Joanna of Castile (1479 – 1555) was also known as Joanna the mad. I’m fairly certain this nickname came from male family members trying to take control of her kingdom. She was however, one of the most educated women in Europe and described as a great beauty.

Being such a looker, it’s no surprise she married someone with the name “Philip the Handsome.” Her obsession with Philip is what has led to her cuckoo diagnosis – and rumors of necrophilia after his death didn’t help her plight. It is thought that her father and brother poisoned her husband to gain power- and losing her will to fight, Joanna was pushed into confinement and declared insane.

Over time, her condition became much worse (why wouldn’t it? she was confined to a room in a convent!) She apparently became convinced that some of the nuns of the convent wanted to kill her, a fear which was never proved. Reportedly it was difficult for her to eat, sleep, bathe, or change her clothes.

She died on Good Friday at the age of 75 after being imprisoned for 50 years.

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