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Maria Theresa of Spain

Maria Theresa of Spain (in French: Marie Thérèse) (September 10, 1638 - July 30, 1683), queen consort of France as wife of Louis XIV of France, was born at the Escorial as the daughter of Philip IV of Spain and of Elisabeth of France (1602 - 1644).

By pretending to seek a bride for his master in Margaret of Savoy, Cardinal Mazarin had induced the king of Spain to make proposals for the marriage of his daughter with Louis XIV, and the treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 stipulated for her marriage with the French king, Marie renouncing any claim to the Spanish succession. As the treaty, however, hinged on the payment of her dowry, which was practically impossible for Spain, Mazarin could evade the other terms of the contract. Marie Thérèse was married in June 1660, when Philip IV with his whole court accompanied the bride to the Isle of Pheasants in the Bidassoa, where Louis met her.

The new queen's amiability and her undoubted virtues failed to secure her husband's regard and affection. She saw herself neglected in turn for Louise de La Vallière, Mme. de Montespan and others; but Marie Thérèse was too pious and too humble openly to resent the position in which she was placed by the king's avowed infidelities. With the growing influence of Madame de Maintenon over his mind and affections he bestowed more attention on his wife, which she repaid by lavishing kindness on the mistress.

Marie Thérèse had no part in political affairs except in 1672, when she acted as regent during Louis XIV's campaign in Holland. She died on 30 July 1683 at Versailles, not without suspicion of foul play on the part of her doctors. Of her six children only one survived her, the dauphin Louis, who died in 1711.

See the funeral oration of Bossuet (Paris, 1684), E. Ducere, Le Mariage de Louis XIV d'après les contemporains et des documents inédits (Bayonne, 1905); Dr Cabanes, Les Morts mysterieuses de l'histoire (1900), and the literature dealing with her rivals Louise de la Vallière, Madame de Montespan and Madame de Maintenon.

Original text from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica