joanna of austria


Passion ran in the family: The Catholic Monarchs and their children

Isabel & Fernando:

Ferdinand’s letters are passionate; ‘being in hell I would suffer less than I do now, and so many times I wish myself to die…I don’t know why Our Lord gave me so much good and so little time to enjoy it…’ Ferdinand’s letters were not rhetorical or insincere. They were a flushy passion, in a colour of crimson, roused by the separation, and exhaustion, caused by the battle over the succession in the kingdom. The remedy was to come back to live together; ‘because in getting together we help each other more than anything in life, and now is the time that all our power should be jointly exerted’.

Tarsicio de Azcona, “Isabel La Católica: Vida y reinado”

Isabel was eighteen, auburn haired and comely, her blue-green eyes steady. From all indications she was tall and stately, her bearing regal. (Her surviving portraits show only a much older and ill queen). She saw enter the room a gallant youth, eyes sparkling, taut with energy, a cousin, and a very welcome one. She and he talked for two hours. ‘The presence of the Archbishop repressed the amorous impulses of the lovers,’ according to Palencia, ‘though they soon enjoyed the licit joys of matrimony.’ By all accounts, theirs was an instant attraction, and, remarkably, it proved a passionate and long-lasting love.

Peggy K. Liss, „Isabel the Queen: Life and Times”

Palencia claimed that the young couple, aged eighteen and seventeen, were so smitten with each other that only the presence of the archbishop during their two-hour meeting prevented them from misbehaving.

 Giles Tremlett, „Isabella of Castile: Europe’s First Great Queen”

Love at firts sight? Possibly. And it is an issue that should be taken into consideration, given the political consequences of perfect assembling between the two heirs of the greatest crowns of Spain, but that we can not be sure of. 

Manuel Fernández Álvarez, „Isabel la Católica”

Isabel & Alfonso:

The infanta Isabel was twenty and had become her mother’s inseparable companion. As a child she had been placed in the care of Teresa Enríquez, the wife of Gutierre de Cárdenas, a woman renowned for her devotion and piety. Intelligent and dutiful, she had been hostage to the Cabreras and then to the peace between Castile and Portugal. She knew Afonso well, for both had lived for over three years in the care of her great-aunt, Beatriz.

 Peggy K. Liss, „Isabel the Queen: Life and Times”

Although this was a political union, they fell passionately in love, lust or both. She was twenty, he was just fifteen, and their marriage ended dramatically after just eight months with Afonso’s sudden death in July 1491. Like the tragic heroines of the first Spanish sentimental novels that the new printing presses in Burgos and other cities were beginning to produce – including the popular Treatise on the Loves of Arnalte and Lucenda, which was dedicated to the queen’s ladies, who must have been the novels’ most avid readers – the young Isabella reacted dramatically. She cut off her magnificent reddish-blonde hair and dressed in the habit of a Poor Clare nun. ‘She does not want to know another man,’ reported Peter Martyr d’Anghiera.

Giles Tremlett, „Isabella of Castile: Europe’s First Great Queen

Juana & Philip

Finally, at Lier, on 12 October 1496, the first meeting took place. And then, the unexpected happened; the stroke of passion, the uncontrollable sexual fury. ‘At first sight - according to German historian, Ludwig Pfandl - the breeding instinct of the two youngsters (she was 16 and he 18 years old) flared up, with such ardor that they did not wait for the ceremony, that was to take place two days later, but summoned the first priest they could find, so he would give them his blessing, and they could consummate the marriage the same evening.’

Manuel Fernández Álvarez, “Juana La Loca: La Cautiva de Tordesillas”

Juan & Margaret:

The wedding took place on April 2, although it was Lententime. ‘Our prince,’ Mártir explains, ‘burning with love, got his parents to dispense with protocol in order to get to the desired embraces.’ There was one somber note, a knight died jousting. Mártir, at his most prescient, worried that it was a portent of unhappiness to come. In a letter of June 13 he described Margaret: ‘if you saw her, you would think you were contemplating Venus herself.’ Yet he trembled to think that some day that beauty might lead to unhappiness and the loss of Spain. For the prince, carried away with love of her, was pale and thin and ‘bore himself sadly.’ The doctors and the king were counseling the queen that some of the time the two should be separated, ‘for too frequent copulation constitutes a danger to the Prince.’

Peggy K. Liss, „Isabel the Queen: Life and Times”

María & Manuel:

Isabel soon heard that Maria’s marriage was a happy one, Manuel solicitous and giving his bride magnificent presents, María beaming and, reassuringly, spending much time with her sagacious great-aunt, Beatriz of Braganza. María, least promising of Isabel’s children, proved the happiest, and assuredly the most fertile, raising ten children of her own.

 Peggy K. Liss, „Isabel the Queen: Life and Times”

Katherine & Henry:

Catalina wrote to her father: ‘Our English kingdoms enjoy peace and the people love us, as my husband and I love one another.’

 Peggy K. Liss, „Isabel the Queen: Life and Times”

Catherine was expected to play her part in the king’s pleasures. She and her husband were quite different in character. Where he was all fun-loving ebullience, she was good-humouredly serious. Fortunately she also shared many of his interests. From hunting to music, from their outwardly pious religious orthodoxy to their views on foreign affairs, they were more than compatible. Both were well read and well educated by humanist teachers. She could sew his shirts, but also discuss how to make war on France. He could spend all day hunting in the saddle. She was the daughter of a woman who employed 450 staff to keep her hunting estates ready and whose father took 120 falconers out on a single day’s hunt. Her father even ignored those who worried about his health, preferring an early grave with hunting to a dull old age without it. Catherine herself liked to hunt with hawks – something that Henry also eventually came to enjoy.
The newly-weds matched, too, in bed. Henry had none of the sexual problems attributed to his brother – at least, not yet. The court went to bed late, often after midnight.

 Giles Tremlett,  „Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen”


positive lady characters meme: isabel (and cre) + mothers and daughters (requested by @rocketgirls)


Mother & Son.

Portrait of Joanna of Austria and her son D. Sebastian, King of Portugal. Joanna gave birth to Sebastian a couple of weeks after her husband, Prince John, died . She returned to Spain three months after her son’s birth, summoned by her brother King Felipe II of Spain, since she had no longer more duties at the Portuguese court. She served as Felipe’s regent. She  never remarried of saw her son Sebastian again. However she would order many portraits of him so she could see how he looked like. She also written to him.

Sebastian became king of Portugal at the age of three after the death of his grandfather, King D. John II of Portugal. He died in battle at the age of 24. He wasn’t married and had no children. His uncle, the old cardinal D. Henrique, became king, but he died two years later of old age. Sebastian’s uncle, King Felipe II of Spain succeeded the cardinal as king of Portugal and he is known as D. Felipe I. It was the end of Avis dynasty. 


Period dramas + portraits 

1. Catherine Habsburg, Queen Consort of Poland and Great Duchess of Lithuania - Królowa Bona

2. Barbara Radziwiłłówna, Queen Consort of Poland and Great Duchess of Lithuania - Epitafium dla Barbary Radziwiłłówny

3. Philip The Handsone - Juana La Loca

4. Joanna I of Castile - Juana La Loca

5. Henry VIII of England - The Tudors

6. Magaret of Anjou - The White Queen 

7. Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon’s daughters - The Borgias

8. Lucrezia Borgia - Borgia

9. Margaret of Austria - Isabel TVE 

10. Isabella of Portugal - Carlos Rey Emperador


Joanna I of Castile, Philip the Handsome and their offspring:

  • Eleanor (1498-1558)
  • Charles (1500-1558)
  • Isabella (1501-1526)
  • Ferdinand (1503-1564)
  • Mary (1505-1558)
  • Catherine (1507-1578)

royal zodiac signs | C A N C E R
(21 June – 22 July) ♋; ruled by the Moon; element: water; strengths: loyal, strong-willed and caring; the fourth sign of the zodiac


First meeting of Joanna of Castile and her older children in Tordesillas

Charles and Eleanor of Austria, ages seventeen and nineteen, arrived in Spain on 19 September 1517. The two siblings disembarked near Villaviciosa, in the coast of Asturias. Their first objective was to go to Tordesillas. There they faced the intense emotions of reuniting the family with their mother, to known to their 10 year old younger sister, Catherine, and to honor the memory of their father, whose coffin still remained unburied. 

The last time they saw their  mother was when Joanna and Philip had left the Netherlands to take up the throne of Castile upon Queen Isabella’s death. Then, Eleanor had been a little girl of almost eight, her brother two years younger. Now Charles was a king in his own right, and Eleanor about to become a queen. She was to replace Joanna’s sister, Maria, as queen of Portugal.

On a bitterly cold 4 November, a small retinue arrived at Tordesillas. Charles and Eleanor had been told that their mother was crazy, and they arrived to see her living in confinement. Martire reports that Joanna, delighted, wore clean clothes and gave them gifts. The first meeting was brief, formal, played out before many courtiers unknown to the Queen. Within these constraints, Joanna showed warmth, courtesy and dignity, refusing the ‘besamanos’, embracing her children, listening to their rehearsed  speeches, nodding, with her hands in theirs. 

Queen Joanna expressed the natural astonishment of a mother confronted with strangers who are yet her own children: “But… Are you my children? How much you have grown in such a short time!” Then added, “You must be very tired from the long journey, it is good to retire to rest.” Obediently, they did. The interview was over. The two siblings were reunited again with their mother a few other times during the week that they remained with her. Charles’ first meeting with his mother was based upon a lie, one in which he willingly connived, for he did not tell her that he was really there to claim her crowns for himself because her father, King Ferdinand, was dead. 

The abduction of Infanta Catherine


Sister Queens: Katherine of Aragon and Juana Queen of Castile by Julia Fox

Juana I and the struggle for power in an age of transition by Gillian B. Fleming.  The London School of Economics and Political Science. June 2011.

Juana “The Mad” Queen of a World Empire by Linda Andrean. Center for Austrian Studies. October, 2012  



The descendants, and daughter-in-law, of Juana I of Castile as portrayed in ‘Carlos Rey Emperador’ with their actual signatures.

T->B: Joanna I of Castile, Emperor Charles V, Eleanor of Austria, Emperor Ferdinand I, Catherine of Austria, Mary of Austria, Philip II, Isabella of Portugal.

Royals from the English, French, and Spanish Courts