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Margaret of Savoy, duchess consort of Mantua and Montferrat (oil by Frans Pourbus).

Margaret of Savoy, Duchess Consort of Mantua and Montferrat (b. Torino, 28 April 1589 - d. Miranda de Ebro, 26 June 1655) (Italian: Margherita, Spanish: Margarita, Portuguese: Margarida, French: Marguerite) was best known as the last Spanish Vicereine of Portugal. In Portuguese she is known as Duquesa de Mântua.

She was born, during the powerful imperial reign of her maternal grandfather Philip II of Spain, as the fifth child of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy (1562-1630) and infanta Catherine Micaela of Spain (1567-97).

Duchess of Mantua and Montferrat

She was married to the future Francis IV, Duke of Mantua (1586-1612) and Montferrat on 19 February 1608, the wedding being celebrated in Turin.

In 1612 her husband succeeded his father Vincent I, Duke of Mantua. Soon she was widowed. Their marriage had produced three children, but only one daughter, Maria, Duchess of Montferrat, survived childhood.

As the couple had no surviving male issue, in 1612 duke Francis' next brother succeeded him in the Duchy of Mantua, whereas in the Duchy of Montferrat he was succeeded by his three-year-old daughter , because it had been historically inherited by females, being a margraviate. Indeed, it had been brought to the Mantuan princely dynasty (the Gonzaga) by the marriage of Margherita Paleologa, Margravine of Montferrat, in 1531. Accordingly, the baby Maria's claims were asserted and dowager duchess Margaret required to be made her regent in Montferrat.

This was a contested inheritance - Maria was a minor for the next decade - and ultimately, duke Francis' brothers failed to produce any legitimate issue, and the entire inheritance became subject to Mantuan War of Succession (1627-32).

Duchess Margaret's daughter Maria was in 1627 married to Charles, the eldest son of the distant Gonzaga heir-male (now Charles I, Duke of Mantua), in order to join two of the Mantuan claims. They had to wage war, but in the end their line prevailed and got universal recognition as Dukes of Mantua and Montferrat.

Vicereine of Portugal

Upon the death in 1633 of her maternal aunt, Archduchess Isabella Clara Eugenia, duchess dowager of Luxembourg etc. and Vicereine of the Low Countries, her brother Victor Amadeus became heir to the rights of their maternal grandmother Elisabeth of Valois, eldest daughter and in her issue the heiress of Henry II of France and Catherine of Medici.

She had ancestral links to Portugal: two of her great-grandmothers (i.e: Empress Isabella and Beatrice, Duchess of Savoy) had been daughters of king Manuel I of Portugal.

In 1635, after the demise of the Count of Basto, she was named by her cousin Philip IV of Spain Vicereine of Portugal, at the time in a personal Iberian union with Spain, where she moved to in 1634. This nomination was the result of the efforts of Diogo Soares, member of the Council of Portugal at Madrid, a friend of the Count-Duke of Olivares and a relative of Miguel de Vasconcelos who, in 1635, would be named secretary of state of Portugal.

As a result of the Portuguese independentist revolution (called Restoration of Independence) of 1640, Vasconcelos was assassinated and the Duchess of Mantua tried to calm the Portuguese people during demonstrations in the Portuguese Terreiro do Paço (at the time Lisbon's main square). The Portuguese proclaimed the duke of Braganza as their new king. Margarita was surrounded in her headquarters in Lisbon, and her support collapsing, the new potentate allowed her to depart to Spain.

She died in Miranda de Ebro (Spain) in 1655, her daughter Duchess Maria of Rethel and Montferrat surviving her, with two grandchildren, of whom the daughter Eleanor had in 1651 become the Holy Roman Empress and the son Charles in 1637 the reigning duke of Mantua. At her death, both her grandchildren had already produced great-grandchildren for her.

Ancestors

Margarida of Savoy's ancestors in three generations
Margarida of Savoy Father:
Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy
Paternal Grandfather:
Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy
Paternal Great-Grandfather:
Charles III, Duke of Savoy
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Infanta Beatriz, Duchess of Savoy
Paternal Grandmother:
Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry
Paternal Great-Grandfather:
Francis I of France
Paternal Great-Grandmother:
Claude of France
Mother:
Catherine Michelle of Spain
Maternal Grandfather:
Philip II of Spain
Maternal Great-Grandfather:
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Maternal Great-Grandmother:
Isabella of Portugal
Maternal Grandmother:
Elisabeth of Valois
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Henry II of France
Maternal Great-Grandmother:
Catherine de' Medici

Margarida had three children

  • Maria (1609 – 1660); married 1627 Charles II of Gonzaga (1609 – 1631), Duke of Rethel en Nevers
  • Ludovico (April 27, 1611 – August 3, 1612)
  • Eleonora (September 12 – September 13, 1612)
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