An Illegitimate Habsburg: Sor Ana Dorotea de la Concepción, Marquise of Austria
Madrid’s Monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Consolación or de la Asunción, better known as the Descalzas Reales [Royal Discalced], famously harbored three female members of the Habsburg dynasty at the core of female power in the court of Philip III: Empress María of Austria, who spent her last few years cloistered there; Margarita of Austria, Philip III’s wife, who would visit the convent regularly; and Archduchess Sor Margaret of the Cross, who took vows there in 1585.2 In her groundbreaking work The Empress, the Queen and the Nun, Magdalena S. Sánchez reconstructed their biographies, at once analyzing their role in courtly networks and in the patronage system by unveiling and describing the power mechanisms deployed by them, and displaying the political influence they held during the Duke of Lerma’s rule as the king’s favorite. However, Margaret of the Cross was not the only Habsburg to take vows and reside at the Descalzas Reales during the seventeenth century. At least one other female member of this dynasty entered the convent: Ana Dorotea, Marquise of Austria and the youngest illegitimate daughter of Emperor Rudolph II (1611-1694), traveled to Madrid to enter this institution during the first years of Philip IV’s reign, and would live there until her death in 1694.3
1 Research for this essay was supported by the Postdoctoral Fellowship “Juan de la Cierva” (JCI-2010-07417) at the Fundación Carlos de Amberes and the project “Palabra y poder: escritura, representación y memoria en la Monarquía de los Austrias” (HAR200805529/HIST), both financed by Spain’s Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.