Maria Anna of Bavaria (born 1551)

Maria Anna of Bavaria (21 March 1551, Munich – 29 April 1608, Graz)[1] was a politically active Archduchess of Austria by marriage to Archduke Charles II of Austria. She played an important role in the counter reformation in Austria.

Maria Anna of Bavaria
Jan Cornelisz. Vermeyen 005.jpg
Archduchess consort of Inner Austria
Tenure26 August 1571 – 10 July 1590
Born21 March 1551
Munich, Duchy of Bavaria
Died29 April 1608 (aged 57)
Graz, Archduchy of Austria
SpouseCharles II, Archduke of Austria
FatherAlbert V, Duke of Bavaria
MotherAnna of Austria
ReligionRoman Catholicism


Maria Anna was the daughter of Albert V, Duke of Bavaria and Anna of Austria. She was given an elementary education in Latin and religion, but a high education in music, likely by Orlando di Lasso.

On 26 August 1571 in Vienna, Maria Anna married her maternal uncle, Charles II of Austria. The marriage was arranged to give Charles political support from Bavaria, and Bavaria an agent in Vienna.

The relation between Maria Anna and Charles are described as good. Maria Anna was described as confident, ambitious and a great lover of pomp and power, but foremost as a devoted Catholic. She participated in the affairs of state, and successfully benefited a powerful counter reformation in the domains of her spouse. She continued her education in music, benefited the Jesuit school in Graz, and spent her time in religious worship and religious charity.

Maria Anna was widowed in 1590. She continued to participate in politics as the adviser of her son and encouraged him to continue the counter reformation and work against the Protestant clergy and nobility.

In 1608, she retired to the Nunnery of St Clare in Graz.

Her correspondence is partially preserved.


  • Ferdinand (b. Judenburg, 15 July 1572 – d. Judenburg, 3 August 1572).
  • Anne (b. Graz, 16 August 1573 – d. Warsaw, 10 February 1598), married on 31 May 1592 to Sigismund III Vasa, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Sweden.
  • Maria Christina (b. Graz, 10 November 1574 – d. Hall in Tirol, 6 April 1621), married on 6 August 1595 to Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania; they divorced in 1599.
  • Catherine Renata (b. Graz, 4 January 1576 – d. Graz, 29 June 1599).
  • Elisabeth (b. Graz, 13 March 1577 – d. Graz, 29 January 1586).
  • Ferdinand (b. Graz, 9 July 1578 – d. Vienna, 15 February 1637), Holy Roman Emperor as Ferdinand II in 1619.
  • Charles (b. Graz, 17 July 1579 – d. Graz, 17 May 1580).
  • Gregoria Maximiliana (b. Graz, 22 March 1581 – d. Graz, 20 September 1597).
  • Eleanor (b. Graz, 25 September 1582 – d. Hall in Tirol, 28 January 1620), a nun.
  • Maximilian Ernest (b. Graz, 17 November 1583 – d. Graz, 18 February 1616), Teutonic Knight.
  • Margaret (b. Graz, 25 December 1584 – d. El Escorial 3 October 1611), married on 18 April 1599 to Philip III, King of Spain.
  • Leopold (b. Graz, 9 October 1586 – d. Schwaz, 13 September 1632), Archduke of Further Austria and Count of Tirol.
  • Constance (b. Graz, 24 December 1588 – d. Warsaw, 10 July 1631), married on 11 December 1605 to Sigismund III Vasa, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Sweden (widower of her older sister).
  • Maria Magdalena (b. Graz, 7 October 1589 – d. Padua, 1 November 1631), married on 19 October 1608 Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
  • Charles the Posthumous (b. Graz, 7 August 1590 – d. Madrid, 28 December 1624), Bishop of Wroclaw and Brixen (1608–24), Grand Master of the Teutonic Order (1618–24).



  • HAMANN, Brigitte, Die Habsburger: Ein Biografisches Lexicon (Munich: Piper, 1988).
  • SÁNCHEZ, Magdalena, (2000) A Woman's Influence: Archduchess Maria of Bavaria and the Spanish Habsburgs. In C. Kent, T.K. Wolber, C.M.K. Hewitt (Eds.) The lion and the eagle: interdisciplinary essays on German-Spanish relations over the centuries (pp. 91–107). New York: Berghahn Books.


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