Copyright The Columbia University PressThe Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. The Columbia University Press
Elizabeth Farnese (färnā´sā), 1692–1766, queen of Spain, second consort of Philip V; niece of Antonio Farnese, duke of Parma. Soon after her marriage (1714), arranged by Cardinal Alberoni and the princesse des Ursins, she gained a strong influence over her weak husband and for some time, at first with Alberoni, virtually ruled Spain, though after 1743, Ensenada was the chief power in government. Her ambition to recoup Spanish losses incurred at the Peace of Utrecht and to secure Italian thrones for her children plunged Spain into several wars. As a result of a Spanish attack on Naples during the War of the Polish Succession, her son Carlos (later Charles III of Spain) became king of Naples and Sicily in 1734. Though Carlos was obliged to give up Parma and Piacenza, which he had inherited (1731), this duchy passed (1748) to his brother Philip. Elizabeth retired from court upon the accession (1746) of her stepson, Ferdinand VI.