Author Topic: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family  (Read 150128 times)

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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #105 on: February 02, 2010, 08:35:23 PM »
Riding must have represented real freedom to the archduchesses and was essentially a pursuit which could be undertaken only by an individual - even with courtiers alongside, you could occupy yourself with the horse and be unable to sustain a prolonged conversation without discourtesy.  Similarly older (and duller) persons could be left behind under the appearance of concern for their well-being, if they didn't excuse themselves.  Of course it could be criticised in a young wife, as it was considered to inhibit conception, and it involved Marie Antoinette in a fair bit of lying to her mother, who highly disapproved, especially since no children came along for such a long time.  That criticism couldn't be sustained for Maria Amalia in the same way, of course.

I agree.  I also read that Ferdinand and Amalia would roam the countryside together, on horseback and on foot.  I also read that she once rode - on a sudden urge/whim -  on horseback from her country estate in Sala Baganza to the palace in Colorno. a distance of 17miles. Maria Theresa, if she was still alive by then, would've been furious at that (a carriage would've been a lot more dignified).  
« Last Edit: February 02, 2010, 08:40:02 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #106 on: February 04, 2010, 10:43:14 PM »
I forgot to add that Ferdinand giving Amalia that country estate in Sala Baganza and a castle (Castello di Rossena) as her personal properties early on is another proof that they got along better than assumed...... as far as I recall, giving such gifts to wives was not mandatory and not all princesses got estates as their private property (wasn't there a big fuss over Chateau Saint Cloud being Marie Antoinette's private property? But Joseph II was pleased because it was considered a proof of Louis XVI's affection/esteem for MA; of course, Amalia's estates could not compare in value or beauty to Chateau Saint-Cloud but they were gifts that were not mandatory nevertheless). I mean, Caroline in Naples never even got as much as a garden (something which she always wanted to have) from her Ferdinand!  
  
« Last Edit: February 04, 2010, 10:51:31 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #107 on: March 24, 2010, 07:27:00 PM »
I think Amalia decided to love the husband that was given her (what other route could she had taken ?). Also the mistress was a challenge to her to see if she could win him over to her (she was after all one of the more beautiful sisters of the family). After the birth of her children she calmed down and began to live life. It seems Parma was a very busy stop over place for travellers, and sure Amalia benefitted from their company.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #108 on: March 24, 2010, 11:29:59 PM »
I think Amalia decided to love the husband that was given her (what other route could she had taken ?). Also the mistress was a challenge to her to see if she could win him over to her (she was after all one of the more beautiful sisters of the family). After the birth of her children she calmed down and began to live life. It seems Parma was a very busy stop over place for travellers, and sure Amalia benefitted from their company.

Whatever her reasons for loving Ferdinand, it doesn't appear to be a lukewarm kind of love....her jealous outbursts point to that.  At least she was smart enough to know and decide she didn't have to be so miserable after all (contrary to what has been written).

Ferdinand didn't seem to be hesitant to consummate their marriage, despite having a mistress.  It was her who didn't want to due to (presumably because of) his poor hygiene. I've read that despite the best efforts of the court to clean him up, it took more than 2 months for their marriage to be consummated. Amalia also complained of various sicknesses, not to mention tiredness from the long journey from Vienna.... I'm not sure if she was really sick or playing some game with Ferdinand, you know making him wait for it (sex)? Maybe both... after all, she was pretty and, to use a modern term, sexy. Ferdinand was a sensualist - it was impossible he wasn't pleased with her, at least looks-wise. Louis XV was of the opinion that small illnesses such as her complaints shouldn't put off their being man and wife, he was annoyed with his grandson. Nevertheless, the domination started even without the sex..... you have to give her credit for being, well, 'creative' and playing her cards right.

I know much has been made about Amalia being so meddlesome and a disaster politics-wise (but only in the eyes of France and Spain, for MT was secretly pleased despite her denials and scoldings) but it appears that once she got rid of Du Tillot, she seemed to have withdrawn on politics  considerably and seemed contented to run their household. Certainly nothing much can be found on her political activities around 1775 onwards. As early as 1772, she appeared to change her priorities--- she wrote Maria Theresa in 1772: "I do not need lessons from the Minister for it (household matters) is the only thing that I handle."   and "The minister directs the affairs of the state, not of these trifles (household matters)".   It was her wish though that her husband, not some minister (de Llano) appointed by Spain, to be the 'maste'r.  Again, the entire blame was put on her but Parma's records categorically states that Ferdinand himself wanted to choose his own minister and to rule.  Amalia wrote MT the following when the latter scolded her for still meddling in politics: "I believe that if the Infante was in need of advice, he goes to me rather than to anyone else." One could hardly blame her if that was the case.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2010, 12:01:15 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #109 on: March 25, 2010, 09:33:22 AM »
I think Ferdinand understand if he wants independence from Spain & France, his Austrian wife with her political backing from Vienna would give him the leverage to do so. Also any political change would be blamed on her door, while he was able to remain in good terms with his uncle and grandfather aboard. I agree that Amalia was actually rebelling to be left alone (like her sister Antoinette in France) and do her thing. After Du Tillot was gone, she was free from his spying and interference in her life. In short, Amalia wasn't the political animal that MT and Carolina was.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #110 on: March 26, 2010, 04:41:20 AM »
Ferdinand's biography in Parma's online library mentioned that his marriage afforded him to do what he was truly inclined to. It also mentioned that his character was weak to stand up to the more powerful people so he led a life of dissimulation for a number of years (before Amalia came).  The English ambassador in Tuscany also mentioned that he was angry and humiliated (Amalia, too, of course)  at being forced to submit to what Monsieur de Chauvelin (per instructions of Louis XV) wanted him and Amalia to do... Parma's library also says that in addition to flattery, Chauvelin also employed blackmail and threats (like the suspension of funds from France).  Since Chauvelin was only the 'messenger', Ferdinand would've known where such orders and threats came from. He must've been angry at his relations too. No wonder the 'truce' with Du Tillot didn't last long.  It all fits. Amalia certainly contributed to the situation but he was also wanted out, so to speak.  I'd place more faith in what Parma says, rather than the French and Spanish sources.   Also, when the reconciliation happened in 1773 among Parma, France, Spain and Austria, Spain's condition was that de Llano was to be reinstated in his position as minister. He was, but only for a short time.  It's clear that Ferdinand wanted to appoint his own ministers and be free from any (unwanted) meddling.

It is likely that Amalia still interfered politically post-du Tillot but only when she wanted to. And anyway, as she said, if the Infante was  in need of advice, he goes to her rather than to anyone else so she didn't really need to occupy herself with politics/state matters all the time for Ferdinand clearly had his own initiative and views, unlike the case of Maria Carolina and Ferdinand in Naples. I also read that she could be occupied in hunting/riding for days so politics wasn't her only life. I think it was rather naive and unrealistic of Amalia to expect or want her husband to be faithful. It was, after all, a political marriage. Even with her parents having a love match, such didn't prevent Franz Stephan from having numerous mistresses.   Also, even Marie Antoinette expected Louis XVI-who didn't seem to be so inclined to sex as the other Bourbons- to have a mistress when their marriage was finally consummated.  Just my two cents!  :)
« Last Edit: March 26, 2010, 05:06:51 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #111 on: March 26, 2010, 12:08:08 PM »
I agree. However the situation was a bit different in Antonia's case. She was the one who had lovers (if you included alleged female ones) and of course the chief was Swedish Count Axel von Fersen. It was Louis XVI who appeared to be the chaste one. It had been rumours that Amalia had lovers too, but I don't recall anyone as high profile as the Swedish Count from her sister's court.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #112 on: March 27, 2010, 04:12:24 AM »
At a French forum, it was mentioned that Count de Flavigny, France's ambassador to Parma, was rumored to be Amalia's lover.  That's the only name I could think of as rather high profile of her (alledged) lovers.  But note that it was also mentioned as a being a rumor.  There seems to be no definitive proof ever of Amalia actually taking lovers.....and Ferdinand actually wrote to his cousin Louis XVI not to recall said ambassador.  Regardless if the rumors of affairs were true or not, it couldn't be Ferdinand would not have known about them. We can only deduce that he was actually 'tolerant' of any affairs of his wife if she indeed had them. He was, after all, not faithful anyway.    ;)
« Last Edit: March 27, 2010, 04:31:51 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #113 on: March 27, 2010, 11:05:22 AM »
Yes. I tend to believe Amalia as chaste. She would like to keep it that way to remind Ferdinand that she was the injuried party. Indeed, Louis XVI seemed to tolerate Count Axel Von Fersen, whose letters proved that he was the queen's lover.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #114 on: March 28, 2010, 03:02:44 AM »
Well, Amalia had a wild and rebellious side but I'm not sure if that actually translated to taking lovers as well.  And if she did, one could hardly blame her. Well, it has been written a few times that she openly took lovers (the guards?) .... however I don't think there was any proof presented by such authors (many of whom just copy others' work without serious verification or ferreting out of truths). CountessKate earlier said there seems to be no proof at all of Amalia's lovers by Du Tillot nor by Maria Theresa's spies.  Also Ferdinand's biography on Parma's library said MT was more bothered by Amalia's behavior in public than her 'private' life.  One of MT's biographers, J Alexander Mahan, was one of the few who wrote about Ferdinand's womanizing and he didn't mention any about Amalia's affairs but said she made the very best of her fate (which proved to be a very difficult one).  Paul Tabori in his book on MT mentioned Ferdinand's mistress but only mentioned Amalia as 'fooling around' with the yokels.  Now, fooling around has a quite a broad meaning......  ;)    
« Last Edit: March 28, 2010, 03:05:44 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #115 on: March 28, 2010, 04:42:55 PM »
I seriously doubted that Amalia would have sat back and allow a mistress to be the first lady of the land. She most likely would have personally kicked her out of the palace first.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #116 on: March 28, 2010, 11:56:11 PM »
I agree. One great 'compensation' of Ferdinand's penchant for peasant women was that I don't think any peasant girl would have the audacity to challenge Amalia and she, after all, quickly earned the nickname 'La Signora' among her subjects (a reference to being bossy, no doubt). And it also appears that Ferdinad did his womanizing elsewhere or at least did not make any of his mistresses very conspicuous, as far as power/infleunce was concerned (I doubt if his womanizing was kept secret from his subjects though).  MT's advice to Amalia to give her husband 'freedom' point to that. I seem to have read at an Italian site that Ferdinand's carriage could be seen at the house of his mistress but it was also clear that he continued to have sexual relations with his wife (mentioned as no longer pretty yet.....).  And as mentioned,  no doubt Amalia would've gotten rid of any interloper who dared to take her place (she was very haughty!). That said, Ferdinand didn't seem to produce any bastards from his numerous affairs. At least, I have not come across any reference to illegitimate children yet.

I also think that despite Ferdinand's complaints to his grandfather in particular about Amalia (and she was indeed a handful, being extremely capricious and dominating) and his letters, he (more or less) had the same view as her with regards to being free from any unwanted interference.   The blackmail and the threats, not to mention the curbing of his religious fervour, apparently did not sit well with Ferdinand.  Amalia also mentioned that A LOT of people try to influence Ferdinand but as she was the most visible, I guess all the blame went to her.  No doubt she had great influence on him throughout their marriage, despite their problems. I just went back to read Amalia's biography in Parma's library and it says that Duke Ferdinand named (grandson) Charles Louis as his heir and appointed Amalia head of the regency for their grandson. Ferdinand never met his grandfather Louis XV nor his uncle Charles III of Spain. There were plans to make him travel to France and Spain (mainly to separate him or rather break-up his marriage to Amalia) in 1771-72 but nothing came out of it.... so yes, Ferdinand appeared to prefer his wife over his relations abroad.  ;) If Amalia was so nasty, unfaithful and troublesome for him, surely he would've taken that chance and filed for divorce as Spain and France wanted. No doubt he would have custody of his daughter Caroline.    

Anyway, I just read that Ferdinand was a great fan of the Italian dish anolini, which originated in Parma.  He was not only fond eating it  but also made it himself (the pasta and filling, too), with the help of his daughters.  :)  I guess Amalia wasn't the only one who dared do things considered not proper for their station. ;)
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 12:26:43 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #117 on: April 07, 2010, 04:04:13 AM »
It seems to me that Amalia was a bit naive/idealistic/unrealistic when it comes to love or marriage.....she actually expected/hoped that her political marriage with Ferdinand would be faithful, something that wasn't the norm anyway in those times. She could've easily missed the 'darker' side of Karl even if she knew him long enough. I doubt if she would've liked to be put on a 'parade' or 'spectacle' in a miniature Versailles had she married Karl.

Storia di Parma by Tullo Bazzi and Umberto Benassi (1908) listed all the 'bizarre' things that Amalia did in her early months in Parma (the one I like best is that she made her servants and guards wear Austrian uniforms, LOL) but actually said that it does not mean that all those accusations (no mention of any adultery, just going riding followed by her guards) against her were substantially true or well-founded. It even mentioned that the admiration for Du Tillot's work may have been influenced by her dismissal of him, to her disadvantage.   It also said that Ferdinand's habits were also unconventional, even before he married Amalia. For instance, when going out, he'd evade the guards and wanted to go out unaccompanied by them. His childhood/youth, because of the rigorous education forced on him, had very little time for hobbies and private time/inclinations and no wonder that at 18, he was still childish.  
« Last Edit: April 07, 2010, 04:19:26 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #118 on: April 08, 2010, 04:15:49 AM »
Hmmm, Storia di Parma states that the court of Parma was expensive to maintain.  I compared it to Vienna's and it cost about 1/4 of Vienna's annual budget. Du Tillot, before he was dismissed, tried to curb the annual expenses. The palace in Colorno alone costs 237,000 liras to maintain. IMHO, the most interesting item was 262,000 liras for Ferdinand's secret expenses. ;)  It must be mostly for his mistresses. I remember Madame du Barry stating in her memoirs  that Louis XV paid indemnities/dowries to fathers of the young girls he kept in his private harem, among other things.  Perhaps this was done with Ferdinand's peasant girls as well? That said, it wasn't as if he was a cheapskate to Amalia either. Amalia and Ferdinand went on a trip to Mantua, which cost a pretty sum of 212,000 liras. General wardrobe was budgeted at 230,000 liras. So indeed, what CountessKate said earlier in this thread is true - there was certainly enough money for a suitable royal wardrobe....Amalia just didn't care much about her clothes and preferred to dress oddly!    
« Last Edit: April 08, 2010, 04:40:42 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #119 on: April 12, 2010, 02:42:04 AM »
According to Storia di Parma, the Court of Parma had 100 people in 1749, excluding the guards, servants and other lackeys. Du Tillot wanted to trim down the costs of the court before he was dismissed.  But by 1776, it seems that there were more people than ever: the grand chamberlain had 70 gentlemen in his department, 15 doctors/surgeons,  21 various musicians and head of music,  27 ladies-in-waiting,  a great almoner, first chaplain, 3 other chaplains,  a chief steward and his 19 butlers, 3 architects, 2 heads of the kitchens, etc. Then a special mention for more maids in the apartments of the duchess.  I guess Amalia kept on hiring more servants.  ;)
« Last Edit: April 12, 2010, 02:49:46 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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