Hours before her death, 7 March 2008, Luisa Isabel married Liliana Maria Dahlmann in a civil ceremony on her deathbed. Today, the Dowager Duchess Liliana Maria, her legal widow, serves as life-president of the Fundación Casa Medina Sidonia.
Luisa Isabel Alvarez de Toledo died on 7 March 2008, at the age of 72, in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain.
She was the 21st Duchess of the ducal family of Medina-Sidonia, one of the most prestigious noble families and Grandees of Spain. She was also the 15th Duchess of Fernandina and Princess of Montalbán, 17th Marchioness of Villafranca del Bierzo, 18th Marchioness of los Vélez, 25th Countess of Niebla, and three times a Grandee of Spain.
Luisa Isabel was born in Estoril, Portugal, the only child of Joaquín Alvarez de Toledo y Caro, the 20th Duke of Medina Sidonia, and of María del Carmen Maura y Herrera, daughter of Gabriel Maura y Gamazo, the 1st Duke of Maura, and wife Cuban Julia de Herrera y Herrera, 5th Countess of la Mortera. Her grandfather was Antonio Maura, who had been Prime Minister of Spain. Her third cousin is actress Carmen Maura.
On 16 July 1955, in Mortera, Cantabria, she married José Leoncio González de Gregorio y Martí, son of Leoncio González de Gregorio y Arribas, Martínez de Azagra y Turull, and wife Leticia Martí y Rodríguez de Castro, with whom she had three children.
In 1983, Liliana Maria Dahlmann attended the wedding of Leoncio Alonso González de Gregorio and Alvarez de Toledo as a friend of the bride. There she met his mother, Luisa Isabel Álvarez de Toledo, 21st Duchess of Medina Sidonia, who shortly after became her girlfriend. After more than 20 years of relationship, on March 7, 2008, she married in articulo mortis with Luisa Isabel Alvarez de Toledo and Maura, who died eleven hours after as a result of lung cancer. Today, the Dowager Duchess Liliana Maria serves as life-president of the Fundación Casa Medina Sidonia.
Palace of the Dukes in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Her first son, Leoncio Alonso González de Gregorio y Alvarez de Toledo, born on 3 January 1956, was the 26th Count of Niebla (ceded by his mother at his birth) until the death of his mother when he inherited the titles of his mother. He married María Montserrat Viñamata y Marotell (born 15 January 1962, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain), the daughter of the 23rd Countess of Alba de Liste, on 12 December 1983, and has two children. He married Pamela García Damián (born 14 November 1956, Caracas, Venezuela), on 12 July 2001. He now is the 22nd Duke of Medina Sidonia.
Her daughter, María del Pilar Leticia González de Gregorio y Alvarez de Toledo, was born on 10 January 1957 and was the 13th Duchess of Fernandina (from. Her first marriage was to Rafael Márquez y Osorio (born 4 January 1949, Madrid, Spain), 7th Count of the Torres de Alcorin, on 16 September 1977, and has a child with him. Her second marriage is to Tomás de Terry y Merello (born 30 August 1936, Puerto de Santa María, Cádiz, España) on 25 June 1990. She has another child by this marriage.
The third child of Luisa Isabel is Gabriel Ernesto González de Gregorio y Alvarez de Toledo, born in 1958.
Luisa Isabel Alvarez de Toledo was the head of the House of Medina Sidonia, the most important ducal house of Spain, with its status as a hereditary title having been granted in 1445. The principal residence of the dukes was the Palace of Medina Sidonia, located in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz. This Palace houses the Archivo de la Casa de Medina Sidonia, one of the most important private archives in Europe.
An atypical and controversial aristocrat, she was a historian, the guardian of the ducal archives and the author of numerous works. At the age of 18, she was presented to society in Estoril, Portugal, along with the Infanta Pilar de Borbón. Yet, despite her noble heritage and upbringing, she held strong socialist ideals throughout her life. She is said to have been a member of the then illegal Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE).
Her anti-Francoist activities brought about her incarceration in the prison of Alcalá de Henares during the 1960s. It was from this time that she became popularly known as the "Red Duchess." She established and, until her death, was an active president of the Fundación Casa Medina Sidonia that manages the Archivo de la Casa de Medina Sidonia, the major part of the patrimony of the House of Medina Sidonia, and she continued her work as an historian and author.
During her extensive research in the archives she discovered documents which convinced her that America might have been discovered a long time before Columbus by Arab-andalusian or Moroccan sailors trading with ports in Brazil, Guayana and Venezuela and she published her views in No fuimos nosotros (It wasn't us) and África versus América.
Liliane Marie Dahlmann, Dowager Duchess of Medina Sidonia (born January 31, 1956, in Kaiserslautern) is an historian and lifelong president of the Foundation House of Medina Sidonia. She was the wife of Luisa Isabel Alvarez de Toledo and Maura, called Red Duchess, whom she married in articulo mortis on March 7, 2008.
Born in Germany, she moved to Spain in 1963 and spent her youth in Barcelona, where she majored in History, specializing in Modern and Contemporary History. In 1983, Liliane attended the wedding of Leoncio Alonso González de Gregorio and Alvarez de Toledo as a friend of the bride. There she met his mother, Luisa Isabel Alvarez de Toledo and Maura, XXI Duchess of Medina Sidonia, XVII Marchioness of Villafranca del Bierzo, XVIII Marquise de los Vélez and XXV Countess Fog, three times Grandee of Spain, who shortly after became her girlfriend although the Duchess did not divorce her husband Jose Leoncio González de Gregorio and Marti until 2005, at his request.
After more than 20 years of relationship, on March 7, 2008, she married in articulo mortis with Luisa Isabel Alvarez de Toledo and Maura, who died eleven hours after as a result of lung cancer.
Since the creation of the foundation, in 1990, Liliane served as lifetime secretary. However, as the Duchess of Medina Sidonia stipulated in the statutes of the foundation, at her death, Liliane took the role of president for life, and so she did in 2008. But the children of the Duchess claim that the foundation is reformulated, because the estate donated by their mother when she was alive, most of all their assets, must be reduced to meet the legal rights of the heirs (in the proportions established by the Civil Code in Spain), without prejudice to the interests of the State and the declaration of Cultural Interest (with consequent indivisibility), which affects the heritage of the XXI duquesa.
Travelers' Tales Spain: True Stories (Travelers' Tales Guides) by Lucy McCauley
Series: Travelers' Tales Guides
Paperback: 475 pages
Publisher: Travelers' Tales (May 6, 2002)
Amazon: Travelers' Tales Spain: True Stories
Journey into Spain with some of the world’s best writers, and discover a country of heightened senses, bougainvillea blossoming in crimson and orange, and air pungent with sizzling olive oil. Readers travel the ancient road to Santiago, get a glimpse of Pamplona during the running of the bulls, walk in Don Quixote’s footsteps on a midlife quest, and follow a woman’s dream to study the “male” art of flamenco guitar. These soulful stories of travel in a land poised between the old world and new. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Barbara Kingsolver, Calvin Trillin, and Penelope Casas are among the authors featured.
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