Countess Palatine Dorothea Sophie of Neuburg - Biography


Born at the Neuburg Palace, she was the fourteenth of her parents seventeen children and their sixth daughter. Her older sisters included a Holy Roman Empress (wife of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor), a Queen of Portugal (wife of Peter II of Portugal), a Queen of Spain (wife of Charles II of Spain) and a Crown Princess of Poland (daughter in law of John III Sobieski). Her brothers included Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine and Charles III Philip, Elector Palatine, both her father's successors and Francis Louis of Neuburg, Grand Master of the Teutonic Order.

Dorothea Sophie was blonde, with blue eyes and tall. She was also known for being arrogant, ambitious, authoritarian and without sense of humour.

On 17 September 1690, she married Odoardo Farnese, Hereditary Prince of Parma, heir to the throne of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza. The festivities for their wedding were the most splendid that had ever taken place in Parma. In their three years of marriage, they had two children, a son who died in infancy and a daughter Elisabeth, future Queen of Spain.

Odoardo died on 6 September 1693, only a month after the death of their son. On 7 December 1696, Dorothea Sophie married Odoardo's half-brother, Francesco Farnese, who had become Duke of Parma when his father died in 1694.

This marriage was decided by Francesco himself, because he didn't want to give up Dorothea Sophie's dowry should she marry someone else. Nevertheless, this marriage remained childless.

Francesco died in 1727 and, when his only remaining brother Antonio also died childless in 1731, the Duchy of Parma went to Dorothea Sophie's eldest grandchild, the 16-year-old son of Elisabeth Farnese, Charles III of Spain. Dorothea Sophie became regent until 1735, when the Duchy was ceded to Austria after the War of the Polish Succession. She died in Parma in 1748 and was buried at the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Steccata.

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