Author Topic: Remembering Mary of Modena  (Read 7595 times)

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Yseult

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Remembering Mary of Modena
« on: May 04, 2006, 06:36:30 PM »
Am I the only one who likes so much this ill-fated queen of England? ::)

She was a tall, slender and ravishing brunette fifteen years old when she was married to James Stuart, Duke of York and pressumptive heir of his elder brother, king Charles II. At this time, he was forty years old and he was the widow of Lady Anne Hyde, mother of his daughters the princess Mary (just four years younger than the septmother) and Anne (seven years younger than the septmother).

Mary (she was born Maria Beatrice Eleanor Anne Margaret Isabella d´Este) was the daughter Alfonso IV, sovereign duke of Modena, and his wife Laura Martinozzi. It is noteworthy that Laura Martinozzi was a daughter of Laura Mancini, one of the famous nieces of cardinal Jules Mazarin. So, Mary of Modena was related to the "Mazarinettes"  Marie, Hortense and Olimpia.

Things were not easy for Mary when she had gone from Modena to England. She was an ardent Roman Catholic, a result of her strict upbringing in a convent of nuns founded by a mother very proud about the uncle cardinal. James duke of York was also a catholic, and the first wife Anne Hyde died after her conversion to the catholicism, but the two stepdaughters of Mary were raised as protestants. The wife of Charles II, the portuguese Catherine of Braganza, was not loved in England because her catholicism, so the catholicism of Mary of Modena added fire to fire from the point of view of the most part of english people.

Mary had not a chance to gain a place into the hearts of her stepdaughters, neither to gain a place into the hearts of the English people. Though Mary was beautiful and had a lot of charme, people disliked her as an "agent sent for the Pope" to restore the catholicism in Britain.


Yseult

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Re: Remembering Mary of Modena
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2006, 06:38:32 PM »
Portraits of Mary










bell_the_cat

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Re: Remembering Mary of Modena
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2006, 01:58:02 AM »
Quote
Am I the only one who likes so much this ill-fated queen of England? ::)

She was a tall, slender and ravishing brunette fifteen years old when she was married to James Stuart, Duke of York and pressumptive heir of his elder brother, king Charles II. At this time, he was forty years old and he was the widow of Lady Anne Hyde, mother of his daughters the princess Mary (just four years younger than the septmother) and Anne (seven years younger than the septmother).

Mary (she was born Maria Beatrice Eleanor Anne Margaret Isabella d´Este) was the daughter Alfonso IV, sovereign duke of Modena, and his wife Laura Martinozzi. It is noteworthy that Laura Martinozzi was a daughter of Laura Mancini, one of the famous nieces of cardinal Jules Mazarin. So, Mary of Modena was related to the "Mazarinettes"  Marie, Hortense and Olimpia.

Things were not easy for Mary when she had gone from Modena to England. She was an ardent Roman Catholic, a result of her strict upbringing in a convent of nuns founded by a mother very proud about the uncle cardinal. James duke of York was also a catholic, and the first wife Anne Hyde died after her conversion to the catholicism, but the two stepdaughters of Mary were raised as protestants. The wife of Charles II, the portuguese Catherine of Braganza, was not loved in England because her catholicism, so the catholicism of Mary of Modena added fire to fire from the point of view of the most part of english people.

Mary had not a chance to gain a place into the hearts of her stepdaughters, neither to gain a place into the hearts of the English people. Though Mary was beautiful and had a lot of charme, people disliked her as an "agent sent for the Pope" to restore the catholicism in Britain.


No Yseult, I don't think anyone has had a bad word to say about this woman - we discussed her at some length on the "queen consort" thread.

I don't get the idea that she was particularly unpopular in Britain - she made a good impression while James was in Scotland around 1680. She also didn't take part in politics much. I also believe she got on quite well with her step-daughters. Prince_Lieven knows more about this!

Yseult

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Re: Remembering Mary of Modena
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2006, 03:27:40 AM »
Mnnn...I find your comment so interesting, bell_the_cast. My impression (but I would be glad changing my mind about this) is that Mary was a lovable creature but not loved by the common people of England at her time. I think that Mary was under suspection since the first day she arrived to England. She was named, with a certain measure of disdain, "Madame East" in the broadsheets, and it was said that she was an agent of Pope Clement X. When Titus Oates and Israel Tonge tried to discredit catholics in England claiming that they had uncovered a "Popish plot" to murder king Charles in order to replace him with the catholic couple James-Mary, an (innocent) victim of the situation was the secretary of Mary of Modena.

But I suppose that the thing that hurted her so much was all the rumours spread about the birth of her son. It was said that her child had born dead, suggesting that the newlyborn prince was a changeling baby. This was not fair play.

You explain that Mary managed well the relationship with her stepdaughters. It was certain during the first years, but If I´m not wrong, nor Mary neither Anne were protectives & supportives to poor Mary of Modena when wicked rumours overshadowed the birth of their half-brother. When the boy cames to this world, Anne was having a good time at Bath; she was not close to her father and stepmother at the moment of birth, and this contribute to the rumours about a spurious baby. And, at the end, the two daughters of James were not by his side, leaving him alone in his downfall and exile...

bell_the_cat

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Re: Remembering Mary of Modena
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2006, 05:28:51 AM »
Well the country was divided over the "popish plot" - many people were able to see it as crude anti catholic propaganda, and The Duke of York retained enough support to ultimately become king. Though people saw James's second marriage as being influenced by the French, I don't know whether this was personally directed at the new duchess ( she was after all little more than a child). You are right that she doesn't seem to have been loved by the British people, but I think this is because she stayed out of the public view - I don't think she was hated or ridiculed in the way Henrietta Maria had been.

As far as relations with Mary and Anne are concerend they seem to have been fairly cordial up to the crisis of
1687. The breakdown was more to do with the failure of James' policy than with personal issues (which is sad).

P_L has related how Mary Beatrice and Catherine of Braganza did definitely not get on. M B received Hortense Mancini, who was her mother's cousin, much to the displeasure of the Queen (Hortense was Charles' mistress), which got things off to a bad start.

Yseult

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Re: Remembering Mary of Modena
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2006, 06:10:29 AM »
Two images of Hortense Mancini:





Bell_the_cat...I´m surprised about the not fair relationship between Catherine of Braganza and Mary of Modena. My fault, of course: I always thought that "for sure two catholic princess married in England at these hard times must be attached".


palatine

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Re: Remembering Mary of Modena
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2006, 10:05:42 AM »
Quote
When Titus Oates and Israel Tonge tried to discredit catholics in England claiming that they had uncovered a "Popish plot" to murder king Charles in order to replace him with the catholic couple James-Mary, an (innocent) victim of the situation was the secretary of Mary of Modena.

Edward Coleman, James’s private secretary, was not precisely an innocent victim of the Popish Plot.  Some of his correspondence proved that he hoped to influence James to force the English and Scottish back to Catholicism.  He shared his hopes and plans with powerful people on the Continent, including Louis XIV's private confessor.  Some of his letters proved that he believed James would force his people to convert when he came to the throne without his encouragement.  For example:

”We have here a mighty work upon our hands; no less than the conversion of three kingdoms, and by that perhaps the subduing of a pestilent heresy which has domineered over a greater part of this northern world a long time.  There were never such hopes of success since the death of our Queen Mary, as now in our days when God has given us a prince who is become (I may say by miracle) zealous of being the author and instrument of so glorious a work.  I can scarce believe myself awake, or the thing real, when I think of a prince, in such an age as we live in, converted to such a degree of zeal and piety, as not to regard anything in the world in comparison of God Almighty’s glory, the salvation of his own soul, and the conversion of our poor kingdom.  Money cannot fail of persuading the king to anything.  There is nothing it cannot make him do, were it ever so much to his prejudice.  It has such an absolute power over him that he cannot resist it.  Logic in our court, built upon money, has more powerful charms than any other sort of argument.”

Thanks to Coleman’s letters, which suggested that there really was a plot of some kind to force England and Scotland back to Catholicism, Titus Oates found instant and long-lasting credibility with Parliament and the people, and the Popish Plot was in full swing.  In James and Mary's defense, it’s doubtful that they knew about the above letter or others like it: James wanted to establish religious toleration, not to force people to become Catholics.  However, there were letters in Coleman’s correspondence that James had clearly directed and/or sanctioned which wheedled for money from Louis XIV and/or promised that Anne would marry a Catholic, which would have guaranteed that the House of Stuart would become a Catholic dynasty.  James was in big trouble with Parliament and the people, and poor Mary was too.

James tried to do damage control by claiming that Coleman was Mary’s secretary and/or that he’d fired him and/or that he'd had no idea about any of his letters; to this day, historians are not quite certain whether he was James's secretary all along, whether he was transferred from James's service to Mary's, or if he was indeed fired and when.  Then and now, there was no escaping the fact that some of Coleman’s questionable letters had been written with James’s approval and under his direction, thanks to internal evidence in the text.

After a flurry of hatred and religious bigotry at the time of her marriage, Mary had become a popular member of the court and had won many people's hearts thanks to her beauty, charm, and innate goodness.  Thanks to Coleman's letters and the Popish Plot, she became very unpopular and a target for malicious gossip which lasted until the resurgence of interest in the Stuarts in the early nineteenth century, when her life and character were favorably reappraised.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by palatine »

Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: Remembering Mary of Modena
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2006, 10:57:36 AM »
Hey, about Mary Beatrice's relationship with her stepdaughters, she got on very well with the future Mary II, partly perhaps because Mary had a Latin temprament and looks of her Medici ancestors. Anne, of course, was a plodding Hyde, and was very spiteful to Mary Beatrice sometimes. She wrote to her sister in Holland that Mary Beatrice hated her, though she 'pretended' to be nice. Anne pretty much tried to poison her sister's mind against their stepmother.  >:( She made sure she wasn't present at Mary Beatrice's labour in 1688, so she could testify that it was a warming pan baby with a 'clear conscience'.

I've always admired Mary Beatrice, she's one of my favourite British queens. BTW, the anniversary of her death is coming up - 7th of May.
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
-Sherlock Holmes

"Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget."

Modena

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Re: Remembering Mary of Modena
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2006, 10:04:03 PM »
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Hey, about Mary Beatrice's relationship with her stepdaughters, she got on very well with the future Mary II, partly perhaps because Mary had a Latin temprament and looks of her Medici ancestors. Anne, of course, was a plodding Hyde, and was very spiteful to Mary Beatrice sometimes. She wrote to her sister in Holland that Mary Beatrice hated her, though she 'pretended' to be nice. Anne pretty much tried to poison her sister's mind against their stepmother.  >:( She made sure she wasn't present at Mary Beatrice's labour in 1688, so she could testify that it was a warming pan baby with a 'clear conscience'.

I've always admired Mary Beatrice, she's one of my favourite British queens. BTW, the anniversary of her death is coming up - 7th of May.


She's my favourite. Subject of many cruel accusations and plots, etc, but never let them crush her spirit. The manipulations of Anne and her supporters were beyond cruel to a woman who was known not to have uttered a bad word about practically anybody.
She was a kind and generous woman, giving away so much for the exiles and the poor.
I just so respect her class and character.