Archduchess Isabella of Austria, Archduke Philipp of Austria, Charles I of Spain, Christian II of Denmark-Norway, Christina of Denmark, Duke of Burgundy, Duke William V of Bavaria, Emperor Charles V, Francis I of Lorraine, House of Austria, House of Habsburg, House of Lorraine, House of Wittelsbach, King Philip I of Castile, King Philip II of Spain, Queen Joanna of Castile, Renata of Lorraine
Renata of Lorraine (April 20, 1544 – May 22, 1602) was a French noblewoman who became a Duchess of Bavaria by her marriage to Duke Wilhelm V of Bavaria
By birth a member of the House of Lorraine born in Nancy, she was the second child and eldest daughter of François I, Duke of Lorraine and his wife, Christina of Denmark, younger surviving daughter of King Christian II of Denmark and Norway and Archduchess Isabella of Austria, herself the daughter of Archduke Philipp of Austria, ruler Burgundian Netherlands and titular Duke of Burgundy from 1482 to 1506, as well as the first Habsburg King of Castile (as Felipe I) for a brief time in 1506 as the husband of Queen Joanna of Castile. Archduchess Isabella of Austria was the sister of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, King Carlos I of Spain.
Renata was described as a beauty and a desirable match. In 1558, after the death of his first wife Prince Willem I the Silent 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 Felipe II of Spain. Christina declined the plan of Cardinal of Lorraine to arrange a marriage between Renata and Henri I, Duke of Guise and Prince of Joinville, and also a match proposed by the Spanish king to marry Renata to Juan d’Austria, the natural son born to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and his mistress Barbara Blomberg.
In 1561, Renata’s mother planned to marry her to King Frederick II of Denmark and Norway. 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.
However, Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I opposed the plan due to the destructive effect it could have on the balance of power among the German states of the Empire, if Saxony (being strongly allied with Denmark) opposed Christina’s claims. Neither did she manage to acquire the support of King Felipe II of Spain. The planned marriage alliance between Lorraine and Sweden was finally ended when King Eric XIV married his non-noble lover Karin Månsdotter in 1567.
Duchess consort of Bavaria
Finally, on February 22, 1568, Renata married her paternal second, but maternal first cousin Wilhelm, hereditary Duke 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 cared for the sick, the poor and religious pilgrims. In this task, she was completely supported by her husband. They had ten children, but only six of them lived to adulthood.
After her husband inherited the duchy in 1579 as Wilhelm V of Bavaria, Renata spent much of her time in the Herzogspitalkirche in Munich, founded in 1555 by her father-in-law. She 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 by 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; Carl XV of Sweden and Norway who ascended the throne in 1859; Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria; his brother Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico; and King Christian X of Denmark, who ascended the throne in 1912, among other numerous descendants.