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January 10: Happy Birthday Margaret of Austria

Hey, this is Heather from the Renaissance English History Podcast, and this is your Tudor Minute for January 10.

Today is the birthday of Margaret of Austria, born in 1480. She was the second child and only daughter of Maximilian of Austria and Mary of Burgundy, co-sovereigns of the Low Countries. In 1482 she was betrothed to Louis XI of France’s son, Charles, and was raised in France. But Charles broke the engagement in 1491, and spurned Margaret. She then became the wife of Prince John, the only son of Ferdinand and Isabella (so she was Katherine of Aragon’s sister in law for a time). He died shortly into the marriage, and she gave birth to a stillborn daughter after his death. In 1501 she married again, to the Duke of Savoy. He also died after three years, and she vowed to never marry again. But she is most famous as the Regent for the Hapsburg Netherlands, where she ruled successfully for twenty years. Her court was a perfect glittering Renaissance court, and is where Anne Boleyn spent her formative childhood years.

Margaret was intelligent, and witty. On the way to Spain there was a terrible storm, and in the midst of being seasick and thinking she was going to drown, she wrote her own epitaph:
“Here lies Margaret, the willing bride. Twice married, but a virgin when she died.”

That’s just an example of her wit and sense of humor. She also negotiated the so called Ladies Peace with Louise of Savoy in which the women tried to get the men out of things, and just talk, and make peace. She died in 1530, when one of her maids broke a glass goblet, and a splinter of glass went into her foot and became gangrenous. She agreed to have her foot amputated, and but died before the operation, apparently from an overdose of opium that the doctors gave her in preparation for the amputation.

That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com.