Margaret of Austria, the Spanish Menina

Margaret of Austria, the Spanish Menina
Isabel del Rio

Meninas Velazquez: Margaret of Austria, the Spanish Menina.


Meninas Velazquez, by Elena Malec

Meninas Velazquez, by Elena Malec

It seems in the 17th century people had a different idea of love. Colder, I would say.

Parents used their children to make business: farmers’ children married with neighbors to expand the farm; craftsmen’s children married within the guild to reinforce the workshop; and children’s kings had no better destination.

Margaret, the Spanish princess, was used like a political weapon from the beginning and for her own parents (Philip IV of Spain and Mariana of Austria). With 11 years old, she was engaged to his uncle, the emperor Leopold of Austria. Reasons? The usual: to tease France and strengthen the Habsburg dynasty.

If she felt happy or sad with this engagement, we don’t know and, perhaps, neither did she and during the next three years, adults will be playing with her feelings.

The marriage was postponed again and again due to succession problems. She was in the point of remaining in Madrid forever, and to become the new Spanish queen: her brother, the prince Charles (future Charles II), was really ill.

Finally, aged 15, she was sent to Vienna, escorted by 27 galleys, in a crazy trip, which lasted 6 months.

What did she feel when she saw her husband? I’d say anything but love.

In Vienna, she was used as a machine to make babies and she died at 21, in the forth birth.

Poor blonde girl! So nice in Elena Malec’s painting, so tender in the mind of the artist, with that romantic rose, which invites us to dream of chocolate castles.

They say the most important event of Margaret’s life happened in 1668. She attended the premiere of the opera The Golden Apple, by Cesti.

Well, history is arid discipline, with no glare or smiles. We need artists as Elena Malec to enter in those brilliant worlds of our childhood. How we miss them!

Other articles about Elena Malec:

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Isabel del Rio

Managing Editor at Yareah® Magazine. Author of ‘Ariza’ (2008) and ‘The Girls of Oil’ (2010)

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