AnnaofSaxony Anna of Saxony (1544 – 1577)

Anna Van Buren came from a long line of well documented mental illness. Poor thing was a hunchback who walked with a “marked gait” and is described as “unfortunate looking.” But this did not stop the plethora of suitors from streaming in due to her enormous wealth.

Lucky (heh) William of Orange was the winner. The incredibly spoiled, melancholic, aggressive and suicidal Anna agreed to marry him in 1561.

Anna was painfully unstable, so after they were married she went through bouts of extreme partying and debilitating depression where she refused to eat or leave her darkened room for days. Pregnancy seemed to amplify the symptoms. This behavior escalated quickly and soon William tried to remove their children from her care. Anna did not take this well and waged a very public war against her husband, accusing him of impotence. Somehow, William took her back and begged Anna to lead a more “conservative” lifestyle. No such luck.

Anna mistreated her staff, engaged in very immoral behavior and went into drunken rampages. She also began to have an affair with Jan Rubens and eventually gave birth to his daughter, Christina in 1571. Christina was Peter Paul Rubens’ half-sister.

This was the final straw. William had the marriage annulled, and she was never allowed to see any of her children again. She was placed in Beilstein Castle in Germany in a completely deranged state. Her windows were closed up with bricks, door locked, key thrown away… there are reports that she was suspected of being possessed by demons after she was seen foaming at the mouth. She remained there until her death, five years later. Anna was 33.

It is my opinion that the mental health care options nowadays haven’t improved much.

If you like the subject of Mad Kings & Queens, I highly recommend this book, it’s a like cliff notes for the crazies: