Maria Theresa of Spain : biography
Maria Theresa of Spain ( 10 September 1638 – 30 July 1683) was Queen of France as the first wife of King Louis XIV. Famed for her virtue and piety, she was only barely able to fulfill her duty as queen by producing a male heir to the throne, since five of her six children died in early childhood. She is frequently viewed as an object of pity in historical accounts of her husband’s reign, since she had no choice but to tolerate his many illicit love affairs.
Official portrait of Maria Theresa as Queen of France, by [[Charles Beaubrun]] On 26 August 1660, the newlyweds made the traditional Joyous Entry into Paris. Louis was faithful to his wife for the first year of their marriage, commanding the Grand Maréchal du Logis that "the Queen and himself were never to be set apart, no matter how small the house in which they might be lodging".Ian Dunlop. Louis XIV. London: Pimlico, 2001. He enjoyed the legitimate passion that his wife felt for him, however the couple would later have difficulty with compatibility. Maria Theresa gained weight as she aged and withdrew into her circle of dwarfs. Louis’s installment of Louise de La Vallière as his first official mistress pained the queen, for which Louise would later tender a public apology.
Maria Theresa was very fortunate to have found a friend at court in her mother-in-law, unlike many princesses in foreign lands. She continued to spend much of her free time playing cards and gambling, as she had no interest in politics or literature. Consequently, she was viewed as not fully playing the part of queen designated to her by her marriage. But more importantly, she became pregnant in early 1661, and a long-awaited son was born on 1 November 1661.
The first time Maria Theresa ever saw the Palace of Versailles was on 25 October 1660. At that time, it was just a small royal residence that had been Louis XIII’s hunting lodge not far from Paris. Later, the first building campaign (1664–1668) commenced with the Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée of 1664, a week-long celebration at Versailles ostensibly held in honour of France’s two queens, Louis XIV’s mother and wife, but exposed Louise de La Vallière’s role as the king’s maîtresse-en-titre. The celebration of the Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée is often regarded as a prelude to the War of Devolution, which Louis waged against Spain. The first building campaign witnessed alterations in the château and gardens in order to accommodate the 600 guests invited to the celebration.
Two Queens of France: [[Anne of Austria with her niece and daughter-in-law, Maria Theresa, holding her son Louis]]
As time passed, Maria Theresa also came to tolerate her husband’s prolonged infidelity with Françoise-Athénaïs, marquise de Montespan. The king left her to her own devices, yet reprimanded Madame de Montespan when her behaviour at court too flagrantly disrespected the queen’s position.
Later, the governess of Montespan’s illegitimate children by the king, Madame de Maintenon, came to supplant her mistress in the king’s affections. At first she resisted the king’s advances and encouraged him to bestow more attention on his long-neglected wife, a thoughtfulness which Maria Theresa repaid with warmth toward the new favourite. After the queen’s death, Maintenon would become the king’s second, although officially secret, wife.
Maria Theresa played little part in political affairs except for the years 1667, 1672, and 1678, during which she acted as regent while her husband was away on campaigns on the frontier.
Marie-Thérèse’s burial site at the [[Basilique Saint-Denis, where most of France’s monarchs are buried.]]
During the last week of July 1683, Maria Theresa fell ill and, as her illness worsened, her husband ordered for the sacraments to be kept nearby. She died a painful death on 30 July 1683, at Versailles. Upon her death, Louis XIV said: "This is the first trouble which she has given me."