Biography of María Manuela de Portugal (1527-1545)

Princess of Asturias and infanta of Portugal belonging to the House of Avis, born in the city of Coimbra 15 October 1527 and died July 12, 1545 in Valladolid. Daughter of Juan III King of Portugal and Catherine of Austria, sister of Carlos V. The first wife of the future Felipe II, was by then Prince of Asturias, which ruled in the name of his father, Carlos V, as Regent in the territories of the Iberian Peninsula following the departure of the emperor to Flanders in 1543. The wedding was held in Salamanca on 13 November 1543, this marriage lasted barely two years, since the Princess died in the year 1545, four days after giving birth to her first and only son, Carlos. His remains were deposited in Granada, and in the year 1574 were transferred to the Royal San Lorenzo de el Escorial, where they remain today.

First years

During the rule of his father, Juan III, Portugal, traditionally dedicated to the export of colonial produce, country suffered an economic crisis of enormous proportions which forced it to request would in Castile and Flanders. This economic crisis could change the future of the Princess fully since the absence of liquidity his father tried to save her dowry arranging his marriage with his uncle the infante don Luis.

The education of María Manuela was supervised by his mother, Catherine of Austria, posthumous daughter of Felipe the beautiful and Juana laloca, was born while his mother toured Castilla with the body of her husband. Age together with Juana Catalina remained in his closure of Tordesillas marked its character, for this reason tried that their children were deeply religious and respectful of the sacraments, above all with the marriage, since the infidelities of her father and his subsequent death caused a deep depression which led Jeanne to be detained until his death. For Catalina most importantly was that his daughter made a good marriage and that it was worthy of the highest considerations, it was precisely for this reason that convinced her husband, Juan III, to accept the candidacy of Carlos V. heir The great influence that Catherine had in the Court of Portugal, not only as Queen Consort but also because it served an important role in the decisions made by the King, both in political matters as economic is very notable.

There are many physical and mental of María, descriptions since since the beginning of the marriage negotiations of the Kings of Portugal with Juan de Idiáquez, Secretary of Estado of Carlos V, the future Felipe II was very interested in knowing the physical aspect of his future wife. Thus in Portugal, Sarmiento, Ambassador sent to the Prince the following description: "it's as high or more than her mother, very well prepared, more fat than skinny, and not in a way that is not you very well. When I was a girl I was fatter. At Palace, none is better than her (...) According to their wives, is very healthy and very concerted in venille your shirt, after he/she had time to do so, saying that what is it is better to have children". Regarding the nature of the Princess, her mother in his letters described her as shy and reserved, someone who on rare occasions expressed their feelings. It seems, however, that he/she sought to be always in good mood and maintain a friendly attitude with everyone around her. In the words of the same Sarmiento: "they say all that is an angel of condition and very liberal." Very galana friend to dress well. Dance very well (...) and also knows latin (...) "." Particular concern was Catalina food Princess customs, since this looks like it was amateur at large feasts, which could lead to you not only problems of health, but difficult to find a husband.

The election as wife of the future Felipe II

From the year 1541 Emperor Carlos V, dealt with personally in instructing his son and heir, the future Felipe II, in the work of Government, since it was considered necessary that it was prepared to take on the enormous responsibility of happen in time to power. In May of the year 1543 he/she left in charge of Felipe the Government of their territories in the Iberian Peninsula, since numerous matters demanded his presence in their possessions of Northern Europe. It was in 1541 when Carlos told her son, through a letter, its decision that the time had come to put marriage that it was necessary to consolidate the dynasty with the birth of an heir to ensure a successor in the event of the premature death of the Emperor and the own Felipe. On the other hand, the marriage of the Prince of Asturias could pose new support for Carlos V in his performances in Germany, as well as a great ally in fighting which it maintained with the King of France, Francisco I. Another benefit that could bring the marriage of the heir was the entrance of the bride's dowry money, since this could provide funds for always in need of liquidity of the Emperor coffers.

The first candidate was Joan of Albret, heiress of the Béarn area situated to the South of France, which currently is almost in its entirety the Department of Basses-Pyrénées; This marriage was against the interests of Francisco I, which forced Joan to marry the Duke of Cleves and although the link was soon after declared null, was enough to force Carlos V to renounce their claims in the area; This was important for the Emperor especielmante, since with its annexation had not only expanded their territories but it would have had an important base to direct its operations against France.

Failed its first attempt, the emperor began to think seriously about improving its relations with France. Thus, in his view, the double link marriage between his heir with Margarita of Valois, a daughter of Francisco I, and the heir of France, the Duke of Orléans, with the niece of Carlos V, María, daughter of Fernando of Austria, which had been equipped with the Duchy of Milan or the Netherlands, territories has by Francisco I and because of numerous conflicts between both rulers; they could ensure that the maintenance of peace between the two kingdoms.

Felipe was in disagreement with this idea from his father, since it for the control of the fundamental Milanesadoera to maintain communication between Spain and Germany; and also the arrival of the French enemies in this important area could pose a serious risk to the maintenance of the Spanish in Italy possessions, since Naples would be a natural area of expansion for France. With regard to the the Netherlands, these ensured free access to Northern Europe and not interested in losing such an important strategic area, both from the point of view of the military as economic, Flanders was a great shopping area, where the Castilian wool was sold and imported many materials required for the defence of the Empire.

As options, Felipe had considered two candidates, the first cousin and future Queen of England María Tudor; and the second candidate, his favorite, its also cousin María Manuela de Portugal. Given the youth of Felipe on these dates, it is logical to think the Prince told his father the political opinions expressed by his trusted advisers, as it is the case of the Duke of Alba, although some of these opinions remained for all his subsequent Government. Also wanted to see that your choice of a Portuguese candidate, could be motivated by great influence was his mother, the Empress Isabel of Portugal, throughout his childhood, already this dealt personally with the education of their children, during the long absences of Carlos V, until his death in the year 1539.

The views of Felipe weighed much on the Emperor, surprised by the great maturity for her son, he/she decided to accede to your wishes and sent one of his men, Juan de Idiáquez, who held the position of Secretary of State, to negotiate the marriage of the Prince of Asturias with the daughter of the Kings of Portugal.

Some historians maintain that Carlos V had considered María Manuela as the future wife of Felipe beforehand, since her dowry could assume a great relief for the economy of the Emperor, and now his wife, the Empress Isabel de Portugal meant it. It is also very possible that it maintained an intense correspondence with his sister Catalina in this respect, which became the main advocate for the Spanish candidate in the Court of Juan III.

Marriage negotiations

Negotiations for the marriage of Prince Felipe and Princess María Manuela began after the arrival of Juan of Idiáquez in Portugal, but these were not as simple as in principle could be expected given the relations of kinship between two Royal families. Juan III was the son of Manuel I, the fortunate and the infanta María, daughter of the Catholic monarchs, and was brother of Isabella of Portugal, mother of the future Felipe II. On the other hand, the Emperor Carlos was brother of Catherine of Austria, the wife of Juan III.

The King of Portugal was a bad time, since a severe economic crisis in the country had begun and had been forced to ask lent large amounts of money in Castile and Flanders. For this reason had decided to marry his brother, the infante don Luis, María Manuela stubbing of this mode, the dowry of his daughter, given the limited aspirations of the infant. At this time the intervention of the sister of the Emperor and mother of María Manuela, Catherine of Austria, was crucial for the maintenance of the Carlos V proposal on behalf of his son Felipe. Catalina, once more, exerted huge influence he/she possessed over her husband to make it accept the proposition of the heir to the throne of Spain. The large age difference between don Luis of her niece, since this was forty years old and María Manuela was barely thirteen; and above all the great territorial possessions which had Carlos V, and which in the future would pass to his heir, were some of the arguments put forward by the Queen who eventually convince Juan III that the marriage could be very beneficial for the interests of his daughter and of Portugal.

Despite the acceptance of the proposal by the Portuguese Kings, there was a current of opinion opposed to the link María Manuela and Felipe, since the heir to the Crown of Portugal, the Prince Juan, did not enjoy good health, so that in the event of death, the rights of succession would pass to his sisterwhich would be the arrival also to the throne of Felipe.

On December 1, 1542 the Kings of Portugal established their conditions or prenuptial to definitely accept the marriage of his daughter with the heir of Carlos V, being accepted by the Spanish Ambassador to Portugal, Luis Sarmiento de Mendoza, on January 13, 1543. In these settlements, sealed the marriage of the Crown Prince of Portugal, don Juan, with the younger daughter of Carlos V, the infanta Doña Juana, which boasted eight years old at that time. The last procedure to perform the marriage was the request to the Vatican for papal dispensation, since both parties were first cousins, once reached the consent of the Pope, began preparations. The first step was to celebrate a wedding by proxy authorizing to María Manuela to leave the parental home and subsequently prepare the encounter with her fiancé and celebration of a new betrothal in Spanish territory. Very important addition was the payment of dowry by the Secretary of State, Idiáquez, since the huge sum of money, which amounted to three hundred thousand Ducats, was claimed by the emperor who was at war with France since 1542. In 1543 Emperor received a first payment that amounted to one hundred fifty thousand ducats and that was conducted at the fairs in Medina del Campo.

The wedding of Felipe and María

Marriage by proxy was held in Portugal from May 12, 1543, coinciding with the Easter of the Holy Spirit. On behalf of the Prince of Asturias at the ceremony, was the Ambassador Luis Sarmiento de Mendoza, which had participated in the negotiations leading up to the marriage. Once the betrothal and after some days of fiesta, prepared exit María Manuela de country, although it was agreed that, until after the summer the Princess would travel not to save you inconveniences. They were the Duke of Braganza and the Archbishop of Lisbon, to accompany the Princess to the border of the Kingdom of Portugal. The Emperor, for its part, chose with care the nobles who had to wait to María Manuela so the honour fell to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, Juan Alfonso de Guzmán and on behalf of the high hierarchy of the Church elected Bishop of Cartagena, Siliceous Martínez, both were met in Badajoz to wait for the promised of Felipe.

The procession of siliceous Martínez left Valladolid on September 25; for its part the Duke of Medina Sidonia, accompanied by the count of Niebla, of the conde de Olivares and other relatives, left Seville on October 5. It was the latter who first came to the meeting point, and there received the news that the Princess and her companions waited impatiently the arrival of the Spanish delegation to the other side of the border, in Évora. The reason for the delay of the Bishop of Cartagena, was caused by a cold in their March towards Extremadura, in order to cure his disease he/she had had to take refuge in a convent in the town of Cantalapiedra Dominicans, and therefore not was forced to delay his trip. This incident caused the indignation of the Portuguese nobles, because for them it was an inexplicable delay and was considered an insult. Despite waiting they occurred moments of fun in Portuguese, both the Spanish retinue that were common for all kinds of events, parties, dances and tournaments occurred to the great joy of the residents of the area. After the arrival of siliceous Martínez a new protocol problem arose between both delegations. The Portuguese, claimed that his mission had been entrusted them by their King, Juan III, so were superior in this case to the Spaniards, since they had come on behalf of Prince Felipe, therefore the Portuguese should occupy the top positions in the delivery of the infanta María.

The incident was on the verge of suspending the betrothal, since none of the involved noblemen was willing to compromise on this issue. At this time the Bishop of Cartagena, silicium, decided to send to negotiate the son of the Admiral of Castile, Alfonso Enríquez, this got through his prudence that surrendered to the Princess in Badajoz. After reading the documents that accompanied both delegations, the Duke of Braganza delivered the Infanta and later, the Entourage left for Salamanca. As a curious fact should note that such was the eagerness of the Prince, who left rather than direct their steps to Salamanca and Valladolid, he/she went to the meeting of María, to see who would be his future wife before the official presentation. This behavior out of the rigid protocol standards, seems it was usual among the youth of the time, arranged marriages were frequent.

María finally reached Salamanca on 13 November and received countless signs of respect and affection by the inhabitants of the city, many were the curious who came to watch the young Princess. At nine o'clock in the evening of November 14 was held the union of both princes; the sponsors of the wedding were the Dukes of Alba and after a simple ceremony began a feast that lasted into the wee hours of the morning. Popular festivities occurred around Salamanca, for five days. After the holidays, the young couple went to Valladolid. It passes through Tordesillas, went to visit the grandmother of both Doña Juana la Loca, which took thirty years locked up. The chroniclers say that the mother of the Emperor received the news with joy and asked the young princes that dance for it, request that was gladly granted by their grandchildren.

Married life and death of María Manuela

The Princes of Asturias settled down after his marriage in the city of Valladolid, in the House where he/she was born Felipe, Francisco Cobosproperty. In terms of service, greater Butler was Alonso de Meneses, the greatest waitress was Margarita Mendoza, the overseer was Manuel de Melo, Secretary Julián Dalba, being the Bishop of Leon higher chaplain. The House of the Princes stood out for his extreme austerity, despite the custom of María do expensive gifts to the people of your service.

Felipe dedicated himself fully to the task that his father had commissioned you, the Government of the Peninsular kingdoms, was at this time when he/she advised the emperor to control your expenses, since the population could not continue paying its large companies. Felipe and his collaborator, the Secretary of Estado Francisco de Cobos, were of the view that the tax system should be improved, and through all the means at its disposal tried to cope with the costly military spending to which was subject to the Empire, selling juros, leasing taxes and applying for subsidies in the courts. The economic situation was desperate, and despite the efforts of the Secretary of State and the own Felipe the economy of the Empire it drop sharply, not even the arrival of the silver of America could alleviate the poor situation of the finances of the realm. At this time there are many nobles who ask Carlos to end their wars and a respite to battered finances.

With regard to relations between María and Felipe, the intervention of the Emperor in this matter is very notable. Carlos, concerned that an excess of sexual activity ended with the, somewhat fragile health, his son, recalling the heir to the Catholic monarchs, Prince Juan, who died after her wedding night. He/She did everything possible to limit the encounters between the two, thus ordered Juan de Zúñiga that controlling your child and which also monitor that does not maintain any relationship outside of marriage. Misfortune pursued them even more, since a few months married the Prince suffered a terrible rash on the skin that forced him to disregard his wife, for fear of catching it. Pressures that both limit their contacts on one side and the desire that the Princess was pregnant, as evidenced by indentations to which it was subjected, could motivate the deep coldness with which the princes were treated. Given his extreme youth is quite possible that both inexperience and enormous pressures to which it was subject to the heir would play against, chilling its relations. Another explanation for the distancing of the Princes was the one given by the Prince of Orange, Guillermo of Nassau, which was keen to discredit both the Emperor and his heir, which longed for the United provinces (Holland and Zealand) were independent. According to this, Felipe II had an incestuous relationship with his sister the infanta Doña Juana of Austria, so it had lost interest in his wife. Another later version of the same character, speaks of Felipe II maintained a relationship for these times with one of the ladies in her younger sister's name Isabel Osorio, which had also been companion of Empress Elisabeth. None of these versions has been demonstrated, although it is possible that Prince maintained some relationship with the latter, since it seems that it had a special consideration. In spite of everything it was observed an improvement in the relations of María and Felipe, after the announcement of the Princess who was pregnant.

In the early hours of 8 to 9 July 1545 María Manuela of Portugal gave birth in Valladolid to a male, childbirth was very painful and the child was born very weak, only without strength to move, in honor of his grandfather infant new named Carlos, young parents joy was immense. It seems that Felipe immediately wrote a letter to his father to inform him of the good news. Joy was short-lived now that four days after the birth, died, at the age of eighteen, Princess of Asturias.

We don't know the exact causes that led to the death of María Manuela, since the chroniclers do not provide conclusive data. The most widespread popular explanation at the time was that the Princess after the birth ate a lemon and this proved fatal to his recovery. As more acceptable explanation is the testimony of a courtier, witness of the facts, who claimed that the Princess after the great effort of labor began to have fever. It is possible that Felipe omitted the comment in the letter written to his father, considered normal that the Princess will experience a temperature rise after a delivery of these features. Apparently, according to the mentioned witness, the midwives did not act diligently to lower the fever of the Princess which caused a deterioration in their situation. The death of María Prince plunged into deep sadness, that took years to overcome, took refuge in work and unconscious way it seems that he/she walked away from his son Carlos, that since the first moments of his childhood, showed no sign of serious physical and mental problems.


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