Spain - Famous Renaissance Women

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The Spanish kingdoms provide some striking examples of powerful and accomplished Renaissance women, the most famous of whom is Isabella of Castile. But Isabella should not be seen in isolation: she was part of a tradition of poweful Queens, most notably within the Crown of Aragon, where the federal nature of the territories ruled meant that the Queen was effectively the king's political partner, convening parliaments, raising taxes and even leading armies. There was a history of regnant Queens in both Castile and Aragon, although not all were able to enforce their authority. Women of less exalted rank were also able to make their mark through their writings or teachings or through their political activities.


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Queen Isabella of Castile
22.4.1451 - 26.11.1504
Queen Isabella of Castile

One of the most powerful and famous of all the women of the Renaissance, Isabella of Castile was born at Madrigal de Altas Torres on 22nd April 1451, the daughter of John II of Castile and his second wife Isabella of Portugal. Her father died when she was three, and she was brought up with her younger brother by her mentally unstable mother in Arevalo whilst her elder half-brother Henry became King. Rumours of Henry's impotence and doubts about the paternity of his supposed daughter Joanna led to Isabella and Alfonso achieving prominence, and Alfonso's death in 1468 enabled Isabella to make a deal with Henry in order to be proclaimed heiress to the throne. She managed to sidestep a number of undesirable suitors before marrying her second cousin Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Aragon, on 19th October 1469.

Disinherited by a furious Henry in favour of his supposed daughter, Isabella and Ferdinand were forced to fight a civil war against Joanna and her fiance Alfonso of Portugal to establish their claim. Ferdinand's victory at the Battle of Toro on 1st March 1476 effectively ended the Portuguese threat and the two were able to turn their attention to Castile's many problems. Although Isabella retained the title of 'Queen Proprietress' of Castile, all major decision were taken jointly by her and Ferdinand and their partnership ws one of equals.

The reign of Ferdinand and Isabella was distinguished by many great achievements: the restoration of law and order; the restablishment of the power and prestige of the monarchy; the conquest of the Moorish kingdom of Granada, last remnant of Islamic power in Western Europe; reform of the Spanish church; expansion of Spanish power in Italy with the conquest of Naples; and the sponsorship of the voyages of Christopher Columbus and other explorers. All this raised Spain to be one of the greatest powers in Europe and laid the foundations of the great Spanish Empire. On the negative side, the Inquisition was established, the Jews were expelled and Moslems in Castile and Granada were forcibly converted.

Isabella's personal life was less than happy: her husband was continually unfaithful to her, her only son died at the age of nineteen; and her daughter and eventual heiress Joanna was mentally unstable. But Isabella's deep and genuine religious faith continued to be a comfort to her, and her intelligence, determination and ability won the praise of contemporaries at home and abroad.. She died of cancer at Medina del Campo on 26th November 1504, and is buried beside Ferdinand at the Capilla Real in Granada.


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Joanne Queen of Aragon
1425 - 13.2.1468
Joanna, Queen of Aragon

Joanna (or Juana) Enriquez, Queen of Aragon, was born near Valladolid in 1425, the eldest daughter of Frederick Enriquez, Admiral of Castile, by his first wife Mariana de Cordoba. Her father was one of the most powerful nobles in Castile, descended from the royal house. In 1447, she married the widowed John of Aragon, younger brother of Alfonso 'the Magnanimous King of Aragon and Naples. John had previously been married to Blanche Queen of Navarre and insisted on hanging onto both the title and the power of the King in the teeth of the claims of their eldest son Charles. John sent his new wife to Navarre as Governor, where she soon clashed with Charles. In February 1452, she undertook a difficult journey in the late stage of pregnancy to ensure that her child was born on Aragonese soil: her son, the future Ferdinand II of Aragon was born on 10th March. She also had a surviving daughter, Joanna, who married her cousin Ferrante and became Queen of Naples.

John had great respect for his wife's intelligence, political ability and negotiating skills and when he became King of Aragon in 1458, she effectively became his co-ruler, the last of a long line of Aragonese Queen-Lieutenants. She raised funds, arranged treaties and presided over the Corts (Parliaments). After Charles's death, she bravely took her son to Barcelona to be sworn in as heir, despite widespread hostility towards her and accusations that she had poisoned her stepson (which is unlikely). She succeeded in her aim but was forced to flee to Girona with her son, where they were besiged in the Forca for almost two months.

During the Catalan Civil War which followed (1462-1472), Joanna organised armies and governed the Crown realms as Lieutenant, despite being in the early stages of breast cancer. As well as her political activites, she took a far greater role in military affairs than was usual for a woman. Joanna died in Tarragona on 13th February 1468 at the age of 43, prior to her husband's victory over his enemies. She did not live to see the marriage of her son Ferdinand to Isabella of Castile the following year, which laid the foundations of the great Spanish empire.


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Maria, Queen of Aragon
14.9.1401 - 4.9.1458
Maria, Queen of Aragon

Maria of Castile, Queen of Aragon and Naples, was born in Segovia on 14th September 1401, the daughter of Henry III and his English wife Catherine of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt. At the age of fourteen, she married her cousin Alfonso, eldest son of the King of Aragon, at Valencia on 12th October 1415. Her father-in-law died the following year, and Maria became Queen.

Maria suffered from poor health - she may well have suffered had epilepsy like her mother, she was prone to infections and fevers, and a bout of smallpox in 1423 left her permanently scarred. Whether these or Alfonso's lengthy absences or both were to blame, Maria never became pregnant, which placed a strain on their marriage. Despite this, Alfonso obviously had a lot of confidence in Maria's intelligence and ability. From 1420 onwards, he was preoccupied with gaining the kingdom of Naples and when he left for Italy, he made Maria Lieutentant, or Governor, of his kingdom.

This began a pattern which was to last for the remainder of Alfonso's reign. His stay in Italy on this occasion lasted until 1423 and Maria's appointment ceased on his return. However, in 1432, Alfonso again left for Italy: few at that point, including Alfonso himself, would have guessed that he would never return to Spain and would never see Maria again. As Lieutenant, Maria was left to grapple with a host of problems, including curbing the ambitions of Alfonso's ambitious brothers John and Henry; dealing with growing peasant and middle class unrest in Catalonia; and smoothing his relationship with her native Castile. At times, Maria shared office with her brother-in-law John, particularly when she was suffering from one of her periodic bouts of ill-health.

Despite all these difficulties, Maria proved herself to be 'prudent, fair and effective' in her task. Alfonso was not always grateful: he frequently demanded money to fund his conquest of Naples and in 1457, he attempted to annul their marriage in order to marry his mistress, Lucrezia d'Alagno. In the event, Maria remained as Queen and outlived Alfonso by two months. She died in Valencia on 4th September 1458. Alfonso's Italian kingdom went to his illegitimate son Ferrante, his hereditary lands to his brother John, whose wife Joanna proved another formidable Queen-Lieutenant.


Joanna of Castile
Joanna of Castile
1479-1555
Joanna of Castile ('The Mad')

Joanna of Castile (otherwise known as Juana or Joan) was born in Toledo on 6th November 1479, the third child and second daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. Beautififul, intelligent and well-educated - she could make speeches in Latin and play a number of musical instruments - she was married to the Archduke Philip in Lier on 20th October 1496, shortly before her seventeenth bithday.

Philip was Duke of Burgundy, having inherited the Burgundian lands (which included the Netherlands) from his mother Mary, and he was heir to the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. The marriage started off well: Philip was so taken with Joanna's beauty that he ordered the nearest priest to marry them on the spot, and they went on to have six children. However, when the deaths of her brother, eldest sister and their children left Joanna as heir to her parents' thrones, the marriage turned stormy. Philip wanted her lands for himself, and Joanna was jealous of his frequent affairs: she ordered the long hair of one of his mistresses to be cut off and their fights became the gossip of Europe. Soon, her erratic behaviour gave rise to rumours that she was mad, and she may well have suffered from bi-polar disorder.

When her mother Isabella was on her deathbed in November 1504, she was so doubtful of Joanna's sanity and willingness to rule and so convinced Philip's incompetence that she provided that should Joanna prove 'unwilling or unable' to exercise power, her widower Ferdinand would serve as Regent until Joanna's eldest son Charles reached the age of twenty. Philip was not prepared to accept this, and Joanna found herself 'piggy in the middle' in a bitter power-struggle between her husband and her father. Although Philip initially gained the upper hand, his sudden and rather suspicious death in Burgos on 25th September 1506 seems to have sent Joanna into a state of mental paralysis. She remained aloof, travelling by night to Granada with her late husband's coffin, whilst the country disintegrated into anarchy until the return of Ferdinand from Naples in July 1507 restored order.

Joanna retired to Arcos until her removal to the fortress of Tordesillas, near Valladolid, in February 1509, where she was kept closely guarded. Her father ruled Castile as Regent until his death on 23rd January 1516. Although she was now Queen of Aragon, Naples and Sicily as well as Castile, Joanna never ruled. Her eldest son, Charles, took the title of King, although he officially reigned jointly with his mother. Joanna remained in Tordesillas, increasingly out of touch with reality, until her death on 12th April 1555 at the age of 75. She was attended in her last hours by her great-nephew Father Francis Borgia, the future Saint and great-grandson of Pope Alexander VI


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Joanna La Beltraneja
1462-1530
Joanna 'la Beltraneja'

Joanna, or Juana, of Castile was born on 21st February 1462. Her mother was Joanna, Queen of Castile, a Portuguese princess. Who her father was is a mystery. Her mother's husband, Henry IV of Castile had been divorced from his first wife after fourteen years of marriage on the grounds of non-consummation, and there were rumours that he was impotent, or homosexual, or both. Queen Joanna's flirtatious behaviour had led disaffected nobles to suggest that she was unfaithful, and that her child's true father was Beltran de la Cueva, Duke of Alberquerque (hence her nickname). However, many were looking for an excuse to rebel against the King and subsequent chroniclers were in the pay of her great rival, the King's sister Isabella. The truth of the matter is never likely to be known, as although Henry's tomb is extant and his mummified body was examined by medical experts in 1934, Joanna's has disappeared.

Joanna was pronounced heiress and Princess of the Asturias on 9th May 1462. Thereafter, the unfortunate child's status depended on the political situation. Her mother's subsequent adulteries (she had two illegitimate children after separating from her husband) did not help Joanna either. Pressurised by his rebel nobles, Henry disinherited her first in favour of his younger brother Alfonso (to whom Joanna was promiosed in marriage) and then his sister Isabella. After Isabella angered him by marrying her cousin Ferdinand without permission, Joanna was again proclaimed heiress. When he died on 11th December 1474, the vacillating King failed to make a Will or pronounce who should be Queen.

Isabella seized the intiative by having herself crowned, but a significant portion of the nobles and towns supported Joanna. The result was civil war, with Joanna obtaining aid from her uncle, Alfonso V of Portugal, to whom she became betrothed. Alfonso invaded Castile and married Joanna at Plasencia on 30th May 1475, but the marriage could not consummated due to her age. After a year of skirmishing, Ferdinand's victory over Alfonso at the Battle of Toro (1st March 1476) meant that Joanna's cause was all but lost, although the war continued in a desultory fashion for another three years. When the Pope withdrew the dispensation for Alfonso and Joanna's marriage, Alfonso lost hope. Conflict was officially ended by the Treaty of Alcacovas in 1479, and Joanna was given the unpalatable choice of marrying Ferdinand and Isabella's baby son or entering a convent: she reluctantly chose the latter option.

Although Joanna made her professions at the Convent of Santa Clara in Coimbra, her career as a political pawn had not ended. Her cousin King John used her to exert political pressure on the Spanish kingdoms, and she was frequently allowed out of her convent to visit the Court and reside at various Portuguese palaces. Her life was often closer to that of a rich noblewoman than a nun: there was even a proposed marriage to Francis, King of Navarre, in 1482 but he died soon afterwards in rather suspicious circumstances. In the event, Joanna officially remained a nun until her death in 1530 at the age of 68. She signed herself 'I, the Queen' to the last, but whether she thought of herself as Queen of Castile or Dowager Queen of Portugal is unclear.



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Beatriz Galindo
La Latina
1465-1534
Beatriz Galindo

Beatriz Galindo, born in Madrid was a Spanish physician, and educator. She was a writer and humanist, preceptor of Queen Isabella of Castile and her children. She was one of the most educated women of her time. There is uncertainty about her date of birth; some authors believe it is 1464 or 1474.Her family prepared her to be a nun, but her great skill in Latin set her on an academic career. Beatriz Galindo received her education in Italy where she took her degree in Latin and Philosophy from the University of Salerno. Unusually for that time in Europe the Italian universities welcomed women students. It is likely that she was at one time a student of the great Spanish scholar Antonio de Nebrija. She was nicknamed La Latina for her skill in Latin, and became a professor at the University of Salamanca , in her native Spain , where she taught rhetoric , philosophy, and medicine. She was appointed tutor to the children of Queen Isabella of Castile. She taught Catharine of Aragon, the future wife of Henry VIII of England, and Joanna of Castile, the future wife of Philip of Habsburg and later known as Juana the Mad. She wrote in Latin, producing poetry, and a commentary on Aristotle.

Beatriz was also remarkable in that she was able to combine a career with marriage and motherhood. In December 1491 she married Francisco Ramirez in Madrid. They had five children. She was one of the first women to be active in public life during the
Renaissance. It is reported that she dressed in the habit of a nun or abbess. She founded the Hospital of the Holy Cross (Santa Cruz de Madrid) in 1506 in Madrid, which still exists. The district in Madrid where she once lived is known today as La Latina from her nickname. There are statues of her in Salamanca and Madrid.


Sor Isabel de Villena

Sor Isabel of Villena
1430 - 1490
Sor Isabel of Villena

Sor (Sister) Isabel of Villena was born in Valencia in 1430, the illegitimate daughter of Henry of Aragon, Marquis of Villena, by an unknown mother. Her father, who was related to the Aragonese royal family, was an intelligent and educated man with a great interest in science, theology and literature who wrote poetry and translated essays, and Isabel inherited his literary talents.

Isabel, whose original name was Eleanor Manuel, was brought up at the Aragonese Court by the Queen, Maria of Castile, the estranged wife of Alfonso 'the Magnanimous'. In 1445, she became a nun at the Convent of the Holy Trinity of the Poor Clares in Valencia, which Queen Maria had founded. She was made Abbess of her convent in 1463. Unlike many illegitimate children of the aristocracy, for whom convents were a classic dumping-ground, Isabel seems to have had a genuine religious vocation. She was also influenced by the influx of ideas from Renaissance Italy, which were prevalent in Valencia during its so-called 'Golden Age', and corresponded with many Valencian writers. Isabel proved a popular Abbess: she enforced the rule of St. Clare strictly and prevented any scandal, but was known to be kind and compassionarte towards her nuns. She was an able politican who used her links with the Royal family and influence with the Archbishop of Valencia, Rodrigo Borgia, to obtain concessions and lands for the convent. She also took in one of the illegitimate daughters of King Ferdinand, Maria of Aragon, to be educated from the age of five: Maria later became a nun at the convent.

Although Isabel was clearly a very effective Abbess, her fame rests on her book, the 'Vita Christi, or life of Christ, which was dedicated to Queen Isabella. In it, Isabel tells the story of the Gospels with a distinctly feminist slant, emphasing the role of women in Jesus's life, paticularly the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene, who she treats with great sympathy. The Vita Christi is both a commentary on the Bible and an interpretation: Isabel creates a series of female personifications of virtues such as humility, chastity and contemplation. Heavily influenced by humanist thinking and full of classical quotations, Isabel's work is also a riposte to the misogeny that she percieved in some contemporary male writers. The 'Vita Christi' was published posthumously following Isabel's death in a plague epidemic on 2nd July 1490. Her other literary works have not survived.


Titian's Portrait of Isabella of Portugal"

Isabella of Portugal,
Holy Roman Empress
24.10.1503 - 1.5.1539
Isabella of Portugal

Isabella of Portugal was born at Lisbon on 24th October 1503, the eldest daughter of Manuel 'the Fortunate', King of Portugal, and his second wife Maria of Aragon. She was named after her grandmother Isabella, Queen of Castile. When she was eighteen, her brother John, who had succeeded their father as King, began negotiations for her marriage to her first cousin Charles, who had inherited Spain for his maternal grandparents and Burgundy and Austria from his paternal grandparents. He had also been elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, and was the most powerful man in Europe. Charles was already engaged to another cousin, Princess Mary of England, but he was under pressure from his Parliaments to marry and produce an heir, and Mary was only a child whereas Isabella was a young woman. Isabella also had the enormous dowry which was common for princesses from her wealthy country, and Charles was always in need of money to meet his huge obligations.

Charles and Isabella met for the first time when she travelled to Seville in 1526. They married there on 11th March, when she was 22 and Charles was 26. Although it had been arranged for political and financial purposes, the marriage turned into a love-match. Isabella and Charles were well-suited: they had a similar heritage and culture and both were intelligent and hard-working. Isabella was also very beautifiul, with the auburn hair and blue eyes common in the family, as can be seen in her portrait by Titian (left). Charles was so devoted to her that he was entirely faithful, even during his long absences abroad, although he had had affaris and illegitimate children before and after his marriage.

During these absences, Isabella served as Regent of Spain, a task which she performed with great ability and graciousness. She became pregnant seven times, but only three of her children survived to adulthood - a son Philip, who became King Philip II of Spain, and two daughters, Maria, who married her cousin Maximilian II and became Holy Roman Empress, and Joanna, who also married a cousin, John of Portugal. Both women also served as Regent of Spain for their father and brother. However, the habit of marrying first cousins (and later, uncles and nieces) which began with Charles and Isabella would lead to congenital defects and fatally weaken the Habsburg line in the future.

Isabella herself had been weakened by her frequent pregnancies, and she died at Toledo on 1st May at the age of 35 after giving birth to a stillborn child. Her widower Charles was so heartbroken that he dressed in black for the rest of his life and refused to re-marry, despite the fact that he only had one son. Isabella's death also profoundly affected one of her principal courtiers, the Duke of Gandia: he later renounced his titles to become a priest and was subsequently canonised as St Francis Borgia. Her body was initially interred at Granada but was later transferred to the Escorial near Madrid, together with that of her husband.



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Archduchess Maria of Austria
1528-1603
Archduchess Maria of Austria


Archduchess Maria of Austria was the spouse of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia and Hungary. She was the daughter of Emperor Charles V and twice served as regent of Spain.Maria was born in Madrid to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (elect at the time) and King of Spain, and Isabella of Portugal.She grew up mostly between Toledo and Valladolid,as her other siblings,and regardless of their father regular absences,they built a strong family bond with similar strong personal views and policies,which she and her full brother Philip kept during the rest of their lives.On the 13th September 1548, aged twenty, she married her first cousin Archduke Maximilian. The couple at first stayed at the Spanish court. The couple had sixteen children in total. While her father was occupied with German affairs, Maria and Maximilian were acted as regents of Spain from 1548 to 1550. In 1552, the couple moved to live at the court of Maximilian's father's court at Vienna. During her absence of her brother, King Philip II from 1558 to 1561, Maria again was installed as regent of Spain and returned to Madrid during that time. After her return to Germany, her husband gradually succeeded his father Ferdinand I as ruler of Germany, Bohemia and Hungary, which he ruled from 1564 to his death in 1576. Maria was a devout Catholic and frequently disagreed with her religious ambiguous husband. Maria of Spain had great influence over her sons, the future emperors Rudolf and Matthias.


Portrait of a Lady, mid-sixteenth century, by Caterina van Hemessen

Anna of Aragon, Duchess of Medina Sidonia,
c.1501 - 1556
above:
Portrait of a Lady, mid-sixteenth century, by Caterina van Hemessen
Anna of Aragon, Duchess of Medina Sidonia

Anna of Aragon was born in Zaragoza in about 1501, the younger daughter of Alonso of Aragon, Archbishop of Zaragoza, and his long term-mistress Anna de Guerrea. Her father was the illegitimate son of Ferdinand II of Aragon, and was more politician than churchman: having been made Archbishop at the age of six, he served as Viceroy of Aragon and Catalonia and Regent of the Aragonese kingdoms for his nephew Charles V after his father's death. Two of Anna's brothers followed him as Archbishop, and her elder sister Joanna married Juan Borgia, second Duke of Gandia, and was the mother of St. Francis Borgia. Although she cannot be described as a famous Renaissance lady, Anna's career showed the determination, political ability and artistic interests typical of of the period.

When Anna's grandfather returned from Naples in 1507 to resume control of Castile, he was determined to crush the rebellious and often treacherous Andalusian nobles. The Duke of Medina Sidonia had taken advantage of political turmoil to attempt to sieze Gibraltar, and his death gave Ferdinand the opportunity to bind the Duchy to him. The succession was disputed between the guardians of his young son and Pedro Tellez Giron, husband of his eldest daughter Mencia, who claimed that the Duke's second marriage had been invalid. Giron attempted to marry his daughter Maria to the young Duke Henry, but his plan was wrecked by the Duke's death. Ferdinand imprisoned Giron and bethrothed the new Duke Alonso de Guzman to his granddaughter in 1513. The wedding was celebrated in Plasencia in November 1515 and was attended by Ferdinand in one of his last public engagements before his death the following January.

Unfortunately for Anna, her husband turned out to suffer from profound learning and physical disabilities and was unable to consummate their marriage. To make matters worse, Pedro Giron had taken advantage of the King's death to launch an attack on the Duchy with the help of the Duke of Arcos, hereditary enemy of the Guzmans. This was repulsed by troops sent by the Regent of Castile, Cardinal Cisneros, but Anna's solution to her marital dilemma was more novel. She began an affair with her husband's handsome and intelligent younger brother John, by whom she produced a son, John Claros Guzman, in 1519. She petitioned her cousin the Emperor to declare her husband incompetent and place the Duchy in her hands and those of her lover, which Charles granted in 1518. Anna is also believed to have secretly - and bigamously - married John in the same year. Their old enemy Pedro Giron joined the Revolt of the Communeros in 1520 with the aim of obtaining the Duchy, but the failure of the Revolt dashed his hopes, even though he changed sides again to try to gain the Emperor's favour. This gave John and Anna a chance to demonstrate their loyalty by holding Seville for Charles.

In 1524, Anna moved to a new palace in Sanlucar with her husband and lover. Finding it too small, she bought the house next door to store her dresses. The death of Giron finally gave Anna the chance to regularise her marital situation: she divorced Alonso on the grounds of impotence in 1532, despite being pregnant again, and married John immediately thereafter. A further petition to her cousin in 1534 ensured that her ex-husband was formally stripped of the title of Duke on the grounds of his incapacity, and John became the 6th Duke of Medina Sidonia. He and Anna were noted patrons of art and learning: they kept a Court painter,.the Flemish artist Guillame de Sanforte, (although the portraits of neither seem to have survived); a composer and host of musicians, promoted poetry and literature, and adorned their palace with frescoes and formal gardens. Anna was also known for her elaborate dresses: on one occasion, as she crossed a pontoon bridge over the Rvier Guadalquiver in Seville, her jewelled and embroidered gown was so heavy that it collapsed the bridge and she fell intio the water. She celebrated her rescue from drowning by founding a chapel to Saint Anne. Anna and her eldest son John Claros died in a plague epidemic in 1556. Her husband survived for a further two years to be succeeded by their grandson Alonso, the relyuctant commander of the Spanish Armada. Their great-great granddaughter Luisa married John IV of Portugal and was the mother of Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II of England, and the ancestor of subsquent Portuguese kings.


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Germaine of Foix, Queen Consort of Aragon, Majorca, Sicily and Valencia
1488-1538
Germaine of Foix


Germaine of Foix was queen consort of Aragon, the second wife of Ferdinand the Catholic of Aragon, married in 1505 after the death of his first wife, Isabella the Catholic, Queen of Castille. She was a daughter of Jean de Foix, vicomte de Narbonne, infante of Navarre and comte d'Étampes, by his wife, Marie d'Orléans. Her paternal grandparents were Gaston de Grailly, comte de Foix and the Queen regnant Eleanor of Navarre. Her maternal grandparents were Charles, duc d'Orléans and Marie of Cleves. Her only maternal uncle was Louis XII of France. Following the death of Isabella, Ferdinand had to yield the government of Castile to his son-in-law Philip of Habsburg (1478-1506), who assumed power in the name of his wife Joanna (Juana la Loca, 1479-1555), Isabella's heir. Ferdinand objected to Philip's policies and to prevent Philip from gaining Aragon through Joanna, he married Germaine of Foix in the hope of having a son, who would take precedence over Joanna for the Crown of Aragon. This included Aragon, Valencia and Catalonia in Spain, and the Kingdom of Naples, Kingdom of Sicily and Sardinia in the Italian peninsula and the Tyrrhenian Sea.


Germaine was bright but not attractive. Being however a niece of Louis XII, King of France (reigned 1498-1515), did gain a short truce and brief alliance between the two kings, who were most often at war. In 1506 Philip of Habsburg died and Ferdinand became regent of Castile for his mentally unstable daughter Joanna. Ferdinand and Germaine did have a son, Juan, Prince of Aragon (3 May 1509) but he died almost at once. Despite the use of love potions, they did not have another. Ferdinand's diplomatic deviousness and off and on alliances with France infuriated Henry VIII of England (born 1491, reigned 1509-1547), married to Ferdinand and Isabella's youngest daughter, Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536). To spite Ferdinand and for his own advantage, Henry in 1514 forced his sister Mary (1496-1533) into a loveless marriage with Louis XII, who died the next year. In 1516, Ferdinand died, leaving Germaine a widow. Ferdinand's successor was the later Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, elder son of Philip and Joanna. Charles arranged for Germaine to marry in 1519, at Barcelona, the margrave Johann of Brandenburg-Ansbach, a landless cadet and cousin of Joachim I, Elector of Brandenburg. In 1523 Charles appointed the couple jointly viceroys of Valencia. On Johann's death in 1526, Germaine married Ferdinand of Aragón, Duke of Calabria, a son of King Frederick IV of Naples (1496-1501) by his second wife Isabella del Balzo. The two continued as viceroys of Valencia and were patrons of the arts and music. Germaine died in 1538. The Duke of Calabria continued in office until his death in 1550.


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