Facts and Events
Maria Luisa of Spain, (María Luisa Josefina Antonieta Vicenta; 6 July 1782 – 13 March 1824) was an Infanta of Spain. She was a daughter of King Carlos IV of Spain and his wife Maria Luisa of Parma. In 1795, age thirteen, she married her first cousin Louis, Hereditary Prince of Parma. She spent the first years of her married life at the Spanish court where her first son, Charles II, Duke of Parma, was born.
In 1801 the Treaty of Aranjuez made her husband King of Etruria, a kingdom created from the former Duchy of Tuscany in exchange for the renunciation of the Duchy of Parma. They arrived in Florence, the capital of the new kingdom, in August 1801. During a brief visit to Spain in 1802, Maria Luisa gave birth to her second and last child. Her husband reign in Etruria was marred by his ill health and was brief. He died in 1803, at the age of 30, as a consequence of an epileptic crisis. Maria Luisa acted as regent for her son. During her government in Florence, she tried to gain the support of her subjects, but her administration of Etruria was cut short by Napoleon Bonaparte, who forced her to leave with her children in December 1807. As part of the Treaty of Fontainebleau, Napoleon incorporated Etruria to his domains. After a futile interview with Napoleon in Milan, Maria Luisa looked for refuge in exile with her family in Spain. The Spanish court was deeply divided and a month after her arrival the country was thrown into unrest when a popular uprising, known as the Mutiny of Aranjuez, forced Maria Luisa's father, King Carlos IV of Spain to abdicate in his son Ferdinand VII of Spain. Napoleon invited father and son to Bayonne, France, with the excuse of acting as a mediator, but ultimately reserved Spain for himself giving the kingdom to his brother, Joseph Bonaparte. Napoleon called the remaining members of the Spanish royal family to France and at their departure on 2 May 1808, the citizens of Madrid rose up in rebellion against the French occupation. Once in France, Maria Luisa was reunited in exile with her parents. She was the only member of the Spanish Royal family to directly opposed Napoleon and after her secret plan to escape was discovered, Maria Luisa was separated from her son and placed with her daughter as prisoner in a convent in Rome.
Maria Luisa, mostly known as the Queen of Etruria during her lifetime, regained her freedom in 1814 at the fall of Napoleon. In the following years she continued to live in Rome, hoping to recover her former domains in the name of her son. To put forward her case she wrote a book of memoirs, but she was disappointed when the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815) compensated her not with Parma but with the smaller Duchy of Lucca, which was carved out of Tuscany. As a consolation she was allowed to retain the honors of a Queen. Initially reluctant to accept this accord, Maria Luisa did not take the government of Lucca until December 1817. As a reigning Duchess in her own right in Lucca, Maria Luisa disregarded the constitution imposed on her by the congress of Vienna and governed in an absolutist fashion, though her government was neither reactionary nor oppressive. While spending some time in her palace in Rome, she died of cancer at age 41.