It’s true that throughout history there have been many royals that people say were insane. Unfortunately, there are instances where we can’t be certain of these claims because of a lack of evidence or political agendas. Still, history remembers them as such and it is strange indeed. In this article, we will focus on some female members of the royal class, who will, for one reason or another, be remembered for their troubled mental states.
Juana of Castile
Juana of Castile was the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabelle of Spain. She was the Countess of Flanders, the Duchess of Burgundy, the Archduchess of Austria and, eventually, the Queen of Spain. She was often referred to as Juana la loca, or Juana the Mad.
Juana of Castile is considered insane because of an unhealthy obsession she had with her husband Phillip the Handsome, who could have just as accurately been known as Philip the Promiscuous. The couple met in 1496. Philip was not long in marrying her, bedding her and moving on to other women. This did not stop Juana from loving him. She became known for fits of jealousy, which eventually developed into mental illness.
The couple obviously remained sexually intimate with each another, seeing that Juana gave birth to ten of Philip’s children. Nonetheless, he also slept with other women until his death from fever or poisoning in 1506. Juana, who was by then Queen and again pregnant, had her husband’s body dug up so that she could travel with it to Granada. The trip to Granada turned into a seemingly endless display of mourning practices. Juana also spent much time opening her husband’s casket in anticipation of a resurrection that she hoped would occur.
Juana’s father put a stop to the public display and had his daughter taken to the St. Clara’s monastery. Her husband was interred there, where she could see his grave from her window. She spent the rest of her life at the monastery, fluctuating between periods of madness and melancholy. She didn’t seem to care at all that she was the Queen.
Anna of Saxony
Anna of Saxony was a child when her parents died. She was left with a fortune and displayed signs of erratic moods and irritability from a young age. This would be the hallmark of her adult life.
Anna of Saxony married William of Orange in 1561. Her mood swings are said to have worsened when she became pregnant with her first child. The child died, but she had two more that survived infancy. She showed no signs of love or caring for them or her stepchildren. She showed nothing but public disdain for her husband and began indulging in drunken binges, which were likely very embarrassing for her royal family.
Anna of Saxony eventually left her husband, spent all of her money and became pregnant with another man’s child. Her punishment should have been execution according to the laws of the time, but William of Orange simply had the marriage annulled. She was kept at Castle Bastille, starting in 1572. By then, she was uncontrollable. She was profane, violent, hallucinating and entertaining delusions that she had killed her children. She was taken to Dresden in 1575, where her condition got no better. She died there in 1577.
Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg
Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg was the daughter of Elector Johann Sigismund and Anna of Prussia. She married King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden in 1620 and was crowned Queen. Not long after the wedding, Maria began showing signs of strange personality traits. She became pregnant within four months. She miscarried by the end of the first year. Following the miscarriage, she had severe mood swings and spoke of what witnesses described as inconceivable acts of violence.
Maria Eleonora lost another child, her mother and her brother within a few months of each other. She became pregnant again soon after and her child was born dead. A few years later, she became pregnant once more. This time the child survived. It was a girl, however, and Maria had wanted a boy. She loathed the child and there were rumors that she even tried to hurt her.
The King was killed in battle in 1632. Maria went entirely insane after this. She slept with the man’s casket in her room for nearly a year. She kept his heart in a box hanging over the bed in which she and her now beloved daughter slept. Maria lived in a near constant state of agitation and inconsolable sadness until her death, 23 years later.