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Archduchess Barbara of Austria

Archduchess Barbara of Austria

Austrian archduchess
The basics
Date of birth Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria
Date of death Sep 19, 1572 Ferrara, Province of Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Spouse: Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara
Mother: Anne of Bohemia and Hungary
Brother(s): Maximilian II Holy Roman Emperor Charles II Archduke of Austria Ferdinand II Archduke of Austria John of Habsburg
Sister(s): Archduchess Magdalena of Austria Archduchess Anna of Austria Elizabeth of Austria Catherine of Austria Queen of Poland Archduchess Maria of Austria Archduchess Eleanor of Austria Joanna of Austria Grand Duchess of Tuscany Margaret of Austria Helena von Österreich
Father: Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
Authority VIAF id Library of congress id
The details

Barbara of Austria (30 April 1539 – 19 September 1572) was Duchess consort of Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio by marriage to Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara.


She was born in Vienna to Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary. From 1547, in Innsbruck with her sisters Magdalena, Margareta, Helena and Johanna, she received a deeply religious upbringing.

Even though Barbara was regarded as plain, several proposals had been made for her hand, due to her connections with the Austrian and Spanish courts. In 1565 her marriage to Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara, was celebrated with much splendour. It was a happy marriage but it remained childless. Torquato Tasso who, in 1565, had been called to the court of Ferrara, dedicated some sonnets to her.

In 1570 and 1571, after an earthquake, using her own income she supported young girls without parents. She founded the Conservatore delle orfane di Santa Barbara which was very much appreciated by the population of Ferrara. She was in constant touch with the Jesuits but also had a very close relationship with her Protestant mother-in-law, Renée of France, daughter of Louis XII of France.

Having been sickly since 1566, she died, aged thirty-three, of tuberculosis on 19 September 1572.


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