Portrait of Mary of Modena (1658-1718), Queen consort of England, Scotland (1685-1688), Duchesses of York (1673-1685), 1685
Mary of Modena (Italian: Maria di Modena d'Este; 5 October 1658 – 7 May 1718) was Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland as the second wife of James II and VII. A devout Roman Catholic, Mary married the widowed James, who was then the younger brother and heir presumptive of Charles II. She was uninterested in politics and devoted to James and their children, two of whom survived to adulthood: the Jacobite claimant to the thrones, James Francis Edward, and Louisa Maria Teresa. Born a princess of the northwestern Italian Duchy of Modena, Mary is primarily remembered for the controversial birth of James Francis Edward, her only surviving son. It was widely rumoured that he was a "changeling", brought into the birth chamber in a warming pan, in order to perpetuate her husband's Catholic Stuart dynasty. Although the accusation was almost certainly false, and the subsequent Privy Council investigation affirmed this, James Francis Edward's birth was a contributing factor to the "Glorious Revolution", the revolution which deposed James II and VII and replaced him with his Protestant eldest daughter from his first marriage to Anne Hyde (1637–1671), Mary II. She and her husband, William III of Orange, would reign jointly as "William and Mary". Exiled to France, the "Queen over the water" – as the Jacobites called Mary – lived with her husband and children in the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, provided by Louis XIV of France. Mary was popular among Louis XIV's courtiers; James, however, was considered a bore. In widowhood, Mary spent much time with the nuns at the Convent of Chaillot, where she and her daughter Louisa Maria Teresa spent their summers. In 1701, when James II died, young James Francis Edward became king at age 13 in the eyes of the Jacobites. As he was too young to assume the nominal reins of government, Mary represented him until he reached the age of 16. Mary Beatrice d'Este, the second but eldest surviving child of Alfonso IV, Duke of Modena, and his wife, Laura Martinozzi, was born on 5 October 1658 in Modena, Duchy of Modena, Italy. Her only younger brother, Francesco, succeeded their father as Duke upon the latter's death in 1662. Mary's education was excellent; she spoke French and Italian fluently, had a good knowledge of Latin and, later, mastered English.
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