María Manuela Kirkpatrick

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María Manuela Kirkpatrick
File:María Manuela Kirkpatrick.jpg
Born (1794-02-24)24 February 1794
Died 22 November 1879(1879-11-22) (aged 85)
Spouse Cipriano de Palafox y Portocarrero, Count of Montijo
Issue Paca, Duchess of Alba
Eugénie, Empress of the French
Father William Kirkpatrick
Mother Marie Françoise de Grivegnée

Doña María Manuela Enriqueta Kirkpatrick de Grivegnée, Countess of Montijo (24 February 1794 – 22 November 1879), was the mother of Eugénie, Empress of the French.


She was born in Malaga, Spain, the daughter of an expatriate Scotsman, William Kirkpatrick, a wine merchant and consul of the United States of America, and his Liège-born wife, Marie Françoise de Grivegnée, whose sister Catherine married the French diplomat Matthieu de Lesseps. María Manuela Kirkpatrick was brilliant, vivacious and talented. In 1817 she married Don Cipriano de Palafox y Portocarrero, Count de Teba (1785–1839), afterwards Count de Montijo, Marquis de Algava, and Duke of Granada, Duke of Peñaranda, a grandee of Spain, Bonapartist and veteran of the Napoleonic Wars. They had two daughters, and a son, Francisco "Paco", who died young.

Their daughters were María Francisca de Sales (1825–1860), generally known as "Paca", who inherited most of the family honours, and María Eugenia, born one year later. In the 1830s Manuela and the girls moved to Paris for their education. There she renewed her association with George William Frederick Villiers, later Earl of Clarendon, who is rumoured to have been her lover. Manuela also continued her friendship with Prosper Mérimée, whom she had met in Spain and who took great interest in the education of the girls. Manuela was Mérimée's source for the story of Carmen.

In 1837 Manuela briefly moved to England to further her daughters' education, but soon returned to Paris. After the death of her husband, and perhaps the disappointment of Villiers' marriage to an English lady, Manuela engaged in an extensive social life and pursued her ambition to find suitable husbands for her daughters. In 1844 Paca became the wife of one of the richest men in Europe: Jacobo Luis Fitz-James Stuart y Ventimiglia (1821–1881), 8th Duke of Berwick, 8th Earl of Tinmouth, 8th Baron Bosworth, 8th Duke of Liria and Xérica, and 15th Duke of Alba de Tormes. Eugénie did even better; guided by her mother and Mérimée, she married Napoleon III, Emperor of the French.

Manuela lived long enough to see the rise and fall of the Second French Empire, and died in Carabanchel several months after the death of her grandson Napoléon, Prince Imperial. Her great-great-granddaughter Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart was the most titled noble in the world.


  • Baguley, David. Napoleon III and His Regime: An Extravaganza. Louisiana State University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-80-712624-1.
  • Bierman, John. Napoleon III and His Carnival Empire. St. Martin's Press, 1988. ISBN 0-312-01827-4.
  • Carlin, Colin. William Kirkpatrick of Málaga. The Grimsay Press, 2011. ISBN 1-84530-071-8

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