Margaret of Austria was the illegitimate daughter of Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, King of Italy and Archduke of Austria. She was born in Oudenaarde in Flanders on 28th December 1522, and died in Ortona on 18th January 1586. In 1533 she had from her father the fiefs of Penne, Campli, Leonessa, Cittaducale and Montereale as a dowry in view of her marriage to Alessandro de’ Medici, Duke of Florence, combined for reasons of alliances between dynasties.
After the assassination of her husband in 1537, Margaret, sixteen, the following year married fifteen-year-old Ottavio Farnese, nephew of Pope Paul III. Despite the initial opposition to the marriage and her alleged preference for women, the young woman gave two heirs to Farnese in 1545 and two years later supported him in the re-conquest of the Duchy of Parma against the Pope and the Emperor Charles V themselves.
After her father’s death in 1558 and the accession to the throne of Philip II, Margaret was appointed governor of the Netherlands in 1559, where she remained until 1568. Then she returned to Italy in her Abruzzo’s feuds that she well managed until her death in Ortona. She was appointed governor of L’Aquila in 1572, with residence in the majestic Palazzo Margherita. An elegant building dedicated to Margaret of Austria is also in Penne, while in Ortona and Campli there are majestic palaces named after her husband Ottavio Farnese, who died the same year as his wife.