The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Paul V (1605-1621)
Consistory of July 29, 1619 (IX)


(50) 1. AUSTRIA, Fernando de (1609-1641)

Birth. Saturday May 16, 1609 (1), between 2 and 3 p.m., at the palace of San Lorenzo el Real del Escorial, archdiocese of Toledo, Spain. Son of King Felipe III of Spain (1598-1621) and Queen Margarita de Austria. Infante of Spain. Brother of King Felipe IV of Spain (1621-1665). He was called El Cardenal Infante. He was baptized in the following month of by Cardinal Bernardo de Rojas y Sandoval, archbishop of Toledo; the godparents were Prince Felipe, heir to the Spanish throne, and Infanta Doña Ana, his sister.

Education. Educated in the Spanish royal court.

Early life. Destined to the ecclesiastical state at a very young age although his personal inclination was towards the army and politics. His father requested of the pope his promotion to the cardinalate when Fernando was 10 years old.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon in the consistory of July 29, 1619; received the deaconry of S. Maria in Portico Octaviae, July 29, 1619. The red hat was imposed at a later date in 1619 in Madrid, by Cardinal Antonio Zapata y Cisneros.

Episcopate. Perpetual administrator of the temporal affairs of the metropolitan and primatial see of Toledo, March 1, 1620; never visited the archdiocese (2). Prior of Crato. Abbot commendatario of Alcobaça, Portugal. He had an illegitimate daughter (3). Instigated by the prime minister, valido, Count-Duke of Olivares, his brother, King Felipe IV, distrusted him and kept him away from the court with outside appointments. Did not participate in the conclave of 1621, which elected Pope Gregory XV. Did not participate in the conclave of 1623, which elected Pope Urban VIII.Viceroy of Cataluña, 1632-1633. Governor of the duchy of Milan, 1633-1634. Granted active and passive voice in the conclave although he had not received the diaconate, January 14, 1634. Governor of Flanders, November 4, 1634 until November 9, 1641. His victory over the Swedish in Nördlingen, 1634, accredited him as one of the best strategists of his time.

Sacred orders. Received the minor orders (no further information found).

Death. November 9, 1641, of an ulcer in the abdomen (4), Brussels. Buried in Brussels. In 1643 his remains were transferred to Spain and buried in the Panteón de los Infantes in the royal chapel-tomb in the monastery of S. Lorenzo de El Escorial.

Bibliography. Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. 9 vols. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1793, VI, 197-198; Gauchat, Patritium. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recientoris Aevi. Volumen IV (1592-1667). Münich : Sumptibus et Typis Librariae Regensbergianae, 1935; reprint, Padua : Il Messagero di S. Antonio, 1967, pp. 14; Gonzálvez, Ramón. "Austria, Fernando de", Diccionario de historia eclesiástica de España. Dirigido por Quintín Aldea Vaquero, Tomás Marín Martínez, José Vives Gatell. Madrid : Instituto Enrique Flórez, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1972-1975. 4 v and supplement, I, 54; Pérez Bustamante, C. "Los cardenalatos del duque de Lerma y del infante don Fernando de Austria." Boletín de la Universidad de Santiago, 7 (1935), 11-13, 16-17, 23-24, 33 and 39; Van der Essen, Alfred. Le cardinal-iInfant et la politique européanne de l'Espagne, 1609-1641. 2 v. Bruxelles : Éditions Universitaires, 1944 (Événements et personnages de notre histoire nationale (Anciens Pays-Bas et Belgique)) Note: Tome premier, 1609-1634; Tome second, 16341641; Van der Essen, Afred. "Le rôle du cardinal-infant dans la politique espagnole du XVII siècle." Revista de la Universidad de Madrid, XIV, 3 (1954).

Links. Biography, in German; his genealogy, C1 D5 E3; his portrait by Diego Velázquez; his portrait by Pieter Pauwel Rubens; another portrait by Pieter Pauwel Rubens; his portrait by Anthonis van Dyck, Museo del Prado, Madrid; his portrait by an anonymous artist, The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, England; his portrait with his brother King Felipe IV, by Gerard Seghers, Rubenshuis, Antwerp, Belgium; and his tomb in the royal chapel-tomb in El Escorial, Spain.

(1) This is according to Gonzálvez, "Austria, Fernando de", Diccionario de historia eclesiástica de España, Suppl., 154, and his genealogy, linked above; his biography in German, linked above, indicates that he was born on May 24, 1610.
(2) Governed the archdiocese through his coadjutor Álvaro de Villegas with the help of auxiliary bishops Alfonso de Requeséns, O.F.M.Obs., Francisco Maldonado, Miguel Avellán and Timoteo Pérez. In 1625, King Felipe IV of Spain named Cardinal Antonio Zapata co-adminstrator of Toledo.
(3) Mariana de la Cruz, who died as a professed nun of the Royal Discalced Monastery of Madrid.
(4) According to his biography linked above, there were rumors in Brussels that he had been poisoned by agents of the Spanish court who feared that he would establish himself, with the help of France, as an independent regent of the Spanish Netherlands. The same source discredits the rumors.

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