The story of Tadea, illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V


It is known that the emperor followed in her footsteps and that he even cared for her at some points in her life

That Emperor Charles V was faithful to his wife Elizabeth is beyond doubt. So much so, in fact, that he even wrote to his sister Maria that «I am such a devoted husband that the beauty of other women tells me nothing». But both before her marriage and after her death the empress had illegitimate children. One of them was Tadea.

As for her birth, she is believed to have been born in 1523 in Italy. Her mother’s name is Orsolina de Cancellieri of Perugia, with whom she had a relationship while her husband was at court in Brussels. She was said to be a woman of extraordinary beauty and came into contact with Charles after her husband’s death there.

Although she lived all her life in Italy (it is rumoured that when Charles left for England, Orsolina returned to her homeland, claimed by her brothers), the emperor did not neglect his daughter, as was the case during his stay in Rome in 1536 after the victory in Tunis. Perhaps he recognised her immediately, as he found the mark he made on one of her legs with a sharp object. When he found out about her marriage when she was only thirteen, he reproached her mother for doing it without her permission and with a person he did not consider suitable for her. Nevertheless, he endowed her with 3,000 escudos of gold.

After suffering various vicissitudes at the hands of her half-brothers after the death of her mother and husband, she tried to see her father again when she heard that he had retired to the monastery of Yuste. When she had no news of him, she decided to write to King Philip II to obtain his recognition as the emperor’s daughter. She sought neither fame nor wealth, but only this recognition. The king was aware of the existence of a half-sister at the time, but the prevailing idea is that he never replied to the letter and that it was filed away.

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