Renata of Lorraine

Renata of Lorraine (20 April 1544 – 22 May 1602) was by birth a member of the House of Lorraine and by marriage Duchess of Bavaria.

Renata of Lorraine
Duchess of Bavaria
Portrait by Johann Sadeler, ca. 1588–1595
Born(1544-04-20)20 April 1544
Died22 May 1602(1602-05-22) (aged 58)
SpouseWilliam V, Duke of Bavaria
FatherFrancis I, Duke of Lorraine
MotherChristina of Denmark

Born in Nancy, France, she was the second child and eldest daughter of Francis I, Duke of Lorraine and Christina of Denmark. Her paternal grandparents were Antoine, Duke of Lorraine and Renée of Bourbon-Montpensier and her maternal grandparents were Christian II of Denmark and Isabella of Austria.


Renata was described as a beauty and a desirable match. In 1558, after the death of his first wife Prince William of Orange expressed a desire to marry Renata. Her mother, Christina, liked the idea, and it was further cemented after the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis. This match was however prevented by King Philip of Spain.[1] Christina declined the plan of Cardinal of Lorraine to arrange a marriage between Renata and the prince of Joinville, and also a match proposed by the Spanish king to marry Renata to Juan d'Austria.[2]

In 1561, Renata's mother planned to marry her to king Frederick II of Denmark. However, the outbreak of the Nordic Seven Years' War between Denmark and Sweden in 1563, interrupted these plans. From 1565 to 1567, Christina negotiated with King Eric XIV of Sweden to create an alliance between Sweden and Denmark through his marriage to Renata. The plan was for Christina to conquer Denmark with the support of Sweden, a plan Eric supported.[3]

However, Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand opposed the plan due to the destructive effect it could have on the balance of power among the German nations, if Saxony (being strongly allied with Denmark) opposed Christina's claims. Neither did she manage to acquire the support of Philip of Spain. The planned marriage alliance between Lorraine and Sweden was finally ended when Eric XIV married his non-noble lover Karin Månsdotter in 1567.[4]

Finally, on 22 February 1568, Renata married her paternal second, but maternal first cousin William, hereditary prince of Bavaria, in a large, elaborate ceremony and celebration in Munich that lasted 18 days. The event was described in detail by Massimo Troiano in his Dialoghi (1569). Approximately 5,000 riders took part in it, and the music was composed by Orlande de Lassus.

Despite their large wedding and status, Renata, along with her husband, led a life of charity and humility. They left the Munich Residenz and lived in the Jesuit Kollegienbau west of Munich. Renata took care of the sick, the poor and religious pilgrims. In this task, she was completely supported by her husband. After he inherited the duchy in 1579 as William V of Bavaria, Renata spent much of her time in the Herzogspitalkirche in Munich, founded in 1555 by her father-in-law.

Renata died in Munich, aged 58. Her grave is located in the St. Michael's Church in Munich, the consecration of which was the last high point in both her and her husband's lives. She was revered as a saint by the people, but never canonized. Her husband, who abdicated in 1597, survived her twenty-four years, dying in 1626.

All current monarchs of the three Scandinavian countries (Harald V of Norway, Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Margrethe II of Denmark) are Renata's direct blood descendants. Other direct descendants included Josephine of Leuchtenberg, who married the future King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway in 1823; Charles XV of Sweden and Norway who ascended the throne in 1859; Franz Josef of Austria; Maximilian I of Mexico; and Christian X of Denmark, who ascended the throne in 1912, among other numerous descendants.




  1. Cartwright, Julia. Christina of Denmark: Duchess of Milan and Lorraine 1522–1590. New York, 1913
  2. Cartwright, Julia. Christina of Denmark: Duchess of Milan and Lorraine 1522–1590. New York, 1913
  3. Cartwright, Julia. Christina of Denmark: Duchess of Milan and Lorraine 1522–1590. New York, 1913
  4. Cartwright, Julia. Christina of Denmark: Duchess of Milan and Lorraine 1522–1590. New York, 1913
  • Anna de Crignis-Mentelberg: Herzogin Renata. Die Mutter Maximilians des Großen von Bayern. Freiburg im Breisgau 1912.
  • Helmut Dotterweich: Der junge Maximilian. Jugend und Erziehung des bayerischen Herzogs und späteren Kurfürsten Maximilian I. von 1573 bis 1593. München 1962.
  • Andrea Rueth: Renata von Lothringen, Herzogin von Bayern. In: Wurst, Jürgen und Langheiter, Alexander (Hrsg.): Monachia. München: Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, 2005. p. 142.
Renata of Lorraine
Born: 20 April 1544 Died: 22 May 1602
Preceded by
Anna of Austria
Duchess of Bavaria
Succeeded by
Elisabeth of Lorraine
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