Author Topic: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family  (Read 153134 times)

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Offline Prince Paul

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #150 on: November 04, 2010, 11:50:19 AM »
You´re surely right, Prinzheinelgirl, in the question of the pairings decided by Maria Theresa. But it would seem that due to the much mentioned favoritism received by Maria Christina from her mother, or just because of lack of empathy between Mimi and Liesl, Maria Elisabeth -on her own accord- preferred to be with Amalia whenever she could (especially from their teenage years and beyond). I imagine both confiding their early crushes -if to anyone- to each other (Maria Elisabeth in relation to the Prince de Ligne and Maria Amalia, later on, in regards to Prince Zweibrücken), and certainly not to tattle-tale Maria Christina.
I wonder how did Maria Elisabeth (with an "s", being a German name, and not with a "z", as in the English version) react to the knowledge that Prince Zweibrücken was considering her as a bride, in the 1770's, having the Prince been the impossible love (as it turned out) of her seemingly favored sister. Maybe she, aside from the negative political considerations had by her mother, her brother and Kaunitz, was herself not keen to such an offer (on account of her sister´s possible reaction). But then again, we need to have more sources at hand on the subject, to be anything more than speculative.
What did you mean (Prinzheinelgirl) when you said "If you see Maria Elisabeth´s paintings, she was good at it" ?? I imagine you refer to the art produced by her, and not to Elisabeth´s portraits done by others (which was the first thing that came to my mind on reading your phrase). I understand Amalia was also very gifted in this, and that there is a very good painting of a Saint (is it Saint Anthony?) attributed to her and kept in a private collection. However, I am inclined to think that many of these paintings were very much "retouched" by the court artists and professors, who wanted to enhance and flatter their pupils´skills (and therefore their own educational abilities !!). Once more, we need more studies on the subject.
I coincide completely with you, in relation to the unfounded belief that Marie-Antoinette was Franz Stephen´s favorite. His much publicized decision to stop the carriage (was it so?) to embrace his youngest daughter one last time, seems to have been a much romanticized exaggeration, the authors (and chroniclers) wanting to match his soon sudden death with this daughter´s tragical end. There doesn´t seem to exist any more evidence as to this pretended favoritism, beyond the natural weakness a parent may feel for cute younger children...

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #151 on: November 05, 2010, 12:14:13 AM »
I wonder how did Maria Elisabeth (with an "s", being a German name, and not with a "z", as in the English version) react to the knowledge that Prince Zweibrücken was considering her as a bride, in the 1770's, having the Prince been the impossible love (as it turned out) of her seemingly favored sister. Maybe she, aside from the negative political considerations had by her mother, her brother and Kaunitz, was herself not keen to such an offer (on account of her sister´s possible reaction). But then again, we need to have more sources at hand on the subject, to be anything more than speculative.

I don't think it (Karl of Zweibrucken's offer for her hand) was kept secret in the family. However Maria Amalia felt about it (and she certainly got over Karl quite quickly at any rate, contrary to what most authors say; obviously they didn't do their "homework" but pretended that what they wrote was based on "facts"), it  didn't affect the strong bond that the two sisters had.

What did you mean (Prinzheinelgirl) when you said "If you see Maria Elisabeth´s paintings, she was good at it" ?? I imagine you refer to the art produced by her, and not to Elisabeth´s portraits done by others (which was the first thing that came to my mind on reading your phrase). I understand Amalia was also very gifted in this, and that there is a very good painting of a Saint (is it Saint Anthony?) attributed to her and kept in a private collection. However, I am inclined to think that many of these paintings were very much "retouched" by the court artists and professors, who wanted to enhance and flatter their pupils´skills (and therefore their own educational abilities !!). Once more, we need more studies on the subject.

Yes, I meant Maria Elisabeth's own artworks. I saw a portrait done by her - entitled "A Lady with a Hat" or similar - which was very good; in fact, in my view, better than Mimi's self portrait or that group/family portrait on Saint Nicholas Day by the same. It had more "character", more striking. If their instructors touched up their artworks, at the very least it's still safe to say that she had some degree of skill at it. After all, if there was nothing to "touch up" (if the artworks  produced were extremely bad), it couldn't have come out very well. Also, such "cover-ups" for the imperial pupils couldn't be kept a secret forever. Their tutors were replaced if deemed too strict or lax or "dishonest" in their reports.

The portrait made by Maria Amalia circa 1762-64 was "St. Therese of the Child Jesus". Yes, it is privately owned.  However, I am not sure if she kept up with painting once in Parma. I know that she continued with embroidery there, because she made a mantle or similar for a relic which she sent to a pilgrimage site in Parma, if I remember it right. That was in the 1780s.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2010, 12:39:03 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 #152 on: November 05, 2010, 12:49:54 AM »
Sorry, the post above on the painting attributed to Maria Amalia should be "St. Therese", not St Therese of the Child Jesus (born in the 19th century)......
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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #153 on: November 23, 2010, 10:59:26 PM »
Translation to German of the book on Ferdinand (L'Infant de Parme) by Elisabeth Badinter:

Der Infant von Parma: oder Die Ohnmacht der Erziehung

The link to Google Books
 http://books.google.com/books?id=yxLisJzFVjgC&pg=PA70&dq=maria+amalia+ferdinand+parma&hl=en&ei=L5rsTKPnOIq8cL7UtMUP&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CDYQ6AEwBDgU#v=onepage&q=maria%20amalia%20ferdinand%20parma&f=false
« Last Edit: November 23, 2010, 11:05:11 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 #154 on: November 24, 2010, 03:02:13 AM »
The (Association) of Castles of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza recently hosted an event (The Sweet Frivolity of Maria Amalia) at Maria Amalia's residence (Rocca Sanvitale) in Sala Baganza. In picture #7, one can see that there was an exhibition (mounted on a wall), with a copy of Zoffany's portrait of Maria Amalia and Ferdinand's 4 eldest children...

http://ilnorbi.blogspot.com/2010/10/le-dolci-frivolezze-di-maria-amalia.html
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 03:22:40 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 #155 on: December 25, 2010, 11:18:15 PM »
In part 2 of this thread, I posted a bit on Karl of Zweibrucken's extravagance and excesses; here is a bit more information on him by the same source on the War of Bavarian Succession:

"But, though idle and extravagant, he was not entirely contemptible. His portraits show a stout, dark-eyed man, with a sensitive mouth and chivalrous bearing. He was admitted to have a sense of honour that was high in that age, and he was to show considerable firmness in the crisis."

I guess Karl's high sense of honour was one trait that drew Maria Amalia to him; she (more than once) wrote about how she disliked dishonest persons/those without sense of honor.

Incidentally, the same source mentions that Zweibrucken got an annual pension of 300,000 livres from France (Louis XVI), considerably more than what Parma got (pegged at 200,000 livres during the time of Louise Elisabeth of France and there seems to be no record that it was increased at any point).  Also, it said that France (Louis XVI and his minister Vergennes) had its own intrigues with Zweibrucken and that nothing France heard from Zweibrucken was favourable to Austria (we can safely assume that Louis XVI found Zweibucken more trustworthy - and that he showed more favor to his ally/client state - than his wife Marie Antoinette, who was lobbying - intensely and in vain - for her native country).
« Last Edit: December 25, 2010, 11:28:09 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Svetabel

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #156 on: January 09, 2011, 02:48:05 AM »
The thread has been re-arranged and now it's only one Part on Maria Amalia. Discussions on her relatives were merged with the proper threads in the Iberian and Habsburg section. Please, stick to topic.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #157 on: January 25, 2011, 03:19:57 AM »
I see another "purge" has been done on this thread and many posts were either deleted or moved to other threads. I'd appreciate it very much if a sort of guideline - forgive my ignorance - could be made, so as to avoid the deletion or moving of future posts.  I may be wrong - because it's been more than 2 years since I started following and posting here at the APTM forums- but as one member pointed out earlier, majority of the posts are not repetitive and do add new information/facts/insights or things to think about/new leads. It is a bit disconcerting.... :(

So, if I find some new information/fact on a particular subject discussed earlier re: Maria Amalia , does that mean the post may be edited/deleted later on since the topic has long been discussed? And does the  post above mean that we can only discuss Maria Amalia - and her alone - here and not in conjunction with her relations/family members? Just asking!  :)
« Last Edit: January 25, 2011, 03:51:29 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Svetabel

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #158 on: January 25, 2011, 06:13:44 AM »
I see another "purge" has been done on this thread and many posts were either deleted or moved to other threads. I'd appreciate it very much if a sort of guideline - forgive my ignorance - could be made, so as to avoid the deletion or moving of future posts.  I may be wrong - because it's been more than 2 years since I started following and posting here at the APTM forums- but as one member pointed out earlier, majority of the posts are not repetitive and do add new information/facts/insights or things to think about/new leads. It is a bit disconcerting.... :(

So, if I find some new information/fact on a particular subject discussed earlier re: Maria Amalia , does that mean the post may be edited/deleted later on since the topic has long been discussed? And does the  post above mean that we can only discuss Maria Amalia - and her alone - here and not in conjunction with her relations/family members? Just asking!  :)

Of course we can discuss here not only Maria Amalia, but in connection with some her friends/relatives/so on...

The problem with the old threads was that posters began to discuss not MA but only her sisters/mother/other Habsburgs and forgot about MA itself. Such discussions were moved to the Habsburg subForum. Also there were repetitive discussions,it's naturally as the Part I was 45 pages originally and many posters just didn't want to read all those pages.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #159 on: January 26, 2011, 02:24:07 AM »
Of course we can discuss here not only Maria Amalia, but in connection with some her friends/relatives/so on...

The problem with the old threads was that posters began to discuss not MA but only her sisters/mother/other Habsburgs and forgot about MA itself. Such discussions were moved to the Habsburg subForum. Also there were repetitive discussions,it's naturally as the Part I was 45 pages originally and many posters just didn't want to read all those pages.

Thank you very much for the clarification.  :)  I hope to be able to post some new information on Maria Amalia soon!
« Last Edit: January 26, 2011, 02:25:59 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 #160 on: February 01, 2011, 01:28:03 AM »
I was able to read a reliable source on Parma's finances during Ferdinand and Maria Amalia's time. It seems that Maria Amalia got an annual allowance of 537,000 liras, Ferdinand's annual income was over 2,000,000 liras, and the annual subsidies from Spain and France were 1,619,000 and 1,500,000 liras respectively. I think Maria Amalia's annual allowance was quite generous, considering that it appears more (converting to other currencies at that time is quite a challenge so my calculations aren't exact, only approximations) than what the Crown Princess of the UK (Caroline of Brunwick) received or Grand Duchess Natalia of Russia or her own sister Archduchess Maria Anna's allowance (very generously provided and fixed by Maria Theresa as Princess-Abbess of the Holy Roman Empire). Any thoughts?

It was also mentioned that the court spent disproportionately to its income. Given how small the court was (already discussed earlier in this thread but it may have been deleted), would its "disproportionate" spending mean that even though the court was very small, its expenses were still very extravagant?    
« Last Edit: February 01, 2011, 01:51:23 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Marc

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #161 on: February 01, 2011, 07:22:29 AM »
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the court was small and by spending much more money Maria Amalia wanted to gain the impression of some self-importance and grandeur that was lacking in Parma...and make-up for everything by just spending and impressing firstly herself and by that automatically her guests...

This is just a thought...

Offline ivanushka

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #162 on: February 01, 2011, 12:44:43 PM »
It was also mentioned that the court spent disproportionately to its income. Given how small the court was (already discussed earlier in this thread but it may have been deleted), would its "disproportionate" spending mean that even though the court was very small, its expenses were still very extravagant?    

I would imagine so.  For one thing I believe the Colorno palace had 400 rooms (probably bigger than many royal palaces for larger states) and so would have cost a lot to staff and maintain.  There were other palaces too which would again have added to the expense.  I would imagine a contributing factor in the Court's high spending was that Ferdinand's parents both came from far wealthier Courts (France and Spain) and would have expected to live in a grander state than Parma itself could easily finance; a habit that Ferdinand himself may have acquired.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #163 on: February 02, 2011, 09:08:00 PM »
Thanks for the replies!

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the court was small and by spending much more money Maria Amalia wanted to gain the impression of some self-importance and grandeur that was lacking in Parma...and make-up for everything by just spending and impressing firstly herself and by that automatically her guests...

This is just a thought...

I'm inclined to agree with this. Maria Amalia didn't seem to have a lot of "money sense", although she didn't seem to have spent much money on clothes, jewels, and accessories (like her sister Marie Antoinette for instance). From what I can glean from the source, the main issues against her were the expenses related to the kitchen, stables/horses, and guards.  Part of it was also because of her generosity. A good trait in a royal, but Parma the duchy didn't have excessive income either (income of 11,869,000 liras in 1770 or 1771, excluding the subsidies from France and Spain - these were almost always delayed at any rate - and freehold rents).  It was said that more than half of the duchy's income was spent by the court/royal family.


I would imagine so.  For one thing I believe the Colorno palace had 400 rooms (probably bigger than many royal palaces for larger states) and so would have cost a lot to staff and maintain.  There were other palaces too which would again have added to the expense.  I would imagine a contributing factor in the Court's high spending was that Ferdinand's parents both came from far wealthier Courts (France and Spain) and would have expected to live in a grander state than Parma itself could easily finance; a habit that Ferdinand himself may have acquired.

The family used two main palaces: the one in the capital and the one in Colorno. There was also a palace in Piacenza (city) that need maintenance/repairs from time to time plus other country estates owned by the family. Maria Amalia's country estate in Sala Baganza was also a separate establishment since 1775.

Yes, it seems that the imbalance between income and expenditures was well established before 1769, when Ferdinand and Maria Amalia married. It was mentioned that the wedding expenses added to the imbalance, then Maria Amalia's unrestrained spending made the situation worse.  I've also read that pensions, etc. were deemed excessive vs actual income of the duchy.

I have no doubt that Maria Amalia was a spendthrift, but she e paid the debts  she had accummulated by selling her jewelry, etc., not paid for by the state.  There seems no evidence of a claim by an author that the subisidies from  France and Spain (and Austria?) were partly used to pay for her debts.    
« Last Edit: February 02, 2011, 09:26:49 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline CountessKate

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #164 on: February 03, 2011, 11:18:31 PM »
Quote
I have no doubt that Maria Amalia was a spendthrift, but she e paid the debts  she had accummulated by selling her jewelry, etc., not paid for by the state.  There seems no evidence of a claim by an author that the subisidies from  France and Spain (and Austria?) were partly used to pay for her debts.
 

I'm not an authority on eighteenth century royal finances, but weren't most of the european state systems, prior to the French revolution (generally speaking) far from equitable or straightforward?  As I understand it, the tax systems usually benefitted the nobility and the clergy and the systems themselves were very prone to corruption and were an undue burden on the middle and lower classes (and the American and French revolutions, were among other things, very much products of deeply unpopular tax burdens).  Within such a system, it would not be unusual for a royal household (i.e. the palaces, the royal servants) to be maintained by subsidies made to the crown - there was not the clear differentiation between the sovereign and the state which was created largely as a result of the French revolution in particular but also much refined and developed in the nineteenth century.  I can't see why Maria Amalia should be blamed if such a situation was in place in Parma - after all (and at the risk of having this post removed to another board - but it IS about Maria Amalia), this was very much the case in France, far richer and more influential than Parma, and presumably at least one model.  Why would Ferdinand or Maria Amalia have problems maintaining their palaces or paying their servants (servants of the crown - civil servants today!) out of the subsidies made by their relations to them personally?  Ferdinand's grandfather Louis XV had no problems paying for Madame du Barry's gaming debts (or anything else) out of crown tax monies.  I also think it very much to Maria Amalia's credit that she paid any of her personal debts (as distinct from the ducal expenses of the Parma court) from her personal property, i.e. her jewels.  I think if she did pay any of her personal debts from subsidies, to condemn this as a fault demonstrates a lack of understanding of the way in which the finances of eighteenth century royal houses operated and the confusion between them and the eighteenth century 'state'.  Louis XIV said 'L'etat c'est moi' and although by his - great-great-great (I think) - grandson's time (i.e. Ferdinand) this was an uneasy situation, it was still very real.  I really don't think we should judge the eighteenth century by the standpoint of the nineteenth or twentieth, where Maria Amalia is simply an Austrian royal harridan , preying on patriotic Italians - who at that stage didn't exist.  Or at least that's how it looks to me.