21 January 2015

Today's Princess: Margaret Yolanda of Savoy

Via Wikimedia Commons
I have to admit that the anglicized name of today's princess is not nearly as beautiful as it is in her native Italian: Margherita Violante. Born in 1635, Princess Margaret Yolanda of Savoy was the second daughter and fourth surviving child of Duke Victor Emanuel I of Savoy and his French wife, Princess Elisabeth Christine, sister of King Louis XIII. Her father died when she was only two, leaving her mother as regent of Savoy. One of Elisabeth Christine's main goals was to cement an alliance with her homeland by marrying Margaret Yolanda to her nephew, King Louis XIV--really, who didn't want to marry the Sun King?

The marriage negotiations even included a meeting between the proposed couples, an unusual practice for the day. Nevertheless, Louis chose a Spanish cousin instead to end the war with Spain. Rejected by France, beautiful, quiet and graceful, Margaret Yolanda still had much to offer and she was soon snapped up by Ranuccio Farnese, the reigning Duke of Parma. The bride was welcomed with bonfires and celebrations. She was 24; he was 29.

Twenty months later, Margaret Yolanda had a stillborn daughter. Eighteen months after that, she died after giving birth to a son who lived only one day. It was her third wedding anniversary. She was 27. Her husband married twice more. He named his first daughter Margaret. Perhaps this was for his mother, Margherita de Medici, but perhaps it was for the beautiful wife he had lost.

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