Mary Anne of Bavaria Anonymous, 2nd half of the 16th c.

Created with Sketch.
Previous object Saint Catherine Triumphant over Emperor Maximinus Daia

Archduchess Dismisses Protestant Midwife

The Catholic Archduchess Mary Anne of Bavaria encouraged her husband Charles II in his firm attitude towards the Protestants. When Apollonia Wiener, the midwife of her children, confessed her Protestant faith, she was dismissed. Since the 16th century, midwives were employed by the Styrian estates to serve above all aristocratic women in the city. They received an annual salary while freelance midwives got voluntary contributions. This work was mostly done by older women and widows, due to their great experience or also to alleviate their poor living conditions.

Oil on canvas
140 × 115,8 cm
Lender: Permanent loan from the Convent of the Friars Minor in Graz
Convent of the Friars Minor in Graz / Photo: Arno Friebes

Archduchess Mary Anne of Bavaria (1551–1608)

Mary Anne of Bavaria was regarded as pious and art-loving—qualities which were taught to her from an early age at the (Catholic) Munich court. Her marriage to Archduke Charles II of Inner Austria gave the latter political support from Bavaria, and at the same time Mary and the Munich court gained a very strong influence on the affairs of government in Graz. As the closest confidante of Charles and Ferdinand, Mary demanded and promoted Catholicism in Graz through financial donations and founding the monastery of the Poor Clares. In addition to a firm will to assert herself and excessive religiosity, her pomp and wastefulness (like her husband’s) were said to be character traits. In 1608, Mary died at the age of 57 and was buried in the Poor Clares Monastery, and finally in the Graz Mausoleum.

Brief an die steirische Landschaft von Maria von Bayern (Letter to the Styrian Estates by Mary of Bavaria), n. y., Styrian State Archive © Styrian State Archive