Barbara of Austria
(30 April 1539 – 19 September 1572) was born in Vienna
to Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary
. From 1547, in Innsbruck
with her sisters Magdalena, Margareta, Helena and Johanna
, she received a deeply religious upbringing.
Even though Barbara was regarded as plain, several proposals had been made for her hand, due to her connections with the Austrian and Spanish courts. In 1565 her marriage to Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara
, was celebrated with much splendour. It was a happy marriage but it remained childless. Torquato Tasso who, in 1565, had been called to the court of Ferrara
, dedicated some sonnets to her.
In 1570 and 1571, after an earthquake
, using her own income she supported young girls without parents. She founded the Conservatore delle orfane di Santa Barbara
which was very much appreciated by the population of Ferrara
. She was in constant touch with the Jesuits
butalso had a very close relationship with her Protestant mother-in-law, Renée of France
, daughter of Louis XII of France
Having been sickly since 1566, she died, aged thirty-three, of tuberculosis
on 19 September 1572.
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