Margaret of Parma (1522-1586)

Regent of the Netherlands


Margareth of Parma through the lens of photographer Vanfleteren


In 1521 Emperor Charles V, still unmarried, stays in Oudenaarde, while he is besieging Tournai. The rhetorician from Oudenaarde, Mathijs de Casteleyn, made poems about it (Baladen van Doornijcke). Charles V is staying in the Burgundian castle in Oudenaarde. His host was Charles de Lalaing, governor of Oudenaarde. A chambermaid of the family de Lalaing, Johanna van de Gheynst, draws the attraction of Charles V during one of the celebrations.


Nine months later she gave birth to a daughter, Margaret. After seven years Charles V
recognizes his illegitimate daughter and twice he marries her off to the Pope’s family. She is called Margaret of Parma because of her second marriage with the Duke of Parma, Ottavio Farnese. Her whole life she is a pawn in her father’s geopolitical games.


During the religious turmoil Margaret is sent to the Netherlands (1559-1567) as moderating regent. As a battle-weary woman she returns to Italy, back to her son. Her son Alexander is appointed to regain the Netherlands for the Spanish crown. Margaret died disillusioned and embittered after a dramatic and painful agony.



Highlight of the tapestry industry in the 16th century

In the 16th century Oudenaarde’s tapestry production reached its highest level, with work of a very high quality, of a great variety and in large quantities. The oldest preserved tapestries date back to the first half of the 16th century.


tapestry: Alexander before the highpriest


“Alexander before the high priest Iaddo” was woven between 1580-1590 and is part of a series of three tapestries featuring the life of Alexander the Great.



© MOU Museum Oudenaarde en de Vlaamse Ardennen - design Digital Cordon Bleu