Isabella of Portugal

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Isabella of Portugal
Isabella of Portugal by Titian.jpg
Holy Roman Empress
Queen of the Germans
Queen consort of Italy
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure 10 March 1526 – 1 May 1539
Born (1503-10-24)24 October 1503
Lisbon, Portugal
Died 1 May 1539(1539-05-01) (aged 35)
Toledo, Spain
Burial El Escorial
Spouse Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Issue Philip II of Spain
Maria, Holy Roman Empress
Joanna, Princess of Portugal
House Aviz
Father Manuel I of Portugal
Mother Maria of Aragon
Religion Roman Catholicism

Isabella of Portugal (Portuguese: Isabel; 24 October 1503 – 1 May 1539) was an Infanta of Portugal, by birth, and a Holy Roman Empress, Queen of Germany, Italy, Spain, Naples and Sicily, Duchess of Burgundy etc. as the spouse of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. She was the daughter of Manuel I of Portugal and Maria of Aragon. She served as regent of Spain during the absence of her spouse for long periods.

Early life

Isabella was the second child and eldest daughter of King Manuel I of Portugal and his second spouse, Infanta Maria of Castile and Aragon. She was named after her maternal grandmother, Isabella I of Castile, and her aunt Isabella, Princess of Asturias, who had been her father's first spouse.

Through her father, she was a granddaughter of Infante Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu (the second son of King Edward of Portugal and brother of King Afonso V of Portugal) and Infanta Beatrice, the daughter of John, Constable of Portugal (brother of King Edward). Through her mother she was a granddaughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.

Isabella was second-in-line to the throne until the birth of her brother Louis in 1506. However, as the oldest daughter of Manuel I of Portugal, she was a rather attractive party. She married her first cousin, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, the son of Joanna of Castile and Philip the Handsome, Duke of Burgundy, who as Holy Roman Emperor, King of Spain, Archduke of the Habsburg dominions, titular Duke of Burgundy, and ruler of the Netherlands and the Spanish empire in the Americas and the Mediterranean and Italy was one of the most powerful men of his time.


In 1521 Isabella's father died and her brother succeeded to the throne as king John III. The marriage negotiations between the Portuguese and Spanish began almost immediately. It was agreed that the new king would marry Catherine of Austria, Charles V's younger sister. The union between Charles and his cousin Isabella had been proposed by the parliaments of both Castile and Aragon. Charles agreed to marry the Infanta Isabella purely out of political reasons.[1] The Infanta travelled to Seville where the wedding took place on 10 March 1526 in the palace of Alcázar of Seville.[2][3] With Isabella also came a huge dowry to the Spanish finances. Although it was a political union, the marriage proved to be a love-match. Records say that during their honeymoon "when [Charles and Isabella] are together, although there are many people around, they do not notice anyone else; they talk and laugh, and nothing else distracts them."

Isabella also proved to be a competent consort; she served as regent of Spain during her husband's absences, between 1529–1532 and 1535–1539. She was noted for her intelligence and beauty.

Isabella died in May 1539, when her sixth pregnancy ended in a stillbirth.[4] The Emperor was away at the time and her premature death affected him deeply. He never remarried, and he dressed in black for the rest of his life. In 1547, the nobleman Francis Borgia conveyed her corpse to her burial-place in Granada. It is said that, when he saw the effect of death on the beautiful empress, he decided to "never again serve a mortal master", later becoming a Catholic saint.

In 1580, more than 40 years after her death, her son Philip succeeded the Portuguese throne, claiming his mother's successory rights temporarily uniting the Iberian peninsula under one crown in what would later be called the Iberian Union.


Isabella married Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor on 10 March 1526. Their children were as follows:

See adjacent text
Coat of arms of Isabella of Portugal as Empress 


See also


  1. Tracy, James D. (2002). Emperor Charles V, Impresario of War : campaign strategy, international finance, and domestic politics. Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 114. ISBN 9780521814317.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. MacQuarrie, Kim (2007). The Last Days of the Incas. Simon and Schuster. p. 35. ISBN 1416539352.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Ford, Richard (2011). A Hand-Book for Travellers in Spain, and Readers at Home: Describing the Country and Cities, the Natives and Their Manners. Cambridge University Press. p. 258. ISBN 1108037534.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Geoffrey Parker (2014), Imprudent King: A New Life of Philip II, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, p. 12. ISBN 9780300196535
  5. Parker (2014), pp. 8–12
Isabella of Portugal
Cadet branch of the House of Burgundy
Born: 24 October 1503 Died: 1 May 1539
Royal titles
Title last held by
Bianca Maria Sforza
Empress consort of the Holy Roman Empire
Succeeded by
Maria of Spain
Queen consort of Germany
Succeeded by
Anna of Bohemia and Hungary
Title last held by
Joan of Portugal
Queen consort of Castile and Léon
Title next held by
Mary I of England
Title last held by
Germaine of Foix
Queen consort of Aragon, Majorca,
Valencia, Naples and Sicily
Countess consort of Barcelona