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Maria Teresa of Savoy

Princess Maria Teresa of Savoy, (September 19, 1803 - July 16, 1879) was the wife of Duke Charles II of Parma (Duke Charles I of Lucca).

Maria Teresa was born in Palazzo Colonna in Rome, the daughter of King Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia and of his wife, Archduchess Maria Teresa of Austria-Este. She had a twin sister Maria Anna. The two princesses were baptised by Pope Pius VII. Their godparents were their maternal grandparents, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este and his wife Maria Beatrice Ricciarda d'Este. In the Museo di Roma can be seen a painting of the baptism.[1]

Maria Teresa spent the majority of her childhood in Cagliari on the island of Sardinia, where her family had taken refuge from the armies of Napoleon I of France. In 1814 her father was restored to rule in Piedmont and the family returned to Turin.

On September 5, 1820, in Lucca, Maria Teresa married Charles Louis, Prince of Lucca.

They had two children:

Maria Teresa and her husband were considered a mismatched couple. She was a deeply religious woman committed to her Catholic faith. Charles Louis lived largely for his own pleasure often ignoring his governmental responsibilities. They lived most of their married life apart from each other.

On March 13, 1824, Charles Louis' mother died, and he succeeded her as Duke Charles I of Lucca; Maria Teresa became Duchess of Lucca.

On December 17, 1847, the Empress Marie Louise died, and, in accordance with the Congress of Vienna, Charles exchanged the duchy of Lucca for that of Parma, becoming Duke Charles II of Parma; Maria Teresa became Duchess of Parma. For the next few months Maria Teresa was the virtual ruler of Parma until revolution broke out in March 1848. In March 1849 Charles abdicated as duke of Parma and was succeeded by their son, Charles III. Henceforward, Maria Teresa was styled Dowager Duchess of Parma.

Maria Teresa lived mostly at her villa at Viareggio, particularly after the assassination of her son in 1854. Later she lived in a villa in San Martino in Vignale on the hills just north of Lucca. The villa is still called "Tenuta Maria Teresa" in her honour. There she died in 1879 as a result of cerebral arteriosclerosis. She is buried in the Verano cemetery in Rome, dressed in the habit of the Third Order of St. Dominic.

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