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Mary of Modena (Mary Beatrice Eleanor Anne Margaret Isabel; born Este; later Queen Mary of England, Scotland and Ireland; 5 October 1658 – 7 May 1718) was queen consort to James II of England. Her reign as consort lasted from 6 February 1685 until 11 December 1688. Mary was crowned Queen consort on 23 April 1685.

Early life and family

Mary was born on 5 October 1658 at the Ducal Palace in Modenamarker, Italy, the eldest child and only daughter of Alfonso IV, Duke of Modena and his wife, the former Laura Martinozzi. She had one younger brother Francesco II d'Este, who became Duke of Modena and Reggio at the age of two, upon the death of their father who died when Mary was four years old. Their mother Laura acted as Francesco's regent until 1674 when he assumed full control.

Her paternal grandparents were Francesco I d'Este and Maria Caterina Farnese of Parma. Her maternal grandparents were Girolamo Martinozzi and Laura Mazzarini. Two of Mary's maternal cousins were Hortense Mancini, a mistress of her brother-in-law, King Charles II; and the notorious intrigante Olympia Mancini, Countess of Soissons , who was implicated in the Poison Affair which resulted in her expulsion from France.

Mary was a descendant of King Henry II of France and Catherine de Medici.

Marriage

Mary was married to James, Duke of York, by proxy in a Catholic ceremony on 20 September 1673; they were married in person on 21 November 1673 with Nathaniel Crew, Bishop of Oxford officiating at the Anglican ceremony. Mary's mother Laura had accompanied her daughter to England.

The marriage had urgent dynastic and political aspects. James had two Protestant daughters, Mary and Anne, from his first marriage to Anne Hyde. A son by James's second marriage would be king one day, a Roman Catholic king. Though Mary was beautiful and charming — Charles II quickly came round to her — the people of England disliked her for her Roman Catholicism. She was lampooned in broadsheets under the name "Madame East". Rumours spread that she was an agent of the pope, Clement X, who had pressed her case as a suitable bride. During the "Popish Plot" (1678), in which her secretary, Coleman, was involved, she and James discreetly went abroad.

Their first male child was stillborn (1674), and numerous others died in infancy or early childhood. Following James's accession to the throne in 1685, the question of whether Mary would ever bear a son became more significant, because such a child would be brought up in the Roman Catholic faith and would be heir to the throne.

In 1688, Mary finally gave birth to a living son, James, nine months after bathing in the The Cross Bathmarker at Bathmarker. The event caused much speculation. It was suggested that the child had been born dead and a changeling smuggled into the room in a warming pan in order to conceal the death, or that the Queen had never actually been with child. Broadsheets depicting the queen stuffing pillows into her gown or cuckolding her husband with her confessor were common. For political reasons, a royal birth was a very public event, and many people would have had to be privy to this unlikely conspiracy. Nevertheless the rumours were disquieting enough that James called two extraordinary sessions of his Privy Council to hear testimony proving that the young Prince of Wales was his son by the Queen, though James's daughters disputed the child's legitimacy.

Revolution

Within a few months of the heir's birth, the Glorious Revolution erupted. Mary consented to escape to France (10 December 1688) with her son. James's elder daughter, Mary, with her husband, William III of Orange, had been invited by the Whigs to take the throne.

In exile, as guests and dependents of Louis XIV at the Chateau of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Mary gave birth to one more child, Princess Louisa Maria, who died of smallpox at the age of nineteen.

Later life

When James died on 6 September 1701, Mary succeeded in inducing Louis to recognize her son as king of England and Scotland, an act that accelerated English participation in the War of the Spanish Succession. She supported Jacobite exiles to the best of her ability.

Queen Mary died in Château de Saint-Germain-en-Layemarker near Parismarker of breast cancer. Her tomb, in the abbey of Chaillot, was destroyed during the French Revolution.

Legacy



Titles, styles, honours and arms

[[Image:Mary of Modena Arms.svg|thumb|right|upright|Queen Mary's arms]]

Titles and styles

  • 5 October 1658–30 September 1673: Princess Mary of Modena
  • 30 September 1673–6 February 1685: Princess Mary, Duchess of York
  • 6 February 1685–11 December 1688: Her Majesty The Queen
  • 11 December 1688–7 May 1718: Her Majesty Queen Mary
    • Jacobite: Her Majesty The Queen


Mary's full style during James's reign was: "Her Majesty Mary, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, Scotland, France and Ireland"

Issue

Name Birth Death Notes
Catherine Laura 10 January 1675 3 October 1676 died of convulsions.
Isabel 28 August 1676 2 March 1681  
Charles, Duke of Cambridge 7 November 1677 12 December 1677 died of smallpox
Elizabeth 1678 c. 1678  
Charlotte Maria 16 August 1682 16 October 1682 died of convulsions
James, Prince of Wales Old Pretender 10 June 1688 1 January 1766 married 1719, Maria Klementyna Sobieska; had issue
Louise 28 June 1692 20 April 1712 died of smallpox


Ancestry




Notes and sources


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