Royal Women Who Went Insane

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.

The Stardust Plane Crash

The Stardust was a civilian aircraft that disappeared into the Andes mountains in the late 1940's. Despite the fact that the plane was searched for immediately, it was not discovered again until fifty-three years after it disappeared. Its fate was made rather obvious by what was left of the plane. However, there are still many mysteries regarding what happened to the Stardust.

The Stardust was a civilian passenger version of the Avo Lancaster bomber. It was an advanced aircraft for the time and was capable of reaching speeds of 310 miles per hour and an altitude of more than 20,000 feet, which was nearly unheard of then. On August 2, 1947, the Stardust departed from Buenos Aires Airport in Argentina on its way to Santiago, Chile with five crew members and six passengers on board.

The Stardust maintained communication in Morse code throughout the flight. Everything seemed to be going well, but the weather wasn’t good. The captain of the Stardust, Reginald Cook, decided to attempt to bring the aircraft up above the weather for a smoother flight. Experts believe that the plane got caught in a jet stream when it reached the desired altitude. The captain would not have been aware of this, because jet streams were largely unknown at the time because very few aircraft had the capability of flying at an altitude where they would encounter one. It would seem that the jet stream blew the Stardust far off its course.

When it seemed that the plane was in position to begin its descent, a Morse code signal was sent and the pilot began lowering the plane. Soon after, a message came from the Stardust; it simply said STENDEC. This code made no sense to the recipient of the message, so he asked that the message be repeated. The same message was sent twice more. The final STENDEC that was received marked the end of communications with the Stardust. The plane never landed in Santiago and the passengers and the crew were never heard from again.

A search to find the missing aircraft was conducted shortly after its disappearance, but not one trace of it could be found. Many theories regarding the Stardust’s disappearance arose over the following fifty years. Some of these theories were plausible, but others were literally out of this world. Many of these theories were discounted when, in 1998, a pair of mountain climbers discovered some of the wreckage on Mount Tupangato in the Andes. The wreckage was fifty miles away from where the plane should have been at the time of the final communication.

It wasn’t until two years later that an investigation into the crash was conducted. In January 2010, a group of Argentinian Army mountaineers and some civilian climbers went to the site with the intention of finding some of the body parts of the crash victims in order to identify them. When they reached the site they discovered one of the plane’s engines (a Roll’s Royce creation), two of the plane’s wheels, a propeller, a hand, some clothing, chunks of hair and pieces of a victim’s midsection. Despite the fact that much of the wreckage is still missing, experts were able to come up with a very plausible theory explaining the cause of the crash and why it took so long to discover the wreckage.

Experts believe that the jet stream is the reason that the Stardust deviated from its course without the knowledge of the captain. In its new position, the plane would have crashed into the side of Mount Tupangato during its descent. It is believed that the speed of the plane and the devastating nature of the crash would have ensured that the eleven people on board died instantly. There is no evidence to suggest otherwise.

The reason that the Stardust remained undiscovered for so long could be because it was buried in snow and ice. It is believed that the wreckage would have become covered in snow rather quickly and that the snow would have eventually turned to ice, thus trapping the wreckage in the Tupangato glacier. As the glacier slowly and naturally moved down the mountain, the wreckage moved with it. Eventually it reached a place where the temperature was warmer and the remains of the Stardust that were discovered were released from the ice. This is the most satisfactory explanation as to why it took so long to find the wreckage.

Despite the fact that we now have a good idea of what may have happened to the Stardust, the crash is still quite mysterious. Of course, we cannot be certain that the above explanations are entirely correct and we may never be certain. There is also the fact that much of the wreckage and most of the victims remain missing. Then of course, there is the cryptic message that was sent by the Stardust three times. There is no known Morse code abbreviation to explain it and its meaning remains a mystery. It is quite possible that we will never know what the message meant to convey.


Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared, BBC2 9:00 p.m., Thursday, 2 Nov, 2000, retrieved 9/29/09,

Castle, Matt, The Star Dust Mystery, 30 July, 2007, retrieved 9/29/09,