Queen Anne d’Autriche (1601–1666), or Anne of Austria, was the wife of King Louis XIII and the mother of King Louis XIV. On the death of Louis XIII in 1643 Anne assumed the regency with Cardinal Mazarin as her chief minister; although the regency ended in 1651 she continued to effectively rule France until Mazarin’s death in 1661. She is best known through the Dumas novels which highlighted the difficulties of her relationship with her husband and his chief minister, Cardinel Richelieu.
She allowed herself be drawn into political opposition to Richelieu and became embroiled in several intrigues against his policies. In 1635 she found herself in a difficult situation when France declared war on Spain. Her secret correspondence with her brother King Philip IV of Spain passed beyond the requirements of sisterly affection and by August 1637 she was under so much suspicion that Richelieu forced her to sign covenants regarding her correspondence, which was henceforth open to inspection.
In 1643 she was as named regent, in spite of her late husband’s wishes, and to general surprise entrusted the government to Cardinal Mazarin, a protégé of Cardinal Richelieu. Anne was so fond of him and so intimate in her manner with him that there were long-standing rumors that they were lovers and that the Dauphin was their offspring.
Not long after Mazarin’s death Anne retired to the convent of Val-de-Grâce, where she died of breast cancer five years later.