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Maria Theresa of Spain, France's Neglected Queen

Queen Maria Theresa (by Charles Beaubrun, ca. 1660s).

Maria Theresa of Spain, Queen Consort of France, was born on September 10, 1638, at the Escorial, the daughter of Philip IV of Spain and Elizabeth of France.

Until her marriage to King Louis XIV of France, Maria Theresa was in line to the succession of the Spanish Crown. The kingdom of Spain did not adhere to the Salic Law so when her brother Balthasar Charles passed away in 1646, she became heiress presumptive to the Spanish Empire, a position she held until the birth Philip Prospero, in 1657. She was heiress presumptive once again, but only for less than a week, from, from the death of Prince Philip in November 1, 1661, until the birth of Prince Charles, who later became King of Spain as Charles II, on November 6.


 The treaty of the Pyreness in 1659 stipulated for her marriage with Louis XIV. However, she also had to renounce her claim to the Spanish succession. Marie Therese was married in June 1660. Philip IV with his whole court accompanied the bride to the Isle of Pheasants in the Bidassoa, where she was met by Louis.

On August 26, 1660, the newlyweds made the traditional Joyous Entry into Paris. At first, Louis was a faithful husband, until he started having mistresses. Maria Theresa eventually did not mind her husband’s affairs and the king left her to do as she pleased. He had high regards for her and even reproached his longtime mistress, Madame de Montespan, who vocally resented the queen's position.

The King’s affection towards Montespan waned over time and her position at court was usurped by Madame de Maintenon, who was the governess of the King and Montespean’s illegitimate children. Maintenon initially evaded the king's advances and, instead, encouraged him to lavish his attention on his long-neglected wife. Maria Theresa never forgot the kindness showed towards her by Montespan and she repaid with warmth toward the new favorite. After the queen's death, Maintenon would become the king's second but officially secret, wife.

Maria Theresa had little or no interest at all in politics, although she had served as regent in the years 1667, 1672, and 1678, when King Louis XIV was away on campaigns on the frontier.

 She died on July 30, 1683, at Versailles, not without suspicion of foul play on the part of her doctors. Of her six children only one survived her, the Dauphin Louis, who died in  1711.

She endured a painful death, something that bothered the King. Louis XIV noted: "This is the first trouble which she has given me." She survived all of her siblings except King Charles II who died in 170p. One of her grandsons, Philip, Duke of Anjou, inherited the Spanish throne in 1700. The issue regarding his right to succeeded as king triggered the War of the Spanish Succession. 

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