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Useful Notes / Mary of Hungary

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Mary of Hungary (15 September 1505 – 18 October 1558) was first Queen-Consort of Hungary and then Governor of the Netherlands during her widowhood.

The fifth child of Joanna Of Castile and Philip, Duke of Burgundy, Mary is also sometimes known as Mary of Austria or Mary of Habsburg. Mary and three of her siblings (Eleanor, Charles and Isabella) grew up at the court of her aunt Margaret of Austria. After the death of Philip, Margaret was governor of the Netherlands, stepping in for her nephew Charles, who was first underage and then often absent. Her mother was declared insane and locked up in Spain.After her betrothal to the prince of Hungary, she first stayed at the court of her grandfather Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. Then she moved to Hungary and became its queen. Hungary was at the border with the Ottoman Empire and when her husband died young in battle against them, Mary took up the regency of Hungary on behalf of her sister-in-law Anne and her brother Ferdinand, who had married Anne.


Both her brothers suggested she would remarry, but Mary refused. When her aunt Margaret died, she moved to what's now Belgium to take up the Governorship of the Netherlands.

Mary was rumoured to have some sympathy for the protestant faith. Despite pressure from her brother Charles, she tried to minimize the persecutions of the nascent protestants in the Netherlands.

She also took care of the daughters of her short-lived sister Isabella. One of them would serve as regent herself (of Lorraine).

When Charles V abdicated in 1555, she laid down her governorship as well, despite requests from his son Philip to stay in office. Together with Charles and their sister Eleanor, she travelled to Castile. After Eleanor's death, she was persuaded to return to the Netherlands but passed away from grief after Charles died as well before she could travel.


She was succeeded in the governorship by her niece Margaret of Parma, an illegitimate daughter of Charles V.

Portrayals of Mary of Austria in fiction:

  • Emmy Leemans in series William of Orange (1984)
  • Laia Costa in series Carlos, Rey Emperador (2015)

Tropes associated with Mary of Hungary

  • Arranged Marriage: Her marriage with Louis II was arranged when she was still a very young child. It was a happy marriage and she refused to remarry after he died.
  • Blue Blood: All her grandparents were great inheritors. She could count the Holy Roman Emperor, the Queen of Castile, the King of Aragon and the Duchess of Burgundy. Through her maternal grandmother, she was also descended from the French royal house and through her paternal grandmother from the Portuguese and English royal houses.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: This became untrue during her lifetime. The clash between Reformation and Catholicism was the central conflict in Europe of the sixteenth century.
  • Culture Clash: Was afraid of this when moving to Castile, as she had never lived there, despite her mother and grandmother both having been Queen of that country.
    • To avoid this trope, she would have appeared the ideal candidate for governorship in the Netherlands partly because she had been brought up there and understood both the language and sensibilities.
  • Decadent Court: None of her siblings were really known for this.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Her parents were as dysfunctional as could be. Her mother was in love with her father to a point that was considered inappropriate and was known to have outbursts that caused rumours of madness. Her father used this to his advantage in an attempt to gain control over her territories. This caused him to get in conflict with his father-in-law. After Philip's death, Juana was incarcerated in Spain, where she would live for many decades.
    • Averted at the court of her aunt Margaret and with her own siblings later in life.
  • Happily Married: Mary and Louis. Not all her siblings were so lucky.
  • The Heretic: Was sometimes thought to be this, but never got further than an interest in reformation.
  • Kissing Cousins: Was distantly related to Louis. His mother had ties to the Navarrese Royal House, which was related to both of Mary's Spanish grandparents. Most Habsburgs tended to get married to people that were much more closely related.
  • Lonely at the Top: Likely to be one of the reasons she was so close to her siblings.
  • Mad Love: Her mother for her father. There is even a Spanish movie with this title that deals with their marriage.
  • Parental Abandonment: This effectively happened when her father died young and her mother was incarcerated.
  • Parental Substitute: To Dorothea and Christina Of Denmark.
    • Later, to William of Orange as well.
    • She had her own in Margaret of Austria and to a lesser extend Emperor Maximilian as well.
  • Renaissance Man: Spoke several languages, was interested in religious matters, but also an able traveller and administrator.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Known to be hardworking and trustworthy. Was also known for being able to travel at great speeds on horseback, which was an advantage in times when news travelled slow.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: People had gotten used to female governorship during the tenure of her aunt Margaret, so there was not as much as might be expected. Added to this, sisters or aunts were seen as less of a potential rival to a male ruler than a male relative. This ironically made them seem less dangerous in positions of power than a male relative with a bigger claim to a title. In William of Orange, the Count of Egmond grumbles about being ruled by a woman again, when her niece Margaret of Parma takes over from her.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Took up the regency of Hungary while still in her early twenties.