Maria Caterina Farnese

Maria Caterina Farnese (18 February 1615 25 July 1646) was a member of the Ducal House of Farnese. She was the Duchess of Modena as the first wife of Francesco I d'Este, Duke of Modena. In some sources she is known simply as Maria Farnese.[1]

Maria Caterina Farnese
Duchess of Modena and Reggio
Tenure11 January 1631 25 July 1646
Born(1615-02-18)18 February 1615
Died25 July 1646(1646-07-25) (aged 31)
Ducal Palace of Sassuolo, Modena
SpouseFrancesco I d'Este, Duke of Modena
Alfonso IV, Duke of Modena
Isabella, Duchess of Parma
Maria, Duchess of Parma
Full name
Maria Caterina Farnese
FatherRanuccio I Farnese, Duke of Parma
MotherMargherita Aldobrandini


Born in Parma to Ranuccio I Farnese, Duke of Parma and his wife, Donna Margherita Aldobrandini, she was the couples sixth child and second daughter.[1]

Her older brother Odoardo Farnese was later the Duke of Parma. Her mother was Margherita Aldobrandini, daughter of Gianfrancesco and Olimpia Aldobrandini who in turn, was a member of the House of Aldobrandini of Rome, and the sole heiress to the family fortune.

She was a proposed bride of Charles II of England[2] but the marriage plans never materialised Charles instead married Catherine of Braganza.

She was engaged to Francesco I d'Este, Duke of Modena, son of the defunct Alfonso III d'Este, Duke of Modena and Princess Isabella of Savoy.

She married Francesco on 11 January 1631[1] in Parma; the marriage produced nine children, three of which went on to have progeny.

She died in July 1646 having give birth to a son. She died at the Ducal Palace of Sassuolo outside Modena, the summer residence of the Dukes of Modena.

Her nephew Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma married two of Maria Caterina's daughters, Isabella in 1664 and Maria in 1668. Isabella died in childbirth like her mother. Her husband married again twice, firstly to her sister Vittoria Farnese in 1648 and then to Lucrezia Barberini who was the mother of Rinaldo d'Este, Duke of Modena.


  1. Alfonso d'Este, Hereditary Prince of Modena (1632) died in infancy.
  2. Alfonso IV d'Este, Duke of Modena (2 February 1634 – 16 July 1662) married Laura Martinozzi and had issue.
  3. Isabella d'Este (3 October 1635 – 21 August 1666) married Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma and had issue.
  4. Leonore d'Este (1639–1640) died in infancy.
  5. Tedald d'Este (1640–1643) died in infancy.
  6. Almerigo d'Este (8 May 1641 – 14 November 1660) died unmarried.
  7. Eleonora d'Este (1643 – 24 February 1722) died unmarried.
  8. Maria d'Este (8 December 1644 – 20 August 1684) married Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma and had issue.
  9. Tedald d'Este (1646) died in infancy.

Titles and styles

  • 18 February 1615 11 January 1631: Her Highness Maria Caterina Farnese, Princess of Parma
  • 11 January 1631 25 July 1646: Her Highness The Duchess of Modena


References and notes

  1. van de Pas, Leo. "Maria Caterina Farnese". Retrieved 7 April 2010.
  2. Knowles Middleton, William Edgar. "Lorenzo Magalotti at the court of Charles II". Retrieved 7 April 2010.
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