Margaret Of Parm4, regent of the Netherlands under Philip II. of Spain, born in Brussels in 1522, died at Ortona, Italy, in 1580. She was the natural daughter of Charles Y. by Margaret van der Geenst, a lady of a noble Flemish family in Oudenarde, and received an education suited to her rank in the household of Mary, queen dowager of Hungary. In 1536 she became the wife of Alessandro do' Medici, duke of Florence, a man of profligate habits, and her senior by about 12 years. Within a year of the marriage Alessandro was assas sinated by his kinsman, Lorenzino de' Medici, and the voung widow, upon reaching the age of 20, was united to Ottavio Farnese, then 13 years old, receiving as her dowry the duchies of Parma and Piacenza. Toward Farnese she entertained feelings of contempt. Her birth, her masculine bearing, her undoubted capacity and training in the astute school of Italian politics, and above all her orthodoxy in matters of religion, suggested her to Philip, when about to take his departure from the Netherlands in 1559, as a suitable person to till the office of regent of those provinces. Her administration, which lasted eight years, and witnessed the opening scenes in the great revolt of the Netherlands, was mild and beneficent in comparison with which followed.

She left the Netherlands Dec. 30, 1507, was amply pensioned by Philip, and passed the remainder of her life chiefly in Italy. Her tastes, including her love for the chase," were masculine; and in personal appearance "she seemed," in the language of a contemporary historian, '"like a man in petticoats" the illusion being heightened by a somewhat hairy chin and upper lip. She died of gout. Alexander Farnese, the great commander, was her son.