The powerful Cardinal Mazarin, French Chief Minister, had seven nieces who were Italians by birth, but moved to France and became wealthy heiresses.
Laura Martinozzi, the oldest of Cardinal Mazarin’s seven nieces, was most likely born on this day in 1635. Cardinal Mazarin was the French Chief Minister (similar to a prime minister). His nieces were Italians just like him, but moved to France, where they had a huge influence. They managed to marry extremely well – all married princes or dukes. Laura, being the eldest, married the ruling Duke of Modena and Reggio – Alfonso IV d’Este. He ruled over an independent state in Italy, situated roughly between the river Po and the Ligurian Sea, its capital in Modena.
Laura Martinozzi bore two children as the Duchess of Modena and Reggio – a son named Francesco who later inherited the duchy and Maria, who became the British queen. She became known as Mary of Modena, the last Catholic queen in the history of Britain. She and her husband James II Stuart were exiled from Britain during the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688.
Mazarin’s other nieces married the Duke of Mercœura and Vendôme, the Prince of Conti, prince Colonna, the Count of Soissons, the Duke of La Meilleraye, and the Duke of Bouillon. General Eugene of Savoy was the son of one of Mazarin’s nieces.