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Maria Amalia of Saxony

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Maria Amalia of Saxony

Maria Amalia of Saxony
Portrait of Maria Amalia overlooking the Neapolitan crown, by Giuseppe Bonito, c. 1745.
Queen consort of Spain
Tenure 10 August 1759 – 27 September 1760
Queen consort of Naples and Sicily
Tenure 19 June 1738 – 10 August 1759
Spouse Charles III of Spain
Infanta Maria Isabel
Infanta Maria Josefa
Infanta Maria Isabel Ana
Infanta Maria Josefa
Maria Luisa, Holy Roman Empress
Felipe, Duke of Calabria
Charles IV of Spain
Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies
Infante Gabriel
Infante Antonio Pascual
Infante Francisco Javier
Full name
Maria Amalia Christina Franziska Xaveria Flora Walburga
House House of Wettin
Father Augustus III of Poland
Mother Maria Josepha of Austria
Born (1724-11-24)24 November 1724
Dresden Castle, Dresden, Saxony
Died 27 September 1760(1760-09-27) (aged 35)
Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid, Spain
Burial El Escorial, Spain
Religion Roman Catholicism

Maria Amalia of Saxony (Maria Amalia Christina Franziska Xaveria Flora Walburga; 24 November 1724 – 27 September 1760) was a princess from the House of Wettin, the daughter of Augustus III of Poland and the wife of Charles III of Spain; she was the Queen consort of Naples and Sicily from 1738 till 1759 and then Queen consort of Spain from 1759 until her death in 1760. The mother of thirteen children, she enjoyed a loving relationship with her husband. A popular consort, she oversaw the construction of the Caserta Palace outside Naples as well as various other projects in her husband's domains. Moving to Spain in 1759, she then set about the improvements to the Royal Palace of Madrid but died of tuberculosis before its completion. Maria Amalia was politically active and openly participated in state affairs in both Naples and Spain.


Early years

She was born at Dresden Castle in Dresden, the daughter of Augustus III of Poland, Elector of Saxony and Maria Josepha of Austria, herself daughter of Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor. Her mother was the first cousin of Empress Maria Theresa. The infant was baptised with the names Maria Amalia Christina Franziska Xaveria Flora Walburga, but known as Maria Amalia. One of 15 children, she was the sister of Frederick Christian, Elector of Saxony, Maria Anna Sophia of Saxony wife of her cousin Maximilian III Joseph, Elector of Bavaria; she was the older sister of Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony who was the mother of Louis XVI of France. Her youngest sister, Princess Kunigunde was a possible wife for the future Philippe Égalité. She grew up at the court of Dresden and was educated in French, dance and painting.

Queen of Naples and Sicily

Maria Amalia of Saxony depicted in Polish attire in 1738, Museo del Prado

In 1737 Maria Amalia became engaged to Charles, King of Naples and Sicily, the future Charles III of Spain. The marriage was arranged by her future mother-in-law Elizabeth Farnese, after Elizabeth had failed to arrange a marriage of Charles to Anna Maria of Austria, and refused to agree to have him marry to Louise Élisabeth of France. In December 1737, a papal dispensation was made. The marriage date was confirmed on October 31, 1737. On May 8, 1738, Maria Amalia had a proxy ceremony at Dresden with her brother, Frederick Christian of Saxony, representing Charles. Since this marriage was looked upon favorably by the papacy, it soothed the diplomatic disagreements between Charles and the Papal states.

On July 4, 1738, Maria Amalia arrived at Naples and to what was described as a euphoric welcome. The couple met for the first time on June 19, 1738 at Portella, a village on the kingdom's frontier near Fondi.[1] At court, festivities lasted till July 3rd when Charles created the Royal order of San Gennaro – the most prestigious chivalric order in the kingdom. He later had the Order of Charles III created in Spain on 19 September 1771.

Despite being an arranged marriage, the couple became very close: it was noted and reported to her mother-in-law in Spain, that Charles seemed happy and pleased when he first met her. Maria Amalia was described as a beauty and as a skillful rider, and she accompanied Charles on his hunts. As Queen, she exerted great influence upon politics, and she actively participated in state affairs. She ended the careers of several politicians she disliked, such as J.M. de Benavides y Aragón, conte di Santisteban; Y.Y. de Montealegre, marchese di Salas; and G. Fogliani Sforza d’Aragona, marchese di Pellegrino. He displeasure led directly to the latter being deposed as prime minister.[2] Maria Amalia did not need to keep her influence secret: after the birth of her first son in 1747, she was given a seat in the council of state.[3] She worked against the Spanish influence on Naples and in 1742 convinced Charles, against the will of Spain, to declare Naples neutral during the War of the Austrian Succession, during which Britain threatened to bomb Naples.[4] In 1744, however she was forced to agree to declare war. She then favored Great Britain before France and Austria.[5] Maria Amalia was talked about because of her favorites, which were to have influence over her policy, such as Anna Francesca Pinelli and Zenobia Revertera. In 1754, she supported the career of Bernardo Tanucci as Foreign Minister.[6]

Maria Amalia was very cultivated and played an important role in the construction of Caserta Palace, for which she saw her husband lay the foundation stone for on his 26th birthday, on January 20 1752 amid much festivity. However, they left Naples before its completion so they never actually lived in the palace. She also was influential in the building of the Palace of Portici (Reggia di Portici), the Teatro di San Carlo – constructed in just 270 days – the Palace of Capodimonte (Reggia di Capodimonte); her husband also had the Royal Palace of Naples renovated. Her apartments at Portici were home to the famous porcelain from the Capodimonte Porcelain Manufactory which she who introduced the production of Porcelain in Naples in 1743. She was also a heavy user of tobacco. Maria Amalia was also a patron of the composer Gian Francesco Fortunati, a favorite at the Neapolitan court.

Queen of Spain

At the end of 1758, Charles' half brother Ferdinand VI was displaying the same symptoms of depression from which their father used to suffer. Ferdinand lost his devoted wife, Infanta Barbara of Portugal in August 1758 and would fall into deep mourning for her. He named Charles his heir on 10 December 1758 before leaving Madrid to stay at Villaviciosa de Odón where he died on 10 August 1759.

At that point Charles was proclaimed the King of Spain under the name of Charles III of Spain; in respect of the third Treaty of Vienna, which stated should he become King of Spain he would not be able to join them to the Neapolitan and Sicilian territories. He was later given the title of Lord of the Two Sicilies.

That same year they left Naples for Prince Ferdinand of Naples and Sicily; Prince Ferdinand would stay in Italy while his parents were in Spain. In favour of that, Charles would abdicate on 6 October 1759, decreeing the final separation between the Spanish and Neapolitan crowns. Charles and his consort arrived in Barcelona on 7 October 1759.

Maria Amalia once again did much to improve the royal residences having them redecorated. She, along with her husband, helped with the founding of the luxury porcelain factory under the name Real Fábrica del Buen Retiro. Maria Amalia deemed Spain to be ill managed and undeveloped, and she partially blamed her mother-in-law, the Spanish Queen Dowager Elizabeth Farnese, who was thereby obliged to leave the Spanish court. She did not like it in Spain, and complained about the food, the language, which she refused to learn; the climate, the Spaniards, which she regarded to be passive and the Spanish courtiers, which she regarded as ignorant and uneducated.[7] She was at the Spanish court described as depressed and hysterical.[8] She planned great reforms to the Spanish system, but did not have time to finish them.[9]

In September 1760, a year after arriving in Madrid, Maria Amalia died from tuberculosis at the Buen Retiro Palace outside the capital. She was buried at the Royal Crypt in El Escorial. She was joined by her devoted husband in 1788.

In 1761, Charles commissioned Giovanni Battista Tiepolo to paint frescoes for the Royal Palace in Madrid. In the Queen’s Antechamber, Tiepolo and his assistants painted the Apotheosis of the Spanish Monarchy. The frescos were painted from 1762–1766. Queen Maria Amalia appears surrounded by several of the gods of Greek mythology, including Apollo.[10]

Prince Ferdinand became King of Naples and Sicily, at only eight years old, under the name of Ferdinand IV of Naples and as Ferdinand III of Sicily; in order to consolidate the alliance with Austria, he was destined to marry an Archduchess of Austria. Charles left his son's education and care to a Regency Counsel which was composed of eight members. This counsel would govern the countries until the young king be 16 years old. The Archduchess came in the form of Maria Carolina of Austria. The two would have 18 children.

Her descendants include today's King Juan Carlos I of Spain, Archduke Otto of Austria, Prince Henri, Count of Paris along with The Prince Napoléon as well as the two pretenders to the throne of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro and the Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria.


By Infante Carlos of Spain, Duke of Parma and Piacenza; King of Naples and Sicily; King of Spain (Real Alcázar de Madrid, Madrid, Kingdom of Spain, 20 January 1716 – Royal Palace of Madrid, Madrid, Kingdom of Spain, 14 December 1788)

  1. Princess Maria Isabel (Portici, 6 September 1740 - Naples, 2 November 1742) died in childhood.
  2. Princess Maria Josefa (Portici, 20 January 1742 - Naples, 1 April 1742) died in childhood.
  3. Princess María Isabel Ana (Capodimonte, 30 April 1743 - Capodimonte, 5 March 1749) died in childhood.
  4. Princess María Josefa (Gaeta, 6 July 1744 - Madrid, 8 December 1801) remained unmarried.
  5. Princess Maria Luisa (Portici, 24 November 1745 - The Hofburg, 15 May 1792) married Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor and had issue.
  6. Prince Felipe, Duke of Calabria (Portici, 13 June 1747 - Portici, 19 September 1777) died unmarried.
  7. Charles IV of Spain (Portici, 11 November 1748 - Palazzo Barberini, 19 January 1819) married Maria Luisa of Parma and had issue.
  8. Princess Maria Teresa (Royal Palace of Naples, 2 December 1749 - Portici, 2 May 1750) died in childhood.
  9. Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies (Naples, 12 January 1751 - Naples, 4 January 1825) married Maria Carolina of Austria and had issue
  10. Prince Gabriel (Portici, 11 May 1752 - Casita del Infante, 23 November 1788) married Infanta Mariana Vitória of Portugal and had issue.
  11. Princess Maria Ana (Portici, 3 July 1754 - Capodimonte, 11 May 1755) died in childhood.
  12. Prince Antonio Pascual (Caserta, 31 December 1755 - 20 April 1817) married Infanta Maria Amalia of Spain and had no issue.
  13. Prince Francisco (Caserta, 15 February 1757 - Aranjuez, 10 April 1771) died unmarried.



  1. ^ Harold Acton, I Borboni di Napoli (1734–1825) , Florence, Giunti, 1997.
  2. ^ Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 70 (2007)
  3. ^ Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 70 (2007)
  4. ^ Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 70 (2007)
  5. ^ Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 70 (2007)
  6. ^ Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 70 (2007)
  7. ^ Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 70 (2007)
  8. ^ Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 70 (2007)
  9. ^ Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 70 (2007)
  10. ^ "Google Image Result for". Retrieved 2012-05-01. 
  • Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 70 (2007)
Maria Amalia of Saxony
Born: 24 November 1724 Died: 27 September 1760
Royal titles
Title last held by
Elisabeth Christine
of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Queen consort of Naples and Sicily
1738 - 1759
Title next held by
Maria Carolina of Austria
Title last held by
Barbara of Portugal
Queen consort of Spain
1759 - 1760
Title next held by
Maria Luisa of Parma
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