03 March 2015

Today's Princess: Maria Caterina Farnese

By Matteo Loves via Wikimedia Commons
During my hiatus last month, we missed a big anniversary on February 18: the 400th anniversary of the birth of Maria Caterina Farnese (1615-1646), an Italian noblewoman who married the powerful Duke of Modena.

The first daughter of the Duke of Parma, she married Francesco I d'Este of Modena when she was just 16 years old. Her new territory had recently been ravaged by a pestilence that killed 70% of the population. This tragedy did not dampen her husband's ambitions; in the Thirty Years War, he cast his lot with Spain, and invaded his wife's homeland of Parma.

Meanwhile, Maria Caterina was busy doing her wifely duty. In 15 years, she delivered nine children, the last of which killed her. A year and a half later, her widower married her younger sister, Vittoria.

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