Portrait of Maria Francisca of Savoy (1646-1683). Queen consort of Portugal (1666-1668; 1683). Duchess of Beja (1668-1683), as the wife of Pedro, Prince Regent of Portugal
Dona Maria Francisca of Savoy (Portuguese: Maria Francisca de Saboia; 21 June 1646 – 27 December 1683) was twice queen consort of Portugal as the spouse of two Portuguese kings: Afonso VI and Peter II of Portugal. She first became queen of Portugal at the age of 20 on the day of her marriage to Afonso VI; because the marriage was never consummated, she was able to obtain an annulment. On 28 March 1668, she married Afonso's brother, the Infante Peter, Duke of Beja, who was appointed prince regent the same year due to Afonso's perceived incompetence. Maria Francisca became queen of Portugal for the second time when Peter succeeded his brother as Peter II in 1683 but died herself later that year. Maria Francisca was born in Paris as the younger daughter of Charles Amadeus, Duke of Nemours, and Élisabeth de Bourbon. Elisabeth was a granddaughter of Henry IV of France and his mistress Gabrielle d'Estrées. Prior to marriage she was styled Mademoiselle d'Aumale, a title derived from the duchy of Aumale which was a property of her father. In 1581, Portugal and Spain had been united under Philip II, but domestic opposition led to the 1640 to 1668 Portuguese Restoration War. By the end of 1665, Spanish attempts to reconquer Portugal had clearly failed, while their finances had collapsed, the Crown declaring bankruptcy no less than nine times between 1557 and 1666. This allowed Portuguese chief minister, Castelo Melhor, to focus on securing his own position. Afonso VI succeeded his father in 1653 but he was physically impaired and mentally unstable, with government controlled by his mother, Luisa de Guzmán. The Portuguese government was split between pro-French and pro-English factions, respectively led by Castelo Melhor and Alfonso's younger brother, Pedro. In 1662, Charles II of England married Alfonso's sister Catherine; Castelo Melhor and Louis XIV saw a marriage between Maria Francisca and Alfonso as a way to offset that. Louis persuaded Charles to agree by providing him with the unpaid portion of Catherine's dowry; Maria arrived in Portugal on 2 August 1666 and the wedding took place the same day. From then on, she became known as Maria Francisca Isabel de Sabóia, although the marriage proved a disappointment. Alfonso abandoned the festivities early, leaving his new bride in charge, and reportedly displayed a similar lack of interest in consummating it. More importantly, Maria was an intelligent and resolute individual, who wanted to serve French interests but also rule; she soon discovered Alfonso was controlled by Castelo Melhor, who had no intention of sharing power. This drove her to first co-operate with her brother-in-law Pedro, then allegedly begin an affair with him. Although Castelo Melhor considered the marriage and the March 1667 Treaty of Lisbon with France as confirming his position, in fact they undermined it. Despite being financially exhausted, the treaty required Portugal to provide military support against Spain, while Maria persuaded Louis that Pedro was a better way to further French interests. In September, Castelo Melhor was forced into exile and in late November, Pedro deposed his brother, sending him to Terceira in the Azores. Maria retired to a convent and asked her marriage be annulled on the grounds of non-consummation; this was approved by her relative, French Cardinal Vendôme. Months after her annulment, Maria Francisca married the Infante Peter, now the Prince Regent of Portugal. In 1669 she gave birth to a daughter, Isabel Luísa Josefa of Portugal, Princess of Beira. The Braganza dynasty was at the brink of extinction, and Peter needed heirs, yet Maria Francisca was unable to produce further issue. When Afonso died in 1683, Peter succeeded him as Peter II of Portugal and Maria Francisca became queen again—but died in December of the same year. Maria Francisca's only child, the Infanta Isabel Luísa, died unmarried at age 21. Peter remarried to Maria Sofia of the Palatinate, who produced the much-needed heir, the future John V of Portugal.
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