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|Isabella of Parma|
|Isabella by Jean-Marc Nattier|
|Spouse||Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor
|Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria
Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria
|Isabella Maria Louisa Antonietta Ferdinanda Josepha Saveria Dominica Joanna|
|House||House of Bourbon-Parma|
|Father||Philip, Duke of Parma|
|Mother||Princess Louise-Elisabeth of France|
|Born||31 December 1741
Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid, Spain
|Died||27 November 1763) (aged 21)
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria
|Burial||Imperial Crypt, Vienna, Austria|
Isabella of Parma (Isabella Maria Luisa Antonietta Ferdinanda Giuseppina Saveria Domenica Giovanna; 31 December 1741 – 27 November 1763) was the daughter of Infante Felipe of Spain, Duke of Parma and his wife Louise Elisabeth, eldest daughter of Louis XV of France and Maria Leszczyńska. Her paternal grandparents were Philip V of Spain (in turn a grandson of Louis XIV) and his second wife, Elisabeth of Parma.
While Joseph overwhelmed Isabel with evidence of his love, she increasingly locked herself, so much that shortly after their wedding she was plunged into melancholy. The princess spent most of the time in the Viennese court not with her husband, but with his sister, Archduchess Maria Christina and, by marriage, Duchess of Saxony-Teschen; in what seemed to be a romantic lesbian affair. They spent so much time together that they earned the comparison with Orpheus and Eurydice. Both were united not only by his interest in music and art but also by a deep mutual love. Every day they wrote long letters in which they revealed their feelings of love. While the letters of Maria Cristina showed her happy nature, Isabel's feelings were mixed, in her expressions of affection, showing a certain pessimism, reflecting her growing obsession with death. Only the letters of Isabella have been preserved; those of Maria Christina were destroyed after her death.
In one such letter, Isabella wrote:
- "I am writing you again, cruel sister, though I have only just left you. I cannot bear waiting to know my fate, and to learn whether you consider me a person worthy of your love, or whether you would like to throw me into the river.... I can think of nothing but that I am deeply in love. If I only knew why this is so, for you are so without mercy that one should not love you, but I cannot help myself.". In a different letter she wrote: "I am told that the day begins with God. I, however, begin the day by thinking of the object of my love, for I think of her incessantly.".
However, as wife of the heir to the throne, Isabella knew that her duty was to give birth to a healthy heir. While her husband faced the task with the best of the provisions, the princess developed a dislike for him and the possibility of pregnancy. On March 20, 1762, after nine months of depression and mental problems, gave birth to a daughter they named Maria Teresa. In August 1762 and January 1763 Isabel suffered two separate miscarriages that aggravated her mental suffering and she fell into a depression that made her lose the will to live.
In 1763 Isabella fell ill with smallpox and after six months of pregnancy, 22 November 1763, gave birth to her daughter Christina, who died a few hours after birth. A week later Isabella died also, at Schönbrunn Palace, and was buried in Maria Theresa's vault in the Imperial Crypt Vaults in Vienna. Joseph could not find comfort and did not get over the death of his wife. His second marriage to Princess Maria Josepha of Bavaria did not give happiness or children.
Subsequently in 1765, Isabella's father-in-law Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor died, and Joseph succeeded him as Holy Roman Emperor with the title of Joseph II.
Isabel had predicted even before her death that their daughter would follow this same road shortly after. Her forebodings were fulfilled on 23 January 1770, when the little Archduchess Maria Theresa died at only eight years old as a result of pneumonia. After the death of his only child, Joseph withdrew increasingly from public life and was unable to re-lock a formal relationship with any other person.
Titles and Styles
- 31 December 1741 – 18 October 1748: Doña Isabel, Infanta of Spain
- 18 October 1748 – 7 September 1760: Princess Isabella of Parma
- 7 September 1760 – 27 November 1763: Archduchess Isabella, Princess Imperial of Austria, Princess Royal of Hungary and Bohemia