She considered taking religious vows for a while, but instead endowed the construction of a monastery at Brou with an elaborate tomb for Philibert and herself with the words "FORTUNE.
UNE" "Fortune strongly persecutes a woman". Margaret remained in Savoy for two years following her husband's death. She refused to cooperate, determined to avoid further marital sorrow. Queen Isabella died in late , raising [ clarification needed ] Philip and Juana, who eventually went to Castille to claim the crown. Their eldest son stayed behind, for the Burgundians refused to accept him as their ruler unless he were raised [ clarification needed ] in the Low Countries. After Philip's death, the House of Habsburg entered a new crisis: Charles was the new sovereign of the Low Countries, but he was young and alone.
Juana could not return to raise [ clarification needed ] him because her unstable mental state and her Castilian subjects would not allow their ruler to abandon the kingdom. With Charles too young to govern, the provinces of the Low Countries voted to make Maximilian their regent. Preoccupied with his affairs in Germany, the now Emperor named Margaret governor of the Low Countries and guardian of Charles in , along with her nieces Eleanor , Isabella and Mary.
Although her mother was a previous sovereign of the Netherlands, Margaret was always considered a foreigner because of her childhood at the French court.
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She knew neither Dutch nor German , and her principal advisers, such as Mercurino di Gattinara , were Italians who had followed her north. In any case, the Governess acted as intermediary between her father and her nephew's subjects in the Netherlands from her newly built palace at Mechelen.
During a remarkably successful career, she broke new ground for women rulers. He retained the boy's trust, but his pro-French leanings brought him into conflict with her support for the Emperor. Jealous of her power, Croy and some nobles secretly pressed Emperor Maximilian to declare Charles of age to rule. The Estates paid Maximilian to resign as regent and installed Charles, who was not yet 15 years old, on Margaret's dethronement was a public humiliation.
In his aunt's place, Charles established a council of regency, of which she was part but had no vote in its deliberations. Her ministers found themselves thrust aside and even persecuted. Maximilian shortly saw his mistake towards his intelligent, angry daughter, but Croy completely dominated Charles and urged upon him policies that not only conflicted with Habsburg interests, but gave little in return.
King Ferdinand's death opened the way to her nephew's Spanish inheritance, but he had to go to Spain to claim it. After participating in councils with Croy and his ministers for a while, Charles soon recognized his need for Margaret and her ministers. In June , he appointed Gattinara chancellor and helped arrange Margaret's return as regent of the Low Countries.
On a subsequent visit to the Low Countries in mid, Charles made Margaret his governor-general "in consideration of the great, inestimable and praiseworthy services that our said lady and aunt has done us. Margaret had an aptitude for business, and maintained the prosperity of the Netherlands.
Margaret of Austria, Duchess of Savoy
She negotiated the restoration of Intercursus Magnus with England, which was favorable to the Flemish textile interests and brought huge profits. Margaret provided funds and war supplies for her nephew's troops, especially against King Francis I of France and the German Protestants. In following years, Habsburg forces consolidated their hold over Tournai , Friesland , Utrecht , and Overijssel , which became part of the Netherlands.
Although the Low Countries initially lacked any centralized political institutions, Margaret's reign was a period of relative peace for the Netherlands. The exception was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation , especially in the north. The first martyrs were burnt at the stake in More moderate than her nephew, the Governess feared that intense persecution of Protestants would only strengthen them.
She had some difficulty in keeping Duke Charles of Guelders under control, but made him sign the Treaty of Gorinchem in Despite her efforts, the problem was not conclusively dealt with during her reign. Margaret soon found herself at war with France over the question of Charles's requirement to pay homage to the French king for Flanders as Duke of Burgundy. She journeyed to Cambrai in November to form the League of Cambrai , which largely removed the French threat to the Low Countries.
To curb Croy's pro-French influence over Charles, Margaret persuaded her father to join a papal alliance with Spain and England against France in , although she maintained the Low Countries in neutrality. Given her father's poor health, Margaret and Charles began to negotiate the latter's [ clarification needed ] election as Holy Roman Emperor despite the papacy and French being strongly opposed to this.
Thinking first of the dynasty, the Governess suggested supporting instead her younger nephew Ferdinand, but Charles refused to withdraw.
Using a combination of diplomacy and bribery, she played a crucial role in the election of Charles as Holy Roman Emperor in Journeying to Cambrai again in , Margaret reunited with Louise of Savoy, his sister-in-law and mother of Francis I. They negotiated the end to a war that France could no longer sustain.
The Treaty of Cambrai , the so-called Ladies' Peace, favored the dynastic interests of Charles: besides withdrawing French forces from Italy, Francis renounced his claims to Flanders, Artois and Tournai. She found the residence too small and started an ambitious expansion campaign in From to , the architect Rombout II Keldermans furthered the project along the Keizerstraat Emperor Street and modified what became the rear wing, which faces the Palace of Margaret of York.
The Governess kept several painters at her court, including the Master of the Legend of the Magdalen and Pieter van Coninxloo. The Governess patronized writers and artists. Margaret ended up raising her nephew and nieces in her palace. She reported to the English nobleman that the little girl was "so presentable and so pleasant, considering her youthful age, that I am more beholden to you for sending her to me, than you to me.
Margaret ordered several splendid music manuscripts from Pierre Alamire to send them as gifts to her relatives and political relations. Several of these treasures were sent to Mechelen as a gift from her nephew in According to a legend about Margaret's death, one of her maids broke a glass goblet, a splinter of glass went into her foot, and the resulting wound became gangrenous. Her doctors strongly recommended that she agree to having her foot amputated. She gave her consent for the operation and received the sacrament, but she died before the operation from an overdose of opium given to her for the treatment.
On November 20, , a high fever caused by her infected leg forced her to bed and neither piety nor medicine made any headway against the spreading gangrene. She died shortly after midnight on December 1. The Emperor bemoaned "the loss that we have made and principally I who held her as a mother and for the lack she does me in the government of the countries where she was in charge. Margaret's will appointed Charles as her sole heir and urged her nephew to protect the sovereignty of the Low Countries against the centralizing tendency of his imperial administrators. She was buried alongside her second husband at Bourg-en-Bresse, in the magnificent mausoleum of the Royal Monastery of Brou that she previously commissioned.
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His successor Richard Falk, an American Jew and a leading authority on International law, called the situation a "prelude to genocide".