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Joan of Castile
Queen consort of Portugal
and the Algarves
of either side of the sea in Africa
Tenure 30 May 1475 - 1479
Spouse Afonso V
Mother Joan of Portugal
Born 21 February 1462
Died 1530
Castilian and Leonese royalty
House of Trastámara
Escudo Corona de Castilla.png

Henry II
Children include
   John I
   Eleanor, Queen of Navarre
John I
Children include
   Henry III
   Ferdinand I of Aragon, Valencia and Sicily
Henry III and II of Leon
Children include
   John II
   Maria, Queen of Aragon, Valencia, Sicily and Naples
John II
Children include
   Henry IV
   Isabella I
   Alfonso, Prince of Asturias
Henry IV and III of Leon
   Joan, Queen of Portugal
Isabella I with Ferdinand V
   Isabella, Queen of Portugal
   John, Prince of Asturias
   Joanna the Mad
   Maria, Queen of Portugal
   Catherine, Queen of England

Juana of Castile, known also as la Beltraneja (21 February 1462 – 1530) was a princess and throne claimer of Castile. She was also Queen consort of Portugal.



Her birth caused a scandal in the Castilian court[citation needed]. Her mother was Joan of Portugal, the spouse of Henry IV of Castile. The king had no other children from this or the previous marriage and rumour said he was impotent. Because of this and the fact that Joana of Portugal was having a relationship with Beltrán de La Cueva[citation needed], a Castilian noble, Juana was never considered legitimate. She was nicknamed the Beltraneja (a mocking reference to her assumed real father) from the cradle.

Her mother was banished to Bishop Fonseca's castle where she fell in love with Fonseca's nephew and became pregnant. Henry divorced her in 1468.

Heir to the throne

Juana remained the only child that could be remotely attributed to Henry IV of Castile. On 9 May 1462, Juana was officially proclaimed heir to the throne of Castile with the title princess of Asturias. Henry had the nobles of Castile swear alliance to her and promise that they would support her as monarch.

In 1464, however, her father was by a rebellion forced to promise her in marriage to Afonso, who was proclaimed her future spouse and monarch by marriage. In 1468, she was stripped from her succession-rights at the divorce of her parents. Her aunt Isabella was placed before her, on condition that Isabella marry a man pointed out by the monarch, although Juana as the heir after Isabella.

Juana was kept hostage by the Mendoza family in 1465-1470, and by Juan Pacheco 1470-1475. In 26 October 1470, she was engaged and the married by proxy to the Duke of Guienne, and again proclaimed as legitimate and heir to the throne. The duke died in 1472. There were many marriage negotiations to marry her to someone who could defend her succession. After a few unsettled arrangements, that included French and Burgundian princes, Joanna was promised in marriage to her uncle, King Afonso V of Portugal, who swore to defend her (and his own) rights to the crown of Castile.

Throne claimant

When Henry died in 1474, she was recognized as monarch by some noble fractions, while other recognized her aunt, Isabella I of Castile initiating a four-year War of the Castilian Succession. Juana sent a letter to the cities were she explained the will of her father that she should rule, and proposed that the cities voted for which succession they wished should be recognized. Galicia was held by her, the south by Isabella. Juana held court at Toro, and was considered a promising ruler by her courtiers, though to young.

On 30 May 1475, her uncle Afonso V of Portugal married Joan in Plasencia and prepared for the fighting. In 1476 Afonso invaded Castile. Afonso was defeated in the battle of Toro by Ferdinand II of Aragon, Isabella of Castile's husband. After this, Afonso V tried to procure, without success, an alliance with Louis XI of France. In 1478, the marriage between Joan and Afonso was annulled by Pope Sixtus IV on account of their family relation. She was then forced to renounce her titles as Princess of Castile, Queen of Castile, and also as Queen consort of Portugal.

Later life

In 1479, the king of Portugal gave up on the pretension and signed a treaty with the Catholic kings. Juana was given the choice to marry the son of Isabella when he became an adult and if he then chose to consent, or to enter a convent. Juana entered the convent Santa Clara in Coimbra, and her ceremony was witnessed by Isabella, who praised her decision. She was not incarcerated in the convent, and was eventually allowed to reside in the Castle of São Jorge in Lisbon. In 1482, Francis Phoebus, (Francis of Navarre), nephew of Louis XI of France, proposed to her as a French warning to Castile, who threatened Roussilon, but he died son after. At the death of Isabella in 1504, Ferdinand is alleged to have proposed to her to keep the throne form his son-in-law, but she refused.

Juana signed her letters until the day she died, "La Reina" meaning the queen. She died in Lisbon, having survived her aunt Isabella I. Joan's claim to the throne passed to her cousin, Queen Isabella I's daughter Joanna, who was already monarch of Castile.

In fiction

A drama entitled "Juana la Beltraneja" has been published in Liceus El Portal de las Humanidades by the author Santiago Sevilla. Here the role of Juan Pacheco and Beltrán de la Cueva shows the pernicious influence of certain members of the nobility towards princess Juana.


  • This page is a translation of its Portugese equivalent.
Joanna La Beltraneja
Born: 1462 Died: 1530
Preceded by
Isabel of Coimbra
Queen Consort of Portugal
30 May 1475 - 1479
Succeeded by
Leonor of Viseu
Spanish royalty
Title last held by
Prince Henry
Princess of Asturias
Succeeded by
Infante Alfonso
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Henry IV
 Queen of Castile
Reason for succession failure:
Joanna's aunt and uncle, Isabella I and Ferdinand V, were proclaimed co-monarchs.
Succeeded by


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