Biography of Isabel de Valois. Queen of España (1545-1568)

Queen of Spain born in the Palace of Fontainebleau on 13 April 1544 and died 3 October 1568 at Aranjuez.

Biographical synthesis

Daughter of Henri II and Catherine de Medicis, step the first years of his life under the watchful supervision of his mother. Betrothed to Felipe IIin the year 1559, the terms of the marriage contract were part of the peace treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis. After marriage by proxy in Paris, August 22, 1559; January 31, 1560, the official wedding took place in the Palace of the Infantado (Guadalajara). Despite his best efforts could not give the Crown a male heir, though her marriage were born two daughters, Isabella Clara Eugenia(1566) and Catherine Micaela (1567). The delicate health of the Queen and hard treatment that was submitted by physicians of the Court, were the cause of his untimely death the 3 October 1568, when he/she was just 23 years.

Early years and marriage negotiations

Second daughter of the dolphins still France, his birth occurred at the Palace of Fontainebleau when their parents stayed away from the Court of Francisco I, since the monarch and his successor, the future Enrique II, had alienated recently. But the birth of Isabel contributed to peace between father and son and the King was happy to meet his new granddaughter. The christening of the Princess is officiated in the chapel of the mentioned Palace of Fontainebleau, his godfathers being political grandmother, Doña Leonor; and Henry VIII, although this not attended the event personally.

The Isabel childhood was spent in the itinerant French court, where he/she received all kinds of care and was surrounded by amenities. So after his birth, and to the chagrin of her mother, was put under the tutelage of the mistress of his father, Diane de Poitiers. When the Princess was old enough he/she began his instruction in the company of María Estuardo, engaged to his brother the future Francisco II. The education of both had a distinctly humanist and was watched carefully by Catherine de Médicis, which although was sometimes excessively severe, tried to participate actively in the progress made by their children. Isabel demonstrated at all times possess a great intelligence and although many testimonies from this period, are not extant seems that since childhood he/she felt worship for music and the arts, probably as a result of their education, heavily influenced by the principles of the Renaissance.

Isabella of Valois practically from birth, was promised in marriage to the son of Enrique VIII, although due to the age of both, it was decided to postpone the link. This projected marriage, seeking to seal an alliance between the English King and Enrique II, did not take place due to the premature death of Eduardo VI in 1553.

The first public appearance of Isabel de Valois took place on the occasion of the wedding of the future Francisco II and María Estuardo, where the Princess participated animatedly in the entertainments that were part of the festivities. Shortly after negotiations were conducted to arrange her marriage with the heir of Felipe II, infante Carlos. as part of the agreements reached at the peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, but the sudden death of María Tudor, second wife of Felipe II, prompted the monarch to change the terms of the negotiations and that he/she would become her fiancé. Thus the commitment of the Princess and the King of Spain was sealed April 3, 1559. Both her father and her fiancé were very interested in that the marriage will take place quickly, since it was intended to make the above-mentioned peace a lasting agreement which put an end to the fighting that had lasted for long years the Habsburgs and the Valois.

The wedding of Elizabeth of Valois

As it was customary at the time until Isabel abandon their father's tutelage and undertake his trip to Spain, he/she should marry Felipe II, which sent the Duke of Alba to represent him at the ceremony by powers. The mentioned ceremony took place in Paris from June 22, 1559, in the Cathedral of Notre Damme.

Very soon the new Queen of Spain was nervous about his fate, but because of his youth, showed feel great curiosity to know her husband. Parties by their marriage, given the importance of the groom were surrounded by luxury and splendor, so the King said to the Duke of Alba great satisfaction by the marriage of his daughter. But very soon the festivities, darkened since in a tournament held one week after the wedding, Enrique II suffered a cumbersome accident that caused her death four days later.

Due to the numerous commitments that were holding to Felipe II in Flanders, decided to postpone the trip for his wife, since according to the rigid Protocol marked it should meet in Spain when the Princess crossed the border. This allowed Isabel participate in the annals in honor of the new King of France. Isabel finally undertook the trip to his adopted country, in the first days of January of 1560. After finalizing the preparations for its luxurious trappings, it left the city of Blois, where the Court was and began his long journey. Isabel, during the early stages of it, was accompanied by the Royal family in full, but you were eventually dismissed with great sadness of their loved ones in the city of Poitiers.

The Queen by her mother board the Spanish speaking correctly when you started the journey to their new country, in order to acclimatize as soon as possible to his new situation, did not stop ask questions about Spain and showed great curiosity to learn the customs of the rigid Court of Felipe II. After his arrival in Bordeaux was escorted toward the Pyrenees by Antonio of Bourbon. In the step that marked the border met with the count of Buendía, Juan de Coruña; that he/she had been appointed master of ceremonies by Felipe II. Crossing the border was not an easy task, since in those days was a strong snowfall that delayed the departure of the large retinue. The delivery of Isabel occurred in Roncesvalles, although it suffered a considerable delay by the problems that arose between the representatives of both monarchs, since neither Spanish nor French put on the place where to make the delivery. Finally, Isabel was put in the custody of the fourth Duke of the Infantado and Cardinal Mendoza.

The route that Isabel followed by Spanish land was carefully calculated by her husband, who determined that the procession of the Queen passed by Rasuain, Pamplona, Tafalla, Villafranca, Tudela, Agreda, Soria, Gomara, Moron, Baraona, Jadraque and Hita. Thus was screened the first encounter of both spouses to take place in the Palace of the Infantado, in Guadalajara. Isabella of Valois became mentioned Palace January 28, 1560, there was received by his sister Joan of Austria, who commissioned his respects on behalf of the Royal family.

The Queen did not see her husband until the wedding, which took place on 31 January. The betrothal was celebrated at 10 in the morning in the chapel of the Palace where they were both housed, being officiated by Cardinal Mendoza, so the wedding was the infanta Juana of Austria and the godfather was Duke of Infantado. Then immediately began the festivities, which included numerous banquets, bullfighting, music, recitations and festivals of reeds. On March 3 the monarchs undertook the trip to Toledo, where he/she was the infante Carlos. City reached the day 12 of the same month. It was in this city where the biggest celebrations took place, and there the Queen received the affection of his subjects. Isabel penetrated into the city by the door hinge, it took more than six hours to get to the door of the Palace, where he/she was received by his stepson, don Carlos; by Juan of Austria and Alejandro Farnesio. But a few days of his arrival in Isabel Toledo he/she fell seriously ill, suffering from smallpox; so the festivities were suspended.

Married life and the birth of their daughters

The married life of Isabella of Valois was harmonious at all times, since it seems both spouses professed great affection during the years their union and this despite discrete infidelities committed by Felipe II, between 1560 and 1564, on which Isabel not made any comment. Felipe II as his subjects soon learned to love his third wife, who no doubt offered her happiest moments of his life. On the other hand Isabel was satisfied with his life married, despite how boring that seemed to him to the Court of Spain, so different from the French. Thus the Queen in a letter to his mother stated the following: this place seemed to me one of the most boring world. But I assure you, Madam, that I have a good husband and I am so happy that even if it was a hundred times more boring, I not begun me nothing.

The accusations expressed about the alleged infidelity of Elizabeth with Carlos of Austria and the theory that her death was caused by this reason, do not have any historical basis, since by the contrary Felipe II blindly relied on his wife. Proof of the confidence that had deposited in Isabel is that in 1565 he/she sent on a diplomatic mission to France, accompanied by the Duke of Alba, so Catherine de Médicis changed the orientation of his policy towards Protestants. Isabel who enjoyed the company of his mother and his brother, Carlos IX, angrily argued with the Regent of France out in defense of her husband, to which Catherine replied: "very Spanish come". While Bayonne talks did not succeed, Felipe II did not blame for the actions of Isabel, but it should be noted that it was the only one of his wives who participated in the policy of the United.

Isabel's relations with members of his new family were at all times cordial. The Queen was one of the best friends of Juana of Austria and was treated with love by don Carlos, which despite its abrupt changes of mood was always attentive with her stepmother. In addition, the extreme youth of the family of the monarch, don Juan of Austria and Alejandro Farnesio were almost of the same age, caused that the rigid protocol that dominated the King House was softened by Isabel, which was pleased to organize parties, trips, dances, scarves, etc. Thus it was frequent that Felipe II observed games of his pleased wife and to be attentive to your every whim.

But the happiness of the monarchs was never complete, since Isabel during the years that lasted his marriage gave samples of delicate health. The Queen suffered twice from smallpox and was frequent that it would suffer strong fevers and intestinal disorders, which left prostrate in bed for days. But physicians of the court action was not exactly the most appropriate, since treatments that are applied, especially bloodletting and purging, did more to weaken it. That is why Isabel felt a deep dislike for the doctors and had to be reprimanded by her husband for refusing to follow the directions of these.

In the month of may 1564 was officially announced that the Queen was in a State, but this miscarried three months, since he/she suffered from fevers, chills. In the opinion of the doctors his life was grave danger and that is why Felipe II made frequent visits to his quarters. In the autumn of 1565 Isabel was again pregnant and 1 August 1566 gave birth in the Palace of Valsain (Segovia) to his eldest daughter, Isabella Clara Eugenia. Despite the initial disappointment, the monarch tried to encourage his wife who was very sorry for not having given birth a child. Approximately a year later, October 10, 1567, Catherine Micaela was born and given the condition of this and the delicate situation of the heir to the throne, the succession question became ever more desperate. Both pregnancies were very hard to Isabel who was affected by severe headaches, dizziness, and vomiting.

Death of Elizabeth of Valois

The last year of Isabel's life was marked by his deep sadness. So he/she tried to mediate without success, in the conflict that kept the King with his son Carlos, although the madness of this escalated so much that it was impossible to intercede for him. The death of Carlos was a blow to her, who was pregnant at that time.

Once more misguided intervention by doctors, caused great sufferings to Isabella of Valois. Since was diagnosed with intestinal disorders to the Queen, when in fact this had been newly pregnant at Christmas 1567. Thus the hard treatment to which he/she was subjected worsened their health status in such a way that, in the month of September, could not get out of bed. During the following days Isabel suffered from severe pain in kidneys and digestive and urinary disorders. September 22, 1568 he/she noticed as the forces left it and knew the time of his death was near, therefore requested the presence of his confessor, and asked the monarch to visit her. The last private conversation that remained with Felipe II, it begged the forgiveness of the monarch by have not conceived son and expressed his grief for letting their daughters orphaned at such an early age. He/She also recommended the monarch to seek with consideration to the ladies of his entourage and above all maintain harmony with France.

Isabel had shortly before his death the details of his funeral. The Queen asked to be buried with a habit of san Francisco, in the monastery of las Descalzas Reales, after which requested written authorization from her sister-in-law, who had founded the mentioned monastery. On 3 October he/she began to feel terrible pains and to the surprise of all, gave birth to a little girl of five months, that just lived a few hours. Isabella of Valois espiró shortly afterwards and was buried following his directions. The people crying the loss, the Court did the same and the inconsolable husband, which from that moment always dressed in black; He/She is detained for a few days in the monastery of San Jerónimo to pray for soul.


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