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ISABEL

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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 826 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ISABEL D'ESTE] (1658-1718), queen of the English king fames II., was the daughter of Alphonso IV., duke of Modena, and the Duchess Laura, of the Roman family Martinozzi. She was born at Modena on the 5th of October 1658. Her education was strict, and her own wish was to be a nun in a convent of the order of the Visitation founded by her mother. As a princess she was not free to choose for herself, and was selected, mainly by the king of France, Louis XIV., as the wife of James, duke of York, heir-presumptive to the English throne. The duke had become a Roman Catholic, and it was a point of policy with the French king to provide him with a Roman Catholic wife. Mary Beatrice of Este was chosen partly on the ground of her known religious zeal, but also because of her beauty. The marriage was celebrated by proxy on the 3oth of September 1673. She reached England in November. In later life she confessed that her first feelings towards her husband could only be expressed by tears. In England the duchess, who was commonly spoken of as Madam East, was supposed to .be an agent of the pope, who had indeed exerted himself to secure her consent. Her beauty and her fine manners secured her the respect of her brother-in-law, Charles II., and she lived on good terms with her husband's daughters by his first marriage, but she was always disliked by the nation. The birth of her first son (who died in infancy) on the 16th of January 1675 was regretted. During the Popish Plot, to which her secretary Coleman was a victim, she went abroad with her husband. After her husband's accession she suffered much domestic misery through his infidelity. Her influence on him was unfortunate, for she was a strong supporter of the Jesuit party which was in favour of extreme measures. Her second son, James Francis Edward, was born on the loth of June (o.s.) 1688. The public refused to believe that the baby was Mary's child, and declared that a fraud had been perpetrated to secure a Roman Catholic heir. When the revolution had broken out she made the disastrous mistake of consenting to escape to France (Dec. ro, 1688) with her son. She urged her husband to follow her to France when it was his manifest interest to stay in England, and when he went to Ireland she pressed incessantly for his return. Her daughter, Louisa Maria, was born at St Germain on the 28th of June 1692. When her husband died on the 6th of September 1701, she succeeded in inducing King Louis to recognize her son as king of England, an act which precipitated the war of the Spanish Succession. Queen Mary survived her husband for seventeen years and her daughter for two. She received a pension of roo,000 crowns, which was largely spent in supporting Jacobite exiles. At the close of her life she had some success in obtaining payment of her jointure. She lived at St Germain or at Chaillot, a religious house of the Visitation. Her death occurred on the 7th of May 1718, and is said by Saint-Simon to have been that of a saint. See Miss Strickland, Queens of England (vols. 9 and lo, London, 1846) ; Campana di Cavelli, Les Derniers Stuarts a Saint-Germain en-Laye (London,, 1871); and Martin Haile Mary of Modena (London, 1905).
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