It is a mystery to me why all the children of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castile had such difficult and tragic lives. Poor Katherine, look at what happened to her. In the light of Katherine's doomed marriage to Henry VIII, people tend to forget about her sister Mad Juana, or Juana la Loca. The torrid film from a few years ago introduced her to many; it was a film that was not too far from the truth. Juana was considered the most beautiful and mercurial of the daughters of Isabel and Ferdinand. From the moment she and her husband Philip the Handsome first saw each other they had an extremely passionate relationship. Like any wife who is deeply in love would be, Juana was destroyed to discover that Philip was unfaithful to her. It might have been more prudent for her to be kind to the mistresses rather than attacking them with scissors. Not that it would have been right to show approval, but looking the other way possibly would have been better in terms of dealing with Philip. Deep down he probably did love her, but no doubt he found her excessive preoccupation with himself to be a bore. He enjoyed the chase, and took Juana for granted.
Juana, however, was not someone who could hide her emotions, which became more obsessive. Some historians now speculate that she was not mentally ill, merely distraught over Philip, and misunderstood by the Flemish court. However, the way she turned on her mother, screaming at her in public, says to me that there was a psychological disorder of some kind. She had six children and with every pregnancy her behavior became more aberrant. As one site says:
The Spanish Sovereigns hoped that Juana's wild moods and lamentations were due to her pregnancy, but after little Ferdinand's birth in March 1503, Juana grew more frenzied than ever. She yelled at the servants and cursed the clerics. She wanted to return to her husband as soon as possible, but she couldn't leave, because hostilities had broken out between Spain and France. Queen Isabella I, fearing Philip's influence, insisted that Juana remained in Spain for a time in order to prepare for Queenship. On a cold November night Juana fled, half-clad, from the castle. When the city gate closed before her, she threw herself against the iron bars, while screaming and hurling abuses until exhaustion overtook her. She fought off all efforts to protect her against the bitter wind. She even threatened the bishop with death and torture for keeping her locked up. When her mother arrived, Juana insulted her with foul language.I think such behavior is a bit beyond being merely headstrong and passionate. It would be interesting to read a psychiatric evaluation of Juana. Once Philip died, she really appeared to become unhinged. Her son Emperor Charles V had her locked away. It is sad, since even in those days there might have been some way to stabilize her moods. But perhaps not.