Maria Luisa of Savoy

Maria Luisa of Savoy (Maria Luisa Gabriella; 17 September 1688 14 February 1714) was a queen consort of Spain by marriage to Philip V of Spain.[1] She acted as Regent of Spain during the absence of her spouse from 1702 until 1703, and had great influence over him as his adviser, while she was herself in turn influenced by the Princesse des Ursins.

Maria Luisa of Savoy
Maria Luisa di Savoia in hunting attire by Miguel Jacinto Meléndez
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure2 November 1701 – 14 February 1714
Born(1688-09-17)17 September 1688
Royal Palace of Turin, Savoy
Died14 February 1714(1714-02-14) (aged 25)
Royal Alcazar of Madrid, Spain
SpousePhilip V of Spain
Louis I of Spain
Infante Philip of Spain
Ferdinand VI of Spain
Full name
Maria Luisa Gabriella di Savoia
FatherVictor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy
MotherAnne Marie d'Orléans
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Early life

She was the third daughter and second surviving child of Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy and his French-born wife Anne Marie d'Orléans, the youngest daughter of Philippe of France and Henrietta of England. Throughout her life, Maria Luisa remained close to her older sister Maria Adelaide who later married Louis, Duke of Burgundy, the eldest grandson of Louis XIV. In her youth, Maria Luisa was described as playful and fun loving and had received a good education.[2]


Philip V of Spain, a French prince, was recently crowned King of Spain upon the death of childless Charles II. In order to enforce his shaky authority over Spain due to his French birth, Philip V decided to maintain ties with Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy. Philip and Maria Luisa were Second cousins through Louis XIII. Philip V's brother, Louis, Duke of Burgundy, had married the elder sister of Maria Luisa several years earlier, and in mid-1701, Philip V asked for Maria Luisa's hand with the permission of his grandfather Louis XIV.[3]

Maria Luisa was wed by proxy to Philip V on 12 September 1701 at the age of thirteen and was escorted to Nice, arriving there on 18 September. While in Nice, she was greeted by Pope Clement XI who gave her the Golden Rose on 20 September as a ritualistic gift for the young princess.[2] Within a week, she sailed from Nice for Antibes and was taken to Barcelona. The official wedding took place on 2 November 1701.[2]


Philip V was deeply in love with her from the start: as would be the case of his next consort, he was sexually dependent on her, as his religious scruples prevented him from exercising any sexual life outside of marriage. She was also said to be very beautiful and intelligent.[4] Unlike what was normal for a Spanish monarch, he usually slept in her bed the entire night, and insisted upon his conjugal rights.[4] Already shortly after their marriage, the French ambassador, the Duke of Gramont reported to Philip’s grandfather, Louis XIV, that Philip would be completely governed by his spouse as long as he had one, a report that led Louis XIV to warn him not to allow his queen to dominate him.[4] Marie Luisa is described as remarkably mature for her age, politically savvy, articulate and hardworking, and she has been credited with giving the normally passive Philip V the energy he needed to participate in warfare.[4]

In 1702, Philip V was obliged to leave Spain to fight in Naples as part of the ongoing War of Spanish Succession.[1] During her husband's absence, Maria Luisa acted as Regent from Madrid. She was praised as an effective ruler, having successfully implemented various changes in government and insisted upon all complaints being investigated and reports made direct to her. Her leadership encouraged the reorganization in the junta and, in doing this, inspiring people and their cities to make donations towards the war effort.[1] Despite being only fourteen at that time, Maria Luisa's effective regency made her admired in Madrid and throughout Spain. During her tenure as regent, she presided daily at the committee of government, gave audiences to ambassadors, worked for hours with ministers, corresponded with Philip and worked to prevent Savoy from joining the enemy.[4]

The Princesse des Ursins was a member of the household of the Queen. She would maintain great influence over Maria Luisa as her Camarera mayor de Palacio, chief of the household to the queen. The Princesse des Ursins maintained as strong dominance of Maria Luisa by using all the rights of proximity to the queen that her position entitled her to: she was almost constantly in the presence of the queen, accompanied her wherever she went as soon as she left her private rooms, followed her to the council meetings, where she listened sitting by the side sewing; followed her back to her rooms, where she was present at the most intimate personal tasks; dressing and undressing her, and controlling whoever wished to come into her presence. As Philip V, contrary to the custom of the time, actually shared a bedroom with Maria Luisa, the Princesse also had enormous influence over the king as well.[4]

After her husband's return in 1703, she resumed her role as queen consort. In 1704, the Princesse des Ursins was exiled at the order of Louis XIV, devastating Maria Luisa. However, in 1705, the Princesse returned to Madrid, much to the joy of the queen.[1]

Maria Luisa gave birth to the couple's first child, Infante Luis Felipe in 1707. Maria Luisa gave birth to three more children, two of whom would survive infancy. Towards the end of her life, the Queen became ill. She would die from the effects of tuberculosis on 14 February 1714. She was buried at San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Maria Luisa died in her 25th year.

16 September 1714, just months after Maria Luisa's death, her widower Philip V remarried by proxy, to Elisabeth Farnese, the only child and heir of the Duke of Parma.[1] All of Maria Luisa's children were to die without issue, thus there are no descendants of Maria Luisa of Savoy.


She was nicknamed La Savoyana by her adoring subjects and was well-loved in Spain. After her death, both of her sons that lived past childhood, her youngest and oldest, were to become Kings of Spain. Her niece, Princess Maria Luisa was named after her.


  1. Louis I of Spain (25 August 1707 31 August 1724) married Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans, no issue.
  2. Infante Philip of Spain (2 July 1709 18 July 1709).
  3. Infante Philip of Spain (7 June 1712 29 December 1719) died in childhood.
  4. Ferdinand VI of Spain (23 September 1713 10 August 1759) married Infanta Maria Barbara of Portugal, no issue.



  1. Hume, Martin Andrew Sharp (1906). "Epilogue". Queens of Old Spain. E. Grant Richards. pp. 531–537. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  2. The Gentleman's magazine, Volumes 302-303, F. Jefferies, 1789, p 284
  3. The Gentleman's magazine, Volumes 302-303, F. Jefferies, 1789, p 286
  4. Orr, Clarissa Campbell (2004-08-12). Queenship in Europe 1660-1815: The Role of the Consort. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521814225. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  5. Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 24.

Media related to Maria Luisa of Savoy at Wikimedia Commons

Maria Luisa of Savoy
Born: 17 November 1688 Died: 14 February 1714
Spanish royalty
Preceded by
Mariana of Neuburg
Queen consort of Spain
2 November 1701 – 14 February 1714
Succeeded by
Elisabeth Farnese
Queen consort of Naples and Sardinia
Succeeded by
Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Queen consort of Sicily
Succeeded by
Anne Marie d'Orléans
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