Maria Theresa of Spain


Maria Theresa of Spain : biography

10 September 1638 – 30 July 1683

Of her six children, only one survived her, Louis, le Grand Dauphin, the oldest one, who died in 1711. One of the younger grandsons of Maria Theresa’s would eventually inherit her claim to the Spanish throne to become King Philip V of Spain in 1700.

In Spain

Early life

Born an Infanta of Spain at the Royal Monastery of El Escorial, she was the daughter of King Philip IV, and his wife Elisabeth of France, who died when Maria Theresa was six years old. As a member of the House of Hapsburg, Maria Theresa was entitled to use the title Archduchess of Austria.

Unlike France, the kingdom of Spain had no Salic Law, so it was possible for a female to assume the throne. When Maria Theresa’s brother Balthasar Charles, Prince of Asturias, died in 1646, she became heiress presumptive to the vast Spanish Empire and remained such until the birth of Philip Prospero, Prince of Asturias, in 1657. She was heiress presumptive once more between 1 November and 6 November 1661 – the death of Prince Philip and the birth of Prince Charles, who would later inherit the thrones of Spain as Charles II.

Infanta Maria Theresa by Velázquez, 1653. Here, she wears her hair in a popular style at the Spanish royal court and a dress with wide panniers, also popular in Spain.]] In 1658, as war with France began to wind down, a union between the royal families of Spain and France was proposed as a means to secure peace. Maria Theresa and the French king were double first-cousins: Louis XIV’s father was Louis XIII of France, who was the brother of Maria Theresa’s mother, while her father was brother to Anne of Austria, Louis XIV’s mother. Anne of Austria desired an end to hostilities between her native country of Spain and her adopted one, France.Antonia Fraser. Love and Louis XIV. However, Spanish procrastination led to a scheme in which France’s prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, pretended to seek a marriage for his master with Margaret Yolande of Savoy. When Philip IV of Spain heard of a meeting at Lyon between the Houses of France and Savoy in November 1658, he reputedly exclaimed of the Franco-Savoyard union that "it cannot be, and will not be". Philip then sent a special envoy to the French court to open negotiations for peace and a royal marriage.


Maria Theresa is handed over to the French and her husband by proxy, [[Louis XIV on the Isle of Pheasants]]

The negotiations for the marriage contract were intense. Eager to prevent a union of the two countries or crowns, especially one in which Spain would be subservient to France, the diplomats sought to include a renunciation clause that would deprive Maria Theresa and her children of any rights to the Spanish succession. This was eventually done but, by the skill of Mazarin and his French diplomats, the renunciation and its validity were made conditional upon the payment of a large dowry. As it turned out, Spain, impoverished and bankrupt after decades of war, was unable to pay such a dowry, and France never received the agreed sum of 500,000 écus.

A marriage by proxy to the French king was held in Fuenterrabia. Her father and the entire Spanish court accompanied the bride to the Isle of Pheasants in the Bidassoa, where Louis and his court met her. On 7 June 1660, she left Spain and on 9 June the marriage took place in Saint-Jean-de-Luz at the recently rebuilt church of Saint Jean the Baptist. After the wedding, Louis wanted to consummate the marriage as quickly as possible. The new queen’s mother-in-law (and aunt) arranged a private consummation instead of the public one that was the custom.


Name Birth Death Notes
Maria Theresa of Spain with Louis XIV of France
Louis, Grand Dauphin 1 November 1661 14 April 1711 Dauphin of France from 1661–1711. Father of Louis, Dauphin of France (1682–1712), Philip V of Spain and Charles, Duke of Berry (1686–1714).
Anne-Élisabeth of France 18 November 1662 30 December 1662
Marie-Anne of France 16 November 1664 26 December 1664
Marie-Thérèse of France 2 January 1667 1 March 1672 Known as Madame Royale and la Petite Madame.
Philippe Charles, Duke of Anjou 5 August 1668 10 July 1671
Louis François, Duke of Anjou 14 June 1672 4 November 1672