Juana of Castile: History and Myth of the Mad Queen

Juana of Castile: History and Myth of the Mad Queen

Juana of Castile: History and Myth of the Mad Queen

Juana of Castile: History and Myth of the Mad Queen


After dozens of historical monographs, biographies, and even postmortem clinical studies, Queen Juana of Castile continues to be an enigmatic figure. Juana of Castile analyzes modern reinventions of Juana in literature and the other arts. The essays, most of which appear here for the first time, focus on the historical revisionism of recent approaches to this figure. This history of the Mad Queen continues to generate new creative works, new stories that maintain a constant dialogue with the enormous bibliography and iconography that exists and continues to expand around her memory. Focusing on the literary, pictorial, operatic, and screen representations of Queen Juana, this is the first interdisciplinary book that looks at both sides of the story - history and myth, fact and fiction - shaping the image of this much-maligned Spanish queen.


María Asunción Gómez, Santiago Juan-Navarro, and Phyllis Zatlin

JUANA OF CASTILE (1479–1555), KNOWN POPULARLY AS JUANA LA LOCA (Juana the Mad), is one of the most fascinating figures of Renaissance Spain and continues to occupy a realm half way between history and myth. Although Juana was the third offspring of the Catholic Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, the deaths of all those relatives who preceded her in line for the throne changed her destiny, making her the heir to a vast empire. However, what could have been a glorious political future was thwarted when she was declared unfit to govern. Her husband, the Archduke Philip of Flanders, otherwise known as Philip the Handsome, her father, and even her son, Emperor Charles V, managed to manipulate Juana and keep her captive from 1509 to 1555 in the castle of Tordesillas, where she endured almost a half-century of loneliness and well-documented physical and psychological abuse. She was a queen who never reigned, but if she had, the history of Spain might have been completely different.

Most modern historians and biographers, such as Ludwig Pfandl, Michael Prawdin, Townsend Miller, and Manuel Fernández Álvarez, present Juana as a woman who was involved in a passionate but selfdestructive relationship with her husband. Consumed by jealousy for him at first, and later devastated by his untimely death, she has often been depicted as a feeble-minded woman who soon sank into a mental state that some call melancholia, and others, folly, depression, madness, or schizophrenia. Other more recent studies, especially that of Bethany Aram in Juana the Mad (2005), portray a more complex character, victim of a series of court intrigues and betrayals at both the personal and political levels, and not as weak and mentally unstable as other historians have depicted her.

Who was Juana of Castile? What was at stake in her legendary madness? How is it possible that she was forced to endure such a long confinement while holding the titles of queen of Castile and Leon . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.