Mariana of Austria’s Portraits as Ruler-Governor and Curadora
Mariana of Austria played an important role in the history of the Spanish monarchy in the seventeenth century. Born in Neustadt on December 23, 1634, María Anna of Austria was the daughter of Emperor Ferdinand III and the Infanta María, who was the sister of Philip IV. Mariana was to have married Prince Baltasar Carlos, Philip IV’s son, but when her cousin the prince died, she instead married his father, her uncle, the king. The new queen consort arrived in Madrid in 1649; in Spain she was called Mariana, and this is the name by which she has come to be known. She gave birth to five children but only two survived to adulthood, the Infanta Margarita and King Carlos II. After the death of Philip IV, Queen Mariana became regent, guardian-tutor, and guardian-curadora of her son, the child-king, and in his name ruled the monarchy.1 It was the first time for nearly two hundred years that Spain had a regency, and during that time, Mariana had both to invent her role and create a new image for herself as governor. When King Carlos II reached his majority, Queen Mariana continued to play an important role as guardiancuradora. It was only when Carlos II married María Luisa of Orleans that a new period began for Mariana as queen mother, indeed the first queen mother in the Spanish monarchy since medieval times. She became a key figure in factional struggles concerning the future succession to the Spanish throne; Carlos II was to be the last Habsburg king of Spain.2 Mariana died on May 16, 1696 in Madrid. Mariana played different and important roles never before seen in the life of a Spanish Habsburg queen.