The husband of a valorous woman will have no need of plunder, nor of going to battle in order to get it, because God will give peace and tranquillity to his Kingdoms on account of her merits.
Margaret of Austria was born on 25 December 1584 as the daughter of Archduke Charles II of Austria and Maria Anna of Bavaria. As a young girl, her daily activities included attending mass, visiting the sick, feeding the poor, physical exercise and studying grammar. She certainly studied Latin, and her mother was a formative influence. Her mother taught her to think about death and the afterlife rather than the pursuit of material possessions. Her piety and education were taken into consideration when she was chosen as a bride for King Philip III of Spain.
She arrived in Spain in early 1599 to marry Philip, and they went on to have eight children together, though not all would live to adulthood. After the birth of a male heir in 1605, their relationship changed. They spent more time together during the period between 1606 and 1611. He would send her wild boars, deer as a sign of affection. After 1605, she would also often accompany him on his hunting trips. When she was pregnant again, he was often reluctant to leave her in the final stages of her pregnancy. In addition, Margaret often used her pregnancies to keep her husband by her side. As a result, he was present at the births of almost all his children.
Her influence with the King grew, and he listened to her requests and comments. Yet, he would not allow her to interfere in matters of government, and when his daughter Anne married the King of France, he advised her that, “in no way should you interfere in matters of government or justice, because this does not concern you. Concern yourself only with these matters only if the king, your husband, orders you to do so, and then show a preference for mercy and clemency.” Margaret was often unhappy at the court, and she once said she would, “much rather be a nun in a convent in Goricia than Queen of Spain.”
Margaret died on 3 October 1611 after giving birth to a son named Alfonso, who died in infancy. Margaret was still only 26 years old.
Margaret had clearly fulfilled her Queenly duties. She had produced several children and had even given her life in childbirth. In doing so, she had “left jewels for the Spanish monarchy which would make Spain the envy of all other nations.” After her death, she was hailed as a saint and a martyr. Even from the grave, Margaret counselled her husband. She had advised him to “govern in a manner that would bring him eternal salvation.”1