by Susan Flantzer
© Unofficial Royalty 2022
Also known as Philip of Habsburg, and Philip the Handsome, Philip was born in Bruges in the County of Flanders, now in Belgium, on July 22, 1478. He was the husband of Juana I, Queen of Castile and León and Queen of Aragon. Philip was the elder of the three children and the elder but the only surviving of the two sons of Maximilian I, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola, and Holy Roman Emperor, and the first of his three wives, Mary, Duchess of Burgundy, the ruler of the Burgundian State in her own right. The Burgundian State consisted of parts of the present-day Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and Germany. Philip’s paternal grandparents were Friedrich III, Holy Roman Emperor (also Friedrich V, Archduke of Austria and Duke of Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola) and Eleanor of Portugal. His maternal grandparents were Charles I (the Bold), Duke of Burgundy and the second of his three wives Isabella of Bourbon.
Philip had two younger siblings but only his sister survived childhood:
- Margaret of Austria, Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands (1480 – 1530), married (1) Juan, Prince of Asturias, the only son and heir of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, who died from tuberculosis, no children (2) Philibert II, Duke of Savoy, no children
- Franz of Austria (born and died 1481)
Philip’s parents; Credit – Wikipedia
Philip was the heir to both his father’s and mother’s dominions. His mother Mary was the only child of Charles I (the Bold), Duke of Burgundy, and succeeded him after his death at the Battle of Nancy during the Burgundian Wars in 1477. Philip’s father Maximilian was the heir to the Archduchy of Austria and the Duchies of Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola, today part of Austria and Slovenia. Maximilian was elected King of the Romans in 1486. The Holy Roman Empire was an elective monarchy. No person had a legal right to the succession simply because he was related to the current Holy Roman Emperor. However, the Holy Roman Emperor could, and often did, have a relative (usually a son) elected to succeed him after his death. This elected heir apparent bore the title King of the Romans. Maximilian became Holy Roman Emperor, Archduke of Austria, and Duke of Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola when his father Friedrich III died in 1493. However, Philip predeceased his father and never succeeded to his father’s dominions but his eldest son Carlos did.
In March 1482, Philip’s parents Mary and Maximilian were participating in a hunt. Mary was an experienced rider and she held her falcon in one hand and the reins in the other hand. However, her horse stumbled over a tree stump while jumping over a newly dug canal. The saddle belt under the horse’s belly broke causing Mary to fall out of the saddle and into the canal with the horse on top of her. Twenty-five-year-old Mary, who was pregnant, was seriously injured and died several weeks later from internal injuries.
Philip, who was not quite four years old, succeeded his mother as ruler of the Burgundian State under the guardianship of his father Maximilian. Philip now held the following titles and was the ruler of the following:
- Titular Duke of Burgundy as Philip IV
- Duke of Brabant as Philip III
- Duke of Limburg as Philip III
- Duke of Lothier as Philip III
- Duke of Luxemburg as Philip II
- Margrave of Namur as Philip V
- Count Palatine of Burgundy as Philip VI
- Count of Charolais as Philip III
- Count of Flanders as Philip IV
- Count of Hainaut as Philip II
- Count of Holland as Philip II
- Count of Zeeland as Philip II
- Duke of Guelders as Philip I
- Count of Zutphen as Philip I
Beginning in 1480, Philip was educated by Olivier de la Marche, a soldier, diplomat, poet, and chronicler of the Burgundian court, and François de Busleyden (link in French), a priest and later Archbishop of Besançon and Philip’s chancellor in Flanders. In September 1494, Philip was declared of legal age and released from his father’s guardianship.
During the First Italian War (1494 – 1495), Philip’s father Maximilian made an alliance with the husband and wife rulers of what is now Spain, Ferdinand II, King of Aragon and Isabella I, Queen of Castile and León, for a double marriage between their children. Juan, Prince of Asturias, the only son and heir of Ferdinand and Isabella, would marry Maximilian’s only daughter Margaret of Austria, and Ferdinand and Isabella’s second daughter Infanta Juana of Aragon would marry Maximilian’s only son Philip. These marriages were part of the foreign policy of Ferdinand and Isabella to build a network of alliances through the marriages of their children to strengthen their kingdoms, destined to be inherited by their son Juan, against France, their major rival at that time. The double marriages were never intended to allow the Spanish kingdoms to fall under the control of the House of Habsburg, which they eventually did. Philip’s intended bride Juana was third in line to the thrones of Aragon, Castile, and León after her elder brother Juan and her elder sister Isabella, and would fall further down the line of succession if her elder siblings had children.
18-year-old Philip and 16-year-old Juana were married by proxy at the Palacio de los Vivero in Valladolid, Kingdom of Castile. On August 22, 1496, Juana began her journey to her new home. The wedding was formally celebrated on October 20, 1496, at the Collegiate Church of Saint Gummarus in the small town of Lier, then in the County of Flanders, now in Belgium, near the city of Antwerp.
Philip and Juana had six children, all were kings or queen consorts:
- Eleanor of Austria, Queen of Portugal, Queen of France (1498 – 1558), married (1) Manuel I, King of Portugal (his third wife), had two children (2) François I, King of France (his second wife), no children
- Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, also Carlos I, King of Spain (1500 – 1558), married Isabella of Portugal, had five children including Felipe II, King of Spain
- Isabella of Austria, Queen of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (1501 – 1526), married Christian II, King of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, had five children, only two daughters survived childhood
- Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, (1503 – 1564), married Anna of Bohemia and Hungary, had fifteen children
- Mary of Austria, Queen of Bohemia and Hungary, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands (1505 – 1558), married Louis II, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, no children
- Catherine of Austria, Queen of Portugal (1507 – 1578), married João III, King of Portugal, had nine children
Within four years of her marriage to Philip, Juana became the heir to her parents’ kingdoms after the death of her childless only brother Juan, Prince of Asturias in 1497, the death of her eldest sister Isabella of Aragon, Princess of Asturias, Princess of Portugal in childbirth in 1498, and the death of her sister Isabella’s only child Prince Miguel da Paz of Portugal in 1500, shortly before his second birthday.
Although Juana was deeply in love with Philip, their married life was unhappy. Philip was unfaithful and politically insecure. He constantly attempted to usurp Juana’s legal birthrights. This led to the rumors of Juana’s insanity because those rumors benefited Philip politically. Most historians now agree Juana was clinically depressed and not insane as commonly believed.
On November 26, 1504, Juana’s mother Isabella I, Queen of Castile and León died. Juana became Queen of Castile and León but her father Ferdinand II, King of Aragon proclaimed himself Governor and Administrator of Castile and León. In 1506, Juana’s husband Philip became King of Castile and León jure uxoris (by the right of his wife) as Philip I, initiating the rule of the Habsburgs in the Spanish kingdoms which would last until 1700. However, Philip’s rule lasted only from July 12, 1506 to September 25, 1506, when he died, aged 28, at Casa del Cordón in Burgos, Castile, apparently of typhoid fever, although an assassination by poisoning was rumored at the time.
Philip had spread rumors about Juana’s supposed madness when he was still alive and her misunderstood behavior after his death may have reinforced these rumors. Juana decided to transfer Philip’s remains from Burgos in the north of present-day Spain, where he had died and had already been buried, to Granada in the south of present-day Spain. Apparently, Philip wanted to be buried in Granada. The distance from Burgos to Granada is 423 miles/681 kilometers, a 6 1/2 hour car ride today, but an extraordinary distance in 1506. Pregnant with her last child, Juana traveled with her husband’s body from Burgos to Granada. The trip would take eight months. During the trip, Juana gave birth to her last child named Catherine after her youngest sister, Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of King Henry VIII of England. Finally, Philip was interred at the Royal Chapel of Granada where his mother-in-law Isabella I, Queen of Castile and León was interred and where his father-in-law Ferdinand II, King of Aragon and his wife Juana I, Queen of Castile and León, Queen of Aragon would also be interred.
Was Juana mad or was she manipulated by her father, husband, and son? Juana’s father Ferdinand, her husband Philip, and eventually her son Carlos had a lot to gain from Juana being declared unfit to rule. Juana did show excessive grief as she traveled through Castile with Philip’s coffin. What is overlooked is that her 28-year-old husband died suddenly after a five-day illness and that she was fulfilling Philip’s wish to be buried in Granada. In addition, her father Ferdinand deliberately blocked Philip’s burial in Granada causing delays in Juana’s journey.
In 1509, Juana’s father Ferdinand convinced the parliament that Juana was too mentally ill to govern, and was appointed her guardian and regent of Castile and León. Juana was confined in the Royal Convent of Santa Clara in Tordesillas, Castile, now in Spain, under the orders of her father. In 1516, Ferdinand II, King of Aragon died. In his will, Ferdinand named his daughter Juana and her eldest son Carlos (also known as Charles in history) as the co-heirs of the Kingdom of Aragon. However, Juana would never really reign as she would not be released from her confinement until her death.
It would be Philip and Juana’s son Carlos who would reign and inherit the dominions of his mother Juana (Castile, León, and Aragon), the dominions of his father Philip (the Burgundian State which were parts of the present-day Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and Germany, see the list of Philip’s titles above), and also the dominions of his paternal grandfather Maximilian I, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola, and Holy Roman Emperor who died after Philip’s death. When Juana died in 1555, it resulted in the personal union of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, as her son Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, among many other titles, also became King of Castile and León and King of Aragon, effectively creating the Kingdom of Spain. Carlos I was not only the first King of a united Spain and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, but he was also Charles I, Archduke of Austria, and Charles II, Lord of the Netherlands, among many other titles.
Juana survived her husband Philip by forty-nine years, dying on April 12, 1555, aged 75, at the Royal Convent of Santa Clara in Tordesillas. She had spent the last forty-six years of her life confined, living through decades of internment, isolation, and sometimes inhumane treatment by the guards.
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- Flantzer, Susan, 2022. Juana I, Queen of Castile and León and Queen of Aragon. [online] Unofficial Royalty. Available at: <https://www.unofficialroyalty.com/juana-i-queen-of-castile-and-leon-and-queen-of-aragon/> [Accessed 17 July 2022].