Isabella of Portugal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Isabella of Portugal
Isabella of Portugal by Titian.jpg
Holy Roman Empress
Queen consort of Italy
Tenure 24 February 1530 – 1 May 1539
Queen of the Romans
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure 10 March 1526 – 1 May 1539
Born (1503-10-24)24 October 1503
Lisbon, Portugal
Died 1 May 1539(1539-05-01) (aged 35)
Toledo, Spain
Burial Royal Monastery of San Larenzo de El Escorial, Spain
Spouse Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
House Aviz
Father Manuel I of Portugal
Mother Maria of Aragon
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature Isabella of Portugal's signature

Isabella of Portugal (Portuguese: Isabel; 24 October 1503 – 1 May 1539) was an Infanta of Portugal by birth and Holy Roman Empress, Queen of Germany, Italy, Spain, Naples and Sicily, Duchess of Burgundy, etc., as the spouse of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. She served as regent of Spain during the absence of her spouse in 1529–1532 and 1535–1539.[1]

Early life[edit]

Isabella was the second child and eldest daughter of King Manuel I of Portugal and his second wife Maria of Aragon, she was named after her maternal grandmother Isabella I of Castile and her aunt Isabella, Princess of Asturias, who had been her father's first wife.

Isabella was second-in-line to the throne until the birth of her brother Louis in 1506. However, as the oldest daughter of Manuel I of Portugal, she was a rather attractive candidate for marriage, she married her first cousin Charles, the son of Joanna of Castile and Philip the Handsome, Duke of Burgundy, who as Holy Roman Emperor, was one of the most powerful men of his time. Charles and Isabella were both grandchildren of the notable rulers Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.

Empress and Queen[edit]

The union between Charles and his cousin Isabella had been proposed by the parliaments of both Castile and Aragon. Charles agreed to marry the Infanta Isabella purely for political reasons.[2] Early in 1526, the infanta travelled to Seville, where the wedding took place on 10 March in the palace of Alcázar of Seville.[3][4] Isabella brought with her a huge dowry that greatly assisted Spanish finances, although it began as a political union, the marriage proved to be a love-match. Records show that during their honeymoon "when [Charles and Isabella] are together, although there are many people around, they do not notice anyone else; they talk and laugh, and nothing else distracts them."

Isabella also proved to be a more than competent politician when she served as regent of Spain during her husband's absences between 1529–1532 and 1535–1539, she was noted for her intelligence and beauty.

Isabella was also known as the "Empress of the Carnation", a nickname she gained after her husband introduced the red carnation to Spain as a token of his love for her. While the couple were honeymooning in Granada, Charles ordered for the seeds of a Persian flower that had never been seen before in Spain to be planted in the gardens of the Alhambra, the seeds eventually grew into the red carnation and the Empress was so delighted by the new flower that Charles ordered for thousands more to planted. The red carnation later became the floral emblem of Spain.[5]


Isabella died on 1st May 1539 at the age of 35, when her sixth pregnancy ended in a stillbirth,[6] the Emperor was left completely devastated by his wife's death that he never recovered from the loss. He never remarried, and he dressed in black for the rest of his life, the nobleman Francis Borgia conveyed her corpse to her original burial place in Granada. It is said that when he saw the effect of death on the beautiful empress, he decided to "never again serve a mortal master" and later retired to a monastery.

In 1574, the body of Empress Isabella was transferred by her son Philip II of Spain to the Royal Monastery of San Larenzo de El Escorial, where she was interred in the Royal Pantheon of Kings along with her husband.


Charles and Isabella had six children, though only three survived to adulthood:

Name Portrait Lifespan Notes
Philip II of Spain
Portrait of Philip II of Spain by Sofonisba Anguissola - 002b.jpg 21 May 1527 –
13 September 1598
Only surviving son, successor of his father in the Spanish crown.
Maria of Spain 1557.jpg 21 June 1528 –
26 February 1603
Married her first cousin Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor.
Greater Coat of Arms of Charles I of Spain, Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor (1530-1556).svg 22 November 1529 –
13 July 1530
Died in infancy.
Alonso Sánchez Coello - Portrait of Juana of Austria, Princess of Portugal - Google Art Project.jpg 26 June 1535 –
7 September 1573
Married her first cousin João Manuel, Prince of Portugal.
Greater Coat of Arms of Charles I of Spain, Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor (1530-1556).svg 19 October 1537 –
20 March 1538
Died in infancy.
Greater Coat of Arms of Charles I of Spain, Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor (1530-1556).svg 21 April 1539 Stillborn.

Due to Philip II being a grandson of Manuel I of Portugal through his mother he was in the line of succession to the throne of Portugal, and claimed it after his uncle's death (Henry, the Cardinal-King, in 1580), thus establishing the Iberian Union.

See adjacent text
Coat of arms of Isabella of Portugal as Empress 


Cultural depictions[edit]

Isabella of Portugal is portrayed by Blanca Suárez in the TVE series Carlos, Rey Emperador.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ S. Jansen: The Monstrous Regiment of Women: Female Rulers in Early Modern Europe, 2002
  2. ^ Tracy, James D. (2002). Emperor Charles V, Impresario of War : campaign strategy, international finance, and domestic politics. Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 114. ISBN 9780521814317. 
  3. ^ MacQuarrie, Kim (2007). The Last Days of the Incas. Simon and Schuster. p. 35. ISBN 1416539352. 
  4. ^ Ford, Richard (2011). A Hand-Book for Travellers in Spain, and Readers at Home: Describing the Country and Cities, the Natives and Their Manners. Cambridge University Press. p. 258. ISBN 1108037534. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Geoffrey Parker (2014), Imprudent King: A New Life of Philip II, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, p. 12. ISBN 9780300196535
Isabella of Portugal
Cadet branch of the House of Burgundy
Born: 24 October 1503 Died: 1 May 1539
Royal titles
Title last held by
Bianca Maria Sforza
Holy Roman Empress;
Queen consort of Italy

Title next held by
Maria of Austria
Queen of the Romans
with Anne of Bohemia and Hungary 1531–39
Succeeded by
Anne of Bohemia and Hungary
Title last held by
Joan of Portugal
Queen consort of Castile and Léon
Title next held by
Mary I of England
Title last held by
Germaine of Foix
Queen consort of Aragon, Majorca,
Valencia, Naples and Sicily;
Countess consort of Barcelona

Title last held by
Joanna I of Castile
Duchess consort of Brabant, Limburg,
Lothier and Luxembourg;
Countess Palatine consort of Burgundy;
Countess consort of Artois, Flanders,
Hainaut, Holland, Namur and Zeeland