Isabella of Portugal

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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 El Escorial
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, King of Spain, Archduke of the Habsburg dominions, titular Duke of Burgundy, and ruler of the Netherlands and the Spanish empire in the Americas and the Mediterranean and Italy 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 competent politician. 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 died in May 1539, when her sixth pregnancy ended in a stillbirth.[5] The emperor was away at the time, and her premature death affected him deeply. He never remarried, and he dressed in black for the rest of his life. In 1547, the nobleman Francis Borgia conveyed her corpse to her 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 1580, more than 40 years after her death, her son Philip succeeded the Portuguese throne. It was he who claimed the successory rights to the throne of Portugal that temporarily united the Iberian peninsula under one crown in what would later be called the Iberian Union.


Isabella married Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor on 10 March 1526. Their children were as follows:

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


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. ^ Geoffrey Parker (2014), Imprudent King: A New Life of Philip II, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, p. 12. ISBN 9780300196535
  6. ^ Parker (2014), pp. 8–12
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