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Maria Anna of Neuberg (1667–1740)

Maria Anna of Neuberg (1667–1740)

Queen of Spain and wife of Charles II . Name variations: Maria Anna of Bavaria-Neuberg. Born in Dusseldorf on October 28, 1667; died on July 16, 1740; daughter of Philip Wilhelm or Philip William, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, and Elizabeth Amalia of Hesse (1635–1709); sister of Maria Sophia of Neuberg (1666–1699); second wife of Charles II the Bewitched (1661–1700), king of Spain (r. 1665–1700), on May 4, 1690; no children.

Born in Dusseldorf on October 28, 1667, Maria Anna of Neuberg was the daughter of Philip William, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, and Elizabeth Amalia of Hesse . With the death of King Charles II of Spain's first wife, Marie Louise d'Orleans , the king's Habsburg mother Maria Anna of Austria arranged his marriage with Maria Anna of Neuberg to strengthen Austria's influence at the Spanish court against France and Louis XIV. Maria Anna wed Charles by proxy on May 4, 1690, and then journeyed to Spain.

The king's first wife had borne no children, and Spaniards waited to see if the new queen would produce an heir. It soon became obvious, however, that Charles II would leave no children, a consequence of his own genetic deficiencies. Thus, Maria Anna's hopes of perpetuating Habsburg claims to the Spanish throne were frustrated. She exercised great influence over her mentally deficient husband but lacked any significant group of political supporters. Indeed when Spaniards understood she would have no children, Maria Anna's initial popularity faded, and courtiers criticized her haughtiness.

When Charles II's health declined, and France and Austria began intriguing to pick his successor, Maria Anna did everything possible to swing the decision in the Habsburgs' favor. Charles died on November 1, 1700, and the succession passed to Philip of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV. Maria Anna remained in Spain and supported the Austrian cause during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1713). On July 16, 1740, she died in exile in Bayonne. She was the heroine of Victor Hugo's Ruy Blas.

sources:

Adalbert, Prince of Bavaria. Das Ende der Habsburger en Spanien. Munich: F. Bruckmann, 1929.

Kendall W. Brown , Professor of History, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

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