Maria Luisa of Palma, Queen of Spain

7 December 2009

A portrait of the youngest child of Louise-Élisabeth of France (daughter of Louis XV) and her husband, the Duke of Parma. Maria-Luisa’s elder sister Isabella was sent away to Austria be married to the eldest son and heir of the Empress Maria Theresa while her brother was married to the Empress’ daughter, the wilful and sophisticated Maria-Amalia.

Maria Luisa’s fate did not lie in Austria, however but in Spain.

The young princess, already known for her pride and violent temper was married on the 4th September 1765 to the Crown Prince of Spain, later to become King Charles IV and the couple were to have fourteen children together. Rumour speculates that the youngest children were not her husband’s offspring but we will never know this for certain.

Hard to believe that this is the same girl isn’t it? This is how Maria Luisa is mostly known to us today, the ugly dissolute Spanish Queen in the paintings of Goya, her beauty totally vanished and her expression rancorous and embittered.

By all accounts, she was not a very nice person at all. She was chronically unfaithful to her husband and was a scheming, rather stupid termagant, fond of picking rows with all and sundry if she didn’t get her own way.

Maria Luisa’s fate was not a happy one: in 1808, Napoléon forced she and her husband to abdicate their thrones and leave Spain forever before the start of the Peninsular War. They roamed France and Italy together, hated by everyone but most especially their own people who felt betrayed and abandoned.

Maria Luisa, granddaughter of Louis XV, died in exile in the Barberini Palace in Rome on the 2nd of January 1819, regretted by no one.

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