Author Topic: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family  (Read 184687 times)

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Offline Mari

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #60 on: September 29, 2009, 10:32:08 PM »
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I find it  quite ridiculous that a prince of a small (sovereign) state must submit to the annoyances of the Kings of France and Spain.  I find it well that when we are in public, we comply with the labels such as on Sundays, but in other days of the week it becomes excessive.  When I'm with the Infante, I will do what he wants but alone, I do not follow anyone.  The House of Bourbon is not in Parma, and I am neither in France nor in Spain. Otherwise,  I do not need the Minister to give me lessons.
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Her replies sound like good common sense to me. The problem was that Parma was too small to defend itself against larger Countries so there always had to be this delicate balance.

Offline CountessKate

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #61 on: September 30, 2009, 03:42:15 AM »
Maria Theresa was in a difficult position with regard to Maria Amalia, because under 18th century royal convention, although your parent and sovereign had to be obeyed, there were exceptions, and one of these was that your husband and sovereign had to be obeyed first.  Hence Maria Amalia's frequent references to the Infante - if her husband had no problem with what she was doing, where were Maria Theresa's arguments?  Parma was, at least technically, an independent state; although Ferdinand owed respect and duty to his grandfather the King of France, and his uncle the King of Spain, they were not his sovereigns and could not command him.  His mother-in-law had even less particular respect or duty to call upon, except from her daughter, but could never argue with a husband's basic right to command a wife.  So basically Maria Theresa had realise that she really didn't have the power either up front or behind the scenes to demand obedience from Maria Amalia, as long as Maria Amalia was shielded by Ferdinand, and she had no relationship with Ferdinand to call upon.  But cutting off communication forever was also out of the question - a hostile Parma was no part of the Habsburg-Bourbon partnership plan.  Hence a period of dignified withdrawal to show she wasn't going to take this insolence from her daughter, followed by a reconciliation at the next possible opportunity.

I've always thought that Maria Theresa was one of those people who genuinely thought she was always absolutely open and honest, but her children lied to her and she had to take steps to find out the truth - hence the spies.  But her children lied to her because she was always interfering with them and playing favorites and was astonished when they had the temerity to argue.  I don't think she thought she was being dishonest when she said she was "neither inquisitive nor demanding" - she really thought she wasn't, she just thought she had the right to command her children to tell her every minute of the day what they were up to and at any point to tell them what to do.  And I also think she had no guilt at all about Maria Amalia - she justified it to herself that Maria Amalia and her husband were completely unreasonable and the best thing to do was leave them alone for a bit to come to their senses.   She wouldn't admit to herself or anyone else she had been soundly beaten!

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #62 on: September 30, 2009, 08:16:14 AM »
Thanks, CountessKate!

I agree with your opinion that Maria Theresa saw herself as honest and open --- and had the right to demand obedience from all her children, whether they were married or not, fully grown adults or children, or Queen, Grand Duke, Duchess or Emperor. etct. And to know everything on what her children did. IMHO, the problem with such was that  (most of the) reports given to her seemed incomplete, partial or at times completely false (we see Joseph II commenting on the reports on him after MT died). And she never seemed to have taken the time to reflect on the particular situations of her children. Isabella wrote Mimi about how MT was suspicious of her children (Isabella reckons that it was transference of her own distrust of herself) and I think there is a grain of truth in it.  MT views vs reality seem a bit off (for lack of a better term) to me, at least at times. For instance, at her deathbed, I've read that claimed she had sacrificed her children to God.  Of course, we know that MT's children had faults of their own so their familial problems couldn't be entirely MT's fault.  

Oh, I recall now MT calling Amalia and Ferdinand as 'the grimaces of Parma' or similar so it is likely that MT indeed justified her decision to cut all communication by saying that both her daughter and son-in-law were completely unreasonable. And yes, she was soundly beaten in this. Amalia seemed to want to be free of MT's  control and Ferdinand rebelled against everything he had been forced to accept by France and Spain (Parma's archives states this), so it appears that the two supported each other.  

If I remember it right, in signing off this particular letter that so incensed MT, Amalia simply wrote "Amalia", nothing else. Not even 'your daughter'. At least, that's how it was presented in the source but I don't know if the author has taken certain liberties with her work.  
  
« Last Edit: September 30, 2009, 08:27:34 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline CountessKate

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #63 on: October 05, 2009, 05:13:44 AM »
While most royal families of the eighteenth century worked hard at trying to put a romantic gloss on their members' marriages, the reality was that for most, marriage then was more like a job than the romantic partnership that it is perceived as in the twenty first century, and it was the only profession open to a woman.  Maria Theresa dangerously changed expectations for her children by marrying herself for love, and allowing one of her daughters to do so, but basically normal expectations for royal daughters were that they would be married off to appropriate princes, with rank and power and children compensating for any deficiencies in the spouses.  Once Maria Amalia had got over her (to my mind, quite understandable) anger and humiliation at being married off to a not very attractive and imature boy instead of the handsome prince she had set her heart on, she did what most of them did - settled down and got on with the job.  She achieved ascendency over her husband, threw out the minister who was challenging her power, saw off her powerful mother, husband's grandfather and uncle, and had the family for whom she seemed to have genuine affection.  She basically made a success of her job/marriage.  Similarly, Maria Carolina and Marie Antoinette both survived being married to individuals without any great personal attractiveness with whom they had little in common, and in the end their marriages, if not romantic, were no worse than others of the time.  They also eventually succeeded in gaining political power and had children whom they loved.  No wonder poor Maria Elizabeth was upset - all she basically had to look forward to was a stultifying existence at her mother's court, and when her mother died, Joseph practically banished her to a convent.  Any husband was better than none at all, and it wasn't as if the convent offered a job in which she had any interest.   

Offline Mari

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #64 on: October 07, 2009, 01:45:17 AM »
Maria Amalia married a man in Joseph II's description  who was lame, fat, squat, inexperienced,no genius, little intelligence and is tiresome as can be! He did add he was well brought up and his looks were good. However, he saw no reason "if Amelia was wise she should not be perfectly happy." from Joseph II in the Shadow of Maria Theresa,1741-1780.

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In Marie Antoinette :The Last Queen of France by Lever "Through their marriages, the young Princesses were sacrificed to their Mother's Diplomacy. The prospective Husband's Personality was irrelevant as long as the Empress considered him a major player on the political scene. Wanting the Hapsburgs represented in Naples, she had offered one of her Daughters to a sovereign who was considered feeble minded.'so long as she fulfills her duty toward God and her Husband and earns her salvation,even if she is to be unhappy,I will be pleased.' Maria Theresa wrote concerning her young Daughter. In 1769 she gave Amelia to Ferdinand, Duke of Parma, a simpleton and a sensualist who was five years her junior.
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http://books.google.com/books?id=OVaeF4RT4f0C&pg=PA10&dq=maria+Amalia+duchess+of+Parma#v=onepage&q=maria%20Amalia%20duchess%20of%20Parma&f=false

So this explains why Maria Theresa said  paraphrasing "she had sacrificed her Daughters to God." I think that Maria Amelia if She was going to be sacrificed would have much rather had France. However once the French Revolution started and Maria Antoinette was killed she may have considered it a lucky escape at that point.  But certainly Louis XVI would have been a much greater match and as courteous. Maria Amalia wouldn't have started out contending with a Mistress as she did in Parma. True She would have had trouble with the Politics and less influence at the French Court, but then Maria Amalia was a better match for it on the other hand. It was fashionable in France to be young, beautiful and in debt. Marie Antoinette wanted to be fashionable. I think Maria Amalia would have been less prone to the negative influences and advice. If you read many of the Memoirs of the time Marie Antoinette was trying hard to please and did not realize that the Court was divided into factions, that detested her as an Austrian, and were jealous of any access to Louis XVI. The Aunts for one gave her bad advice.

 I haven't read anything yet that states Maria Amalia started out being hated just for her Austrian birth at Parma! Has anyone else?

Again in Joseph II: In the shadow of Maria Theresa the author states" that Maria Theresa belonged to the tradition of Louis XIV, that Sovereigns should be extravagant,ostentatious,and formal." She cites all the different large sums spent on Palaces. I have not been able to find exact sums of Maria Amalia's spending does anyone know of any documents?

http://books.google.com/books?id=COw8AAAAIAAJ&pg=RA1-PA194&dq=maria+Amalia+duchess+of+Parma#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #65 on: October 07, 2009, 09:00:57 PM »
Very interesting, Mari!  

It would not have been easy being married off to someone else when she wanted to marry another. But Maria Amalia was lucky in the sense that her husband was good natured (even if he wasn't always faithful to her) and allowed her to do whatever she wanted. She had no interfering relatives to contend with, at least no one she lived in the same palace with; the kings of France and Spain interfered but they were far from Parma (although she appeared irritated by letters from Madrid).  

I have not read the exact sums of what she spent either but her spending was mentioned in some sources-- and she herself admitted that she was wrong in increasing expenses, in settling debts (of other people) and in making second requests. I've read some of the letters of English ambassador in Tuscany and he discussed the Duchess of Parma a number of times.  For example, he said that the finances in Parma was in disorder and one of the reasons cited was that " she was as generous as the Empress".   So Leopold was being sent to Parma to preach submission and economy to his sister.  With Amalia's confession that she was wrong in settling debts and that remark, we can assume that most of Amalia's extravagance was not spent on clothes, jewelry. etc. for herself but on other people. We know that Maria Theresa was extremely generous to her staff and ministers - she settled their debts as well.  It appears that Amalia did the same and she took after her mother in that respect.  We also know that she allowed beggars/paupers to live in the palace, more or less on the same excuse (generosity).  At some point, I've also read that she would distribute money to the poor and they crowded the palace. I've also read that she was fond of parties so she must've spent a pretty sum on those (as well as on her horses, which Joseph would mention later on). Amalia also mentioned of having two properties in Parma -- one of which was the Casino dei Boschi, a hunting lodge/villa.  I've posted a link of its pictures in part I of this thread...
( http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilguidoz/325309543/ ). It was her private retreat and served as one of her residences.  It was built from 1775-1789 so it appears that it was done very gradually (later on, Empress Marie Louise would buy (and expand) it from her heirs so it was a private property and not owned by the state like the Petit Trianon of Marie Antoinette). Amalia also traveled to Tuscany, Milan, Naples, Rome and Austria... that should add to her spending!

I think only the minister Du Tillot's camp was anti-Austrian or anti-Amalia, for that matter.  He was hoping to match Ferdinand with Maria Beatrice of Modena but it appears that it was only him aiming for that; Maria Beatrice was engaged, at a very young age, to Leopold then to Ferdinand, brothers of Amalia.  From what I have read, in Parma's court at that time, the French hated the Spanish and vice versa while the Italians hated both.  I'm not sure how the Parma's nobility felt about having an Austrian consort for their duke. I do know that Du Tillot's mistress, Marchesa Malaspina, was the chief lady at court until Maria Amalia arrived. She was a lady-in-waiting to the Ferdinand's mother and she acted the same to Maria Amalia. There would be friction later on for Du Tillot insisted on having his mistress appointed as head of baby Caroline's household, which of course didn't please Amalia. At any rate, Ferdinand signed the papers for her exile (as well as a few others) the following year, before Du Tillot himself was dismissed.  So I think with regard to any anti-Austrian sentiments or intrigues, Amalia dealt with them effectively through her husband.  As for the masses, we know that Amalia made friends with them!

I agree that Maria Amalia would've been less prone to the negative influences and advice had she been at Versailles.  Amalia had many faults but she didn't appear to be clueless like her sister in France.  It is understandable if she felt she deserved more than the Duke of Parma (if she was being sacrificed for state reasons anyway), most older royal daughters had greater matches than the yoiunger ones.  But as CountessKate pointed out in Part I of this thread, there weren't any other suitable princes for her so she had to make the best of it.  
« Last Edit: October 07, 2009, 09:32:14 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 #66 on: October 08, 2009, 03:39:14 AM »
A very masterly summing-up from the two posts above.  I've always regretted the sacking of du Tillot - he seemed to be a genuine innovator, and brought trade and prosperity to Parma at a level it wasn't to see again for a long time.  But under an absolute sovereign, a politician has to please the rulers, and du Tillot was silly to get on the wrong side of Maria Amalia.  I don't think he was anti-Austrian so much as he was pro-French, and had been basically ruling Parma in Ferdinand's name and resented a wife who was not his own nominee coming in and trying to take charge.  If he had cut his losses, agreed with everything Maria Amalia said, and tried to steer her rather than tell her what to do and complain about her to others, it might have had a better result.  But he had been so used to calling the tune with Ferdinand, he had become arrogant and consequently lost his place. 

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #67 on: October 09, 2009, 10:58:46 PM »
Yes, I also think Du Tillot erred in not conciliating and flattering Maria Amalia (and Ferdinand). I think it reached to a point where both truly hated him. The English ambassador in Tuscany at that time wrote there was a plan of some 'cooling off', to send Du Tillot somewhere for a short period of time or a graceful, gradual  exit for him but he noted that "the Duke and Duchess would not be inwardly satisfied with such; they want him (openly) punished."  Both (especially Amalia), he said, could not forget the humiliations they received and how they were forced to submit, especially during the mission of Monsieur de Chauvelin (Dec. 1770).  Du Tillot may have meant well in restoring order to the court and trying to make both Amalia and Ferdinand straighten out their chaotic lifestyle but IMHO, just like Empress Maria Theresa, his methods were not effective.  All those reports to Vienna and Versailles would not endear him to both Amalia and Ferdinand.

A letter dated May 1769 from Louis XV to Ferdinand advised his grandson not to despise the counsels of his minister and reminded him of how Du Tillot served his parents well.  Furthermore, there was no one to replace him, claimed Louis XV. So it seems that the problem with Du Tillot started before Maria Amalia came and of course, grew worse after she arrived. It seems that he wasn't  very respectful to Ferdinand either. For example, he reproached his duke: "When one is a prince, one cannot be a monk (without being ridiculous)"!  I don't think even an immature prince would appreciate being told something like that. And Amalia wrote home to Vienna about her husband not being respected and not being treated as a sovereign, and that she (in her mind, she was the most important person in the duchy after her husband) was even treated with less respect.
  
« Last Edit: October 09, 2009, 11:28:31 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 #68 on: October 13, 2009, 04:25:36 AM »
Poor Ferdinand never seems to have resisted domination - first Du Tillot and then Maria Amalia - but in fact the evidence seems to be that he actually disliked Du Tillot, or at least the latters' anti-clericalism, so he may have found Maria Amalia's actually helpful in giving him the necessary courage to dismiss Du Tillot and incidentally stand up to his grandfather.   But it is unfortunately true that weak characters can both admire and resent those who dominate them, so Ferdinand may both have found Maria Amalia both a strong support, to help him do what he couldn't have done by himself, but may also have resented the fact that he couldn't stand up to her where her views ran counter to his - and may possibly have burst into tears! 


Offline Mari

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #69 on: October 13, 2009, 11:58:40 PM »
Ferdinand had a Mistress when Maria Amalia first arrived in Parma! In fact he was so immature he invited Maria Amalia into the kitchen to roast chestnuts with the two of them.                    quote from Prinzheinelgirl April 02, 2009, 10:22:25 PM #350


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This is the sort of welcome Amalia got from Ferdinand when she arrived in Parma.... (from the book on Maria Theresa by Paul Tabori):

In Parma, a tousle-headed, barefoot youth was tolling the bell in the tallest tower of the city.  Then he got tired of it, rushed down the spiral stairs and made posthaste for the turn of the road to spy on the arrivals.   When the travelling party appeared, he jumped from under a tree, began to pound his knees and laughed at the Archduchess, who was peering through the glass window of the coach.  She stared, amazed, at the uncouth lout, who, as soon as the coach rolled on, picked himself up and ran back to the city.

Within the palace there was total chaos. Duke Ferdinand had disappeared.  The court dignitaries, thin Du Tillot and fat Malaspina, his mistress, led the girl to her apartments in obvious embarrassment. Amalia showed no surprise. She stood in the middle of the large room and examined curiously the ancestral portraits of the Parma dynasty.  Suddenly, the door opened and the barefooted, dishevelled youngster whom she had noticed through the window of the coach burst in.  "You are my bride?" he demanded.  "I'm Ferdinand."  The girl stared at him, mouth agape.  The boy took her hand and led her down the basement kitchen.

"Do you like roast chestnuts?" he asked her. "If you do, I'll get you some..... Beatrice!" he shouted at a barefoot, olive-skinned girl whom Amalia hadn't even noticed and who stood with large, brilliant eyes full of hate next to the hearth.  "My mistress," Ferdinand presented her to his bride. "Make friends, you two.  Don't be afraid, she won't bite," he reassured Amalia. The archduchess, who was trained not to show surprise at anything nor form any hasty opinions, soon found her poise.  Half an hour later, they gaily munched the roast chestnuts.  Then Amalia proposed a game of hide-and-seek.
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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #70 on: October 14, 2009, 11:38:18 PM »
Yes, so Maria Amalia got a husband who was so immature, had a mistress at the outset, was fond of low company and whose hobbies include chestnut-roasting and bell-ringing, and according to Joseph II, possessed no genius and little intelligence. It appears that reports to Vienna on Ferdinand were, 'sanitized'. J. Alexander Mahan, one of Maria Theresa's biographers, wrote that the prince's virtues were magnified.  Ferdinand seemed good natured and easy-going but what other virtues there might be?  Excellently educated, pious, what else?  At least Maria Carolina knew what her husband Ferdinand of Naples was like and appeared to be kind of relieved when she found out that his character was better than reported.  But Amalia, it seemed, was in for shock.

Ferdinand appears to unfaithful -- but a very pious one.  Amalia complained of her husband's infidelities to MT. Two books (The House of Habsburg: 600 Years of a European Dysnasty by Adam Wandruska and Twayne's Rulers & Statesmen of the World Series, volume 18) mention this. How could many authors say Amalia had liaisons but failed to mention (or did not know) Ferdinand's own infidelities is a mystery to me.....  
« Last Edit: October 14, 2009, 11:48:22 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 #71 on: October 15, 2009, 08:49:05 PM »
Well, perhaps most authors thought of it that way -- royal and noble men were 'expected' to have mistresses at that time.  All I want to point out is that, apparently, Maria Amalia wasn't fine with it.  She was upset enough to plague him with jealous outbursts and complain to Maria Theresa. That likely contributed to her extravagant behavior and her own liaisons. But it gets little mention, if any at all. So I wonder if the authors were just too pro-French or pro-Spanish.....The only books that I know that mention Ferdinand's infidelities are from Austrian, American, Hungarian/British, and Polish authors.    

Ferdinand was the first to be unfaithful, not Amalia.  So, putting the blame entirely on her is not fair, at least from that point of view. She had many defects, yes, but she had many good qualities as well. And Ferdinand himself had many defects as well.   If some people insist that Amalia was so god-awful as a wife, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in her 33 years of marriage with Ferdinand (despite proof that she wasn't) and she never cried or was never hurt about their marital problems, then I'll just have to drop this subject because I cannot see it that way.   :)
« Last Edit: October 15, 2009, 09:20:42 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 #72 on: October 18, 2009, 12:53:56 PM »
I think most people supposed that being forced to marry against her will (Ferdinand was not the man of her choice) to a boy much younger than herself. She would exert herself (which she most certainly did) and boss him around. Amalia bitched about her situation and complained so much, which is very different from her sisters Josepha (who had a much gentlier nature) or Antonia (who was sweeter but immature). It would be easy to point her out as a trouble maker and not the ideal wife.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #73 on: October 18, 2009, 08:17:14 PM »
Eric Lowe, I understand what you are saying.....it would be easy indeed to point Maria Amalia as a trouble maker and not the ideal wife if we look at the early years or certain situations.  That she had a dominating nature, I do not doubt at all.  I also think she had a lot of resentment being sent to Parma instead of marrying the prince of her choice but as CountessKate pointed out, after she got over her anger and humiliation at being married against her will, she got on with the business of her job/marriage.

Maria Amalia in fact had a gentle nature (you can find such praise from Maria Theresa's farewell letter to her when she left Parma): " The advice I give you come from a loving heart, and since I have some experience in life, they can be useful to you.  I wish nothing but happy to see you, how you make it through the kindness and gentleness of your character and your uniform and virtuous behavior.  You also have incredibly great deal of patience and a very good-natured character.  These great features you need to maintain and further develop them, because they are lucky your life. . ."   So Maria Amalia had such traits in her. MT knew the characters of her children quite well although IMHO, she was quite wrong in distrusting them so much (a transference of her own distrust of herself according to daughter-in-law Isabella) and such affected her dealings with them.  Now if she lost her temper and bitched about her situation, that is quite understandable in the early months or early years.  Neither Parma nor her husband was very appealing, were they? IMHO, she had much to try her in Parma --- a very immature and silly husband who had a mistress who was described by many as either a simpleton or an idiot, Du Tillot, the Franco-Spanish interference/influence, the scoldings from Vienna, among others. But that doesn't mean she did not even try to be nice to her husband or make her marriage work.  I'm not saying Amalia did not deserve her share of the blame in whatever problems she had with her husband.....but to point all the blame on her or say all she did was cause trouble to her husband is untrue. I have a suspicion that reports on her behavior focused only on the bad side, Amalia  certainly knew that her faults-and only her faults-where being singled out: "Give the minister confidence so that he can find fault with the conduct of Madame L'Infante?"  

It's interesting to know how Maria Josepha would've coped with Ferdinand of Naples or with Ferdinand of Parma had Maria Johanna lived. Indeed,  Maria Antonia seemed sweeter (at least in the early years when she was still Dauphine) but she was also capable of bad temper and many mood swings. I think the archduchesses were subject to a lot of strain.  For example, I've read of an account by Ferdinand of Naples, writing to his father about how Caroline screamed at him: " I don't care if you die or burst, for at least a year, I refuse to get pregnant."  , afterwhich he claimed she jumped into him like dog and bit him (he still had the scar on his hand, he said).  Then Caroline proceeded to scream at her old ladies-in-waiting like an eagle. I don't know, perhaps the account was a bit exaggerated......

« Last Edit: October 18, 2009, 08:37:56 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 #74 on: October 19, 2009, 02:58:41 PM »
I agree. Both Maria Josepha (the real favourite sister of Joseph II) and Maria Johanna seemed much more decoile than Caroline or Amalia. It is interesting that only Amalia was punished by her mother by breaking off correspondence (which also included those with her sisters Caroline & Antonia). That was pretty harsh for someone with such a close knit family. Caroline in comparison was bossy but she appear to know the limits she could with Vienna, while Amalia was painted as the wild child.