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Mary of Modena (1658–1718) Leaving Calais, 21 November 1673

Photo credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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A painting commemorating the departure of Mary of Modena from Calais. She was beginning her new life in England as Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland as the consort of James II. Born Maria Beatrice Anna Margherita Isabella d'Este she was the first of two surviving children of Alfonso IV d'Este, Duke of Modena and Reggio. In March 1671 her future was transformed following the death of James, Duke of York's first Duchess, Anne Hyde. York's decision to remarry was of supreme dynastic significance as the likelihood that Charles II's wife, Catherine of Braganza, would never bear any children made it ever more probable that any surviving son born to York's future wife would eventually inherit the British throne. As a newly converted Catholic, York’s selection of a Catholic bride, Mary, was inevitably controversial. The wedding of James and Mary took place in September 1673 in the Palazzo Ducale with a member of the court standing in as proxy for York. A few days later the new Duchess set out for England on her fifteenth birthday, accompanied by her mother and Prince Rinaldo. This marriage reinforced Charles II's alliance with Louis XIV, which enforced its unpopularity in England.

National Maritime Museum



oil on canvas


H 109.3 x W 183 cm

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National Maritime Museum

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