Anne of Austria Queen Consort of France


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King Louis XIII Bourbon of France

Anne of Austria Queen Consort of France

  • Born: 22 Sep 1602, Benavente Palace in Valladolid, Castile and León, Spain
  • Marriage: King Louis XIII Bourbon of France on 24 Nov 1615
  • Died: 20 Jan 1666 at age 63

  General Notes:

Anne of Austria (22 September 1601 \endash 20 January 1666) was Queen consort of France and Navarre and regent for her son, Louis XIV of France. During her regency (1643\endash 1651) Cardinal Mazarin served as France's chief minister.

Early life

Born at Benavente Palace in Valladolid, Spain, and baptised Ana María Mauricia, she was the daughter of Habsburg parents, Philip III of Spain and Margaret of Austria. She held the titles of Infanta of Spain and of Portugal and Archduchess of Austria.

Life in France

Anne was betrothed at age 11 to Louis XIII. Her father gave her a dowry of 500,000 crowns and many beautiful jewels. For fear that Louis XIII would die early, the Spanish court stipulated that she would return to Spain with her dowry, jewels, and wardrobe if he did die. The pecuniary arrangements being thus satisfied, Anne was saluted as the Queen of France, "a dignity which her Highness accepts with marvellous dignity and gravity". On 24 November 1615, Louis and Anne were married by proxy in Burgos while Louis's sister, Elizabeth, and Anne's brother, Philip IV of Spain, were married by proxy in Bordeaux. These marriages followed the tradition of cementing military and political alliances between France and Spain that began with the marriage of Philip II of Spain to Elisabeth of Valois in 1559 as part of the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis. Anne and Elisabeth were both exchanged on the Isle of Pheasants, between Hendaye and Fuenterrabía.

Anne and Louis, both 14 years old, were pressured to consummate the marriage in order to forestall any possibility of future annulment, but Louis ignored his bride. Louis's mother, Marie de' Medici, continued to conduct herself as queen of France, without showing any deference to her daughter-in-law. Anne, surrounded by her entourage of high-born Spanish ladies-in-waiting, continued to live according to Spanish etiquette and failed to improve her French.

In 1617, Louis conspired with Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes, to dispense with the influence of his mother in a palace coup d'état, having her favorite Concino Concini assassinated on 26 April of that year. During the years he was in the ascendancy, the duc de Luynes attempted to remedy the formal distance between Louis and his queen. He sent away the Spanish ladies and replaced them with French ones, notably the princesse de Conti and Marie de Rohan-Montbazon, his wife, and organized court events that would bring the couple together under amiable circumstances. Anne began to dress in the French manner, and in 1619 Luynes pressed the King to bed his queen. Some affection developed, to the point where it was noted that Louis was distracted during a serious illness of the queen.

A series of miscarriages disenchanted the King and served to chill their relations. On 14 March 1622, while playing with her ladies, Anne fell on a staircase and suffered her second miscarriage, for which Louis blamed her and was angry with Madame de Luynes for having encouraged the queen in what was seen as negligence. Henceforth, the King had less tolerance for the influence the duchesse de Luynes had over Anne, and the situation deteriorated after the death of Luynes (December 1621). The King's attention was monopolized by his war against the Protestants, while the queen defended the remarriage of her inseparable companion, center of all court intrigue, to her lover, Claude, Duke of Chevreuse, in 1622.

Louis turned now to Cardinal Richelieu as his advisor. Richelieu's foreign policy of struggle against the Habsburgs, who surrounded France on two fronts, inevitably created tension between himself and Anne, who remained childless for another sixteen years, while Louis depended ever more on Richelieu, who was his first minister from 1624.

Under the influence of the duchesse de Chevreuse, the queen let herself be drawn into political opposition to Richelieu and became embroiled in several intrigues against his policies. Vague rumors of betrayal circulated in the court, notably her supposed involvement with the conspiracies of the comte de Chalais that Chevreuse organized in 1626, then of the king's treacherous lover, Cinq-Mars, who had been introduced to him by Richelieu.

In 1635, France declared war on Spain, placing the Queen in an untenable position. Her secret correspondence with her brother Philip IV of Spain passed beyond the requirements of sisterly affection. In August 1637, Anne came under so much suspicion that Richelieu forced her to sign covenants regarding her correspondence, which was henceforth open to inspection. The duchesse de Chevreuse was exiled and close watch was kept on the queen.

Birth of an heir

They saw in the arms of this princess whom they had watched suffer great persecutions with so much staunchness, their child-King, like a gift given by Heaven in answer to their prayers.
\emdash Madame de Motteville, Memoires

Surprisingly, in such a climate of distrust, the queen was pregnant once more, a circumstance that contemporary gossip attributed to a single stormy night that prevented Louis from travelling to Saint-Maur and obliged him to spend the night with the queen. Louis XIV was born on 5 September 1638, securing the Bourbon line. At this time, Anne was thirty-seven. The official newspaper Gazette de France called the birth "a marvel when it was least expected". One German diplomat would refer to the King's 'quite extraordinary birth' forty years after the event.

The birth soon afterwards of a second son failed to reestablish confidence between the royal couple. It was at Saint-Germain-en-Laye that Anne gave birth to her second son, Philippe de France, Duke of Anjou and later the founder of the modern House of Orléans.

Richelieu made Louis XIII a gift of his palatial hôtel, the Palais Cardinal, north of the Louvre, in 1636, but the king never took possession of it. Anne fled the Louvre to install herself there with her two small sons, and remained as regent (hence the name Palais-Royal that the structure still carries). Louis tried to prevent Anne from obtaining the regency after his death, which came in 1643, not long after that of Richelieu.

Regent of France

Anne was named regent upon her husband's death in spite of her late husband's wishes. With the aid of Pierre Séguier, she had the Parlement de Paris revoke the will of the late king, which would have limited her powers. Their four-year-old son was crowned King Louis XIV of France. Anne assumed the regency but to general surprise entrusted the government to the chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin, who was a protegé of Cardinal Richelieu and figured among the council of the regency. Mazarin left the hôtel Tuboeuf to take up residence at the Palais Royal near Queen Anne. Before long he was believed to be her lover, and, it was hinted, even her husband.

With Mazarin's support, Anne overcame the revolt of aristocrats, led by Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, that became known as the Fronde. In 1651, when her son Louis XIV officially came of age, her regency legally ended. However, she kept much power and influence over her son until the death of Mazarin.

Later life
Anne with her beloved niece and daughter-in-law, Maria Theresa of Spain, and grandson, Louis.

In 1659, the war with Spain ended with the Treaty of the Pyrenees. The following year, peace was cemented by the marriage of the young King to Anne's niece, the Spanish Habsburg princess Maria Theresa of Spain.

In 1661, the same year as the death of Mazarin, an heir to the throne was born, Anne's first grandchild Louis de France. Many other children would follow, but all would die in the legitimate line except for Louis. Some time after, Anne retired to the convent of Val-de-Grâce, where she died of breast cancer five years later. Her lady-in-waiting Madame de Motteville wrote the story of the queen's life in her Mémoires d'Anne d'Autriche. Many view her as a brilliant and cunning woman and she is one of the central figures in Alexandre Dumas, père's novel, The Three Musketeers and its sequels.

Anne married King Louis XIII Bourbon of France, son of King Henri IV Bourbon of France and Marie de Médicis, on 24 Nov 1615. (King Louis XIII Bourbon of France was born on 27 Sep 1601, died on 14 May 1643 and was buried in Basilique Saint-Denis, Paris, Île-de-France, France.)

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