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Queen Juana of Castille Part Two

Updated on February 17, 2011

Juana the Mad

Isabella of Castille died in November 1504 and Juana was proclaimed Queen of Castille and this is when Juana started to become known as Juana the Mad. Was Juana really insane or was it just political maneuvers by the men in her life?

In Queen Juana of Castille Part One we saw a little about Juana’s marriage and how obsessed she was of her husband. Her behavior the last time she had been in Castille had been one of a jealous wife who knew that her husband would be cheating on her and her father had made sure that records of her actions had been made.

Ferdinand (Juana’s own father) tried to take over the Kingdom of Castille by declaring that his daughter was clearly unstable. He called on the Spanish Treasurer from Flanders to speak about Juana’s jealous rages and was named curator of Castille. Philip was outraged as he wanted to be named King. Both the important men in her life applied pressure on Juana to name them as King, but she wanted to rule herself as it was her birthright and she wanted to honor her mother.

As soon as she had given birth to another daughter - Mary - Juana and Philip set sail for Spain in 1506. They made a break in their journey to stay with Juana’s youngest sister Catherine and her husband Henry VIII in England as the seas were treacherous. They then set sail again for Castille. Once there Philip and Ferdinand joined forces to have Juana declared unstable, but who would rule?

Juana the Mad & Philip the Handsome
Juana the Mad & Philip the Handsome

The decision was soon made when Philip became ill and died.   Many people believe that the timing was too coincidental and that Ferdinand may have poisoned him, certainly Juana must have had her own suspicions.   Juana was again pregnant so her hormones would have been running wild and combined with her grief and suspicion of her own father who knows how she must have felt.


Rumors started to circulate that Juana opened her husband’s coffin every night and embraced him, but were these rumors just propaganda spread by her father who still wanted people to believe that Juana was mad and not well enough to rule?


It is known that the coffin was opened just over a month after Philip had died because of rumors that his body had been stolen once that was confirmed Juana had the coffin moved as Philip was to be buried in Granada.   The journey traveled mainly at night because Juana didn’t want any females near the coffin (her jealousy was still alive and well.)   Along the way Juana gave birth to her last child, a daughter Catalina (Catherine), by herself.


While Juana was still in mourning and still may have been suffering some form of post-natal depression as well her father Ferdinand got her to make him her co-Regent.   Ferdinand then proceeded to lock her up in a castle at Tordesillas.   Juana was left there with her youngest daughter and if she hadn’t been mad before then surely that would have driven her over the edge!


Juana’s other children were looked after by her sister-in-law (Philip’s sister) Margaret of Austria.   When Ferdinand died in 1516 instead of releasing Juana from the castle her son Charles kept her imprisoned and took over from his grandfather as King.   Rebels did free Juana at one stage, but she chose to stay at the castle, maybe after so long of being imprisoned she didn’t know what else to do.   There was a history of mental illness in her family so it could be that circumstances (betrayals, grief etc) plus DNA had really caused her to become mad.


In 1525 Juana’s youngest daughter Catalina was taken from her room at the castle in Tordesillas and was married off to Juan III of Portugal this is believed to have sent Juana into a deep depression.   Juana was to die still imprisoned in the castle at Tordesillas in 1555 at the age of 76.   Juana, Queen of Castille was buried next to her husband and across from both of her parents in the cathedral at Granada.


The photo of Juana and Philip used on this page can be brought as a Giclee print from AllPosters.


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      9 years ago

      It is very sad, that Queen Juana was not allowed to rule properly. I am sure she would have made a fine Queen.


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