Catherine Michelle
Duchess consort of Savoy
Tenure18 March 1585 – 6 November 1597
Born10 October 1567
Madrid, Spain
Died6 November 1597(1597-11-06) (aged 30)
Turin, Italy
FatherPhilip II, King of Spain
MotherElisabeth of Valois
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Catherine Michelle of Spain (Spanish: Catalina Micaela de Austria; 10 October 1567 – 6 November 1597) was Duchess of Savoy by marriage to Duke Charles Emmanuel I. She ruled the Duchy several times as regent in Charles Emmanuel's absence, notably during his campaign in 1594.[1] She was the younger surviving daughter of Philip II of Spain and Elisabeth of Valois.

Early life

Catalina Micaela was the daughter of Philip II, ruler of the vast Spanish Empire, and his third wife, the French princess Elisabeth of Valois.[2]

She was described as beautiful, intelligent, arrogant and well aware of her high social status. Though her father did not attend her christening and was not as rejoiced at the birth of a daughter as he had been with her elder sister, Isabella Clara Eugenia, she had a good relationship with him. Philip and Catherine Michelle exchanged letters throughout her life.

She had a close relationship with her sister. They were raised together under the care of Margarita de Cardona, the lady-in-waiting of their stepmother, Anna of Austria, and some of her mother's own ladies such as Claude de Vineulx. Her grandmother Catherine de' Medici was given regular reports of Catherine and her sister, and she had their portraits sent and put in her book of hours. She was probably named after Catherine de Medici.

Catherine and her elder sister Isabella in a 1570 portrait by Sofonisba Anguissola
Catherine and her elder sister Isabella in a 1570 portrait by Sofonisba Anguissola

Duchess of Savoy

Duke Charles Emmanuel I of Savoy suggested that he should marry Catalina Micaela as a way of gaining Spanish support for his plans to expand Savoy on the coast of the then weakened France. The wedding took place in Zaragoza on 11 March 1585 and the couple made their entrance to Turin in Savoy 10 August 1585.

Catalina Micaela was initially unpopular because of her arrogance and attempts to introduce Spanish pomp, ceremony and way of dress to the court in Turin. However, she soon gained respect because of her political and diplomatic skill, which she used to defend the autonomy of Savoy against Spain. She refused the Spanish offer to install a Spanish garrison in Turin from Milan with the excuse of giving her a life guard.

She is reported to have had great influence on Charles Emmanuel I and to have reformed him for the better. She also served as regent several times during the absence of the duke on military campaigns, such as during the Lyon campaign in 1594. Catherine Michelle also benefited cultural life in Savoy, founded many new buildings including an art gallery. Due to her influence, her sons were educated in Spain.

Catherine as Duchess of Savoy
Catherine as Duchess of Savoy

Catalina Micaela died near the end of 1597; she had miscarried earlier that year. Her father died the following year.


In 1585, she married Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy.[3] This marriage produced ten children:



  1. ^ Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani – Volume 22 (1979)
  2. ^ Pitts 2009, p. 311.
  3. ^ Bercé 1996, p. 8.
  4. ^ a b Rapelli 2011, p. 265.


Catalina Micaela of Spain House of HabsburgBorn: 10 October 1567 Died: 6 November 1597 Royal titles VacantTitle last held byMargaret of France Duchess consort of Savoy 18 March 1585 – 6 November 1597 VacantTitle next held byChristine of France