Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Queen Maria Pia of Portugal has died

July 5, 1911

The Dowager Queen Maria Pia of Italy died today at the Royal Chateau at Stupinigi at 3:15 p.m. She had "suffered from uremia," reports the New York Times.

Maria Pia was considered to be "one of the most tragic royal figures in recent history next to the widow of the unfortunate Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico." She also had the distinction of being the "daughter, sister, wife, mother and grandmother of Kings."

The Queen was the daughter of King Vittorio Emanuele, the first king of a United Italy. Her brothers were King Umberto of Italy, and Amadeo, who was briefly King of Spain. She was not quite 15, when,in 1862, she married King Luis of Portugal. She was the mother of King Carlos and the grandmother of the recently deposed King Manoel.

The Duke of the Abruzzis, whose romance with the American Katherine Elkins, caused an international scandal," the Duke of Aosta, the Count of Turin, and the present King of Italy, are her nephews.

Maria Pia suffered many misfortunes throughout her life. Her brother, King Umberto, her son, King Carlos, and his eldest son, the Crown Prince, were all assassinated. She was forced to flee Portugal after her grandson, King Manoel, was overthrown in a revolution.

She was at the palace, unaware of the tragedy, when the bleeding bodies of her son and grandson were brought back to the palace. She refused to believe that they were dead. She "caressed them, calling them by name and asking them to speak to her." These two assassinations came only eight years after the assassination of her brother, King Umberto on July 29, 1900.

The Dowager Queen's "final grief" came when she had to flee Portugal after her grandson was deposed. It was revealed after she had arrived in Italy that she had given away her large fortune to charity, and returned to Italy, "penniless, a pension on her nephew, the present King."

The Dowager Queen Maria Pia was born on October 16, 1847.

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