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Barbara of Austria

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Title: Barbara of Austria  
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Subject: Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, My Last Duchess, Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara
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Barbara of Austria

Barbara of Austria (30 April 1539 – 19 September 1572) 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.

Ancestry

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Archduchess Barbara of Austria
Born: 30 April 1539 Died: 19 September 1572
Royal titles
Vacant
Title last held by
Lucrezia de' Medici
Duchess consort of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio
5 December 1565 – 19 September 1572
Vacant
Title next held by
Margherita Gonzaga

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