1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Christina of Spain

CHRISTINA [Maria Christina Henrietta Désirée Félicité Rénière], for some years queen-regent of Spain (1858–  ), widow of Alphonso XII. and mother of Alphonso XIII., was born at Gross Seelowitz, in Austria, on the 21st of July 1858, being the daughter of the archduke Charles Ferdinand and the archduchess Elizabeth of Austria. She was brought up by her mother as a rigid Catholic, and great care was taken with her education. At eighteen she was appointed by the emperor Francis Joseph, abbess of the House of Noble Ladies of Saint Theresa in Prague, where she made herself very popular and distinguished herself by her intellectual parts. It is said that at the court of Vienna the archduchess saw the young prince Alphonso of Spain when he was only a pretender in exile, before the restoration of the Bourbons. A few years later, when Alphonso XII. had lost his first wife and cousin, Queen Mercedes, daughter of the duc de Montpensier, his ministers, especially Señor Canovas, urged him to marry again. He told them that if he did so it would only be with the young Austrian archduchess Maria Christina. After some negotiations between the two courts and governments it was agreed that the archduchess Elizabeth and her daughter should meet Alphonso XII. at Arcachon, in the south of France, where a few days’ personal acquaintance was sufficient to make both come to a decision. The duke of Bailen went officially to Vienna to get the emperor of Austria’s authorization, and on the 14th of November 1879, in the throne-room of the Imperial palace, the archduchess solemnly abdicated all her rights of succession in Austria, in accordance with the law obliging all princesses of the imperial house to do so when they wed a foreign prince. On the 17th of November the archduchess and her mother, with a numerous suite, started for Spain, arriving at the royal castle of El Pardo, near Madrid, on the 24th of November. The wedding took place in the Atocha cathedral, on the 29th of November, in great state, and was followed by splendid festivities. Queen Christina bore her husband two daughters before he died in 1885—Dona Mercedes, born on the 11th of September 1880, and Dona Maria Theresa, born on the 12th of November 1882. During her husband’s lifetime the young queen kept studiously apart from politics, so much so that her inexperience caused much anxiety in November 1885, when she was called upon to take the arduous duties of regent. During the long minority of the posthumous son of Alphonso XII., afterwards King Alphonso XIII., the Austrian queen-regent acted in a way that obliged even the adversaries of the throne and the dynasty to respect the mother and the woman. The people of Spain, and the ever-restless civil and military politicians, found that the gloved hand of their constitutional ruler was that of a strong-minded and tenacious regent, who often asserted herself in a way that surprised them much, but always, somehow, enforced obedience and respect. More could not be expected by a foreign ruler from a nation little prone to waste attachment or demonstrative loyalty upon anybody not Castilian born and bred.