Marguerite of Austria: Life Story

Chapter 17 : The End

In March 1530, Marguerite received the news that Charles had reached the summit of his ambitions – he had been crowned with the ancient Iron Crown as King of Lombardy, and with the crown of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor on his thirtieth birthday, 24th February, 1530.

With so much achieved, Marguerite could look forward to bringing the Low Countries back to the levels of prosperity they had enjoyed under her forebears, before the wars of the past fifty years had damaged trade. Unfortunately, however, this was not to be.

According to the only account of the event, on 15th November, 1530, one of Marguerite’s ladies dropped a crystal glass. She picked up the fragments, but one found its way into Marguerite’s shoe, and cut her foot.

Within days, the foot had become infected, and gangrene set in. Marguerite’s physicians decided that amputation was the only solution. She took several days to prepare for the operation, making her confession, updating her will and writing a letter for Charles. This delay probably proved fatal. She was given a dose of opium in anticipation of the operation, but either the dose was too large, or the blood-poisoning too advanced – she died before any operation could took place.

In accordance with her will, Marguerite’s heart was buried at Bruges, her viscera in Mechelen, and her body beside Philibert of Savoy at the church of Brou, near Bourg-en-Bresse, in the sumptuous memorial she had commissioned for them.


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Marguerite of Austria

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