Infanta Blanca of Spain

Infanta Blanca of Spain (7 September 1868 – 25 October 1949) was the eldest child of Carlos, Duke of Madrid, Carlist claimant to the throne of Spain and his wife Princess Margherita of Bourbon-Parma. Blanca was a member of the House of Bourbon and - according to the Carlists - an Infanta of Spain by birth. In 1889 she married Archduke Leopold Salvator of Austria. The couple had ten children. The family left Austria after the end of the Monarchy and finally settled in Barcelona. When the male line of Blanca's family died out at the death of her uncle, Alfonso Carlos, Duke of San Jaime, some of the Carlists recognized her as the legitimate heiress to the Spanish throne.

Infanta Blanca
Blanka von Castilien, Prinzessin von Bourbon.jpg
Born(1868-09-07)7 September 1868
Graz, Styria, Austria-Hungary
Died25 October 1949(1949-10-25) (aged 81)
Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy
SpouseArchduke Leopold Salvator, Prince of Tuscany
IssueArchduchess Dolores
Archduchess Immaculata
Archduchess Margaretha
Archduke Rainer
Archduke Leopold
Archduchess Maria Antonia
Archduke Anton
Archduchess Assunta
Archduke Franz Josef
Archduke Karl Pius
HouseBourbon
FatherInfante Carlos, Duke of Madrid
MotherPrincess Margherita of Bourbon-Parma

Early lifeEdit

 
Blanca (centre) with her first cousins Louise (left) and Marie Louise (right).

Infanta Blanca of Spain was born in Graz, Styria, Austria-Hungary, the eldest child of Carlos, Duke of Madrid, the Carlist claimant to the throne of Spain under the name Carlos VII and of his wife Princess Margherita of Bourbon-Parma. At the time of her birth, her parents were living in Styria in order to be close to her maternal great-grandmother, the Duchess of Berry. Her father left the same day for Paris where he learnt of the revolution that deposed Queen Isabella II of Spain. Don Carlos was joined in Paris by his wife and daughter and from there they moved to Switzerland.

Blanca's childhood was marked by the third Carlist War (1872–1876) in which her father tried, unsuccessfully, to gain the throne of Spain by force. To be near the Spanish border Margherita moved with her children to Pau. For a time in 1875, Blanca lived in Elizondo, Navarre at the court established by her father. After the war ended badly, crushing Don Carlos' hopes of taking the throne of Spain, the family lived mostly in the Parisian district of Passy. In 1881 they were expelled from France due to Carlos's political activities. By then Blanca's parents had drifted apart. Her father went to live in his palace in Venice, while her mother retired to Tenuata Reale, an estate in Viareggio, Italy inherited in 1879 from Blanca's great-grandmother, Duchess Maria Teresa of Parma. Blanca and her siblings divided their time between their parents. In 1881 Blanca and her sisters entered the Sacre Coeur, a Catholic school run by nuns in Florence. Blanca played the mandolin and was very fond of horses. In 1883, upon finishing her schooling, she visited Spain incognito with her parents' permission. At her return she was officially introduced to the court in Vienna.

Marriage and issueEdit

 
Infanta Blanca with her husband and their ten children. From left to right: Archduchess Assunta, Archduke Franz Josef, Archduchess Immaculata, Archduchess Maria Antonia, Archduke Rainier, Archduke Leopold Salvator of Austria, Dolores, Archduke Anton, Archduke Karl, Archduke Leopold, Archduchess Margaretha and Infanta Blanca. Vienna, 1915.

At the court of the Habsburgs, Blanca, the eldest and the best looking of four sisters, attracted the attention of Archduke Leopold Salvator of Austria, second child and eldest son of Archduke Karl Salvator of Austria and his wife Princess Maria Immaculata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. They were married on 24 October 1889 at Schloss Frohsdorf in Lanzenkirchen, Lower Austria, Austria. The newlyweds settled in Lemberg, Galicia, then in Agram, Croatia and finally in Vienna, following Archduke Leopold Salvator's military appointments.

Blanca and Leopold Salvator's main residence was the Palais Toskana in Vienna. They also owned Schloss Wilhelminenberg and a rural estate near Viareggio, which Archduchess Blanca inherited from her mother. The marriage was happy and produced ten children:

Later lifeEdit

Until World War I , Blanca and her large family had a pleasant uncomplicated existence moving according to the seasons among their various residences. During World War I her husband took on the provision of food for the Austrian Army in the front and was inspector general of Artillery until 1918. Blanca's two eldest sons also joined the Austrian army fighting in the Italian front, while her daughters Immaculata and Margaretha worked for the Austrian red cross. After the war and proclamation of the Republic, the properties of the imperial family were confiscated by the new Austrian government. Wilheminenberg was converted into a military hospital and then sold to a Swiss banker. With the loss of their wealth, they had to live in exile with meager means. The family could live neither in France nor in Italy, countries that had been Austria's enemies during the war.

Blanca was forced to ask her cousin Alfonso XIII of Spain, who belonged to the rival branch of the Spanish Bourbons, for permission to live in Barcelona. Alfonso XIII allowed them to come to Spain on the condition that they did not support the claims to the Spanish throne of Blanca's brother Jaime, Duke of Madrid. In 1922 Blanca was recognized as a Spaniard. The exiled family had to live modestly in a house in Barcelona. The fall of Alfonso XIII and the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic in April 1931 did not directly affect their circumstances. However, five months later, Blanca's husband died during a trip to Austria while trying to recover some of their lost properties. Blanca was left under strained economical means, living from vineyards at La Tenuata Reale at Viareggio and from a small rent provided by the Carlist party of Catalonia. Three of her children were still living with her: Dolores, Margaretha and Karl. The convulsed political situation in Spain made them return to Austria.

The family was able to rent three rooms at their former residence in Vienna, the Palais Toskana. In March 1938 Hitler annexed Austria and Blanca with her children Dolores and Karl moved to her property in Viareggio.

CarloctavismoEdit

In early 1935 a minoritarian branch of Carlism, the so-called “Cruzadistas” later to be named Carloctavistas, staged a grand meeting in Zaragoza; the gathering adopted a declaration that Doña Blanca was in position to transmit legitimate monarchical hereditary rights from her father, the Carlist king Carlos VII, to her sons.[1] During the following 14 years her position on the issue kept changing and her stand falls into 4 different periods;

  • in 1935, when Blanca’s paternal uncle and at the time the Carlist claimant the throne Don Alfonso Carlos promptly disauthorised the Zaragoza gathering,[2] she publicly distanced herself from the enterprise[3]
  • in May 1936, after Don Alfonso Carlos had decided to sort the succession issue by appointing a distant relative, Javier de Borbón-Parma, the future regent, Blanca issued a new statement; she declared that after the future death of her uncle, she would accept her hereditary rights to transmit them to her youngest son[4]
  • in 1940 she declared full loyalty to the regent Don Javier; the declaration did not amount to explicit renouncement of her hereditary claims, but implicitly suggested that they were at least parked or otherwise suspended[5]
  • in May 1943 she reverted to her 1936 stand and claimed first assuming and then transmitting heritage rights to her youngest son[6] As he declared himself the legitimate Carlist heir a month later, Doña Blanca effectively supported his cause until her death.

She died, aged 81, in Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy.

AncestryEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Jesús Pabón, La otra legitimidad, Madrid 1965, p. 113, Martin Blinkhorn, Carlism and Crisis in Spain 1931–1939, Cambridge 2008, ISBN 9780521207294, p. 216
  2. ^ Melchor Ferrer, Historia del tradicionalismo español vol XXX, Sevilla 1979, pp. 58–59
  3. ^ Francisco de las Heras y Borrero, Un pretendiente desconocido. Carlos de Habsburgo. El otro candidato de Franco, Madrid 2004, ISBN 8497725565, p. 40
  4. ^ Doña Blanca declared that she would accept "los derechos que me pertenecen a la corona de España, para transmitírlos a mi amado hijo Carlos, en quíen las circunstancias de los demás hermanos, designan como mi heredero", Heras y Borrero 2004, p. 44
  5. ^ Manuel de Santa Cruz [Alberto Ruiz de Galarreta], Apuntes y documentos para la historia del tradicionalismo español: 1939–1966, vol. 5, Seville 1979, pp. 109–115
  6. ^ Robert Vallverdú i Martí, La metamorfosi del carlisme català: del "Déu, Pàtria i Rei" a l'Assamblea de Catalunya (1936-1975), Barcelona 2014, ISBN 9788498837261, p. 120

ReferencesEdit

  • Balansó, Juan. Las perlas de la corona. Plaza & Janés Editores SA, 1997, ISBN 84-01-53023-7
  • McIntosh, David. The Unknown Habsburgs. Rosvall Royal Books, 2000, ISBN 91-973978-0-6

Further readingEdit

  • Lost Waltz A Story Of Exile by Bertita Harding (1944)

External linksEdit