Gillian B. Fleming
Legitimacy and Conflict in Sixteenth-Century Castile
Palgrave Macmillan 2018
New Books in BiographyNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network May 17, 2018 Mark Klobas
Labeled in history as “mad,” Juana of Castile was in fact a complex figure whose sometimes emotional nature was exploited by the men around her as a way of limiting her ability to exercise her power as queen. Gillian B. Fleming’s Juana I: Legitimacy and Conflict in Sixteenth-Century Castile (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), a volume in the publisher’s “Queenship and Power” series, examines the struggles she faced in ruling that were posed by her husband, her father, and her son. The second daughter of Fernando of Aragon and Isabel of Castile, the bright and willful Juana was raised to assume the traditional duties of a royal woman. It was the death of her brother Juan and her older sister Isabel of Aragon that placed her in line to succeed her mother. Though designated as the ruler of Castile in her mother’s will, when Isabel died in 1504, Juana soon found herself confined as part of a struggle between her father and her husband Philip, over control of Castile. As Fleming explains, many of the steps she undertook to assert herself during this time often played into the arguments made about her unsuitability for ruling, which became a recurring theme in the efforts to deny her rightful authority. Even after the deaths of first her husband and then her father, her son Charles continued her confinement as a means of ensuring his control over her kingdom, a confinement that continued until her death in 1555.