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Anna of Austria (1549-1580)


Anna of Austria (1549-1580)

Anna of Austria
Anna of Austria by Alonso Sánchez Coello
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure 1570–1580
Spouse Philip II of Spain
Ferdinand, Prince of Asturias
Diego, Prince of Asturias
Philip III of Spain
House House of Habsburg
Father Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Maria of Spain
Born 1 November 1549
Cigales, Spain
Died 26 October 1580 (aged 30)
Badajoz, Spain
Burial El Escorial
Religion Roman Catholicism

Anna of Austria (1 November 1549 – 26 October 1580) was Queen of Spain by virtue of her marriage to her uncle, King Philip II of Spain.


She was the eldest daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II and Maria of Spain. Her maternal grandparents were Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Isabella of Portugal, and her paternal grandparents were Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary. The mother of both Charles V and Ferdinand I was Joanna of Castile, known as Joanna the Mad (Juana la Loca), the daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. Anna was born in Spain, but lived in Vienna from the age of four. She had many other siblings, two of whom became the Holy Roman Emperors (Rudolf II and Matthias). Among her sisters was Queen Elisabeth of France, wife of King Charles IX of France.


Anna was considered her father's favorite child. The story goes that he enjoyed playing and gambling with her and once a meeting of the Estates of Hungary was postponed because Anna was sick. She received a Catholic education even though her father was sympathetic to Lutheranism.

As the eldest daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, Anna was a desirable candidate for marriage at the European courts. Her parents thought of a Spanish marriage to strengthen links between the Austrian and Spanish Habsburg families. Initially she had her cousin Don Carlos of Spain in mind, the only son of her maternal uncle Philip II of Spain. These plans were shattered in 1568 when Don Carlos died. Plans for a Spanish marriage were revived when Philip's third wife, Elisabeth, died in childbirth, also in 1568. As a result, Philip was left a widower with two young daughters. Philip had been married three times before: first to his double first cousin Maria Manuela, Princess of Portugal, secondly to his first cousin, once removed Mary I of England, and thirdly to the aforementioned Elisabeth of Valois. Philip was now looking for his fourth wife, since he had no male heir since Don Carlos died. In February 1569, Anna's engagement to her uncle Philip II was announced and in May 1570 they married by proxy.

Anna traveled from Austria to Spain in the autumn of 1570 accompanied by her brothers Albert and Wenzel. They traveled through the Netherlands, where Anna was accosted by friends and relatives of Floris of Montigny, the younger brother of the executed Count of Horn. Montigny had been imprisoned in Spain since 1567. Now that King Philip had entered into a new marriage, Montigny's family and friends dared to hope for leniency. They received a promise from the future queen that she would do her utmost to free Montigny. On 3 October Anna arrived on Spanish soil, but before she could reach the king, Floris was secretly put to death on 16 October 1570. The historian John Brewer believes that Philip had him hastily executed soon after the Philip's first meeting with Anna, in which he refused to free Floris.

Besides being her father's favorite child, Anna was also Philip's most beloved wife. But the marriage was at first opposed by many, including Pope Pius V.[1] According to diplomats, the king was in love with his young bride. Philip was a conscientious monarch and maintained his relationship with Anna twice a week to write notes. It was Philip's fourth marriage, but the king still had no male heir. Anna completed her duties flawlessly in that regard. Not only was she a good stepmother to Philip's daughters Isabella Clara Eugenia and Catherine Michelle,[2] but she also gave birth to five children, including sons.

There are no records of Philip having mistresses during the time of their marriage. Anna had a personality very much like his own, and he was devoted to her. Queen Anna was also vivid and cheerful, and managed to ease up some of the stiff atmosphere at the Spanish court. Anna busied herself mostly with needlework.

She died of heart failure eight months after giving birth to her last child, Maria who outlived her mother by less than three years.


  1. Ferdinand, Prince of Asturias (4 December 1571 – 18 October 1578), died in Philip's lifetime
  2. Charles Laurence (12 August 1573 – 30 June 1575), died young
  3. Diego, Prince of Asturias (15 August 1575 – 21 November 1582), died in Philip's lifetime
  4. Philip III of Spain (3 April 1578 – 31 March 1621), succeeded his father, the only child to live to adulthood.[3]
  5. Maria (14 February 1580 – 5 August 1583)





  • J. Brouwer, Montigny, Representative of the Netherlands by Philip II (Amsterdam z.j. [1941]).
  • R. Rodríguez Raso, Maximiliano de Austria, gobernador de Carlos V en España: cartas al emperador (Madrid 1963).
  • Fernando González-Doria, Las Reinas de España (Madrid 1986).
  • A. W. Lovett, Early Habsburg Spain, 1517-1598 (Oxford 1986).
  • John Lynch, Spain 1516-1598. From nation state to world empire (Oxford 1991).
  • Geoffrey Parker, Philip II (Chicago / La Salle 1996).
  • Henry Kamen, Philip of Spain (New Haven / London 1997).
  • Manuel Ríos Mazcarelle, Reinas de España. Casa de Austria (Madrid 1998).
  • L. Cabrera de Córdoba, Historia de Felipe II, rey de España, J. Martínez Millán and C.J. ed the Carlos Morales (Madrid 1998).
  • Paula Sutter Fichtner, The Emperor Maximilian II (New Haven 2001).
  • Pedro Gargantilla, Enfermedades de los reyes de España. Los Austrias. De la locura a la impotencia de Juana de Carlos II el Hechizado (Madrid 2005).
Anna of Austria, Queen of Spain
Born: 1 November 1549 Died: 26 October 1580
Royal titles
Title last held by
Elisabeth of Valois
Queen consort of Spain
Title next held by
Margaret of Austria
Title last held by
Catherine of Austria
Queen consort of Portugal
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