Characters of our routes: Barbara Blomberg


Last love of Emperor Charles V, she was the mother of his son John of Austria, the hero of the Battle of Lepanto


At the age of just 19, Barbara Blomberg’s life changed. Emperor Charles V’s visit to Regensburg to attend the Diet there resulted, a year later, in a child being taken from her when she was less than two years old. Part of the last part of her life was spent in Colindres, a member of this network of routes.

Barbara Blomberg was the eldest daughter of a bourgeois couple from Regensburg engaged in trade, and whose life crossed paths with that of Emperor Charles V in 1546. It was an encounter that was to change her life completely.

The emperor had come to the city to attend a Diet aimed at avoiding an armed confrontation with the Protestant German princes, which eventually took place. He was 46 years old at the time, and as fate would have it, a 19-year-old girl crossed his path.

Barbara Blomberg’s future might have been to marry someone who could help her father in his business, but this was cut short when Charles V fell in love with her. The result of this infatuation was a child who, however, was taken from him when she was barely fifteen months old, whom her father, the emperor, met in Yuste in the last months of his life and recognised as his son after his death. In time, he would become a legend as Don Juan of Austria after the battle of Lepanto.

After that episode, in 1550 Barbara Blomberg married Hieronymus Pyramus, the young boy’s guardian, whom the emperor rewarded in this way for helping him to cover up his love affair with the young woman.

Now a widow, Barbara Blomberg was led down the path of dissolute living; and even while in Brussels, her own son John of Austria, then governor of the Netherlands, was advised to keep her away from him as it was detrimental to his reputation.

Barbara Blomberg spent the last years of her life in Cantabria, first in Colindres, and finally in Ambrosero, where she died in 1597.

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