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Margaret
Spouse Alessandro de' Medici
Ottavio Farnese
Issue
Alexander Farnese
House House of Habsburg
Father Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Johanna Maria van der Gheynst
Born 28 December 1522(1522-12-28)
Died 18 January 1586 (aged 63)

Margaret, Duchess of Parma (28 December 1522 – 18 January 1586) governor of the Netherlands from 1559 to 1567, was the illegitimate daughter of Charles V.

Her mother, Johanna Maria van der Gheynst, a servant of Charles de Lalaing, Seigneur de Montigny, was a Fleming. Margaret was brought up by the Douwrin family, and later by her great-aunt, Archduchess Margaret of Austria, and her aunt, Maria of Austria, who were successively governors of the Netherlands from 1507 to 1530 and from 1530 to 1555, respectively. In 1533 she was acknowledged by her father and allowed to assume the name Margaret of Austria.

In 1527, in the year she turned five, she became engaged to the Pope's nephew, Alexander de Medici, Duke of Florence. In 1533, she married her betrothed but he was assassinated in 1537. On 4 November 1538 she became the wife of Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma, the grandson of Pope Paul III. He was thirteen years old, she sixteen. The union, which proved an unhappy one, produced twin sons, one of whom died in infancy.

Like her aunts, who trained her, Margaret was a woman with many abilities. Philip II acted wisely in appointing her governor of the Netherlands when he left them in 1559 for Spain. In ordinary times she would probably have proved as successful a ruler as her two predecessors in that post, but her task was very different from theirs. She had to face the rising storm of discontent against the Inquisition and Spanish despotism, and Philip left her but nominal authority. He was determined to pursue his own arbitrary course, and the issue was the revolt of the Netherlands.

In 1567 Margaret resigned her post into the hands of the duke of Alva and retired to Italy. She had the satisfaction of seeing her son Alexander Farnese appointed to the office she had laid down, and to watch his successful career as governor-general of the Netherlands. She died in Ortona in 1586.

See also

References

Margaret of Parma
Born: 28 December 1522 Died: 18 January 1586
Italian royalty
Preceded by
office created
Duchess of Florence
1533-1537
Succeeded by
Eleanor of Toledo
Preceded by
Girolama Orsini
Duchess of Parma
1556-1586
Succeeded by
Infanta Maria of Guimarães
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy
Governor of the Netherlands
1559-1567
Succeeded by
Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alva
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