Elisabeth Farnese, or, Isabel de Farnacio in Spanish, was Queen of Spain and the wife of Philip V of Spain.
|Full Name||Elisabeth Farnese|
|Who||Queen of Spain|
|Birth Date||October 25, 1692|
|Death Date||July 11, 1766|
|Country||Italy / Spain|
|Cause of Death||old age|
|Mother||Dorothea Sophie of Neuburg|
|Spouse||Philip V of Spain|
Charles III of Spain
Mariana Victoria of Spain
Philip, Duke of Parma
Maria Teresa Rafaela of Spain
Luis of Spain, Count of Chinchon
Maria Antonia Ferdinanda of Spain
Farnese had a strained and difficult relationship with her mother, Dorothea Sophie of Neuburg. However, she was very close to her father and her uncle.
Farnese was the niece of Francesco Farnese, Duke of Parma, and was very close to him growing up. After the death of her father, Farnese's mother married Francesco, making him her uncle and also her stepfather. He was a major father figure in Farnese's life.
Victor Amadeus, Prince of Piedmont was a serious option for Farnese to be arranged to be married. However, negotiations fell through.
Giulio Alberoni was the one who traveled to Italy on the behalf of Spain, to arrange Farnese's marriage to Philip. He also gave her extensive advice on how to take control of the Spanish court, and gave her invaluable insight and advice. Upon reaching Spain and becoming queen, Farnese made Alberoni her chief advisor, and he remained her longtime intimate confidante.
Farnese was married by proxy to Philip V of Spain in September of 1714, at the age of 22. She traveled to Spain and first met him in December of that year. Upon meeting her, Philip fell in love with her at first sight. The couple worked well together, and shared their rule, with Farnese having much power - indeed, far more than Philip, who preferred it this way. During periods where Philip suffered from his bipolar depression, Farnese took over the kingdom as ruler, and this happened very often. Unlike most royal couples, Philip remained faithful to Farnese for their entire marriage, and never took any mistresses. Also unusual, they shared chambers and always slept in the same bedroom.
Farnese's marriage to Philip was favored at first by Marie Anne de la Tremoille, among the most powerful women in Philip V's court. Initially, she was opposed to the union, but was convinced to give her essential consent when she was told by Alberoni that Farnese was simple-minded and had no interest in power, and would be a quiet girl who would spend her time sewing. However, to Farnese, he urged her to take swift control of the court, and to attempt to overthrow Tremoille. After Farnese's marriage by proxy, she began traveling to Spain in 1714. Tremoille sent out spies, who reported back that the Parmese princess did not seem simple or timid in the least. Tremoille rode out to meet Farnese at the Spanish border, and the two women had a private audience. After a short while, loud arguing was heard, and the guards burst into the tent. Farnese ordered Tremoille arrested and thrown out of Spain, using her power as the new Spanish queen swiftly. Tremoille, outraged and furious, hoped that her friend Philip would intervene, but his instant love for Farnese dashed this hope.
During the short reign of her stepson Louis I of Spain, in 1724, Farnese retained control of Spain, and remained its sole ruler - even if not in name.
When Farnese's other stepson Ferdinand VI of Spain took the Spanish throne in 1746, he, like Philip, preferred to let his queen, Barbara of Portugal, bear most of the power. At court, it was remarked that it was really Barbara that was succeeding Farnese, rather than Ferdinand succeeding Philip. However, Farnese did not relinquish her power easily, and initially there was much tension, and later fighting, between her and Barbara. Farnese openly criticized Barbara and the royal couple's decisions. Because of this, she was exiled by Barbara in 1747 to the countryside, banished for court life. However, she set up a grand home and held lavish parties and meetings with important names, and continued to criticize Ferdinand and Barbara from afar. For the rest of her life, she and Barbara despised each other, and remained rivals and enemies.