile and Leon, Spain; died of breast cancer on January 20, 1666, in Paris, France; daughter of Philip III, king of Spain (r. 1598–1621), and Margaret of Austria (c. 1577–1611); educated at Spanish royal court; married Louis XIII, king of France (r. 1610–1643), on November 24, 1615; children: Louis de Dieudonne (1638–1715), later Louis XIV, king of France (r. 1643–1715); Phillipe I, duke of Orleans (1640–1701).

Became queen of France at age 14 (1615); acted as regent for Louis XIII (1620); suffered miscarriage (1622) and was estranged from Louis; accused of treason but pardoned (1637); governed France as regent for Louis XIV (1643–52).

On May 14, 1643, Louis XIII died, leaving a boy who was not yet five years old as heir to the French throne. Like his predecessors, however, Louis had appointed his wife, Anne of Austria, to the regency council. The newly widowed queen was following a long line of women who, since 1483, had ruled France until their sons were declared old enough to govern independently. Although she was unused to wielding political power, 42-year-old Anne of Austria quickly rose to the challenge.

Born on September 22, 1601, Ana Maria Mauricia was the eldest daughter of King Philip III of Spain and Margaret of Austria . Interestingly, her future husband, Louis XIII of France, was born five days later. Contemporaries regarded this coincidence as an omen and concluded that the two royal children should marry. Anne's formative years were heavily influenced by her mother. Margaret of Austria was a pious woman who engaged in charitable work and took responsibility for her children's religious upbringing. Although the royal children lived in a separate household, Anne began to see more of her mother once her father's favorite courtier, the duke of Lerma, lost his influence over the king. Historian Ruth Kleinman has concluded that Anne learned two things from her mother: "reliance on the pillar of religion and resistance to royal favourites."

There is little information about Anne's early years after her mother's death in 1611. In appearance, she was blonde, with green eyes and an oval-shaped face. Aside from a bout of smallpox in 1613, Anne was a healthy child who, from all accounts, led a quiet life and remained close to her family. As a royal princess, however, she was expected to marry, and negotiations for her union with the French dauphin began as early as 1609. Like most royal children, Anne was given no choice as to who she would wed. Instead, her marriage was guided by political motivations. It was hoped that a marriage alliance between France and Spain would be a major factor in maintaining peace between the two most important Catholic kingdoms of early modern Europe.

In August 1612, the contracts were signed and three years later, on November 25, 1615, Anne of Austria married Louis XIII at Bordeaux. They had both just turned 14 years old. Although she was homesick, Anne made a concerted effort to adjust to her new life as queen of France. After a triumphant entry into Paris, the royal newlyweds took up residence in the Louvre. As queen, Anne had her own household with her own servants and household officials, many of whom she had brought from Spain. As a result, she rarely saw her husband except on formal occasions. Though her routine was not busy, it was varied by religious holidays and visits to country palaces. In addition, Anne maintained a steady correspondence with her family.

Life at court, however, was never dull. Anne's mother-in-law, Marie de Medici , continued to dominate the royal council. In April 1617, Louis XIII, under the influence of his favorite Charles d'Albert, duke of Luynes, declared his independence and banished the queen mother Marie to Blois while purging the council of her supporters. Louis also indulged his dislike of Spain and Spaniards by dismissing the majority of Anne's Spanish servants. The young queen was thus becoming increasingly isolated. Her uncertainty was encouraged by Louis' refusal to engage in marital relations with his wife. Although it was believed that they had consummated the marriage on their wedding night three years previous, they had not slept together since. Both Anne and her father were becoming increasingly alarmed by this state of affairs since the most important duty of a royal wife was to produce an heir to the throne.

Fortunately, and for reasons unknown, Louis finally slept with Anne in late January 1619. From that moment on, it was clear to everyone that the young king was deeply in love with his wife. He grew frantic when she fell seriously ill during the spring of 1620, but by August, when she had fully recovered, he left her to run the government while he went on a military campaign against his mother. Eventually reconciled, Marie de Medici was welcomed back to court and, two years later, to the royal council.

The queen, my mother, was not only a great queen but she deserved to be ranked among the greatest kings.

—Louis XIV

Margaret of Austria (c. 1577–1611)

Queen of Spain. Name variations: Archduchess Margarete of Styria; Margaret Habsburg. Born around 1577 (some sources cite 1584); died of puerperal fever in 1611; daughter of Karl also known as Charles (youngest son of Emperor Ferdinand I, founder of the Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg), archduke of Styria (located in southeastern Austria and Slovenia) and Mary of Bavaria (daughter of the duke of Bavaria); sister of Holy Roman emperor Ferdinand II (1578–1637); cousin of Rudolf II, Holy Roman emperor, king of Hungary and Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic) and archduke of Austria; married Philip III (1578–1621), king of Spain (r. 1598–1621), in 1599; children: seven, including Maria Anna of Spain (1606–1646, who married Ferdinand III, king of Bohemia and Hungary); Anne of Austria (1601–1666); Philip IV (1605–1665), king of Spain (r.1621–1665).

After crossing Europe in 1599 to meet and marry the king of Spain, the Archduchess Margaret of Austria was soon adored by her husband Philip III. In 13 years of marriage, the Austrian Habsburg gave birth to six children but was stricken with foreboding during her seventh confinement; though she survived the birth, she died of puerperal fever soon after.

Although Louis was still in love with his wife, he gave no additional opportunities to obtain experience in governing. Consequently, she relied on religion and a close circle of female friends. Like her mother, Anne was a pious woman, and she spent much of her time visiting churches and convents. She was also a fastidious woman whose insistence upon cleanliness and fine fabrics was unusual for the time. In March 1622, her prayers were answered when she became pregnant. The joy was limited, however, as she suffered a miscarriage shortly thereafter. Even more unfortunate was Louis' reaction—he blamed her, and their marriage suffered.

Changes at court occurred over the next several years. In 1624, Louis admitted Cardinal Richelieu to the royal council and for the remainder of Louis' reign, the cardinal dominated French foreign and domestic policy. In May 1625, Louis' sister, Henrietta Maria (1609–1669), married Charles I, king of England, by proxy. Included in the English king's delegation was the handsome and virile duke of Buckingham. During the weeks of marriage celebrations, Anne engaged in a mild, yet public, flirtation with the duke. While Buckingham later declared his passionate love for her, it is generally felt that Anne did not reciprocate. Louis, however, was intensely jealous.

His anger was not alleviated when, a year later, a plot to depose him and assassinate Richelieu was discovered. Louis suspected Anne's involvement since part of the plot included her possible marriage to the king's brother Gaston. Although she disliked the cardinal intensely, it is unlikely that Anne was involved. Louis, unfortunately, was never convinced of her innocence, and the rift between them widened considerably.

For the next ten years, Anne lived in what historian Kleinman has described as "an atmosphere of suspicion and constraint." The king, instead of depending upon his wife for advice and companionship, continued to keep her out of the political arena while his chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu, grew increasingly influential. Anne, for her part, blamed Richelieu for her unsuccessful marriage and chose to surround herself with people who disliked him. This was an unwise policy since Louis viewed enmity towards the cardinal as animosity towards himself.

Opposition towards Richelieu centered upon his domestic and foreign policy. Many people were critical of his toleration for the Huguenots (French Protestants) as well as the alliances he made with Protestant countries against Spain. Since 1618, most of Europe had been involved in the Thirty Years' War. Animosity between France and Spain was renewed, and Richelieu abandoned religious solidarity for French expansion and domination. This was a difficult situation for Anne as she still maintained close ties with her family. In addition, she was becoming increasingly concerned over her failure to bear an heir to the throne. The relationship of the king and queen was characterized by mutual misunderstanding—Louis saw a dis-obedient wife who did not support his admiration of Richelieu; Anne, on the other hand, resented Louis' reliance upon the cardinal.

By 1635, relations with Spain had deteriorated to the point that Louis declared war. Although the marriage alliance of Anne and Louis had been an attempt to ensure peace between the two countries, French foreign policy now concentrated upon lessening, rather than maintaining, Spanish domination in Europe. This state of affairs was troubling for Anne who feared that Louis might repudiate her. Furthermore, she endangered herself by continuing to write to her brother, King Philip IV of Spain. Richelieu, who knew of her secret correspondence, allowed it to continue until August 1637 when he formally accused her of treason. Anne made a full confession although there is little to suggest that her letters contained anything that would have endangered the safety of the realm. Nonetheless, Louis reacted by sending her a memorandum in which he outlined the behavior she was to exhibit in the future. This, of course, included submissiveness and obedience to his wishes. She was also assigned a separate residence. Visibly upset by the entire affair, Anne wept often.

Despite their estrangement, the king and queen resumed marital relations sometime in the fall of 1637 and by February it was announced publicly that Anne was pregnant. Many contemporaries, and indeed Anne herself, were convinced that her pregnancy was the result of divine mercy. On September 5, 1638, after 22 years of marriage, 36-year-old Anne of Austria gave birth to a son, Louis de Dieudonne (later Louis XIV). The dauphin was soon referred to as "the gift of God." For Anne, he became the center of her life. She was an extremely devoted mother and, although she gave birth to another son, Phillipe, two years later, it was Louis who remained her favorite. Her devotion to the dauphin was noted by contemporaries. An attendant wrote in 1639 that the queen "hardly leaves him. She takes great pleasure in playing with him and taking him out in her carriage whenever the weather is fine; it is the whole of her amusement."

For the next five years, Anne was preoccupied with motherhood while others renewed their attempts to topple Richelieu from power. Each of these attempts failed and on December 4, 1642, the plots ceased when Richelieu died. Louis, who was also suffering from ill-health, soon found a replacement for the cardinal, however. Giulio Mazarini, or Jules Mazarin, as he came to be called in French, was born in 1602 and was raised and educated in Rome. He took priestly orders and worked as a diplomat for the pope. Hard-working and affable, Mazarin entered French service in 1636 where he worked under Richelieu. He became a cardinal in 1641 and, after Richelieu's death, was appointed minister of state by Louis XIII. More significantly, in April 1643 the king chose Mazarin to be his son's godfather.

During that spring, it became clear that the king was dying. Since the dauphin was not yet five years old, Louis appointed Anne regent, although he attempted to restrict her powers by creating a council of regency whose members included the king's brother, Gaston, the Prince de Condé, and Mazarin. Finally, on May 14, 1643, suffering from intestinal tuberculosis, Louis XIII died. Anne, though grief-stricken, was already planning for the future. She succeeded in having the last wishes of her late husband quashed when the French Parlement agreed to disband the council of regency. Anne was now the governor of France and could choose whom she wished to serve as her advisors. She chose Mazarin.

For the next nine years, Anne of Austria and Jules Mazarin ruled France together. He helped her to gain confidence and experience in running the kingdom by meeting with her nightly to discuss the affairs of state. Many of his policies reflected those of his predecessor, Richelieu, and his personal theory of governing centered upon a strong, absolute monarchy. Mazarin was able to pass on these theories to Louis XIV when Anne entrusted the young king's education to the cardinal in March 1646.

During the early years of the regency, Anne continued to visit churches and convents. As thanks for the birth of Louis, she had a church, the Val-de-Grace, built in which there were rooms set aside for her own use. In October 1643, she and her sons moved from the Louvre to Richelieu's palace, now known as the Palais-Royal. Mazarin moved in shortly after, making the royal "family" complete. Anne was also fond of the theater and had plays frequently performed at court. This happy state of affairs was soon shattered as resentment towards Mazarin's governance and jealousy of his influence over the queen came to the fore.

From 1648 until 1653, France was engaged in civil warfare. Known as the Fronde, the rebellion was the product of grievances that stretched back into the reign of Louis XIII and Richelieu. The main participants were members of the aristocracy and the royal family who rebelled against Anne's authority on the pretext of defending young King Louis against Mazarin. Rather than advocating revolution, the rebels were ambitious royalists who wanted greater involvement in government. A steady increase of taxes and the continuation of the war with Spain also contributed to the rebels' disenchantment with the regency government.

During the rebellion, Anne maintained her loyalty to Mazarin even though it damaged her reputation. Since contemporaries could not understand why she continued to support him, they assumed that their relationship was sexual. Scurrilous pamphlets and rumors that Anne and Mazarin were lovers circulated constantly during the regency and even afterwards. Surviving letters between them indicate that they held strong feelings for one another and were emotionally close. It has never been proven, however, that their relationship was sexual.

By 1651, the rebels were gaining the upper hand and succeeded in demanding Mazarin's exile. Though he left Paris on February 4, Mazarin maintained contact with the queen from Germany. Still loyal, Anne replied to the many complaints about him, saying, "I believe I have an obligation to defend a minister who is being taken from me by force." Fortunately, the rebels were unable to maintain any kind of solidarity, as conflicting ambitions and allegiances soon divided them. More important, in September 1651, Louis turned 13 years old and, according to French law, proclaimed his majority. The regency was now officially over, though Louis named his mother as head of his council. The king also invited Mazarin back to France, and, by the summer of 1653, the Fronde was finally over.

One year later, on June 7, 1654, Louis was crowned king of France. His policy was one of reconciliation. For Anne, it meant a more settled routine, though she maintained her position on the king's council and often met with Louis and Mazarin. She did, however, begin to visit churches and convents more frequently, often accompanied by her younger son, Phillipe. She also concentrated on arranging Louis' marriage. After 24 years of war, peace with Spain was finally declared in 1659. Like her own marriage to Louis XIII so many years before, Louis XIV cemented the peace treaty by marrying Philip IV's daughter, Maria Teresa of Spain (1638–1683). At the marriage ceremony on June 3, 1660, Anne met her brother Philip for the first time since 1615. When he mentioned the late war, she replied: "I think your Majesty will pardon me for having been such a good Frenchwoman: I owed it to the King, my son, and to France."

After Mazarin's death in March 1661, Anne's governmental responsibilities lessened. As the queen mother, she now spent much of her time with Louis' young wife. At Easter in 1663, Anne fell seriously ill, and by May 1664 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. There was no known treatment for the disease and she suffered from much pain. Her faith, however, was her sustenance: "What I shall suffer will no doubt help my salvation; I hope that God will give me the strength to endure it with patience." Anne was not immediately bedridden and throughout the following year she continued to visit churches and convents. By September 1665, her health began to deteriorate rapidly, and Louis XIV arrived to take her to the Louvre. In mid-January, it became clear that her time remaining was short. On January 19, the clergy were called in to administer the last rites. Louis had fainted and was absent when Anne of Austria died in the early morning of January 20, 1666.


Buchanan, Meriel. Anne of Austria, the Infanta Queen. London: Hutchinson, 1937.

Freer, Martha Walker. The Regency of Anne of Austria. London: Tinsley Brothers, 1866.

Kleinman, Ruth. Anne of Austria: Queen of France. Columbus, OH: State University Press, 1985.

suggested reading:

Bluche, Francis. Louis XIV. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990.

related media:

The Three Musketeers (90 min.), adapted from the novel by Alexander Dumas, starring Walter Abel, with Rosamond Pinchot as Anne of Austria, RKO, 1935.

The Three Musketeers (126 min.), starring Lana Turner and Gene Kelly, with Angela Lansbury as Anne of Austria, MGM, 1948.

The Three Musketeers (105 min.), starring Oliver Reed and Raquel Welch , with Geraldine Chaplin as Anne of Austria, 20th Century-Fox, 1974.

Margaret McIntyre , Trent University, Peterborough, Canada

Anne of Austria (1601–1666)

views updated May 21 2018

ANNE OF AUSTRIA (16011666)

ANNE OF AUSTRIA (16011666), queen of France. Anne of Austria, the eldest daughter of Philip III of Spain (ruled 15981621), married King Louis XIII of France (ruled 16101643) in 1615. After Louis's death, she became regent of the realm from 1643 to 1654 under the minority of her son Louis XIV (ruled 16431715). Her destiny illustrates how difficult the life of an early modern princess could be. Her wedding to the French king was a political tool used to strengthen the political and religious ties between the Spaniards and the French. The bride and groom were barely fourteen years old, and their characters were close to incompatible. Anne rarely if ever received a nightly visit from her husband for the four years that followed their wedding. But they became closer, and the queen was pregnant in 1622. A miscarriage due to her carelessnessshe fell while running through the Louvre with her two closest friendsdrew them apart. Louis became suspicious of his wife. As they had to fulfil their political and religious duties, they continued to have a marital life marked by other miscarriages and finally the births of two sons.

Anne, who wanted to play a political role in France, never won the trust of her husband and his principal minister, Cardinal Richelieu (15851642). Things went from bad to worse when the duke of Buckingham, a favorite of the English king, fell in love with the queen. Deeply offended, Louis decreed that henceforth no male could visit her quarters unless he was present. Their relationship deteriorated as Louis tried to take control of the queen's entourage. In answer Anne involved herself in political plots. As a Spanish princess, she was especially outraged by the anti-Habsburg policy of Louis and Richelieu. France and Spain were at war, but she developed a secret correspondence with her brother, King Philip IV of Spain (ruled 16211665). Although she did not reveal any political secrets, she did write some strong anti-French sentiments. This was close to treason, and Anne narrowly escaped repudiation in 1637. Louis forgave her, and Anne gave birth to their first son on 5 September 1638.

Anne's priorities changed with the birth of the future Louis XIV and, two years later, the birth of her second son Philip. Afraid she could be deprived of their care, she grew closer to the policies adopted by her husband's government. This was too little too late, as the king did not have complete confidence in his wife. As he neared death, Louis XIII tried to limit her grip on power, bequeathing to Anne a regency council whose votes were to be binding. When Louis XIII died, she had his will broken by the Parlement of Paris. For the next ten years she governed France with the help of Cardinal Jules Mazarin (16021661), who succeeded Richelieu as principal minister.

Anne inherited a disastrous financial situation. She also had to face a political crisis as many grandees who had fled the authoritarian rule of the previous government came back to France. The regent had to satisfy their pleas to return to some benefits while satisfying as well the demands of those who had served her late husband. The number of solicitors was simply too large for what the regent had to offer. A movement nicknamed the "cabal of the important" loudly voiced the indignation of its adherents. Anne reacted quickly by arresting its leader, the duke of Beaufort. She thereby demonstrated that she had a strong will and that she intended to keep France on track for Louis XIV.

To the surprise of many, the Spanish regent and her Italian minister continued the financial and political policies of Louis XIII and Richelieu. Although everyone prayed for a peace with Spain, Anne was not ready to sacrifice her son's interests in favor of her Spanish relatives. Despite increased tensions within the realm, she raised old taxes and created new ones to meet the country's military needs. In doing so she was not afraid to attack some of the privileged members of French society. This policy had its dangers, and a period of civil wars known as the Fronde plagued the kingdom from 1648 to 1652. Even though the rebels' principal target was Cardinal Mazarin, Anne was not spared by her enemies. Nevertheless the two managed to put an end to the conflict. The return of peace within the kingdom allowed the queen to educate her son politically, and the war with Spain finally came to an end in 1659. With the help of Mazarin, Anne distilled in Louis's mind the idea of a king's greatness. A shaky marriage to a man who was indifferent toward her, an attachment to her native land, and the difficulties she had faced in the Fronde, during which she never failed France, did not prevent this Spanish princess from passing France's heritage to the Sun King.

See also France ; Fronde ; Louis XIII (France) ; Louis XIV (France) ; Mazarin, Jules ; Richelieu, Armand-Jean Du Plessis, cardinal.


Kleinman, Ruth. Anne of Austria: Queen of France. Columbus, Ohio, 1985.

Moote, A. Lloyd. Louis XIII the Just. Berkeley, 1989.

Michel De Waele

Anne of Austria (1601–1666)

views updated May 14 2018

Anne of Austria (1601–1666)

Spanish princess and regent. Name variations: Anne d'Autriche; Anne Hapsburg or Habsburg. Born Ana Maria Mauricia, Sept 22, 1601, in Valladolid, Castile and Leon, Spain; died of breast cancer, Jan 20, 1666, in Paris, France; dau. of Philip III, king of Spain (r. 1598–1621), and Margaret of Austria (c. 1577–1611); educated at Spanish royal court; m. Louis XIII, king of France (r. 1610–1643), Nov 24, 1615; children: Louis de Dieudonne (1638–1715), later Louis XIV, king of France (r. 1643–1715); Phillipe I, duke of Orleans (1640–1701).

Spanish princess who ruled France as regent and gave birth to its most famous king, Louis XIV; married Louis XIII and became queen of France at age 14 (1615); acted as regent for Louis XIII (1620); suffered miscarriage (1622) and was estranged from Louis; accused of treason by Richelieu but pardoned (1637); governed France as regent for Louis XIV (1643–52), with Mazarin as a close adviser; during rebellion known as the Fronde (1648–53), the product of grievances that stretched back into reign of Louis XIII and Richelieu, maintained her loyalty to Mazarin even though it damaged her reputation; when son was crowned king of France (1654), kept her position on the king's council and often met with Louis and Mazarin.

See also Meriel Buchanan, Anne of Austria, the Infanta Queen (Hutchinson, 1937); Martha Walker Freer, The Regency of Anne of Austria (Tinsley Brothers, 1866); Ruth Kleinman, Anne of Austria: Queen of France (Ohio State University Press, 1985); and Women in World History.

Anne of Austria

views updated May 14 2018

Anne of Austria (1601–66) Daughter of Philip III of Spain, wife of Louis XIII of France, and mother of Louis XIV. Her husband died in 1643, and she ruled France as regent in close alliance with Cardinal Mazarin until her death. The era was immortalized by Alexandre Dumas in his novels, The Three Musketeers (1844) and Twenty Years After (1845).

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Anne of Austria