Queen Juana I of Castile (1479-1555) is generally known as "Joan the Mad".

Despite her nickname, Juana's "madness" has often been disputed; she may have been locked up for political reasons only. Either way, she was a passionate woman, who fell madly in love with her handsome husband and continued to caress him even after his death. Juana was born on November 6, 1479, as the second daughter of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Their marriage had united Spain. Juana was a fretful, ailing baby that slowly developed into a sullen and timid child. She was prone to moodiness and melancholy and preferred solitude. Her aloofness was often mistaken for royal dignity. Juana was well taught by the famous Italian humanists Antonio and Alessandro Gerardino. She was intelligent, serious, hardworking and pious and she read a lot of books. She conversed fluently in Latin, danced gracefully and played clavichord and guitar. In appearance she resembled her father's mother, the beautiful Juana Enriquez, but in disposition she resembled her mother's mother, the mad Isabel of Portugal. At the age of 16, Juana was betrothed to Philip the Handsome of Austria (1478-1506), only son of the Emperor Maximilian I. A fleet with approximately 22,000 persons accompanied Juana to the Low Countries in 1496. After a dangerous month at sea with 3 ships sunken, Juana disembarked suffering from seasickness and a severe cold. Philip was in no hurry to meet his bride; his sister Margaret welcomed Juana. When Juana and Philip finally met, however, it was lust at first sight - for both of them. Although they didn't speak each other's language, they immediately ordered the nearest cleric to wed them then and there. The cleric was hardly finished before the couple vanished into their bedroom, flung off their clothes and passionately made love. The next day a church wedding officially completed the union. For Philip the attraction to the beautiful, dark haired Juana was carnal and little more, but Juana became totally infatuated with her husband. Philip had a large nose, long hair and an athletic figure. He was cheerful with an air of boyish zest. At 18, Philip was already sovereign of the Low Countries, which he had inherited from his late mother, Mary the Rich of Burgundy. Still, his life mainly consisted of feasting, drinking and chasing women - and he had no intention to change his philandering ways. For Juana, however, only absolute togetherness would do. She was too young and inexperienced to realize that she expected too much from a politically arranged marriage. Philip's flirtations and dalliances made her fly into jealous rages. Philip was lazy and irresponsible and he detested arguments. Juana was irritable, haughty, touchy, and moody. Often, she was depressed and suffered from nervous fainting fits. Each time they had quarreled, Philip punished his wife by avoiding her bedroom for days. Juana would then cry the whole night and bump up against the wall. But despite Philip's flagrant unfaithfulness and the way he was treating her, Juana remained madly in love with him. In 1498 Queen Isabella I send an emissary to the Low Countries to question Juana, but she refused to tell him anything. The Spaniard sensed tension and unhappiness in her and reported to her mother that Juana was too unstable to extend any Spanish influence in the Low Countries. Juana was ignorant of the political intrigues around her. The women in her entourage were treated badly and many of them were in actual want, but Juana could not help them for she was kept short of money herself and Philip did nothing to help. Ultimately, the only Spaniard left was Juana's treasurer, who used Juana's income to bribe the Flemish. Juana spoke several languages, but she still felt lonely in an alien country and she was mistrustful of everyone. In these circumstances Juana gave birth to Eleanor in 1498 and Charles in 1500. The heir's birth was celebrated with great splendor and after 12 days he was baptized. In the period 1497-1500, Juana's elder siblings, Juan and Isabel, and Isabel's baby son, all died, leaving Juana as heiress of Spain, Mexico, Peru and the Caribbean islands. After the birth of another daughter in 1501, Juana and Philip were summoned to Spain, leaving their children behind in Flanders. On arrival in Spain, Juana threw herself in her father's arms and hugged and kissed him. Queen Isabella I (to the right), however, was too devout and too self-disciplined to feel much sympathy for either her overwrought daughter or her pleasureloving son-in-law. Due to her mother's chilly treatment, Juana's nervousness increased. Cheerful Philip found the grim court life in Spain both tedious and trying. The sequence of religious services seemed endless and the summer heat blazed like a furnace. To his abhorrence, the Spaniards either kept their women hidden or used formidable chaperones. Philip got the measles, too. Once he was recovered he wanted to leave as soon as

In protest Juana went on a hunger strike. she went berserk. Juana. Philip and Ferdinand negotiated an arrangement for the government of Castile without consulting Juana. She wanted to take the coffin with her. but not until five weeks after his death. In November 1504 Isabella I of Castile died and Juana was proclaimed Queen of Castile. but soon more violent quarrels followed. insisted that Juana remained in Spain for a time in order to prepare for Queenship. Philip hit Juana in the face and she retired to her room. but Juana was pregnant again. Juana decided to move to Torquemada. Stories were spread that the mad Queen had the coffin opened every night and then embraced her beloved dead. knowing that Philip. Within six days Philip the handsome died at the age of 28. . Then Juana began to use love potions and other sorceries. but her mother had her locked up in castle La Mota. from the castle. Juana insulted her with foul language. In January 1506 Juana and Philip left for Spain to claim Juana's inheritance. Juana wanted to ride after him immediately. The sudden death of her beloved husband toppled the delicate mental balance of the pregnant Queen. Ferdinand II of Aragon asked his officials to read to the Cortes some notes of the Spanish treasurer in Flanders. She gave way to a storm of grief. portraying Juana's instability. The worried Cortes named Ferdinand curator. The coffin was opened for a second time to ensure that Philip's remains were still there. would surround himself with buxom beauties. where she remained for several days. After a few days he was hardly able to swallow or speak and he sweat a lot. Juana. Juana gave birth to a daughter Mary in 1505. Granada. but she couldn't leave. while screaming and hurling abuses until exhaustion overtook her. Queen Isabella I. When the wrappers were removed from the corpse. Philip left Juana behind. because they had been quarrelling constantly. half-clad. Castle La Mota The Spanish Sovereigns hoped that Juana's wild moods and lamentations were due to her pregnancy. Juana had his coffin carried about on her journeying. She found out that Philip had taken a mistress and in a quarrel Juana cut off the woman's long hair. After a violent quarrel in December 1502. Both Philip and Ferdinand tried to persuade Juana in handing over the government to them. she threw herself against the iron bars. She could scarcely bare to be parted from the corpse and continued to caress it. On arrival in Spain. A few days later the pair reconciled. When her mother arrived. Leaving her son Ferdinand behind. She yelled at the servants and cursed the clerics. Catherine of Aragon2. Many people believed that Philip had been poisoned by Ferdinand of Aragon. Together the men tried to have Juana declared incompetent to rule. Juana lapsed into brooding silences. deliberately avoiding nunneries. because it was en route to Philip's final resting place. as a response to rumours that his body had been stolen. In fact. She wanted to return to her husband as soon as possible. She even threatened the bishop with death and torture for keeping her locked up. She travelled by night only and during the day they rested in monasteries. It was guarded by an armed escort and she had ordered that females were to be kept at a distance. Meanwhile. pregnant again. stayed constantly at his bedside and cared for him. In disgust Philip ordered the girls dismissed and had Juana confined to her room. but after little Ferdinand's birth in March 1503.possible. too. devised by her Moorish serving maids. She fought off all efforts to protect her against the bitter wind. She had to be removed from the vault with force. Eventually. Thus. When the city gate closed before her. On a cold November night Juana fled. When Burgos was struck by a contagious disease. Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand had to let their daughter go. because hostilities had broken out between Spain and France. back in Flanders. fearing Philip's influence. may have wondered if her ambitious. When she learned of it. In September Philip began suffering from chills and a fever. From then on Juana wore only black. who reacted furiously. but during a storm they found safety in English waters and paid a visit to the English Court and Juana's sister. Philip's coffin was temporarily buried in a monastery near Burgos. Juana grew more frenzied than ever. Machiavellian father had poisoned her handsome husband. Juana returned to Flanders in April 1504. Juana did have the coffin opened once and then looked at her husband's remains. Juana began kissing its feet.

then 10 years old. because Juana was clearly a victim of the power-hungry men around her. Shut away in the castle of Tordesillas again. When Charles V was informed of his mother's death on April 13. Valencia and the Balearics. She let Catalina sleep in an alcove that could be reached only by crossing Juana's own room. When she received word that her father had returned from Naples. Once more. died early 1516 without further surviving issue. Catalonia. he retired to prepare for his own departure from life. Mistrustful as always. left her with his mother3. In September rebels seized the town of Tordesillas and with it Juana la Loca. Their descriptions of her "hysterical tantrums" can easily be explained by her passionate nature and the ruthless way she was treated by her loved ones. had to be left outside her door. Juana survived her husband by half a century.When Juana was seized with labour pains on her gloomy procession in January 1507. King Ferdinand had Juana shut away under close watch in the castle of Tordesillas. Juana's madness is disputed. Again she had the coffin opened to gaze at the smelling remains of her once handsome husband. who wore a sheepskin jacket. It made him advance the date of his abdication. Ferdinand. if Juana had really been a dangerous lunatic. Margaret of Austria. She thought her husband talked to her trough the prattling of her little daughter. After all those centuries. she refused to take shelter in a nunnery. Surely. After four months she started out again with the coffin. In a tower overlooking the river Duero. because she refused to eat if anyone were there to witness it. Juana lived with her daughter Catalina. Early 1520. Catalina. but he. and strange behaviour was a distinct feature of her in-breed descendants. The child's only amusement was to look out of a window. and she guarded her jealously. He wrote to their guardian: "It seems to me that the best and most suitable thing for you to do is to make sure that no person speaks with Her Majesty. the coffin was placed in a nearby church before the altar and Juana jealously ordered that women were forbidden to come near it. She was "released" by a sudden counter attack in December. Juana continued to ponder over their proposals and refused to sign anything. Isabella and Mary. When suddenly a storm broke. husband. 1555 at the age of 75. Juana clung desperately to her youngest daughter as a last relic of her adored husband. One wonders if they would have left her youngest daughter with her. After his return. Charles V paid another visit to his mother. and son all wanted to rule Castile for her. keeping the coffin with her. it is impossible to determine if Juana merely suffered from a mild personality disorder or that she was actually mad. but those symptoms are not factual proof of madness. he took over the regency in her name. Two female servants kept them company. Meanwhile. Crippled with gout. for no good could come of it. Juana's son Charles came to Spain to claim his inheritance and took his sister Eleonor with him. King of Aragon. Charles." Juana's food. First they went to visit their mother in Tordesillas. Isabel of Portugal. usually just bread and cheese. . Juana's elder children. On the other hand. she refused the help of midwives and gave birth alone to a daughter. she was moody. the tiding induced his melancholy and thoughts of death. she opened the coffin a fourth time before she set out to meet her father. irresolute and extremely jealous. melancholic. Charles was distressed by the sorry sight of his sister. hot-tempered. She stopped in a little village and stayed there for some more months. Eleonor. she much resembled her mad maternal grandmother. too. but no one dared to take the little Princess away from her hysterical mother. Her father. had been left behind in The Netherlands and found a new mother in Philip's sister.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful