Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 36.djvu/372

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Mary of Modena
Mary of Modena

Lord Peterborough's character of her ap. Campana di Cavelli, i. 87). Mary Beatrice's uncle, Rinaldo, afterwards cardinal, and finally Duke of Modena, was associated with the Duchess Laura in the guardianship of her children (Miss Strickland, ix. 5).

When in the summer of 1672 it became known that the negotiations for a marriage between the widowed James, duke of York, and the Archduchess Claudia Felicitas had broken down, the Duchess Laura prompted Colbert de Croissy, the French ambassador in London, to suggest her daughter's name. Immediately afterwards he was directed by Louis XIV to put forward as still more suitable that of the Princess Eleanor of Modena, Mary Beatrice's aunt, whose years just doubled her own. The negotiation proceeded slowly, nor was it till July 1673 that the Earl of Peterborough was sent as ambassador extraordinary to Modena, with instructions to ask the hand of Mary Beatrice. On the understanding that the king of France would insure a dowry of at least four hundred thousand crowns on the part of the bride, Charles II undertook to offer on behalf of his brother a jointure of 15,000/. per annum. The king of France himself wrote repeatedly to the duchess-dowager, urging the speedy conclusion of the match, in view of the meeting of parliament, besides sending the Marquis of Dangeau to second Peterborough's efforts, but delays supervened on both sides (Campana di Cavelli, i. 40-5). Mary had been ' so innocently bred ' that before Peterborough's advent she had never heard either of England or of the Duke of York ; and the hope of her heart had been to enter the nunnery of the Visitation recently set up by her mother in close vicinity to the ducal palace. The duchess had to call in the aid of her confessor, the Jesuit father Garimberti ; and in the end Pope Clement X himself addressed a brief, dated 19 Sept., to the youthful princess, pointing out to her that the proposed marriage would in her case be the more meritorious sacrifice (ib, pp. 66-7). Thus Mary Beatrice might through life not unnaturally regard herself as consecrated to the work of the conversion of England, and Louis XIV as the unselfish benefactor who had enabled her to co-operate in the task. Although in a subsequent brief addressed to the duchess-dowager the requisite dispensations were deferred till Mary Beatrice's exercise of her religion in England should have been satisfactorily safeguarded, the marriage treaty (which settled a dowry of three hundred thousand crowns upon the princess) was signed, and the marriage ceremony gone through at Modena on the very day (30 Sept.) on which the mandate issued. This haste, which was much blamed at Rome (id. pp. 122-3 can only be explained by the eagerness for the marriage of both the English court and its French ally ; the papal benediction was not accorded till nearly six months later (ib. .pp. 152-3). The solemnity itself, in which Peterborough acted as proxy for the Duke of York, was performed in the ducal chapel by the court chaplain in ordinary, and not (as is said by Miss Strick- land, ix. 41) by ' a poor English priest ; ' and the usual rejoicings ensued in the town (Campana di Cavelli, i. 1-92 ; Supplement to the anonymous Life of James II, 3rd edit. 1705, pp. 11-41 , based on Halstead's Succinct Genealogies ; Clarke, Life of James II, pp. 484-5: Klopp, i. 353-G).

Though the journey of Mary Beatrice, on which she was accompanied by her mother (much to Peterborough's regret), and for part of the way by her brother and a large half of his court, was professedly performed by her incognita, Louis XIV had given orders that every honour should be paid to her in his dominions, and she accordingly met with a warm reception both at Lyons and at Paris. Here she lodged in the arsenal and was visited by everybody (Madame de Sevige, iii. 262-4): at Versailles, where the king himself did the honours, she was detained by indisposition (ib. p. 276; see Campana di Cavelli, i. 95 seqq.) On 21 Nov. she landed at Dover, where she was met by the Duke of York, and where the marriage was after a fashion performed over again by Lord Crewe, bishop of Oxford, acting under no authority but an order under the king's signet (C. J. Abbey, The English Church and its Bishops, 1887, i. 165). Charles with his court welcomed her in her passage up the Thames. Long afterwards, at Chaillot, Mary Beatrice confessed that her first feelings towards her husband could only be expressed by tears. The affection which she afterwards cherished for him was of later growth (Campana di Cavelli, i. 132 note).

Meanwhile parliament had, it was said at Shaftesbury's instigation, passed an address, calling upon the king to declare the proxy marriage void (30 Oct.), and had been adjourned in consequence. Though he declared that he was personally delighted with his sister-in-law, Charles II delayed the execution of the article in the marriage treaty which secured to her a public chapel, a private one being fitted up instead (Clarke. Life of James II, i. 486-7). In point of fact he does not appear to have publicly acknowledged the marriage till September 1674 (Reresbt, Memoirs, ed. Cartwrieht'