Juana of Castile

Juana of Castile was Queen of Castile from 1504 until 1555 but she did not rule. Her husband, Philip of Flanders ruled first, then her father, Ferdinand the Fifth of Aragon ruled and then her son, Charles, Holy Roman Emperor ruled but even though these men ruled, the ultimate authority was Juana’s and she knew that and did not want to disturb the rule of her husband or her father or her son so she did not write, She did not sign anything. She just lived day by day. She had six children, Isabella of Austria, Queen of Denmark, Eleanor of Castile, Queen of Portugal and France, Charles of Austria, Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand, King of Hungry and Bohemia, Mary of Hungry and Catherine of Portugal who was the wife of John the Third, King of Portugal.

Doings of the Day


Those were the best of times and those were the worst of times. The year is 1518. Ana di Vargas was sitting in the room of Queen Juana of Castile, embroidering while Queen Juana sat in her chair, staring out into space. Generally this was how the days of Ana di Vargas were spent. Queen Juana did nothing. She did not speak. She did not read. She did not write. She did not embroider. She just sat in that chair and stared and stared and stared. But Ana di Vargas loved Queen Juana. There were six other ladies in waiting who sat outside the room each and every day, embroidering and chatting away the hours and would not go into Queen Juana’s room but Ana Di Vargas felt privileged to sit there and embroider. Sometimes, she glanced up towards the Queen to see if she may want of anything but Queen Juana did not want for anything. When it came time for Queen Juana to eat, the cooks would bring the food to the door and Ana di Vargas would take the food and place it on a table beside the Queen of Castile. When Queen Juana was hungry, she would eat. When she finished, she wiped her mouth and drank back a goblet of wine and continued to stare. Ana di Vargas would then move towards the table and try to remove the dishes. Usually it was fine and Queen Juana did nothing but occasionally, she would come out of her stance and say, “Ana di Vargas, leave them!!” And of coarse, Ana di Vargas left them.

“Yes, Magistad.” she would say and would return to her chair and resume her embroidery. Queen Juana would then return to staring but once every so often and that not very often, Queen Juana would start to talk. And it went something like this:

” Ana di Vargas, think you that I do not know what you do for me, each and every day. Think you that I do not know that the other ladies in waiting are outside of my door, gossiping like the pigs they are. But not you, Ana di Vargas. You come in here each and every day, not knowing what to expect of me and yet you brave it. Your fingers sewing and embroidering. It bothers me to no end but I say nothing because I know you have to do something. You are not like I. I do not need to do anything. I am Queen of Castile. I have bore six children and I have done it all. There is nothing left to say or do. But I am in the mood to talk today, Ana di Vargas and if you wish to ask anything of me, feel free to do so now.” And Ana di Vargas took opportunity of this great moment in time for she knew it may long before her Queen would speak again.


“Magistad, why do you not rule, as is your right?” Ana di Vargas was quite young when the battle of wills happened between Juana of Castile’s father, Ferdinand of Aragon and Juana of Castile’s husband, Philip of Flanders and so did not really know the story.

“That is a long and complicated story, Ana di Vargas. I do not wish to speak of Philip. But for the moment, I will. He was a horrible, vindicate man who took advantage of me. Did I love him? Yes and no. He was only with me because of who and what I am but I have my children and my dear Catalina.”

Catalina was brought to the Queen once a day and Queen Juana would hold her and play with her. Catalina lived with her nurse in the room on the other side of this room. One could only get out of that room through these rooms. Catalina was in that room constantly except when brought to this room to visit with her mother. Queen Juana would not let anyone take Catalina away from her. Catalina was eleven years old and her mother treated her as a child. A tutor came every day for three hours to teach Catalina to read and write and history and mathematics. Queen Juana, even though she had a thorough education did not feel that Catalina needed a further education.

King Ferdinand of Aragon died in 1516 and so Queen Juana was Queen of Aragon as well but she would not go to Aragon to be crowned. Apparently, her son, Charles would come to Castile from Flanders when he was able to. Queen Juana has not had visitors for years although her son, Ferdinand was allowed to come to see her every so often. He was born in 1504 and was fourteen years old. He liked to come to his mother for he was able to visit with his sister, Catalina. Catalina was a sad, young girl. There was a window in her room and she would watch the servant children play. How the young girl longed to go out there and play with those children but she never, ever questioned her mother.

Queen Juana continued, “Ana di Vargas, politics is complicated and I am really not interested in clouding my mind. I am happy, really I am. You may think it unusual that I just stare but there is nothing more for me to do. My father is taking care of everything.” Queen Juana had not been told that King Ferdinand was dead. Ana di Vargas wondered if she should tell Queen Juana.

Ana di Vargas took a leap and said, “I am sorry to tell you, Magistad but King Ferdinand died in 1516.”

Her father was dead for two years and none told her!! The dishes were still on the table. They thought she was mad. Let them think it further, thought Queen Juana lest they get it into their minds to have her rule, and she swept the dishes onto the floor.

As the dishes fell, clattering to the floor, Queen Juana said, “My father, the King is dead for two years and none told me!! How dare they. Ana di Vargas, I must immediately change into mourning clothes. Fetch me my mourning gown. My son, Charles will now come here to Castile from Flanders. I will see my son, Charles. Is he here yet?” No, thought Queen Juana, he is not here in Castile yet for if he was in Castile, he would have come to see her. Ana di Vargas immediately went to get one of the ladies in waiting to help her undress Queen Juana and put her in her mourning gown. The other ladies in waiting as they came in were aghast that the plates were all over the floor. They were frightened. Ana di Vargas said unto the ladies, “The Queen of Castile hath just found out that her father, King Ferdinand of Aragon is dead and she wishes to change into her mourning gown.”

The Queen of Castile said unto the ladies, “Proceed, immediately.” And the ladies in waiting found the Queen’s mourning gown and helped her change into it. The gown the Queen wore, she hath worn many days for the Queen did not often change. She slept in her gowns. She said unto the ladies, “Burn that gown>” For it was greatly soiled and filthy.

The corpse of her husband, Philip of Flanders still lay in the chapel since he died. Queen Juana hath totally forgotten about him for she never went into the chapel and she did not pray. If Queen Juana hath been allowed to properly rule in Castile, the Spanish Inquistion would hath been dismantled. Why did Cisneros oppose her? Because Cisneros knew that the Queen of Castile was not religious but he could not persecute the Queen of Castile. Cisneros was Archbishop of Toledo and he was a horrible fanatic, worse than even the great Torquemada.

Thank God, that the great Cisneros did not chose to come here to visit with Queen Juana but then he hated Queen Juana and not only because of her lack of being devout but because he hated women. Twice he refused to be Archbishop of Toledo but Queen Isabella had insisted that he take it. The Borgia Pope, Alexander the Sixth had admonished Cisneros for not sleeping in his fine bed and not wearing his great robes of state. The Pope had ordered him to sleep in his fine bed and to wear the robes and therefore Cisneros had to do so. Cisneros was serious about his religion. Very, very serious.

Then after the ladies left and Queen Juana hath changed her gown, did she ask to be taken to the chapel to pray. Nay? She went back into her chair and began to stare and Ana di Vargas went back to embroidering. After about a half an hour of the usual, the Queen of Castile again spoke, “Ana di Vargas, can you believe that they would not tell me that my father, the King of Aragon hath died? I do wonder who would have neglected that duty? I loved my father, Ana di Vargas, dearly, even though he took the Throne from me. Well he did not take the Throne from me for he could not do that. I am Queen of Castile but he took the rule from me with the help of that bastardo, Cisneros. How I hate Cisneros, Ana di Vargas. I am sure Cisneros is still ruling.” And so Queen Juana hath said and Ana di Vargas thought so the Queen did want to rule, poor lady. She would hath been a good Queen. “But Charles will come here soon and I am sure he will come here to see me. He will have to come here. He has not seen me since 1505. Can you believe I have not seen my Charles, my Eleanor, my Isabella, my Mary since then. Mary was only a baby when I left her. She never knew me. I wonder if they even remember me. Perhaps Eleanor does for Eleanor was born in 1498. She was seven when the Archduke of Flanders and I left Flanders. Flanders is so different from Castile, from Aragon. I am glad I am in Castile and not in Flanders. My sister in law, Margaret of Austria never liked me.”


And Queen Juana of Castile paused, actually stopped. She never ever spoke so much. This was actually too much for the Queen of Castile. She preferred to live in a world of silence. She did not like it when the world came into these rooms and interfered. But all this talk made her thirsty. “Ana di Vargas, wine. Bring me the jug and the goblet.” Queen Juana loved her wine. Ana di Vargas brought the Queen her jug and wine. She placed it on the table that the plates were on and poured a goblet for her beloved Queen of Castile. She wondered about the plates but the Queen seemed to have forgotten them. Queen Juana drank back the goblet and set it down but she did not speak. Ana di Vargas, even though the plates annoyed her being on the floor, left them there and returned to her chair and resumed her embroidery. Queen Juana resumed staring and staring. She seemed comfortable in that chair. She always seemed comfortable in that chair. In a half an hour, she got up and began to pace. Ana di Vargas was constantly on the alert. Not often but occaisonaly Queen Juana would  pace around the room and she did not pace up and down. She paced in a circular motion.

Today was the day for talking for of coarse, Queen Juana is upset that none thought to tell her that her father, King Ferdinand of Aragon hath died so Queen Juana came out with, as she was pacing, “So who is ruling in Aragon now, Ana di Vargas? I am now Queen of Aragon as well.”


“King Fernando’s bastard son, Magistad.” Ana di Vargas responded. Of coarse, he would be, thought Queen Juana. Her father adored that boy. And Germaine di Foix, she thought but she did not question Ana di Vargas about her father’s second wife, the Queen of Aragon. She was now Dowager Queen of Aragon so she was probably in Aragon. She obviously did not manage to get a son. Queen Juana’s father, King Fernando must hath been upset about that for he married her so that she, Queen Juana would not succeed in Aragon but she did succeed in Aragon. Queen Juana hated Queen Germaine for Queen Germaine hath been a mistress unto her Philip of Flanders before Germaine di Foix wed King Fernando.

“Yes, he would be ruling, Ana di Vargas for my father greatly loved him. These men, Ana di Vargas, they toy with us women. They love to hath their mistresses. They wondered why I was so jealous of Philip of Flanders. Why should I not be. He is my husband. I brought him Castile. He should hath respected me but he never did for he was a spoiled child. He never hath a mother for his mother, Mary of Burgundy hath died very young. Margaret of York, Dowager Duchess of Burgundy, the second wife of Charles the Bold who was the grandfather of my Philip raised him up. She hath gotten along well with Mary of Burgundy. I knew the Dowager Duchess of Burgundy and she hath nothing but praise for Mary of Burgundy. She died in 1503. She and Charles the Bold of Burgundy never hath children, apparently because he was often at war. The only time that woman was happy with me was when I gave birth to Charles. But Philip’s sister, Margaret of Austria who wed with my beloved brother, the Infante Juan is raising my children and I believe she is regent in Flanders. I believe she is ruling well. She is a capable woman. I wish to see Catalina. Bring her to me, Ana di Vargas.”


Queen Juana of Castile went back to sit in her chair and Ana di Vargas went to the door of the room on the other side of this room and knocked and opened the door. “Margarita, Queen Juana wishes to see Catalina. Bring her in here to her mother.” Ana di Vargas noticed that the child was sitting on her bed, reading a book. The governess, Margarita told Catalina that her mother wishes to see her and Catalina came into Queen Juana’s room and curtsied low unto the Queen of Castile for Queen Juana may be her mother but she was Queen of Castile first.

Catalina spoke softly, “Magistad!”


“Ah, Catalina, come here.” And Queen Juana took the girl in her arms and hugged her a long time before she spoke. Catalina never really liked all this smothering. She longed for escape, each and every day. Queen Juana sat Catalina in her lap and stroked her hair and continued, “Catalina, are you aware that your grandfather, King Ferdinand has gone to God?”

Her grandfather is dead, thought Catalina. How sad but she never saw him so she did not really know him but she wondered what that meant for her. She responded gently, “Nay, sweet Magistad, I did not know he is dead. That is sad. I am very sorry for your loss.”


“You must go into mourning. Margarita, when I finish speaking with my daughter, have changed into her mourning gown. Catalina, your brother, Carlos will be coming to Castile from Flanders. He will come here and you will meet him.”

Now Catalina was excited. Her mother, Queen Juana spoke often of Carlos and now she would see him. Perhaps she will see him.  Oh, Catalina hoped to see him so, so much for perhaps he would take her away from here. Perhaps he will arrange a marriage for her. She will tell him that he must arrange a marriage for her for she wishes to be wed so much. “Oh, Magistad, I can not wait to meet my brother, Carlos. Think you he will arrange a marriage for me?”


Marriage, thought Queen Juana, what put that in her head? “Nay, you shalt stay with me for a long, long time but if Carlos needs to have you wed, if it is in the interests of Castile to hath you wed, that Carlos wilt arrange a match for you but you art the youngest. I do believe that Isabella is wed in Denmark but he has to have Eleanor and Mary wed before you.” Queen Juana did not know that Eleanor is soon to wed with Queen Juana’s brother in law, King Manuel of Portugal for her sister, Maria of Aragon died in 1517. Catalina was sad. She hoped Carlos would arrange a match for Eleanor and Mary soon so it would be her turn next. How she longed for marriage for only in marriage would her mother, Queen Juana let her go.

  •      The one thing that Catalina wants is  to be allowed to play but Queen Juana does not allow that. Catalina hath no friends. The only people she sees art Margarita, her governess, her tutor, her priest and that only to make it look good, her mother, the Queen of Castile and Ana di Vargas. Ana di Vargas is lady in waiting to her mother, the Queen and she usually sits embroidering but today is not normal for her mother, the Queen of Castile usually sees Catalina in the morning. She prefers to stay alone with Ana di Vargas. Catalina’s priest does not see the Queen of Castile. Oh, he passes the Queen’s room to get to Catalina’s room. He sees her but she does not talk to him. Her priest teaches her about Jesus and God and he tells her she must always obey her mother and must not think lustful thoughts and that she must pray very often. Catalina does not know if her mother, the Queen prays and she does not question her. She rarely questions her unless she sees that her mother may allow it like today. She enjoys her lessons in history and mathematics and reading and writing.