Elizabeth, queen of Spain, born at Fon-tainebleau, Nov. 22,1602, died in Madrid, Oct. 6, 1644. She was the daughter of Henry IV. of France and Maria de' Medici, and was married to Philip, infante of Spain, Oct. 18, 1615.
Philip, having in 1621 succeeded to the crown as Philip IV., surrendered the administration to the count of Olivarez, and gave himself up to pleasure. Elizabeth made vain efforts to rouse him from his supineness, and to counteract the ruinous policy of his minister. In 1640, when Catalonia revolted, when Portugal separated from Spain, and French armies cooperated with the rebels, the queen appealed in person to the Castilians, and succeeded within a few weeks in raising an army of 50,000 men. Then, proceeding to the king's pleasure house of Buen Retiro, and holding her son by the hand, "Sir," said she, "this boy, our only son, is doomed to be the poorest gentleman in Europe, if your majesty does not forthwith dismiss a minister who has brought Spain to the verge of ruin." Olivarez was thereupon exiled, and Philip roused to momentary energy. Elizabeth broke off all relations with her own family, now become the worst enemies of Spain, and took into her own hands the administration of the kingdom, while Philip at the head of his armies vainly endeavored to retrieve his fortunes.
She displayed equal wisdom and patriotism in her management of public affairs, allayed party strifes by her eloquent appeals, and set the example of generosity by sacrificing her jewels, and reducing her household expenses to the lowest figure. Her death was mourned as a national calamity.
Elizabeth (Elisabeth Philippine Marie Helene), madame, called Elizabeth of France, a French princess, sister of Louis XVI., born in Versailles, May 3, 1764, guillotined in Paris, May 10,1794. At an early age she distinguished herself by charity and a taste for study, especially of botany. When the revolution broke out, she shared her brother's trials and misfortunes, evincing in all circumstances unfaltering firmness, courage, and sweetness of temper. On Oct. 5, 1789, she succeeded in preserving the lives of several of the royal body guard, threatened by the infuriated mob; in June, 1791, she accompanied her brother to Varennes, and sustained his spirit in their dangerous journey back to Paris; on June 20, 1792, when the populace broke into the Tuileries, her life was in danger from being mistaken for the queen; and in all the perils of that period she retained her wonted composure, and thought only of the safety of her brother and his family. She was incarcerated with them in the Temple, but was separated from the king on his trial before the convention, and afterward from the queen and the dauphin; and finally, although nothing could be adduced against her except her devotion to her brother, was sentenced to death by the revolutionary tribunal.
She met her fate with the patience and intrepidity which had marked all her life.