Joanna of Castile

Joanna of Castile

Infobox Spanish Royalty|monarch
name =Joanna
title =Queen of Castille, León, Aragon, Valencia, Majorca, and Sicily; Countess of Barcelona

spouse =Philip I
spouse-type = Spouse
succession = Queen of Castile and León
reign = 26 November 150412 April 1555
regent = Philip I
Charles I
reg-type = Co-sovereign
predecessor =Isabella I & Ferdinand V
successor =Charles I
succession1 = Queen of Aragon
reign1 = 23 January 1516 - 12 April 1555
regent1 = Charles I
reg-type = Co-sovereign
successor1 = Charles I
issue =Eleanor, Queen of France
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Isabella, Queen of Denmark
Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
Mary, Queen of Bohemia
Catherine, Queen of Portugal
royal house =House of Trastámara
House of Habsburg
father =Ferdinand II of Aragon
mother =Isabella I of Castile
date of birth =Birth date|1479|11|6|df=yes
place of birth =Toledo, Spain
date of death =Death date and age|1555|4|12|1479|11|6|df=yes
place of death =Tordesillas, Spain
place of burial =Capilla Real, Granada, Spain|

Joanna ( _es. Juana I de Castilla) (November 6, 1479 – April 12, 1555), called Joanna the Mad ("Juana La Loca"), was Queen regnant of Castile and Aragon jointly with her son the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V [ [ "Fueros, observancias y actos de corte del Reino de Aragón"; Santiago Penén y Debesa, Pascual Savall y Dronda, Miguel Clemente (1866)] , [ 64] ] . She was the second daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon, and Isabella of Castile, and was born at Toledo.

The Castilian version of her name was Juana. In Germanic countries, she is usually known by the Latin form of her name, "Joanna". Other English equivalents of the name include "Jane" and "Joan".

Marrying the Duke of Burgundy

In 1496 at Lier, just north of Brussels, Joanna was married to the Archduke Philip the Handsome, son of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. Between 1498 and 1507 she gave birth to six children, two emperors and four queens. Arguably the most important one was Charles V in 1500.

Princess of Asturias

The death of her only brother John, Prince of Asturias, her eldest sister Isabella of Asturias, Queen of Portugal, and then of the latter's infant son Miguel, Prince of Asturias, made Joanna the heiress of the Spanish kingdoms. Her only living siblings were Maria of Aragon and Catherine of Aragon, three and six years younger than Joanna. In 1502 the Castilian "Cortes" of Toro [ [ "Cortes de los antiguos reinos de León y de Castilla"; Manuel Colmeiro (1883)] , [ Capítulo XXII] ] [ [ Estudio documental de la moneda castellana de Juana la Loca fabricada en los Países Bajos (1505-1506); José María de Francisco Olmos] , page 303] recognized Joanna as legitimate heiress to the Castilian throne, and Philip as her legitimate consort. She was then named Princess of Asturias, the title traditionally given to the heir of Castile. [ [ "Juana 'the Mad's' Signature", Bethany Aram, from "Sixteenth Century Journal"] ] . Also, in 1502, the Aragonese "Cortes" gathered in Saragossa, alleged oath to Joanna as heiress, but the Archbishop of Saragossa expressed firmly that this oath could not establish jurisprudence, that is to say, without modifying the right of the succession, but by virtue of a formal agreement between the "Cortes" and the King. [ [ Estudio documental de la moneda castellana de Carlos I fabricada en los Países Bajos (1517); José María de Francisco Olmos] , page 137] [ [ Estudio documental de la moneda castellana de Juana la Loca fabricada en los Países Bajos (1505-1506); José María de Francisco Olmos] , page 299]

Joanna was said to pine day and night for her husband while he was overseas, and when she eventually joined Philip in Flanders, her passionate jealousy and constant suspicion of him made her notorious, if not necessarily beloved, in the local court.

Queen of Castile

Struggle for the crown

Upon the death of Isabella of Castile in November 1504, Joanna became Queen regnant of Castile, and her husband "de jure uxoris" King; Joanna's father, Ferdinand, lost his title of 'King of Castile', although his wife's will permitted him to govern the country in Joanna's absence, or, if Joanna was unwilling to rule it herself, until Charles reached the age of 20. Ferdinand refused to accept this: he minted Castilian coins in the name of "Ferdinand and Juana, King and Queen of Castile, Léon and Aragon", and in early 1505 persuaded the Cortes that Joanna's " such that the said Queen Doña Juana our Lady cannot govern"; the Cortes then appointed Ferdinand as Joanna's guardian, and as administrator and governor of the kingdom. However, Philip the Handsome was unwilling to accept any threat to his own chances of ruling Castile, and this way, he also coined coins in name of "Philip and Joanna, King and Queen of Castile, Léon and Archdukes of Austria, etc". [ [ Estudio documental de la moneda castellana de Juana la Loca fabricada en los Países Bajos (1505-1506); José María de Francisco Olmos] , page 315] In response Ferdinand embarked upon a pro-French policy, marrying Germaine de Foix, the niece of Louis XII of France (and his own great-niece), in the hope that she would produce a son to inherit Aragon, and perhaps Castile. [ Elliott, JH, "Imperial Spain", p.138; [ "Juana 'the Mad's' Signature", Bethany Aram, from "Sixteenth Century Journal"] ]

Ferdinand's remarriage merely strengthened support for Philip and Joanna in Castile, and in late 1505 the pair decided to travel to Castile. Leaving Flanders on 10 January 1506, their ships were wrecked on the English coast and the couple became guests of Henry VII at Windsor Castle. They were only able to leave on 21 April, by which time civil war was looming in Castile: Philip apparently considered landing in Andalusia and summoning the nobles to take up arms against Ferdinand. Instead, he and Joanna landed at Coruña on 26 April, upon which the Castilian nobility abandoned Ferdinand "en masse". Ferdinand then met with Philip at Villafafila on 20 June 1506, and handed over the government of Castile to his "most beloved children", promising to retire to Aragon. Philip and Ferdinand then signed a second treaty, agreeing that Joanna's mental instability made her incapable of rule, and promising to exclude her from government. Ferdinand then proceeded to repudiate the agreement on the same afternoon, declaring that Joanna should never be deprived of her rights as Queen Proprietress of Castile. A fortnight later, having come to no fresh agreement with Philip, and thus effectively retaining his right to interfere if he considered his daughter's rights to be infringed, he abandoned Castile, leaving Philip to govern in Joanna's stead. [Elliott, JH, "Imperial Spain", p.139]

Husband's death

By virtue of the agreement of Villafáfila, the procurators of "Cortes" met in Valladolid on 9 July. On 12 July [ [ "Cortes de los antiguos reinos de León y de Castilla"; Manuel Colmeiro (1883)] , [ Capítulo XXIII] ] , they swore Philip and Juana together as kings, and their son Charles as their inheritor. [ [ Estudio documental de la moneda castellana de Carlos I fabricada en los Países Bajos (1517); José María de Francisco Olmos] , page 135] This arrangement did not last long. On 25 September 1506 Philip died suddenly of typhus fever in Burgos. Joanna, pregnant with her sixth child, then made attempts to secure her rights to rule alone, in her own name; however, her arrogance and coldness towards important figures of the kingdom, the rumours of her mental instability and the unwillingness of the men around her to accept her rights doomed the endeavour. By 20 December 1506, she had quietly abandoned Burgos, heading for the village of Torquemada. By now, she was being characterised as "lost, without any sense", although her Secretary, Juan Lopez, declared her "more sane than her mother". She refused to trust Spanish women, even going so far as sending for a midwife from Flanders to assist in her delivery, and was characterised as refusing to abandon her dead husband's corpse. Meanwhile, the country fell into disorder. Her heir, Charles, was a six-year old child being raised in his aunt's care in far-off Flanders; her father, Ferdinand, remained in his own dominions, allowing the crisis to reach a head. A regency council under Archbishop Cisneros was set up (against the Queen's orders) but it was unable to manage the growing public disorder; plague and famine devastated the kingdom, with supposedly half the population perishing of one or the other; and the Queen was unable to secure the funds she required to shore up her power. In the face of this, Ferdinand returned to Castile in July 1507: a coincidental remission of the plague and famine quieted the instability, but left an impression that the health of the Kingdom had been restored by the return of Ferdinand. [ Elliott, JH, "Imperial Spain", p.139; [ "Juana 'the Mad's' Signature", Bethany Aram, from "Sixteenth Century Journal"] ]

Father's regency

Ferdinand and Joanna met at Hornillos on 30 July 1507; Ferdinand then constrained her to yield up power to himself. On 17 August she summoned three members of the royal council and ordered them to inform the grandees, in her name, of Ferdinand's return: "That they should go to receive his highness and serve him as [they would] her person and more." She refused to sign the instructions: a last gesture of defiance, and a statement that she did not as Queen regnant endorse the surrender of her own royal power. Nonetheless, she was thereafter Queen only in name, and all documents, though issued in her name, were signed with Ferdinand's signature, "I the King". He would be named administrator of the kingdom by the Cortes of Castile in 1510, although he would entrust the government mainly to Cisneros. Joanna he would eventually confine in Tordesillas, near Valladolid, in February 1509, after having dismissed all of her faithful servants and appointing a small retinue faithful to him alone. [ [ "Juana 'the Mad's' Signature", Bethany Aram, from "Sixteenth Century Journal"] ] By this time, she would appear to have been almost completely mad: some accounts claim that she took her husband's corpse with her to Tordesillas, to keep it close to her. [ Elliott, JH, "Imperial Spain", p.139]

Co-reign with son

Ferdinand would die in 1516, an embittered man: his second wife, Germaine, had failed to provide him with a male heir, leaving his daughter as his heiress. Ferdinand resented that Aragon and - in theory on the death of Joanna, in reality upon his own death - Castile would pass to this foreign grandchild, to whom he had transferred his hatred of Philip; instead, he nurtured hopes that his younger grandson and namesake, Ferdinand, who had been born and raised in Spain, could succeed, even naming Ferdinand as his heir in his will before being persuaded to revoke it and name Charles as his heir instead. When he died, Aragon and its associated crowns passed to Joanna, [ [ Estudio documental de la moneda castellana de Carlos I fabricada en los Países Bajos (1517); José María de Francisco Olmos] , page 138] being governed in his absence by Ferdinand's bastard son, Alonso de Aragon. Castile, still nominally subject to Joanna, continued to be governed by Cisneros due to the Queen's continuing insanity, although a group of nobles, led by the Duke of Infantado, attempted to proclaim the Infante Ferdinand as King of Castile. The attempt failed, and in October 1517, Charles arrived in Asturias. On 4 November, he and his sister Eleanor met Joanna at Tordesillas – there they secured from her the necessary authorization to allow Charles to rule as her co-King in Castile. Despite her acquiescence to his wishes, her imprisonment would continue; although the Castilian Cortes, meeting in Valladolid, would spite Charles by addressing him only as "Su Alteza" ("Your Highness") and reserving "Majestad" ("Majesty") for Joanna [ [ Estudio documental de la moneda castellana de Carlos I fabricada en los Países Bajos (1517); José María de Francisco Olmos] , page 144] , no-one seriously considered rule by Joanna a real proposition. [Elliott, JH, "Imperial Spain", pp.143-146]

In 1520, the Revolt of the Comuneros against Charles and perceived foreign influence over Castile broke out. The rebel leaders demanded that Castile be governed in accordance with the supposed practices of the Catholic Kings; in an attempt to legitimise their rebellion, the rebels turned to Joanna. As theoretical sovereign monarch, if she gave written approval of the rebellion, it would be legalised and would triumph. In an attempt to prevent this, Don Antonia de Rojas, Bishop of Mallorca, led a delegation of royal councilors to Tordesillas, asking her to sign a document denouncing the Comuneros; she demurred, requesting that he present her specific provisions. Before this could be done, the Comuneros in turn stormed the city (which had been left practically undefended) and requested her support (prompting Adrian of Utrecht, the regent appointed by Charles, to declare that the emperor would lose Castile if she did so). Persuaded by Ochoa de Landa and her confessor, Fray Juan de Avila, she showed sympathy to the comuneros, but refused to sign: to do so, she was persuaded, would cause irreparable damage to her kingdom and to her son's rights. Charles repaid her loyalty to him when he quelled the uprising, having her locked up for the rest of her life in a windowless room in the castle of Tordesillas. There, her condition degenerated further. She was convinced that the ladies of the household were plotting to kill her, and by willful preference was hungry and dirty. Her courtiers reported consistent difficulty getting her to eat, sleep, or change her clothes. [cite book |last=Seaver |first=Henry Latimer |title=The Great Revolt in Castile: A study of the Comunero movement of 1520-1521 |origyear=1928 |year=1966 |publisher=Octagon Books |location=New York |pages=359 |ref=Sea28 ] She died on Good Friday, April 12, 1555 at age 75. [ [ "Juana 'the Mad's' Signature", Bethany Aram, from "Sixteenth Century Journal"] ]


Most historians believe she suffered from schizophrenia and she was kept locked away and imprisoned. However, there is debate about her condition considering her symptoms were only apparent when she was being controlled or confined. Some historianswho argue she suffered from either manic depression or clinical depression, worsened by her situation and the treatment she received from her husband and father, both of whom wanted her out of the way in order to assume rulership for themselves. Needed to legitimize the claims of her father and son to the throne, Joanna only nominally remained Queen regnant of Castile until her death.

She is entombed in the Capilla Real of Granada, alongside her parents, her husband, and her nephew Miguel.

Ancestry and descent



See also: Descendants of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon

Joanna in literature, art, music, and film

The figure of Queen Joanna attracted authors, composers, and artists of the romanticist movement, due to her characteristics of unrequited love, obsessive jealousy, and undying fidelity. Many later authors have followed this trend of portraying Joanna as a lovesick, and later griefstricken, woman, preferring to focus on her love for her husband than on her mental illness. An incomplete list of these works follows:
*"Felipe el Hermoso" (1845) — Eusebio Asquerino and Gregorio Romero. A play in four acts.
*"La Locura de Amor" (1855) — Manuel Tamayo y Baus. Play
*"Doña Juana la Loca" (late 19th Cent.) — Emilio Serrano. Opera.
*"Juana la Loca" (1877) — Francisco Pradilla. Painting (shown above). Currently in the Prado museum of Madrid, Spain.
*"Locura de amor" (1948) — Juan de Orduña. Film.
*"La Loca" (1979) — Gian Carlo Menotti. Opera.
*"Juana la Loca" (2001) — directed by Vicente Aranda and starring Pilar Lopez de Ayala as Joanna, was nominated for 12 Goya Awards, and was released in the US as "Mad Love". Based on "La Locura de Amor" by Manuel Tamayo y Baus.
*"El Pergamino de la Seducción" (2005) — Gioconda Belli. Novel in Spanish.
* " The Last Queen " (2007) — C.W. Gortner. Novel in English and Spanish


*W. H. Prescott, "Hist. of Ferdinand and Isabella" (1854)
*Rosier, "Johanna die Wahnsinnige" (Vienna, 1890)
*H. Tighe, "A Queen of Unrest" (1907).
*R. Villa, "La Reina doña Juana la Loca" (Madrid, 1892)
*Bethany Aram, "Juana the Mad: Sovereignty and Dynasty in Renaissance Europe" (2005)



*Miller T: "The Castles and the Crown". Coward-McCann, New York, 1963
*Aram, Bethany, "Juana "the Mad's" Signature: The Problem of Invoking Royal Authority, 1505- 1507", "Sixteenth Century Journal"
*Elliott, J.H., "Imperial Spain, 1469-1716"
*de Francisco Olmos, José María: [ Estudio documental de la moneda castellana de Juana la Loca fabricada en los Países Bajos (1505-1506)] , "Revista General de Información y Documentación 2002, vol 12, núm.2 (Universidad complutense de Madrid)".
*de Francisco Olmos, José María: [ Estudio documental de la moneda castellana de Carlos I fabricada en los Países Bajos (1517); "Revista General de Información y Documentación 2003, vol 13, núm.2 (Universidad complutense de Madrid)] ".

External links

* [ Biography of Juana the Mad of Castile (1479–1555)]
* [ Juana of Castile at Find-A-Grave]

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