Maria Christina, former queen dowager of Spain, born in Naples, April 27, 1806. Her father was Francis I., king of the Two Sicilies, and her mother Maria Isabella, daughter of Charles IV. of Spain. She became the fourth wife of Ferdinand VII. of Spain, Dec. 11, 1829, to the consternation of the Carlists, whose hope that the childlessness of the king would secure to his brother Don Carlos the succession to the throne was prostrated by the restoration on March 29, 1830, of the law by which the crown was made heritable by the female line. Maria Christina gave birth to a daughter, afterward Isabella II., on Oct. 10,1830. In October, 1832, Maria Christina, at the request of the king, took the reins of government into her own hands, and courted popularity by promulgating a general amnesty two weeks afterward. The king resumed the conduct of affairs in December, but died Sept, 29, 1833. In his will he appointed Maria Christina regent and guardian of Isabella, and of a second daughter, Maria Louisa Fernanda, that she had borne to him in 1832, and who afterward became the wife of Antoine, duke of Montpensier, the youngest son of Louis Philippe. Maria Christina assumed the regency Oct. 2, 1833. Having conceived a violent passion for Ferdinand Munoz, a private soldier in the royal body guard, whose parents had a tobacco shop at Tarancon, where he was born, she married him secretly, Dec. 28, 1833. Meanwhile she lost ground with the people, partly on account of her subserviency to the moderado party and to France, to which policy she was instigated by her ministers Martinez de la Rosa and Toreno, but chiefly owing to her clandestine relations with Munoz. The new charter granted by her was far from giving satisfaction to the provinces, which revolted.
In the night of Aug. 13, 1836, a detachment of the provincial militia, led by exaltados, entered her palace of La Granja near Madrid, and after being joined by a corps of the guards stationed in the palace, they compelled the queen regent to dismiss her ministers and swear to the constitution of 1812; and a new constitution was promulgated in June, 1837. Her position, however, continued precarious. The ministers, Zea Bermu-dez, Toreno, Martinez de la Rosa, and Isturiz, who were successively at the head of affair. were unable to restore her popularity. This received the greatest blow from her deer. issued June 15, 1840, in obedience to French influence, which put an end to the old municipal liberties of Spain. The people rushed to arms, and she abdicated on Oct. 12 in favor of Espartero as regent, and repaired to Paris. After the downfall of Espartero, she return, d to Madrid in 1844, and on Oct. 13 she c brated her marriage with Munoz in public, on which occasion she created him duke of Rian-zares. Though Isabella had been declared of age, she continued to intermeddle in public affairs till 1854, when she was expelled from Spain by a new revolutionary movement She retired with her husband and their teo children to France, where she had purchased the chateau of La Malmaison, which she sold to Napoleon III. in 1861. She then removed to Paris, though residing part of the time at Beaumont lodge, near Windsor, England, which she subsequently sold to the Jesuits to be used as a college.
In September, 1864, she returned to Madrid, where she remained till she was driven out with Isabella by the revolution of September, 1868, when she went hack to Paris, where she now resides. Her husband Mufioz died near Havre, Sept. 12, 1873.