Maria Luigia of Hapsburg, the first-born child of the emperor of Austria Franz I and Maria Teresa delle Due Sicilie, was born in Vienna on December 12, 1791.
At her father's court she received an excellent cultural education and acquired a strong sense of dislike and distance from the commoner who was destroying the age-old, sacred European dynastic order: Napoleon Bonaparte. It was to this very man, who by the treaty of Vienna in 1809 had sanctioned the reduction of Austria to a satellite of the French empire, that she was given in marriage in 1810, and it was this man that the young princess, now empress, learned to love. On March 20, 1811, amid the general clamor of imperial Paris, the son of the couple was born and was given the name of Napoleon Francesco and the title of King of Rome.
In 1814, following a number of disastrous military defeats, Napoleon was deposed and the throne of France was occupied by Louis XVIII of Bourbon. The Empress and her son left France and Napoleon and placed themselves under the protection of the new ruler of Europe, the Emperor of Austria, Franz I.
The extenuating negotiations that went down in history as the Congress of Vienna, among other things sanctioned, on June 9, 1815, the assignment of the Duchy of Parma Piacenza and Guastalla to Maria Luigia. On April 19, 1816, on the arm of the Count of Neipperg, who had found a place in the heart of the imperial princess at the time of her flight from Paris, the new duchess entered her States. On January 1, 1817 Neipperg effectively took over the government of the duchy with two firm points in his political program: to make the population willingly accept Austrian domination and to make the sovereign an institution in which her subjects could see themselves. In 1817 and again in 1819 Maria Luigia had two more children: Albertina and Guglielmo, counts of Montenuovo.
In the years that followed a number of tragedies and political crises marred the health of the duchess irreparably: in 1829 Neipperg died and with him the moderate policies that had marked his government; in 1831, after the damage caused by the corrupt government of Baron von Werklein, Parma participated in the revolutionary uprisings that shook Emilia; in 1832 Franz, the son the duchess had been separated from since 1816 died in Vienna; in 1835, finally, her beloved father died.
In 1834, probably without any sentimental involvement, she married the Count of Bombelles, rigid executor of those orders and interest of Austria that the subjects of the duchy were less and less willing to tolerate.
The years of the early old age of the duchess were spent in almost complete isolation, where her only happiness and consolation, as she said, were in the company of her daughter Albertina and her grandchildren Alberto and Stefano Sanvitale. Maria Luigia died in Parma on December 17, 1847. She was buried in the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars in Vienna.




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