On this very day, at the royal palace of Turim (Italy) a new Savoy princess was borne! 54 years earlier her great aunt Marie Antoinette was sent to guilhotine!
Borned within the luxuriant court of the Princes of Piedmont, later Kings of Sardinia (in 1849) and future Kings of the united Italy (in 1861), princess Maria after being baptised having Pope Pius IX as her godfather, had an normal education untill 1862 when she was sought in marriage by D. Luis I King of Portugal.
If first Portugal felt rather uneasy with the idea of having as Queen a daughter of a excommunicate King, others thought that it was a good sign in foreign policies once Italy was considered as the one and truly democratic country in Europe by that time!
All settled the Queen D.Maria Pia arrived in Lisboa on the 6th October.
If shy at the beginning, the Queen showed to be very devoted to her husband. Apart formal duties as Kings, they both had a very tranquil life at the Royal Palace d'Ajuda (Lisbon) where they're two sons were raised - Prince D. Carlos future king to be and Infante D. Afonso, duke of Porto.
It was after the birth of the last prince, in 1865 that everything seemed to change. King Luis seemed no longer interested on his Queen which, day by day, started to develop crisis of anxiety and constant nervous breakdowns.
The King was said to have several mistresses as the Queen also started her own love affairs! She, as her ancestor in France, became Lisbon's Madame Deficit spending money on partys, masquerade balls, travels, fashion and other priceless objects to decorate her "doll house" Palacio d'Ajuda. The scandal was so much so that someone proposed that the Queen should be sent back to Italy but suddenly old good King D. Luis felt ill, the couple reconciled and D. Maria Pia turned to be he's greatest support until he surrendered his soul on the 19th October 1889...
Despite all, the Queen who once said "if you want a Queen, you have to pay her", never forgot her duties towards the less fortunate. In 1878 she opened a day care centre for children and never ceased to wander wherever she thought her people needed help like the floods country wide during winter in 1876 or on the famous occasion of the fire at Baquet's theatre in Porto where she traveled wearing black, giving money and comfort to it's victims. For all of that the people still today call her "The Angel of Charity".
On the other hand, if always apparently alienated from politics, she couldn't stop herself by expressing the disgust towards Marechal Saldanha "If I were the King, I'd have him shot!!"
As Queen Dowager she continued her social projects and acted as regent in two occasion.
With the 1908 regicide where her son King Carlos I and her grandson Prince Luis Felipe were shot
, her grief was so strong that she was never able to recover and during the short reign of her second grand child D.Manuel II she became retired living with her son D. Afonso on her fairytale palace d'Ajuda until 1910 when she was forced to go into exile with the rest of the royal family ending her days in Italy where she died one year after, 5 of July 1911.
Suffering from dementia or not, the truth is that on her deathbed she asked to be turned towards Portugal! Her remains never came back ...