Bearing Peace and War: Sex, Motherhood, and the Treaty of the Pyrenees

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The remainder of this chapter looks to engage a feminist analysis of marriage and family generally, and motherhood specifically, in the Peace of the Pyrenees and its aftermath. In so doing, it hopes to gain both empirical and theoretical insight into the ways that marriage, marriage consummation, and motherhood made the state, both territorially and representationally. Suggesting that, quite literally, ‘making state is making sex’ (Peterson 2013, 57), this chapter argues that 17th century Spain and France were in part made in the (imaginaries of and then the physical instantiation of) the uterus of Maria Teresa, Hapsburg princess of Spain and Archduchess of Austria until her marriage in 1660 to Louis XIV of France (Fraser 2010). It begins with a brief discussion of the historical context of the conflict between France and Spain, and the circumstances of the marriage (and the Peace of the Pyrenees). A second section theorizes the relationship between marriage, sexuality, and territory evidenced in the politics around Maria Teresa’s marriage, her sexual relationship with Louis XIV, and in (political concerns about) her (actual and potential) offspring. A third section discusses the lineage of Maria Teresa and its role in constituting the state, with attention to the War of Spanish Succession. A fourth section addresses the rumors of Maria Teresa’s illegitimate daughter and their role in the state imaginary. The conclusion considers the relationship of dynastic motherhood to the making of the state, and the de-personalization of the figure of the mother in state-making.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTroubling Motherhood
Subtitle of host publicationMaternality in Global Politics
EditorsLucy B. Hall, Anna L. Weissman, Laura J. Shepherd
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9780190939182
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • gender
  • motherhood
  • international relations
  • marriage
  • dynastic marriage

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