A menagerie of colorful tents had been erected in Sienna’s Piazza del Campo in anticipation of the infanta’s arrival. Frederick was excited. He was thirty-seven and just entering his prime. As King of Germany, he held onto a small but vital grip on Europe. Now it was time to consolidate his imminent authority. The vibrant eighteen-year-old that would arrive any minute was the key to it. He’d never met her but her considerable dowry would release him from his debt and the prospect of many years of children brought thoughts of real certitude.

A horn sounded. She’d arrived! Frederick nearly fell into the Fonte Gaia as he whirled to take his first glimpse into the future.

It was a large entourage that made its way from a shady alley on the west side of the plaza, much larger than he’d expected, obviously very costly. He snapped his tongue in disapproval.

“They’ll have to go, after the wedding,” he whispered to his aide.

When the princess gingerly stepped from her carriage, Frederick tried hard to conceal his concern.

“She’s very beautiful, indeed... but her hips... she seems rather thin, will she withstand bearing my heirs?”

Despite the differences between them, differences which occupied every nook of their mismatched lives, Frederick III and Eleanor of Portugal were married on March 16, 1452, and three days later, crowned Holy Roman Emperor and Empress. Eleanor would prove more than able in producing children and Frederick’s dreams became cemented in history – so that by the end of his life, he saw fit to inscribe on all the buildings in his empire the motto, “Alles Erdreich ist Oesterreich untertan.”

The Habsburg dynasty would endure into the 20th century, though more likely because of its other motto: "Let others wage wars, but you, happy Austria, shall marry."

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