Princess Juana was the third child of the Queen Isabella of Castille and King Fernando of Aragon. Even as a child, she was precocious and was inquisitive. She defied her mother and her governess, Duena Ana, by going out in the woods only by herself and looked at the wilderness. There were times when she questioned the orders of the queen, her mother, which could be liberating if it happened in our present times, because she wanted to be free and be able to find a man she could love, instead of being betrothed to someone she never knew. Inspite of her misgivings, she was sent to Flanders to wed Philip the Fair who was the archduke of Flanders. The ties strengthen the force against France. However, she fell in love with Philip of Habsburg the first time they met and married him instantly in the palace. Philip loved her too because she was very beautiful at the time. Her idyllic world, however, shattered when she found Phillip making love with another woman in his apartment in their palace. Juana was able to forgive Philip, but there were conflicts between their interest when they Philip insisted on the friendship with the King Louis of France. The visit to France, which also led to the visit to England made Juana see the plight of her sister Katherine, whose husband Prince Arthur of Wales died. King Henry VII was displeased and did not want to honor her as a princess for his son, Henry VIII, who was very much in love with Katherine. The story somehow gave us a glimpse of the love story between young Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII before Anne Boleyn came to the picture of their married life. Katherine was living a hard situation because she has nothing to support herself. The meeting was the last for the sisters during their lifetime. It could also be a good introduction to other historical novels about Henry VIII.
The sudden death of her brother, Juan , catapulted Isabella, their eldest sister, next to the throne. However, when she delivered the sickly little boy,Miguel, Isabella died. It made Juana the heir apparent. The situation brought so much conflict because Philip became very adamant with being named a co-regent when Queen Isabella died. It seemed that the love between Juana and Philip ran out. He became an ambitious being. However, coming to Castille made Juana’s life even worst. She discovered his father’s attempt of disinheriting her. He wanted to marry the niece of the King of France and hoped to have a son with her. At the time, Philip died of sickness and miraculously, Juana survived the ordeal. However, she refused to bury his husband and she was declared mad. She was not allowed to get out of the Tordesillas Castle and it was really such a hard situation, to think that it was her father who ordered such imprisonment.
The story was poignant and moving. No other book has made me think so much and cry out for the sad life of the queen. I researched on her story even further and it made me grieved for such a wasted life, which was not given a chance by others to unfold beautifully. She might rule very well for her kingdom, but it was so sad that, even then, greed ate the goodness in people’s heart.The author was able to make it across to us that the reality was distorted not in the mind of the poor queen. Instead,the people around her had distorted her situation and made her prisoner of their greed.
List of Reference:
Gortner, CW. The Last Queen.Ballantine books.