This is a new series of blogs about famous people in Spanish history and contemporary life.
Juana la Loca 1479 – 1555
Her name means Joan (or Jane) the Madwoman and the poor lady was indeed very unstable, but she had a pretty terrible time of it even by the standards of the day, and some people have called her madness into question.
She was the third child of the couple known as “The Catholic Kings” who united the kingdoms of Castille and Aragon, and so was destined from birth to be a pawn in the European marriage game of contemporary monarchs.
Despite her strict religious upbringing, Juana showed early signs of independent thought and lack of devotion and at the age of 17 she was married off to Felipe the Handsome of Austria and duly dispatched to her new distant home.
Juana had the misfortune of falling passionately in love with her husband, something that was not required or desirable in a queen. She developed a pathological jealousy of her husband’s unfaithfulness. She spied on him and confronted his lovers whilst continuing to refuse the religious sacraments, much to her mother’s alarm.
As a result of the deaths of her elder siblings Juana eventually became heir to the Spanish throne, but this was passed over to her husband. In 1509 Juana was locked in a convent in Tordesillas as a madwoman, where she spent the remaining 46 years of her life. Of course, her reclusion and madness were very convenient for her son Carlos who came to the throne in 1516.