Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mathilde Ludovika of Bavria, Countess of Trani

Mathilde Ludovika, Duchess in Bavaria, was the fourth daughter and the seventh child of Maximilian Joseph, Duke in Bavaria and Princess Ludovika of Bavaria. Through her mother, she was the granddaughter of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and the half-niece of Ludwig I, King of Bavaria. Mathilde was born on September 30, 1843 in her family home of Possenhofen Castle, where she spent her childhood alongside her many siblings. Her other sisters were: Helene, Princess of Thurn and Taxis, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Maria Sophie, Queen of the Two Sicilies, and Sophie Charlotte, Duchess of Alençon. Though she wasn’t as beautiful as her older sisters, Elisabeth and Maria Sophie, Mathilde was still an attractive woman.

Mathilde Ludovika, Countess of Trani
Mathilde was nicknamed “Spatz” for sparrow by her family due to her delicate appearance. Like her sisters, Mathilde made an advantageous marriage to a suitor of European nobility – Prince Louis Maria of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Count of Trani. Louis was the eldest son of Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies with his second wife, Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria. His paternal grandparents were Francis I, King of the Two Sicilies and Infanta Maria Isabella of Spain. Through his mother, he was the grandson of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor and a descendant of Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange; herself a daughter of George II of the U.K. Louis’s parents, who were second cousins, had eight surviving children together. Though Louis was his father’s eldest son with his second wife, Ferdinand II had one son with his first wife, Prince Francis. Therefore, Francis was the heir to the throne while Louis was second in line in the succession.

On June 5, 1861, the seventeen-year-old Mathilde married the twenty-two year old Prince Louis and became the Countess of Trani and a Princess of the Two Sicilies. Mathilde’s family was already tied to the Bourbon royals of the Two Sicilies through marriage, as her older sister, Maria Sophie, was the wife of Louis’s older half-brother, Francis. By the time Mathilde and Louis married, Francis had taken the throne as King Francis II in May of 1859 but was deposed less than two years later in March of 1861 when the Two Sicilies were conquered by the Expedition of the Thousand under Giuseppe Garibaldi. After the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was overthrown, its land was absorbed into the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was soon renamed the Kingdom of Italy. Louis was now his brother’s heir not for the throne but instead for the place at the head of their deposed royal family.
Prince Louis of Two-Sicilies, Count of Trani

Mathilde and her husband never got along and had a very unsuccessful marriage from the start. Louis was an alcoholic and Mathilde escaped her unhappy union by travelling throughout the continent with her sisters, Elisabeth and Maria Sophie, who were also trapped in ill-fated marriages. The sisters used their time vacationing together as a way of forgetting the reality of their situations, or, to put it more simply, as a means of freedom. But, according to allegations, it seems as though Mathilde followed in her sister Maria Sophie’s footsteps by participating in extramarital affairs with various men. The story goes that during the first few years of Mathilde’s marriage, she fell in love with a Spanish diplomat in Italy named Salvador Bermúdez de Castro, Duke of Ripalda and Santa Lucía. As a result of their affair, she became pregnant and on January 20, 1864, she gave birth to a daughter at the Villa Farnesina in Rome named Maria Salvadora Bermúdez de Castro. But, just like her sister Maria Sophie, who had an illegitimate daughter that she was forced to give up and never saw again, Mathilde shared the same fate of having to give her infant daughter to her lover’s family (who lived in Brighton, England) right after she was born. Mathilde never saw her little girl again. The young Maria would live with her illegitimate status until 1879 when her father finally adopted her. She eventually inherited his title of the Dukedom of Santa Lucía and became a duchess in her own right. She also married a man named Alvaro Pérez de Barradas y Fernández de Cordoba, the 12th Marquis of Peñaflor in 1890 but they had no children. Maria Salvadora died on September 18, 1945 at the age of eighty-one.

Princess Maria Teresa of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Eventually, Mathilde and Louis mustered up enough effort to be with each other, as Mathilde gave birth to her first and only legitimate child, Princess Maria Teresa Maddalena of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, on January 15, 1867 in Zürich, Switzerland. Just as Mathilde was unfaithful to her husband, Louis had affairs with other women. Two years after his daughter was born, he had an illegitimate son. Prince Louis, Count of Trani eventually died from heart disease on June 8, 1886 at the age of forty-seven in Paris. It is rumored that he actually died eight years earlier when, in a drunken stupor, he realized that his life was ruined and drowned himself in Lake Zug, which is located near Zürich. So, if Louis had died much earlier than the date recorded, why would his real death date be covered up? Well, those who claim that Louis died in 1878 say that it would have been far too shocking to reveal to the public that the brother-in-law of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria had killed himself. However, this alleged death date is most likely false information.

Mathilde, now a free woman, survived her husband by thirty-nine years but never remarried. She died on June 18, 1925 at the age of eighty-one in Munich, Germany. Out of the ten children of Maximilian Joseph and Princess Ludovika, Mathilde was the last to die (she was, however, not the longest-living child. That honor goes to her oldest sibling, Duke Ludwig Wilhelm in Bavaria, who lived to the age of eighty-nine). Mathilde and Louis’s daughter, Princess Maria Teresa, married the Prussian Prince William of Hohenzollern in 1889 and had three children, two sons and a daughter. Their daughter, Augusta Victoria, married twice and her first husband was the deposed King Manuel II of Portugal (the youngest son of Princess Amélie of Orléans), but they did not have children. Maria Teresa died on May 1, 1909 at the age of forty-two in Cannes, France most likely from multiple sclerosis.

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