Mary of Modena

(1658—1718) queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland, consort of James II and VII.

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Queen of England and Scotland, b. 5 Oct. 1658, da. of Alfonso IV of Modena and Laura, da. of Girolamo Martinozzi, cousin of cardinal Mazarin; m. James, duke of York (later James II), 30 Sept. 1673; issue: James, Louisa; d. 7 May 1718; bur. Chaillot, France.

Mary became the second wife of James, duke of York in 1673, by which time it seemed probable that Charles II would have no legitimate children. Her hope had been to enter a convent, but she was persuaded to marry James as a sacrifice for her religion. She was described as tall, dark, good-looking, and with attractive eyes. Four daughters and a son did not survive, but in June 1688 she gave birth to her son James, who lived to become ‘the Old Pretender’. The rumour that her pregnancy had not been genuine was no more than a desperate political ploy. She fled to France in December 1688 with her young son and was shortly followed by the king. The rest of her life was spent in exile, mainly at St-Germain-en-laye.

Subjects: British History.

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