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Margarita Teresa of Spain
Margaret Theresa in 1667, by Jan Thomas van Ieperen, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Holy Roman Empress; German Queen;
Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia
Archduchess consort of Austria
Tenure 1666-1673
Consort to Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor
Maria Antonia, Electress of Bavaria
House House of Habsburg
Father Philip IV of Spain
Mother Mariana of Austria
Born 12 July 1651
Royal Alcazar, Madrid, Spain
Died 12 March 1673 (aged 21)
Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria
Burial Imperial Crypt, Vienna, Austria

Margaret Theresa of Spain (Spanish: Margarita Teresa, German: Margarete Theresia; 12 July 1651 – 12 March 1673) was Holy Roman Empress, German Queen, Archduchess consort of Austria, Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia. She was the daughter of King Philip IV of Spain and his second wife Mariana of Austria. She was the elder sister of Charles II the Bewitched, the last of the Spanish Habsburgs. She is the central figure in the famous Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, and subject of many of his later paintings.



Despite the extensive history of inbreeding between the Austrian and Spanish Habsburg family branches, Margaret Theresa exhibited few or none of the genetic defects inherited by her brother and some other relatives. She was the favourite child of her father, Philip IV of Spain, who referred to her as "my joy" in his private letters. She was an extraordinarily beautiful child, with porcelain skin, blue eyes, and blond hair.

For political reasons, Margaret Theresa was betrothed as a child to her maternal uncle and paternal cousin, Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. Her father stipulated that she should maintain her position in the line of succession to the Spanish throne and would pass her succession rights to her descendants, something Leopold I gladly accepted.

In the summer of 1666, saddened by her father's death, the fifteen-year-old infanta left her native Spain and traveled to Austria. She was accompanied by several Spanish attendants, and was solemnly welcomed by her future husband/uncle, Leopold. Their wedding took place in the city of Vienna, one of Europe's most beautiful capitals, on 12 December 1666. Despite the difference in their ages and Leopold's unattractive appearance, they were very happy together, as they shared a number of interests, especially theatre and music. She called him "Uncle" (even after they were married); he called her "Gretl", a German nickname for Margaret.

One of the most outstanding events during their reign was the splendid performance of the opera Il pomo d'oro ("The golden apple") by the Italian composer Antonio Cesti. It was performed as a celebration of Margarita's 17th birthday in July of 1668. This magnificent performance is frequently considered to be the peak of Baroque opera in Vienna during the seventeenth century.

After giving birth to six children, and weakened by many miscarriages, Margaret Theresa died at the young age of twenty-one — leaving Leopold heartbroken. Her only surviving child was the Archduchess Maria Antonia. She was buried in the Imperial Crypt, in Vienna.


Infanta Margarita Teresa of Spain by Juan Carreño de Miranda.

Margaret Theresa and Leopold were parents to four children:

Christie's auction of Margaret Theresa's diamond

One of the diamonds of Margaret Theresa was auctioned at Christie's in December 2008. Referred to as the Wittelsbach Diamond, it was given by her father as part of the dowry when she married Leopold I of Austria at the age of 15.[1] The diamond was obtained in India (as it was custom from the Royal Families at that time to bring their diamonds from India, either Hyderabad or Bihar). As of today, it is one of the few lasting Indian diamonds together with the Kohinoor (today part of the British Crown Jewels), the Régent (today in the Louvre), the Orlov (in the Kremlin) or the Hope Diamond, in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

Christie's, the famous auction house, sold the nearly 36-carat diamond for $24.3 million, which it is the highest price paid for a diamond sold at an auction.

Depictions in art

Margaret Theresa is the blonde princess depicted in the Spanish painter Diego Velázquez' masterpiece Las Meninas ("The Maids of Honor", 1656), where she is surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting and other persons of the Spanish court.

There are other pictures of her, also painted by Velázquez at various stages of her childhood, where she is shown wearing magnificent Baroque dresses, which were typical of the court of Madrid during the Spanish Golden Age. These portraits were usually sent by King Philip IV to the court of Vienna in order to keep Leopold apprised of how young Margaret Theresa looked and how she was doing at the distant Spanish court.

Margaret Theresa also features in a number of Pablo Picasso's 58 interpretations of Diego Velázquez' Las Meninas, which he produced between August and December 1957. These currently occupy the Las Meninas room of the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, Spain.

It is possible that Maurice Ravel was thinking of her when he wrote Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess). The Irish writer Oscar Wilde found inspiration in Las Meninas when he wrote his tale The Birthday of the Infanta.



Spanish Royalty
House of Habsburg
Armas de Carlos I de España.svg

Charles I
   Philip II
   Maria, Holy Roman Empress
   Joan, Princess of Portugal
   Don John (illegitimate)
   Margaret, Duchess of Parma (illegitimate)
Philip II
Children include
   Charles, Prince of Asturias
   Isabella, Archduchess of Austria
   Catherine, Duchess of Savoy
   Philip III
Philip III
Children include
   Anne, Queen of France
   Philip IV
   Maria Ana, Holy Roman Empress
   Infante Charles
   Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand
Philip IV
Children include
   Balthasar Charles, Prince of Asturias
   Maria Theresa, Queen of France
   Margaret, Holy Roman Empress
   Charles II
Charles II
16. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
8. Philip II of Spain
17. Isabella of Portugal
4. Philip III of Spain
18. Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
9. Anna of Austria (1549-1580)
19. Maria of Spain
2. Philip IV of Spain
20. Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
10. Charles II, Archduke of Inner Austria
21. Anna of Bohemia and Hungary
5. Margaret of Austria
22. Albert V, Duke of Bavaria
11. Maria Anna of Bavaria (1551-1608)
23. Anna of Austria (1528-1590)
1. Margaret Theresa of Spain
24. = 10. Charles II, Archduke of Inner Austria
12. Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor
25. = 11. Maria Anna of Bavaria (1551-1608)
6. Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor
26. William V, Duke of Bavaria
13. Maria Anna of Bavaria (1574-1616)
27. Renata of Lorraine
3. Mariana of Austria
28. = 8. Philip II of Spain
14. = 4. Philip III of Spain
29. = 9. Anna of Austria (1549-1580)
7. Maria Anna of Spain
30. = 10. Charles II, Archduke of Inner Austria
15. = 5. Margaret of Austria
31. = 11. Maria Anna of Bavaria (1551-1608)


  • ANDICS, Hellmut, Die Frauen der Habsburger (Vienna: Jugend und Volk, 1985).
  • BEUTLER, Gigi, Die Kaisergruft, Vienna, 2001
  • DIEZ BORQUE, Jose Maria & RUDOLF, Karl, eds., Barroco español y austriaco: fiesta y teatro en la corte de los Habsburgo y los Austrias (Madrid: Museo Municipal, 1994).
  • HAM, Claudia, Die Verkauften Bräute: Studien zu den Hochzeiten zwischen Österreichischen und Spanischen Habsburgern im 17. Jahrhundert (Vienna: Diss., 1995).
  • HAMANN, Brigitte, Die Habsburger: Ein Biografisches Lexicon (Munich: Piper, 1988).
  • RUDOLF, Karl & OPLL, Ferdinand, Spanien und Österreich (Vienna: Jugend und Volk, 1991).
  • SMIDT-DÖRRENBERG, Irmgard, Margarita Maria, Infantin von Spanien, römisch-deutsche Kaiserin. Des Velazquez liebstes Modell (Vienna: Bergland-Verl., 1966).
  • VILLA-URRUTIA, Wenceslao de, Relaciones entre España y Austria durante el reinado de la Emperatriz Doña Margarita, infanta de España, esposa del Emperador Leopoldo I (Madrid: Ricardo Fé, 1905).
  • WIDORN, Helga, Die spanischen Gemahlinnen der Kaiser Maximilian II., Ferdinand III. und Leopold I. (Vienna: Diss., 1959).

External links

Margarita Teresa of Spain
Born: 12 July 1651 Died: 12 March 1673
Royal titles
Preceded by
Eleanor of Mantua
Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, Archduchess consort of Austria
Succeeded by
Claudia Felicitas of Austria
German Queen
Preceded by
Maria Anna of Spain
Queen consort of Hungary
Queen consort of Bohemia




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