|Mercedes of Orléans|
|Queen consort of Spain|
|Tenure||23 January 1878 – 26 June 1878|
|Born||24 June 1860|
Palacio Real, Madrid, Spain
|Died||26 June 1878 (aged 18)|
Palacio Real, Madrid, Spain
|Father||Antoine d'Orléans, Duke of Montpensier|
|Mother||Infanta Luisa Fernanda of Spain|
Maria de las Mercedes of Orléans (24 June 1860 – 26 June 1878) was Queen of Spain as the first wife of King Alfonso XII. She was born in Madrid, the daughter of Antoine of Orléans, Duke of Montpensier, and of Infanta Luisa Fernanda of Spain.
Family and upbringing
She was born at the Palacio Real in Madrid, the sixth of her parents' nine children, none of whom died in infancy but only four of whom would live to the age of 20. Her mother's elder sister, Queen Isabella II, and brother-in-law, King Francis, served as Mercedes' godparents at her christening, when she was given the names: María de las Mercedes Isabel Francisca de Asís Antonia Luisa Fernanda Felipa Amalia Cristina Francisca de Paula Ramona Rita Cayetana Manuela Juana Josefa Joaquina Ana Rafaela Filomena Teresa Santísima Trinidad Gaspara Melchora Baltasara et omni sancti.
Although Mercedes was patrilineally a French princess, she was also a Spanish infanta and spent the first eight years of her life in Spain. Her childhood was spent at the palace of San Telmo in Andalusia, her father's rumoured aspirations to obtain his sister-in-law's crown periodically rendering him unwelcome at the royal court in Madrid.
When Queen Isabella II was deposed in 1868, Mercedes' family left Spain for exile. It was reportedly during that banishment, in 1872, that she met her first cousin Alfonso, Prince of Asturias, also living in exile.
Upon restoration, King Alfonso married María de las Mercedes at the church of Atocha, in Madrid on 23 January 1878, following a huge ball in December 1877. Allegedly the king's choice dashed the hopes of his still-exiled mother, Queen Isabella, for Alfonso's marriage to Blanca de Borbón, daughter of his Carlist rival, Carlos, Duke of Madrid.
Shortly after their honeymoon, it became evident that Queen Mercedes suffered from typhoid fever. The marriage would last only six months, during which she reportedly had a miscarriage. She died from the typhus on 26 June 1878, at 18 years old.
The news of her demise spawned many folk songs accounting for it, most notably the famous copla (with many variations in Spain and the Americas), particularly popular among children delivered as song accompanying a skipping rope game. According to Benito Pérez Galdós, he had already heard about it few days after the incident: ¿Dónde vas Alfonso XII? ¿Dónde vas triste de ti? Voy en busca de Mercedes que ayer tarde no la vi ("Where are you going, Alfonso XII? Where are you going, sad man?—I'm going in search of Mercedes whom I did not see yesterday afternoon..."). A film about the romance between María de las Mercedes and Alfonso XII, Where Are You Going, Alfonso XII? (with Paquita Rico starring as María de las Mercedes) was released in 1958.
Queen Mercedes co-initiated the building of the Cathedral of la Almudena in Madrid, opposite the royal palace, construction beginning in 1883. In May 2004 Felipe, Prince of Asturias was wed there to Letizia Ortiz. Queen Mercedes' remains were re-interred there on 8 November 2000, in accordance with the wishes of her widower.
When the king's minister Cánovas del Castillo suggested that he take a new wife, Alfonso acquiesced, choosing his Mercedes' sister, Maria Cristina. But she, too, contracted tuberculosis, and died during the engagement period. In late 1879 he married Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria-Teschen; the eldest of their children, the Princess of Asturias, was named in honour of Queen Mercedes.
Titles and styles
- 24 June 1860 – 23 January 1878: Her Royal Highness Infanta Doña Mercedes of Spain, Princess of Orléans
- 23 January 1878 – 26 June 1878: Her Majesty The Queen of Spain
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to María de las Mercedes de Orleans.|
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