The first winner of the Royal Studies Studies Journal Article Prize is Rocío Martínez López, a doctoral candidate at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (Madrid, Spain). She is also involved in the organisation of the next Kings & Queens conference which will take place in Madrid in September 2017.
Rocío has translated her article with the invaluable help of Ellie Woodacre and Jitske Jasperseand. It appears in the current issue of the Royal Studies Journal here.
I caught up with her to ask a few more questions about her article, and her research in general.
Cathleen: Hi Rocío! Thanks for doing this interview.
You recently won the Royal Studies Journal Article Prize, sponsored by Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) for your article ‘La infanta se ha de casar con quien facilite la paz o disponga los medios para la guerra‘. Las negociaciones para la realización del matrimonio entre la infanta María Teresa y Leopoldo I (1654-1657) in the journal Revista de Historia Moderna 33 (2015). Congratulations!
First of all, could you tell us a bit about this article? What is it about?
Rocío: Hi, Cathleen! Thanks for your congratulations! I feel really honored and I want to thank the Royal Studies Journal, the Canterbury Christ Church University and the ECR and Young Researchers’ Article Prize Committee for it. Well, my article focuses on the analysis of the marriage negotiations between Felipe IV of Spain and the emperors Ferdinand III and Leopold to arrange the marriage between the King of Spain’s prospective heiress, infanta María Teresa, and the heir of the Imperial branch of the Habsburgs. These negotiations, which lasted more than a decade, can help us understand the complex relationship maintained between both branches of the House of Habsburg after the peace of Westphalia, in a moment in which the problem of the Spanish Succession was of capital importance in Europe. After the death of Prince Baltasar Carlos, Felipe IV’s only son and heir, in 1646, the question of the marriage of his only surviving daughter and heiress became a crucial point in the European diplomacy of the moment. María Teresa was the direct successor of her father for more than ten years in an especially difficult moment for a Spanish monarchy immersed in a grueling war against France. Wanting to assure the inheritance of the Spanish monarchy for his line, in case that Felipe IV would die without a male heir, Emperor Ferdinand III tried to arrange the Infanta’s marriage with his heir, first with King Ferdinand IV of Hungary and, after his death, with Leopold I. But these ultimately failed negotiations were anything but easy. Felipe IV wanted to assure the future of his daughter and his monarchy, arranging a marriage for her that would help him to put an end to the war with France and, also, that would follow his interests regarding a possible goverment of the Spanish monarchy. For his part, Ferdinand III wanted for this marriage to follow his own dispositions and refused to let his son and heir renounce to the Crown of the Empire to marry the Infanta and to live in Madrid, even when Felipe IV ended up offering the hand of his daughter in marriage to Leopold. Ferdinand III died without resolving this issue and Leopold I showed very soon his good disposition to travel to Madrid and renounce the possibility of being elected Emperor, even when he realized that he could end up with nothing if Felipe IV had a male child. They were negotiating this arrangement when Mariana of Austria, Felipe IV’s second wife, gave birth to a son, Prince Felipe Próspero. From that point onwards, María Teresa wasn’t the heiress of the Spanish monarchy anymore and her father had more freedom than before to arrange her marriage to his liking. This birth changed the rules of the game and Leopold I ended up losing the bride for whom he was ready to renounce the Crown of the Empire without any guarantees of getting the Spanish monarchy in return. It is a very interesting episode and shows us how the international politics could change drastically in connection with the dynastic problems and the crisis of sucession in Early Modern Europe.
Cathleen: This question of the Spanish succession as well as the diplomatic negotiations regarding the marriage of María Teresa, daughter and heiress of Felipe IV, dominated the second half of the 17th century between the Thirty-Years-War and later the wars of María Teresa’s eventual husband, Louis XIV. How do these failed marriage negotiations relate to the War of the Spanish Succession a few decades later?
Rocío: This marriage is closely related to the War of the Spanish Succession. We need to take into account that the problem of the Spanish Succession isn’t a circumstance that emerged in the last years of the seventeenth century, but an issue that had a great importance in the European policy from 1646 until the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession. In the question of the Spanish succession, Felipe IV’s daughters and Carlos II’s sisters, María Teresa and Margarita, had a crucial importance, as the most immediate relatives of the childless King. The marriage of María Teresa with Louis XIV was preceded by a solemn renunciation, made by the Infanta, of all her rights to the Spanish Monarchy for herself and her descendants, but Louis XIV began to fight against its legality soon after the marriage took place. This renunciation made her little sister Margarita the legitimate heiress of Carlos II, following said renunciation and Felipe IV’s last will. Margarita ended up getting married to her sister‘s old suitor, Leopold I, and her line would be considered as the legitimate heirs of the Spanish monarchy until its extinction in 1699, despite France’s claims. Louis XIV‘s pressure regarding the Spanish sucession came from his marriage to María Teresa and the fact she was Felipe IV’s eldest daughter. If she had married Leopold I, as it was originally planned, and had had surviving issue, France would not have had the same claims to the Spanish succession and this process would have been very different. Felipe IV didn’t want his inheritance to leave the House of Austria. Both Felipe IV and Ferdinand III were very aware of the problems that could befall their dynasty if the inheritance of the Spanish monarchy were to end up in the hands of France and that belief was very present in this marriage negotiation. On one point, Felipe IV’s counsellors advised their King that he should marry María Teresa with the Emperor’s heir because they would need his help in case France claimed any territories of the Spanish monarchy in any instance. Felipe IV was aware that the marriage between María Teresa and Louis XIV was the most convenient possibility to end the war, but he couldn’t allow it while his daughter was his only heiress. It was the birth of two possible male heirs that made him feel secure enough about the future of his own line to choose another destiny for María Teresa. But its connection with the War of the Spanish Succession is very clear and can show us how the Spanish’s succession crisis influenced the European policy decades before its outbreak.
Cathleen: So, just as a thought experiment: What if this marriage between María Teresa and Leopold I, between the two branches of the Habsburg dynasty, came to be? How would that have changed the course of events in the late 17th and early 18th century?
Rocío: The easy answer to that question would be that the War of the Spanish Succession would never have happened. None of the infantas who married into the Imperial branch of the Habsburgs renounced to their rights of succession to the Spanish throne and it wasn’t expected for Maria Teresa to do so if she married Leopold, as she had to do when she married Louis XIV. The possible rights to the succession of the Spanish throne that Louis XIV claimed on María Teresa’s behalf since 1660 onwards were linked to the fact that his wife was the eldest daughter of Felipe IV and eldest sister of Carlos II. Without said marriage, he wouldn’t have any claims to the Spanish territories with three descendants of Felipe IV (Carlos II, María Teresa, and Margarita) alive and with the possibility of having their own descendants. Other international problems linked to the succession crisis, like the War of Devolution (1667-1668) would have had a very different nature as well. Also, the marriage of Maria Teresa’s younger sister, Margarita, who eventually married Leopold years later, would have to be with another person, something that would have altered the rules of the game once more. As you can see, the history of Europe during the second half of the seventeenth century would have been very different. But I also have to add that these changes would have taken place only if María Teresa and Leopold, as well as Margarita and the one who would have been her husband, had surviving issue. Without them or their descendants, the succession would have been disputed between the descendants of the infanta Ana, eldest daughter of Felipe III of Spain, married to Louis XIII and mother of Louis XIV, who renounced her rights to the Spanish throne before her marriage (as María Teresa had to do) and those of the empress Maria Anna, youngest daughter of Felipe III, wife of emperor Ferdinand III and Leopold I’s mother. So if they would have died without any descendants, we would have been back to square one. And the chances of that happening weren’t as slim as one could think. María Teresa had six children with Louis XIV, of which only one, the Dauphin Louis, survived into adulthood and Margarita had four children with Leopold I, of which only the archduchess Maria Antonia survived and her line became extinct before the end of the century. But, even taking this into account, we can assume that the history of Europe from 1660 onwards would have been very different if the marriage between María Teresa and Leopold would have taken place as expected and, with descendants of this marriage, the War of the Spanish Succession probably would have never taken place.
Cathleen: The level of interest of Leopold I in this marriage is very surprising – even against the wishes of his father, he pressed for the negotiations and was prepared to relinquish the election to be emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Why was he so keen on marrying the Spanish infanta?
Rocío: When we talk about this, we must remember that, at the time, Felipe IV’s inheritance was composed of the most vast and extensive monarchy in the world. It has its problems, without any doubt, but the power it entailed was far greater than the one Leopold could efectively hold as an emperor, especially after the peace of Westphalia and the negotiations surrounding it imposed important limitations on the powers of the imperial ruler. I think that the prospect of being the king of the Spanish monarchy was too tempting for Leopold to refuse, especially when almost everybody thought that the possibility of Felipe IV having a surviving male heir were slim and he was sure that he could mantain control of the patrimonial lands of the Habsburgs in Central Europe, as well as of Hungary and Bohemia. Ferdinand III wanted for his heir to remain linked to his patrimonial lands and to the crown of the Empire and was very aware that his son could end up with very little if María Teresa wasn’t finally the heiress of the Spanish monarchy. In fact, if Felipe IV hadn’t tried to convince Leopold to present himself as a candidate for the Imperial Crown and had come to Spain when he wanted, he would have ended up only with his patrimonial lands after his prospective wife was relegated to a secondary place in the line of succession. Leopold was prepared to take the risk to have the oportunity of becoming one of the most powerful monarchs of the time through his wife, even if that meant giving up the difficult crown of the Empire, for whose government he had to rely heavily on the difficult Imperial princes. From his point of view, it was worth the risk and he was ready to take it at that moment, but it wasn’t mean to be.
Cathleen: What are you working on right now?
Rocío: I am currently working on my dissertation. It is focused precisely on the problem of Carlos II of Spain’s succession during his reign and how it influenced its political relationship with the Empire and Bavaria, using as a common point the fact that Infanta Margarita, archduchess María Antonia of Austria and Prince Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria were considered as the rightful heirs of the Spanish Monarchy by Madrid’s government. I had the opportunity of consulting documents of several archives of Spain and Vienna and I have been awarded a grant to conduct further research in Munich in autumn, so I am very happy with the results and I hope for my dissertation to be completed in winter 2017. Also, I am preparing two articles, one focused on the negotations for the marriage of Leopold I and Margarita of Austria after María Teresa’s marriage and the other presents an analysis of the rights of succession of the infantas and archduchesses of the House of Habsburg during the Early Modern period. And, finally, I am also working on the organization of the next King&Queens conference, who will take place in my hometown, Madrid, where I hope to see you all!
Cathleen: Good luck with your research and your PhD and thanks so much for doing this interview! Hope as well to see you all at the next Kings&Queens Conference in Madrid which we will later have more about!