philip i of castile


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”


Top 10 Cruel Monarchs (or with Black legend)


25 September 1506

The death of Philip the Handsome

In September 1506, Queen Juana and King Philip traveled to the city of Burgos, where, within days, Philip became violently ill, allegedly because he overindulged in various banquets and festivities. Inevitably, because everything happened so swiftly, rumors of poison surfaced. In fact, his high temperature and fever give little clue as to what was wrong with him; in the days before antibiotics, the slightest infection could become life-threatening in a matter of hours. And sickness was rampant in Castile that autumn.  

Showing no signs of instability and brushing aside concern for her own health— Juana was five months pregnant at the time — she nursed him selflessly, never leaving his side, doing all she possibly could to save him, and always believing that he would recover. It was to no avail. Six days later, on  September 25, Philip died. He was just twenty-eight years old. On the day before Philip’s death, Cardinal Cisneros set himself up as the leader of a Regency Council and requested King Fernando to return to Castile. Juana and her lands, he proclaimed, needed her father. 

King Philip’s corpse was embalmed and taken from the palace of the Constables of Castile, popularly known as Casa del Cordón (The house of the cord), to the Monastery of Cartuja of Miraflores in Burgos. The heart was sent for burial beside his mother’s remains in Bruges. In his will Philip had asked, should he die in Spain, to be buried beside Queen Isabel I of Castile in Granada. He requested sixty thousand high and low masses, with two masses daily at his place of interment - a requiem mass ‘for my soul’ and a low mass ‘for myself and my predecessors’. He ‘desired and ordened’ that Juana be given her dower, or what she was owed by the marriage settlement.

Juana seems to have followed the same six-week Franco-Burgundian mourning protocol as for her mother. With Philip a lifeless corpse, her father safely in Italy, her six-year-old son and heir, Charles, being raised in his aunt’s care in northern European Flanders, her chance to take charge as Castile’s “proprietary ruler” had arrived. The evidence proves that, despite apparent inactivity between September and December, Juana received in audience, argued, weighed options and formed the embryo not only of a royal household but a court in the traditional sense.

On December 18, Juana canceled all the grants and offices with which Philip had shamelessly rewarded his followers, all of which, she said, had been handed out without her permission and to the detriment of both herself and of the state. Now she was ready to sign whatever documents were necessary for the government of her realms. Next, she tried to gather men around her to re-form a council similar to that of her mother, a council that reported to her and acted only upon her authority. Following the death of Philip, Juana clung to two political ambitions: to avoid a second marriage and to secure the inheritance of her offspring, particularly that of her eldest son in Castile.

Then, just before Christmas and in the depths of a bitterly cold winter, Juana made what proved to be a fateful move, one that would fuel a myth that has lasted to the present day. She ordered that Philip’s coffin should be escorted in a slow and solemn procession from the Monastery of Miraflores to Granada so that he could rest close to Queen Isabel. Philip had wanted that, and Juana wanted it for him. Thus it was that, accompanied by the prayers of monks, Philip’s candlelit cortège left the confines of the monastery for its last journey. Juana, now eight months pregnant, was at her husband’s side, but she could not go far. Within three days, she had to stop or risk losing her baby. In January 1507, in the town of Torquemada, Juana went into labor. The birth was difficult, but the child lived. Juana named her Catalina, presumably after her own sister, whom Juana had so recently seen in England. Although debilitated and weak, Juana was then itching to resume her interrupted  journey.

The legend started, and the legend spread, that she was a woman driven mad by grief, so distraught that she could not bear to be parted from Philip even by death and therefore would not allow his body to be laid into the pitiless earth at all but wanted it with her forever. It was said that she opened the coffin, that she kissed Philip’s decaying feet, that she allowed no woman except herself anywhere near the corpse. 

Pedro Mártir, the chronicler who was with Juana on her gruesome journey with Philip’s remains and was not a known supporter of the queen, made no mention of the alleged coffin-opening at all. In the event that Juana had opened the coffin, a possible cause might have been to be certain that the corpse was indeed Philip’s. He had wanted his heart taken back to Burgundy. Knowing his followers as she did, Juana might have steeled herself to check that they had not taken the entire cadaver. As for the exclusion of women from the immediate vicinity of Philip’s casket, that was in accordance with the monks’ rules; the only women allowed on monastic premises were royal. 

King Fernando of Aragon had decided to return to Spain and take up the burden of ruling Castile. Writing to his daughter Catalina, he vowed:

I am determined, with the help of God, to go to Castile during this spring, because the Queen, my daughter and your sister, continually sends and begs me very pressingly to do so, and all write to me that, after God, there is no other means to preserve those kingdoms from ruin and destruction except my return to them.… As they beg me very earnestly to go, and as the happiness of the most serene Queen, my daughter and your sister, and of those kingdoms greatly depend upon it, I have decided to give up my own comfort and to undergo all the labour of assisting her and her  kingdoms.

According to some historians, Fernando lied. Despite repeated supplications, Juana never summoned her father to help her govern Castile. It said that Juana could not rule herself because she was too devastated by Philip’s demise to do anything. Fernando returned to Castile in July 1507. His arrival coincided with a remission of the plague and famine, a development which quieted the instability and left an impression that his return had restored the health of the kingdom. 

Fernando and Juana met at Hornillos on 30 July. They first meeting “had given them both equal pleasure,” he enthused. Fernando went on to say that, following a series of discussions, Juana had agreed that he should do whatever he thought  necessary “for the peace and security of the kingdom.” Order, stability, happiness, and trade would revive; he would look after everything. 

On 17 August Juana summoned three members of the royal council and ordered them to inform the grandees, in her name, of her father Fernando’s return to power: “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 issued a statement that she did not, as queen regnant, endorse the surrender of her own royal power. Nonetheless, she was thereafter queen in name only and all documents, though issued in her name, were signed with Fernando’s signature, “I the King”. 

In February 1509 Juana was escorted, with Philip’s body and her toddler daughter, to Tordesillas, a small town on the Duero River, about fifteen miles from Valladolid. Together with her attendants and household officials, all carefully vetted by Fernando, Juana was lodged securely within the castle while Philip’s corpse was entrusted to the nuns at the convent of St. Clare, which nestled beside its walls. Years later, Philip the Handsome was entombed at the Royal Chapel of Granada, where he remains today alongside his wife and his parents-in-law.


Sister queens: the noble, tragic lives of 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.


Plantagenet* Kings and Queens of England

Henry III (1216-1272) and Eleanor of Provence

Edward I (1272-1307) and Eleanor of Castile

Edward II (1307-1327) and Isabella of France

Edward III (1327-1377) and Philippa of Hainault

Richard II (1377-1399) and Anne of Bohemia (1st wife)

*The usage of “Plantagenet” here denotes the non-Angevin English kings of the direct line before it split into the cadet branches of York and Lancaster. Arguably, it could encompass all the kings from Henry II to Richard III.

See The Normans, The Angevins


Reina Juana I de Castilla, de Aragón, de Navarra, de Nápoles y de Sicilia
Regina Ioanna I Castellae, Aragoniae, Navarrae, Neapolis et Siciliae
Königin Johanna I. von Kastilien, von Aragón, von Navarra, von Neapel und von Sizilien
Queen Joanna I of Castile, of Aragon, of Navarre, of Naples and of Sicily
Reine Jeanne I de Castille, d'Aragon, de Navarre, de Naples et de Sicile

Rey Felipe I de Castilla y Duque de Borgoña
Rex Philippus I Castellae et Dux Burgundiae
König Philipp I. von Kastilien und Herzog von Burgund
King Philip I of Castile and Duke of Burgundy
Roi Philippe I de Castille et Duc de Bourgogne

Meester van Affligem, 1500.
Meester van de Magdalenalegende, 1499.


Joanna I of Castile & Philip the Handsome

The crisis of jealousy burst out shortly after Juana’s arrival in Flanders.

Already in July of 1504 Mojica had gone to Castile to inform Isabella and Ferdinand of the grave things that had happened ever since the Princess came back, and which the ambassador did not write about in his letters because they were very delicate and secret. And even though Philip had behaved very well, Juana did not want to see or talk to the Spanish ambassadors anymore.

In August, the Kings wrote to them, complaining about the lack of love between their daughter and son-in-law.

Here are some of the violent scenes that occurred between the spouses, and which were related by the ambassador to Ferdinand and Isabella:

Since the Princess did not want company of anyone else but her slaves, who had become sick due to being overworked, and, in spite of the prohibition on her physicians’s part, Juana continued taking a lot of baths and washing her head. Philip ordered her to dismiss her slaves and use the women whom he had chosen, threatening that he would not come to see her until she complied.

Juana got annoyed, refused to obey, and dismissed the messenger who had informed her, threatening him with death.

The Prince had to come personally to remove the slaves because, besides, the Princess had marked them on their faces; she opposed him and spoke to him insolently. Only when he threatened he would not sleep with her anymore did the Princess agree to dismiss the slaves, although not without punching one of them when she was about to leave.

As soon as Philip abandoned the bedchamber, Juana summoned one of them again, and after another violent scene, the Prince himself left.

Later he wrote to Fuensalida to inform him that he had resolved to lock all of Juana’s doors, except one, because he was afraid she would try to run off to a monastery, and from there to Spain - and that he would not allow any Spaniard to see her and would send her slaves and almoner back to Spain.

The Spanish ambassadors begged him to not do this without thinking it over, but he replied he was not going to cede as far as the slaves were concerned.

The ambassadors went to see the Princess, and to convince her she should resolve that problem. Juana responded harshly that they should not speak to her about anything, except what her parents told them to.

Philip ordered the children to be brought and begged Juana sweetly to be reasonable, but it did not have any effect on her and she insisted on having her slaves back.

Then, annoyed, Philip told her she was going to be locked away, and no Spaniard would be able to see her. She locked herself up in her rooms, refused to eat, and asked Philip to come. He, however, refused to go, in spite of the ambassadors’s pleas.

He returned at night, sick and with one of his feet hurt. He retired to a chamber that was situated below the one in which his wife resided.

When Juana sensed he was there, she started hitting the floor with a stick or stone, calling him. She spent the entire night doing this, saying from time to time:

‘Answer me, I want to know if you are there…’

And, at the same time, she began scratching the floorboards with a knife.

The next day she said if they wanted her to take food, then her children and ladies should be brought to her. Philip became desperate, had all the doors opened for her, and said she could go wherever she wanted. He was going to Flanders, to not to have to see her anymore until she complied with his wishes.

Shortly afterwards, the Princess wrote him a long letter, apparently very reasonable, given that, according to Fuensalida, Philip believed he would find her obedient at his return. In the end, in the month of November, the Prince sent the slaves, and some other of Juana’s servants, back to Spain. He believed that after separating them from Juana, they would live in greater harmony.

Although the ambassador wrote to King Ferdinand:

‘The Prince would like to do with the Princess all that we tell him on your behalf, or even more, because we have always found him ready to please her, if she wanted, but she does not want to let him (please herself) or to do what she ought to… It is a pity to see him when he speaks of the Princess…’

The ambassador firmly believed their relationship was such, that if God did not miraculously take Juana’s obsession (over her husband) away, and did not give Philip a different character, it would be impossible for them to live in harmony, and with such lack of it at home, how would they be able to rule well over so many kingdoms?


Correspondencia de Gutierre Gomez de Fuensalida, embajador en Alemania, Flandes é Inglaterra (1496-1509), el duque de Berwick y de Alba, conde de Siruela, pp. 32-34

dedicated to @thenameismg and @everythingieverloved - thank you for proofreading it for me and fixing my mistakes!


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

♛ Poster of the film “La corona partida”  ♛

After the death of Isabel everyone wants to demonstrate that Juana, the rightful heiress, is crazy.


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)

Reina Juana I de Castilla, de Aragón, de Navarra, de Nápoles y de Sicilia
Regina Ioanna I Castellae, Aragoniae, Navarrae, Neapolis et Siciliae
Königin Johanna I. von Kastilien, von Aragón, von Navarra, von Neapel und von Sizilien
Queen Joanna I of Castile, of Aragon, of Navarre, of Naples and of Sicily
Reine Jeanne I de Castille, d'Aragon, de Navarre, de Naples et de Sicile

Rey Felipe I de Castilla y Duque de Borgoña
Rex Philippus I Castellae et Dux Burgundiae
König Philipp I. von Kastilien und Herzog von Burgund
King Philip I of Castile and Duke of Burgundy
Roi Philippe I de Castille et Duc de Bourgogne

Meester van Affligem