Margarita Aldobrandini, Duchess of Parma, painting by Bartolome Gonzalez
|Born||29 March 1588|
|Died||9 August 1646 (aged 58)|
|Spouse||Ranuccio I Farnese|
|Father||Giovanni Francesco Aldobrandini|
The first child of Gianfrancesco and Olimpia Aldobrandini (1567–1637), grandchildren of pope Clement VIII. She was married to Ranuccio I Farnese on 7 May 1600 in Rome to seal the peace between the Aldobrandini and Farnese families, with the pope himself presiding at the ceremony.
Duchess of Parma
The marriage guaranteed Ranuccio a rich dowry and the independence of his duchy, still a fiefdom of the church entrusted to the Farnese family. Ranuccio was then aged 30 and Margherita only 12, and it took ten years after the marriage before they had a child. In view of this situation, Ranuccio's superstitious nature began to make itself felt: he convinced himself that his wife was suffering under curses and witchcraft. A short investigation concluded that Claudia Colla,(a former lover of Ranuccio, and her mother (known as 'le Romane') were the witches and they were tried and convicted of witchcraft.
The couple's first child, Alessandro, was finally born in 1610, but he was born deaf. In 1612 Odoardo was born, followed in 1615 by Maria, who married Francesco I d'Este, in 1618 by Vittoria and in 1619 by Francesco Maria, the future cardinal.
A political marriage like most Farnese marriages, it proved unhappy. Margherita was not accounted a beauty, but was devoted to her husband, despite him being an angry and dissolute man who had several affairs and illegitimate children.
Regency and later life
Margherita became a widow on 5 March 1622. Her spouse was succeeded by their son, Odoardo. Initially, her son was put under the regency of cardinal Odoardo. On Cardinal Odoardo's death in 1626, Margherita succeeded her brother-in-law as regent of Parma. She held the position of regent, who then held it until her son reached the age of majority at sixteen, in 1628.
She then continued living at the court until her death in 1646, which also saw Odoardo's death.
Margherita and Ranuccio had five children:
- Odoardo (1612-1646);
- Maria (1616–1646), married Francesco I d'Este;
- Vittoria (1618–1649), married Francesco I d'Este after Maria's death;
- Francesco Maria (1619–1647), the last Farnese cardinal, appointed in 1645
- Francesco Luigi Campari, Un processo di streghe in Piacenza (1611-1615), in: Bollettino Storico Piacentino, I, 1906, p. 70-75. Sur le procès en sorcellerie de Claudia Colla.