After Isabella’s death, it was rumoured Ferdinand intended to marry Juana la Beltraneja, Isabella I of Castile’s niece, whom she and Ferdinand had defeated in a civil war and put into a nunnery. According to this rumour, Ferdinand was to use Henry IV of Castile’s testament, that had been found in Portugal, shortly before Isabella’s death, and according to which, Juana had been delcared the rightful heir to the throne of her father. There exist two versions about what really happened with this document. One says Ferdinand had it burned, so Isabella could die in peace, other that members of the Royal Council got hold of it.
According to Jerónimo Zurita, it was not testament but other documents that confirmed Henry IV’s ability to have sexual intercourse, because if the said testament had existed, being stored in Portugal, Juana’s uncle, Alfonso V, would have published it to declare his wife and niece the rightful Queen of Castile.
In Flanders the archdukes [Juana I of Castile and Philip the Handsome] every day worsened the situation. Ferdinand’s ambassador, Fuensalida, wrote to him they were afraid of three things over there: one, that Ferdinand was sworn in as governor and administrator of Castile; other, that he [Ferdinand] was still young enough to get married, and the archdukes could lose the succession; the third, that the king of Portugal [Manuel I] might give Ferdinand:
‘[…] this lady who is in Portugal, and calls herself the Queen of Castile, whom the King [Ferdinand] may take for his wife, and with her title, get the kingdom [Castile].’
The speculations grew like snowballs. There is no proof Ferdinand paid attention to the nuptial song that came from Flanders. He energetically dedicated himself to the charge Isabella had entrusted him with, in her testament: administrator and governor of the Crown of Castile.
- Tarsicio de Azcona
This tension between the Grandees and the Crown, dangerous itself, was worsened by the relations between those and the court at Brussels, also hostile towards Ferdinand. The nobles incited the discord between father and son-in-law, in order to gain profit from it, and told Philip many bad things about Ferdinand. They wrote him the Aragonese was negotiating a new match for himself, with Manuel I of Portugal; the marriage to Juana de Castilla, the daughter of Henry IV, to take over Castile. Even though, such insinuation was thoughtless, the archduke believed it to be true, and extremely alarmed, wrote to the King of Portugal, to have him on his side, and to tell him he should not consent to Ferdinand’s alleged request. Given Ferdinand stayed at Toro, which he did not abandon till the end of April 1505, even after the Cortes were concluded, and due to its proximity to Portugal, some historians suspect he indeed tried to negotiate with Juana la Beltraneja. According to Zurita, the Catholic King did not think about remarrying at the time:
‘he certified his wish was far from taking another wife, recalling how much time would have to pass first, for another woman like Isabella to be found, although, there might be many queens of other such kingdom as Castile; even if those two things could be easily found altogether, he always thought the kingdoms of Spain should be united as they were in her time; in order for it to happen, he did not want any more heirs than those that God had given him.’
In effect, Ferdinand the Catholic did not have any intention to remarry at the time. He decided to do it only when Philip the Handsome’s thoughtless politics - allied with the French and the rebellious Castilian nobles - forced him to do so.
- Miguel-Ángel Ochoa Brun
In December 1504 the anxiety had already spread in Flanders, given the proclamation of Ferdinand as governor of Castile, and the rumour spread the widowed king wanted to marry, no one else but Juana, the Excellent Lady, the disinherited daughter of Henry IV of Castile, who lived at the court in Lisbon, in order to take over her rights to the Castilian throne. But it is enough to make a quick reflection to realize how ridiculous such assumption is; what rights, after what had happened since 1465, after the treaties of Alcáçovas-Toledo from 1479, after thirty years of the legal and peaceful reign of Isabella and Ferdinand? Would the king have destroyed his entire political and family work, infringing upon the memory and testament of his wife, to marry Juana, who was 42 years old, and was a solemnly vowed nun, without getting anything, neither any support, and even less as far as the legitimacy was concerned? Who in Castile would have supported him in that enterprise? The whole case is nothing but an unfounded rumour, launched, in order to debilitate the position of the king-governor, and apart from that, was quickly dispelled.
- Miguel Ángel Ladero Quesada
- Jerónimo Zurita, “Historia del rey Don Fernando el Católico. De las empresas, y ligas de Italia”, libro VI, p. 42
- Tarsicio de Azcona, “Isabel la Católica: Vida y reinado”, p. 569
- Miguel-Ángel Ochoa Brun, “Castilla contra la unidad”, p. 13-14
- Miguel Ángel Ladero Quesada, “Los últimos años de Fernando el Católico 1505-1517″, p. 80-81
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