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Such an sad story for a Friday, but here it goes.

Joanna of Austria (1547 – 1578) definitely came from a long line of royal blood. Her mother was Anna of Bohemia and Hungary and her father was Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor. Also her paternal grandparents were Philip I of Castile (also known as Philip the Handsome) and Joanna of Castile (also known as Joanna the Mad.)

She was married to Francesco I de’ Medici in 1565 but it was a very unhappy marriage. The people of Florence did not like the Austrian duchess, and I’m guessing, this left her quite lonely. She managed to give birth to six daughters, but only 3 survived infancy (so so so sad.) Unfortunately, all Francesco cared about (like all the royal men of the times) was having a male heir. This caused a lot of stress and turmoil for poor Joanna. Francesco took a mistress, Bianca Capello, who gave birth to a son in 1576. Can you even imagine how tragic this was for Joanna?!?!? The mistress had a boy first?!?! Mon dieu.  Makes me kind of want to cry.

But, alas, she did have a son in 1577. Phew. They named him Filippo. Another tragic story, he died at age 4 from Hydrocephalus (water on the brain.) Thank goodness Joanna wasn’t alive to see him go. She died while pregnant with her 8th child. She fell down a flight of stairs and the baby was delivered the next day- prematurely, arm-first, and ruptured Joanna’s uterus. Absolutely horrifying.

Francesco went on to marry his mistress, which fueled stories about how Joanna had actually fallen. But, turns out, she would most likely have died from the birth anyway. She had severe scoliosis and a deformed pelvis – which would cause incredible and unbearable pain for her during all of her pregnancies. Historians have mentioned that it is a miracle she survived any of them.

Out of all 8 children, only two survived to adulthood – Eleanor de’Medici (married the Duke of Mantua) and Marie de’Medici (married Henri IV of France.)