Margaret of Parma
(1522—1586)
   Born at Oudenaarde at the end of July 1522, Margaret of Parma was the illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V and Johanna von der Gheynst. Raised in Brussels under the supervision of Margaret of Austria and Mary of Hungary, she married Alessandro de Medici (1536) and, after his death (1527), Ottavio Farnese (1538). Margaret lived in Parma and Rome until appointed governor-general of the Netherlands by Philip I n 1559. Weak-willed, she leaned heavily on the advice of Cardinal Granvelle and, after his departure (1564), she proved conciliatory to the demands of rebellious nobles, with whom she reached agreement (23 August 1566) to allow a measure of toleration for Protestants. Growing violence in the wars of religion hardened antipathies and Margaret asked for, and received, permission to step down following the arrival of the duke of Alba (1567). She left for Italy on 30 December 1567. Margaret returned in 1580 following her appointment by King Philip II to share governance of the Netherlands with her son Alessandro Farnese. The latter, however, refused any limitation placed on his authority. She stayed on in the country until 1583 and then returned to Italy, where she died at Ortona on 18 January 1586.
   See also Spanish Regime.

Historical Dictionary of Brussels. .

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