27 January 2011
Juana the Mad: truly mad or a tragic victim?
Juana was about as unlucky in love and life as a woman could be. To date, Juana remains one of the most tragically misunderstood figures of her time.
Born in Toledo, capital of the Kingdom of Castile , she was the third daughter of Isabella 1 of Castile, and Ferdinand II of Aragon, from the House of Trastamara. Juana showed great promise as a child, and actually mastered all of the Iberian Romance languages, as well as being fluent in both French and Latin. Juana was considered exceptionally attractive as a child. Though nearly always portrayed on film by women with olive features, Juana had the same coloring as her mother, and sister Catherine of Aragon, with strawberry blonde hair and pale blue eyes, of fair complexion. Though Juana was not expected to reign, she gave every impression of having a bright future. No one could have predicted the profound sadness and instability that would plague Juana later.
1496 was a year Juana would always remember, as she was betrothed to Phillip the Handsome, in Flanders. The two attractive youths were instantly smitten. However, Joanna's sublime feeling would be fleeting, due to Phillip's infidelities, and extreme political pressures placed upon the young couple. The concept of marital fidelity was much lauded in this age, but for male monarchs was hardly a realistic one. Though the knowledge that one's husband is cheating is, and has always been painful for a woman, Juana's heartache would come to define her. The unhappy young wife grew obsessed with her husband, and his mistresses. Sick with jealously and depression, Juana grew increasingly unstable. Others would take advantage Juana's obvious vulnerability, and when her husband died on 25, September 1506, it was a devastating blow from which she would never recover from. Phillip had been only 28 years old at the time of his death. Circumstances surrounding the death were both mysterious and disturbing, adding to Juana's misery.
Juana's life eventually deteriorated to the extent that her own son virtually imprisoned her. Isolated and cast aside, Juana was left with little more than her memories.