Daughter of the king Carlo IV of Spain, she was given bride, in 1795, to Lodovico of Bourbon, duke of Parma and Piacenza, to strengthen the relationship of control that Spain had towards the little Italian dukedom.
The Napoleonic events deeply marked her life. In 1801, by virtue of the Luneville agreement, she was forced to leave Parma with her husband and to accept the throne of Tuscany with the title of Queen of Etruria, given to her by Napoleon.
She personally assumed the regency role because of her partner's bad health condition; she became widow in 1803 but she continued to govern in the name of her son Carlo Lodovico, who was still a child, trying to cope with the increasing presumptions of Napoleon who already had the military control of Italy.
In 1807 the french emperor abolished the Reign of Etruria giving its control to his sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, who was already Princess of Lucca and Piombino, and promising a phantom new throne in Portugal to Maria Luisa and Carlo Lodovico.
In fact, mother and son were confined to a state of imprisonment in Nice and after an attempt to escape, they were separated.
The Congress of Vienna indemnified Maria Luisa giving her the Dukedom of Lucca, which she governed with diligence from 1817 to her death in 1824.
As an enlightened sovereign she constantly felt the government's responsibility, even if her commitment was limited by a vacillated trust in her collaborators, an almost absolute power and by the excessive ostentation and imposition of self-righteous religious habits to her subjects.
In her favor it had to be accredited the work she did about the public affairs, the education and the economic modernization of the dukedom.