Ludwika Maria Gonzaga
Ludwika Maria Gonzaga, Maria Ludwika Gonzaga
Queen of Poland, wife of Władysław IV Waza, and then Jan Kazimierz Waza. The only ruler in the history of the country who married two reigning rulers, and two brothers.
She was a well-born French aristocrat, from 1637 she ruled the Nevers located in Burgundy and other estates of the Gonzaga family. Her proposal to marry the Polish king, Władysław IV, came from the influential Cardinal Mazzarini, who played a key role at the Paris court. The wedding took place in 1646. Maria played a limited role alongside her husband, Louis, but when he died prematurely, she quickly married his brother and successor.
Very active both before and during the Swedish invasion; it was she who led to the famous Lviv vows, in which the kingdom was placed under the protection of the Mother of God. She also entered into an alliance with the Habsburgs against Sweden in 1656. She created a strong pro-French party at the Polish court. She also tried, but unsuccessfully, to push the candidacy of the French, Henryk d'Enghien, to succeed Jan Kazimierz.
She died in 1667, which greatly pushed the widowed king to relinquish the crown.