Autograph letter signed and dated, addressed to her aunt Maria Francesca dello Spirito Santo, born Giovanna Eleonora d'Este (1643-1722). Manuscript on paper. Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 15 April 1717

Autore: ESTE, Maria Beatrice d', known as MARY OF MODENA (1658-1718)


Dati tipografici:

Bifolium (209x150 mm) written only on the first leaf recto and verso. The second leaf verso contains the recipient's name “A ma tante la Mere Marie francoise St. Esprit Carmelite”. Traces of folding, central horizontal folding on second leaf roughly reinforced with scotch tape. The letter is accompanied by another leaf (280x205 mm), in which it was presumably wrapped, that contains a manuscript note in a later hand: “Lettera di Maria Elenora [?] della Famiglia d'Este, Regina d'Inghilterra, Moglie del Rè Giacomo II, scritta di propria mano dal Regio Palazzo di S. Germano vicino Parigi a Suor Maria Francesca dello Spirito Santo della casa medesima d'Este Nostra Carmelitana Scalza. E pezzo del velo dell'istessa Serva di Dio Suor Maria Francesca”.

Interesting autograph letter addressed by Mary of Modena to her aunt, the Carmelite nun Maria Francesca dello Spirito Santo, born Giovanna Eleonora d'Este, who was the sixth child of the Duke of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Francesco I d'Este, and Maria Farnese, daughter of the Duke of Parma Ranuccio I. She was also sister to Rinaldo d'Este (1655-1737), cardinal from 1686 and duke from 1695 to his death.

In the letter Mary praises with affectionate tones her aunt for her religious zeal and sanctity, mentions her son James Francis Edward Stuart, whom she refers to as the king, her uncle Rinaldo I duke of Modena, and her cousins. She also seems to hint at a recent meeting between James and Rinaldo, from which they both received much joy.

Maria Beatrice d'Este, daughter of Alfonso IV and Laura Martinozzi, niece of Mazarin, married James II Stuart and from 1685 to 1688 was queen consort of England, Scotland and Ireland. After her husband's deposition, she lived the rest of her life in exile in France at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which Louis XIV had turned over to the exiled James II, trying in vain to recover the throne for her son James Francis Edward, known as the “Old Pretender”. Since childhood she had vowed to become a nun, but at the insistence of her mother, the King of France Louis XIV and even the pope the 15-year-old princess had agreed to the marriage.

Her son James Francis Edward Stuart (1688-1766) was raised catholic in Continental Europe. After his father's death in 1701, he claimed the English, Scottish, and Irish crowns as James III of England and Ireland and James VIII of Scotland, with the support of his Jacobite followers and Louis XIV of France, a cousin of his father. Fourteen years later, in 1715, he unsuccessfully attempted again to gain the British and Irish thrones. A final attempt at restoration was led in 1745 by his elder son Charles Edward Stuart, known as the “Young Pretender”. During the time the present letter was written James lived in the Papal territory at Pesaro and Urbino. Subsequently Pope Clement XI offered him the Palazzo del Re in Rome as his residence, which he accepted. Also Pope Innocent XIII, like his predecessor, showed much support to him and granted him a life annuity of 12,000 Roman scudi.