Biography of Juana de Austria (1532-1573)

Third daughter of the Emperor Carlos V and Isabel of Portugal, born in Madrid in the year 1535 and died in el Escorial in 1573. In 1552 married the heir to the throne of Portugal, infante Juan Manuel, which had a son, the future King of the Portuguese Sebastián I. After the death of her husband, in 1554, he/she returned to Spain to the post of Governor of the kingdoms, while the absence of his brother Felipe II, who went to England to marry María Tudorlast. In 1560 he/she founded in Madrid the convent of las Descalzas Reales, place which withdrew for departing from the life of the Court.

The early years of Joan of Austria

On June 24, 1535 was born the third and last daughter of Carlos V and Isabel of Portugal. At this time the Empress was in a real property in the outskirts of Madrid, former Palace of King Alonso Gutiérrez counter. Once again, Isabel had a difficult birth, leaving his fragile health very weakened by the effort. The Emperor, meanwhile, departed on 29 May of that same year to North Africa with the purpose of conquering the schooner and Tunisia to stop, thus the advance of Turkish Pirates of Barbarossa. On July 14 the schooner was taken to the assault and the 21st of that month was conquered Tunisia, where after a bloody battle, thirty thousand people were killed and more than sixteen thousand were made prisoners, Carlos V restored Muley Hasan in the Government of Tunisia and Bernardino de Mendoza left in charge of the schooner. Barbarossa, already without props, not was obliged to flee abruptly towards the city of priming

Infanta Juana was baptized a few days after his birth, on June 30, by the then Archbishop of Toledo, Juan Tavera, which had been invested by the Emperor the previous year (1534). The godparents of Princess were his brother and heir to the throne, the future Felipe II; the Prince of Piedmont and the Constable of Castile.

Following its usual Empress Elisabeth tried to deal personally with the care of the newborn and attempted with his two brothers, Felipe and María, receiving an education commensurate with their position in court. In this sense was instrumental in the support of one of her ladies honour, Leonor Mascareñas, which had come to Spain from the hand of Isabel after his marriage with the emperor. Despite everything, hardly Juana met his mother, since this died when the Princess was four years of age, in 1539. The premature death of the Empress was a blow to Carlos V and for their children, especially for Felipe, who throughout his life remained very close to her sisters. While the Prince of Asturias had own House from the age of six, by decision of his father who didn't want you educated surrounded by women, it was frequent that this and the princesses will be together long periods, thus, we find the Princes in Ocaña celebrating Christmas in 1540 or spending a few days in Aranjuez in 1541.

On December 1, 1542 the Kings of Portugal, Juan III and Catherine of Austria, definitively established conditions to accept Felipe II as the husband of his daughter María Manuela, as part of the agreement was also concluded the marriage of Juana with the heir of Portugal, Juan Manuel. Thus the infanta was used by his father to secure the Alliance with the neighboring country and thus, carry out one of the dreams of the Catholic Kings, uniting under a same Crown all the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. The infanta Juana at that time was seven years old and given his extreme youth decided to postpone the link until it reached the fertile age.

Despite good relations relatives and apparent happiness, were very frequent economic problems of the infantas, produced by excessive military expenditures and the large debt accumulated during the reign of Carlos V. The count of Cifuentes, Juana and María Butler, on several occasions expressed its concern, since the budget allocated to the House, did not cover all your needs. In 1544, the count of Cifuentes, wrote a letter to the Prince Felipe, informing him that his sisters could not leave Madrid since their debts not allowed them to finance a new transfer, also did not find anyone who advance them more money or had nothing more to sell. Such desperate situations could solve with the help of some nobles and high officials of the Church, as the Bishop of Osuna Pedro Álvarez Acosta, who financed the travel of the princesses or resulted in outstanding bills.

Was the same count of Cifuentes that years later, in 1547, wrote another letter, this time addressed to the Emperor, informing you of the progress of her small daughter. Juana, who was twelve years old, was reaching marriageable age so it was necessary to protect her virtue, since their betrothal approached with Juan Manuel and any indiscretion of the Princess could involve the rupture of the commitment, if this would create a serious diplomatic problem with Portugal. In this way, measures were taken to limit this public appearances, as well as its contact with the young people of the Court.

That same year the future Felipe II departed from the Cortes de Monzón towards Alcalá de Henares to inform her sister María that it had arranged his marriage with his cousin and future emperor, Archduke of Austria Maximiliano, the news was received with great joy by both infantas, which began to make preparations for the wedding. After the betrothal of María, both sisters just were in subsequent years, although they continued to hold their relationship through a rich correspondence. The Emperor believed that the courtly environment where he/she lived his eldest daughter, already married with Maximiliano, could harm the Infanta Juana, so tried that both do not coincide in the same city while María of Austria remained in Spain.

Very important for the infanta Juana during the years prior to their marriage was his relationship with his nephew Carlos, since after the betrothal of his sister María with Archduke Maximiliano, chances were that, while before finally leaving Spain in 1551, María stayed some years on the peninsula alongside her husband were counted, but it seems that the Emperor gave precise instructions so you visits of the future Empress Princess were controlled. Since the death of María Manuela of Portugal in 1545, his son had stayed with his aunts since the future Felipe II believed that they could take care of the infant; Thus, it was decided that some of the ladies of the deceased Princess will become part of the service of the House of the infantas, since it was necessary to maintain good relations with Portugal since the marriage of Juana was pending with the heir to Juan Manuel and when this died childless was very possible that the rights to the throne pass to the son of the Prince Felipe. Some historians believe that Joan, in certain way, assumed the role of mother of his nephew, which barely saw his father, occupied in exercising power in the Peninsular kingdoms while the Emperor remained in Europe. Juana and her nephew resided by order of Carlos V for a time in Aranda de Duero to subsequently move to Toro. A year after the departure of María of Austria, in 1552, Juana left for Portugal for marriage, was sixteen years old at the time and almost forced had to separate from his nephew, which was disconsolate at the departure of the infanta.

The marriage of Juana of Austria and Juan Manuel of Portugal

Negotiations with the Kings of Portugal began formally in 1542. On behalf of the Emperor came to the neighboring Juan de Idiáquez, Secretary of State, to start the talks, although it was highlighted in Lisbon, Luis Sarmiento de Mendoza, Spanish Ambassador who was in charge of finalizing the details. The capitulations were in principle very slow since Juan III of Portugal was reluctant to his daughter María Manuela to marry the heir to Spanish; Since he/she had planned to marry this with his brother the infante Luis and thus save her dowry. After the intervention of Catherine of Austria in favour of his nephew, don Juan changed his mind and agreed, for the sake of his daughter, and by the benefits that the link could report to his Kingdom. But despite all the marriage had to deal with opposition from a group of nobles who saw close the possibility of both Crowns to join, since the health of the infante Juan Manuel was very fragile and his death could lead to the arrival of a Spanish King to the throne. As clause of the marital agreement signed by the Kings of Portugal and Emperor, agreed that the infanta Juana to marry the heir to the Portuguese throne, thus remained a deeply rooted tradition since the time of the Catholic monarchs, to the union of the two crowns; therefore were common at this time double marriages between members of the Royal families of the Iberian Peninsula, as well, after the marriage of Carlos V Isabella of Portugal were also married the sister of Catherine of Austria, with the brother of the Empress Juan III.

Juana at the time that his commitment was made official, on December 1, 1542, was seven years old. The fiancé of the infanta, Juan Manuel, meanwhile was also very young at this time, since he/she had served only five years. Born June 3, 1537 in Évora, was sworn heir to the Portuguese throne in 1544 in Almeirim city. Given the youth of the Princes the Kings of Portugal and the Emperor agreed to postpone the link between Jeanne and the infant Juan Manuel until they reached the marriageable age, according to the Spanish law of the time a woman was at marriageable age the twelve years or when you reach the fertile age. For his part, María Manuela and Felipe married in 1543, as result of their marriage was born Carlos infante to which so attached was Juana since childhood since when it was born he/she was 9 years old.

In the year 1551 began preparations for the wedding of the infanta, the first step was to form the courtship that should accompany it to the border with Portugal, this future Felipe II spared no expense, despite the economic difficulties that crossed the United. Before leaving Spain the infanta Juana was married by proxy with Juan Manuel, since before leaving his father's house her husband should become his legal guardian and therefore responsible for their actions. In Portugal they also began preparations for the hosting of the wife of the heir, on 21 December of that same year the necessary accreditations were awarded to Pires Lorenzo of Tabora to represent Juan Manuel cited marriage by proxy held January 11, 1552, in the Castilian city of Toro. The Prince of Asturias attended the event, visibly excited, as a witness. Juana after the ceremony, tried by all means delaying his departure from Spain, not wanting to abandon his nephew Carlos, which had cared almost from its birth, following the death of his mother María Manuela.

The infanta arrived in Badajoz 13 November 1552 after a long journey, accompanied by the Duke of Escalona and the Bishop of Osma. After crossing the border of both kingdoms and get up the Act of delivery, Princess went to the custody of the Duke of Aveiro and the Bishop of Coimbra. On 5 December the King of Portugal, Juan III, joined the retinue accompanying Juana to Lisbon. Wedding officiated by the Enriquecardenal-infante, who years later would occupy the Portuguese throne after the death of his nephew Sebastián I, was held in Pazos da Ribeira, but the Princess did not receive a warm welcome, since there were many doubts in the village and some nobles on the desirability of this marriage to interest them in Portugal, since the Spanish intervention could be huge given the fragile health of the heirso if the couple had offspring and Juan Manuel died prematurely, the post of Regent by law would correspond to the daughter of the emperor. On the other hand if Juan Manuel died without descendants the throne of the House of Avis would go through right to the infante Carlos, son of Felipe II and the eldest daughter of the Kings of Portugal María Manuela.

It seems that Prince Juan Manuel, who was fourteen at the time of the marriage, was captivated the beauty of her cousin, who by then had served sixteen years. The infant against the advice of their doctors, frequently arranged the apartments of Princess since I couldn't stand being away from her for a long time. Joan became pregnant quickly and in August 1553 announced official that he/she hoped a child, not Juan Manuel left to visit his wife on the other hand went to his quarters three times a day. The heir's health was deteriorating increasingly and in October of the same year was sick in bed since he/she suffered from strong fevers.

January 2, 1554 died don Juan Manuel after a long agony; Thus the succession of Portugal was in the air. Juana meanwhile was in an advanced state of gestation and was unaware of the fate of her husband, since for the sake of the mother-to-be decided to hide the news, so the ladies of the Court were to change their clothing in mourning if they visited the Princess and followed the religious manifestations imploring that the birth of Juana was conducive and that gave the Crown a male heir. January 20 Juana gave birth to her first and last son, the future King Sebastián I. The christening of the new heir to the throne of Portugal was held on January 28 in the chapel do Paço.

Juana was just four months with his son, as after the death of her husband, his brother Felipe asked to come back to Spain to be named Governor. The Spanish Crown should go to England to marry María Tudor, the Emperor in principle was contrary to his small daughter occupy a position of high responsibility and leave Portugal, but it was not obliged to accept the decision of his heir. Juana was determined to abide by the request of his brother, but refused to leave his son and decided that he/she would bring it with her to Valladolid. Catalina Queen Juana convinced so he/she left alone, not only because of the inconveniences and dangers posed for a small child to make a long trip, but also because the future heir to the Crown of Portugal could not abandon his Kingdom. So Juana went back to Spain leaving in charge of his aunt and mother-in-law to his son Sebastián, whom he/she would not return to see more, despite their attempts to return to Portugal and become the Regent of the Kingdom. Sebastián came to the throne at the age of three years, after the death of Juan III in 1557, I being Regent Catherine of Austria, his grandmother, until it was declared adult in 1568. In the year 1578 he/she left, with an army of Seventeen thousand men, he/she Arcila, where was killed in the battle of Alcazarquivir.

The Regency of Juana of Austria in Spain

After the death of Juan Manuel in early 1554 in Spain, the heir to the throne sent the Portuguese court to Luis Venegas de Figueroa with a letter to the widow Jane Princess. In this letter Felipe asked his sister return to Castile since he/she was forced to leave for England to marry María Tudor. Juana accepted the assignment, and after trying to unsuccessfully that her newborn son left her side, began its journey on April 16.

It seems that the Emperor did not consider the very wise decision for your child, but is forced to comply since the trip to England could not be postponed for a long time and needed someone to take power in absence of heir and of himself. Carlos V considered that his daughter should not leave since Portugal in haste so that in case of death of Juan III, rather than Sebastián infante reached adulthood he/she would be the Regent and would occupy the power on behalf of his son; on the other hand if the mentioned infant died, it was necessary to defend the rights of Prince Carlos in the Portuguese court. It should be noted also that the Emperor did not have a good concept of his small daughter, since this during the time he/she spent in Portugal had spent large amount of money for the maintenance of your home, to Felipe therefore advised to carefully follow the movements of his sister in the Government. For his part heir had better judgment of his sister but left established a Regency Council, with the figure of Juan Vázquez de Molina, to control their actions and to help it in the exercise of power.

Juana left the Portuguese court and after crossing the border of both kingdoms found with his brother Felipe in Alcantara, which was waiting for her to be able to advise it on its new responsibilities. Prince Felipe, had directed her Entourage to La Coruña so they were preparing the trip to England, so along with a group of nobles of trust and against the wishes of the Emperor, went in search of his sister to escort it for a few days. Together they went to Cork, where Joanna I was very ill, it is possible that Felipe wanted to know the true state of her grandmother, because it seemed that the Emperor wanted to retire and his long-awaited relief at the Summit was to be expected on the death of his mother, which although legally declared crazy era Queen legitimate Castilla. After spending a few days together, Juana went to Valladolid accompanied by García de Toledo, Bishop of Osma, and Badajoz; on the other hand Felipe undertook riding her way to La Coruña.

Felipe during the days spent together with Juana has told you that you should retain every Friday a meeting with the Board meetings, to meet the more urgent matters, furthermore located it so request the opinion of the Secretary Juan Vázquez de Molina, his total confidence man. He/She asked that it used the borders and that it had prepared the galleys if there was a problem in this regard. You should care forms in the Court, carrying an orderly life and hear mass in public every day, also had to grant audience to all who so request, not rushing in its resolutions and attending his counselors if have any questions. On the other hand to maintain order in the clergy of all Peninsular kingdoms, monitoring the bishops occupied their headquarters and not take advantage his absence so legitimate, if they had them, their natural children needed.

Juana took his position as Governor without any difficulty and sometime later received the news of the marriage of his brother with María Tudor had been held successfully and that England had returned to the bosom of the Catholic Church. For it was reason for great joy and told Felipe mail your wishes that in Germany the same results, manage although their hopes were futile since the Emperor did not get the Protestants to return to obedience to Rome and in the peace of Augsburg (1555) was forced to recognize religious freedom.

In 1555 the economic situation in the Kingdom was concerned about Juana, put support for English Catholics and open war for the Emperor in France (1552-1556), to occupy Mertz, Toul and Verdum, consumed all proceeds received the Crown. The Governor was unable to get six hundred thousand ducats that his brother asked him from England and expressed the need to sign the peace on all fronts, since without it the Treasury is headed toward bankruptcy. The arrival of a major shipment of silver in Seville in 1556, from new mines discovered in Guadalcanar, provided a respite to the economic problems of Carlos V, which due to their bankers, the Fugger, the Welser and the Spinola, the high figure of seven million Ducats, in 1551 and debts continued to increase. In 1558 the economic situation was so bad that the bankers of Antwerp refused to lend more money to Felipe II, meanwhile Seville traders did not want to deliver part of ingots of gold and silver receiving American Jill and this, following the directions of his father, locked them in Simancas as warning.

In 1556 after signing peace with the German Protestants, and in France, the Emperor abdicated, giving the Government of Germany to his brother Fernando and his son Felipe their territories in the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Burgundy and America. Carlos V exhausted by years of Government went to the monastery of Yuste, where he/she would remain until his death. At first he/she thought that this would replace Joan as Regent, but this situation would have been somewhat irregular and was quickly discarded. Despite all the Emperor away from withdraw from the world he/she was permanently informed of the issues and their children received their instructions until the end of his days.

A major problem that the Princess had faced as Governor was the appearance of a Lutheran focus in Castile, in particular in Valladolid and Seville. Carlos, concerned, addressed a letter to his daughter so he/she tried to nip the arrival of Protestantism in Spain. Juana meanwhile reported to his brother and his father on the suspicion that was home to the circle of the Bishop Carranza, since according to the Inquisitor Fernando de Valdéshad been informed, it was frequent that many accused mentioned him in their confessions. Important characters were accused of heresy, after being tried by a Court of the Holy Office and confess, were convicted and delivered to the secular courts. You may 21, 1559 was celebrated in the plaza mayor of Valladolid an auto de Fe, presided over by the Governor Juana and by his nephew Carlos, fifteen people were burnt but only one of them was led into the living fire, since all of them repented during the trial. In 1558 Juana wrote a letter to the rector of the University of Salamanca that revise the library books and avoid the contact of our students with books that attack the principles of Catholicism.

Courtly life and retreat to the Descalzas Reales

Juana left the post of Governor after the arrival of King Felipe II to Spain in 1559. Not returned during his lifetime to another position of responsibility although he/she lived together with his brother and nephew in the Court of Madrid, thus available in the Palace, official residence of the King, of their own rooms, which were close to del infante Carlos.

That in that same year (1559) was the matrimonial connection of Felipe II with Isabel de Valois a daughter of Henry IIof France and Catherine de Medicis. Juana enjoyed the maximum consideration and was the godmother of the third wedding of his brother, was also chosen to occupy the post of Maid of honor of the new Queen, along with the wife of the Duke of Alba and the Princess of Eboli, Ana de Mendoza.

Juana and Isabel maintained a great friendship during the years the marriage, thanks to its great vitality and despite the age difference between the two, shared games and hobbies in the Court. It was therefore often find the Queen and his lady singing in the gardens of the Palace, representing farces for King or dancing in the apartments private Isabel. Both went to daily mass together, went to visit the convents of the town where they were and they contributed generously to charities, these years were without a doubt the happiest monarch.

In 1560, Felipe II began to consider that his son Carlos enter into marriage. The first candidate was the sister of the Queen, Marguerite de Valois. Catherine de Medicis, Regent of France, taking advantage of the position of his daughter Isabel called on to intercede for her sister and reach agreement on also the marriage of the Duke of Orléans, the future Henry III, with the Princess widow Juana. Another possible candidate for marriage to don Carlos was his cousin Anna of Austria, daughter of the Empress María de Austria, that years later later marriage with Felipe II and would be mother of the future Felipe III. Felipe thought finally marry his son Joan, despite the age difference, he/she was nine years older than his nephew, maintained excellent relations with Carlos from his childhood in bull and he/she had cared him since the death of his mother María Manuela. Carlos at all times refused to marry his aunt, not because of their kinship, but because despite its beauty, Juana was regarded as one of the most beautiful women of the Court, this was not a Virgin and the infant didn't want to marry a woman tested.

Juana on numerous occasions demonstrated the great affection that he/she felt for his nephew Carlos, even some foreign ambassadors residing in the Court at that time argued that this was a romance with him, and that refusal to contract marriage with her caused him a great shame. Some historians maintain that Juana accepted this marriage by the possibility of being appointed Queen in the future and not because he/she was in love with his nephew. In 1568, Carlos suffered a serious accident in Alcalá de Henares, after falling down stairs when he/she was chasing the daughter a servant with which seems that it had relations; Juana constantly prayed for the salvation of his nephew and even went barefoot as penitent to the monastery of la Consolación. During the months that Carlos remained locked up on the orders of his father in the Alcázar of Madrid were constant attempts of Juana by going to visit him despite the ban of the King.

After the death of the infante Carlos and Isabella of Valois in 1568, the Princess Juana began to show less and less in the Court, while after the marriage of Felipe II with Ana of Austria, he/she worked again as a bridesmaid and he/she was appointed Lady-in-waiting of the Queen.

It was a very pious woman during his life, thanks to the education received, it had financed the founding of monasteries and gave large donations to the relief of the poor, in this sense is the Foundation of the College of san Agustín in Alcalá de Henares and the convent of the Descalzas Reales in Madrid. The works in the convent of las Descalzas Reales were initiated in 1560 and its construction concluded four years later. Designed by the Royal architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, initiator of the works of el Escorial, is a close convent, built in brick and masonry. The infanta Juana decided to cede the land where was the House where was born in 1535 for the construction of the convent and is believed that the altar was the stack where was baptized. After the death of his sister-in-law, Isabella of Valois, Juana spent long periods meditating and praying in these facilities, also authorized his brother to deposit therein the remains of Elizabeth, until will conclude the works in the Pantheon of el Escorial. It should be noted that his sister, the Empress of Austria María, on his return to Spain wanted to remain the last years of his life imprisoned in the mentioned monastery, and decided to be buried in the same place, perhaps to demonstrate the enormous affection that felt by his deceased little sister.

The infanta Juana died September 8, 1573 in San Lorenzo de el Escorial, accompany almost all his life to the King Felipe II and have provided important services. The pain of the Felipe was immense because we not only lost the affection of his sister, but also the support of a close friend in the last difficult years of his reign.


JOVER ZAMORA, J.M. (dir) "Spain Felipe II-time", in history of Spain of Menéndez Pidal. Vol XXII. First part. Madrid, Espasa Calpe, 1994.FERNANDEZ ALVAREZ, MANUEL. Felipe II and his time. Madrid, Espasa Calpe, 1998.