Juana Speaks With Her Son

*N.B: This is a scene of historical fiction inspired by both historical accounts of Juana “la Loca” de Castila and her portrayal in books, film, and television. The photos are from a scene in the TVE series Isabel, although that encounter between mother and son is much different.

JUANA THREW HERSELF from the bed to the floor over and over again, screething like a dying cat in vain. Nothing, she thought to herself. I mean nothing. Exhausted, she grasped the ends of the bed to pull herself up. Laying motionless, she looked up at the ceiling, contemplating her errors in life and love.

“Juana?” a voice called out. “Juana? Princessa?”

It’d been a week since she was last referred to by her name. “My wife” was what Philip called her. “My mad wife.” Yet she remained still. Female, she thought. It’s not him.

The call followed by a knock, which Juana easily ignored. The door opened, revealing Margaret and young Charles. Charles– her firstborn son. He was desired for so long, Eleanor’s birth being viewed as a disappointment. Juana thought that once she gave Philip a son that he would fully love her and only her. That he’d abandon his concubines and mistresses, the women she hated and seethed at worse than heretics. It worked for awhile– barely a few months. It was the crown’s fault, she forced herself to believe. When Juan died, it was the crown he fell in love with over me. But I still love him. Her brother was barely cold in the ground before her haughty husband staked their claim. Yet he’d forgotten one thing– her sister, Isabel, was alive, and the eldest; the crown would pass to her. Philip hated her, and the Kingdom of Portugal, because of it. As a result, he refused to let Juana mourn her when she died. This didn’t last after their confrontation over their siblings’ sorrows and bonding over caring for Margaret upon her return. That topic led to them making Charles, or as she called him Carlos, his Spanish name, the name his people would call him in Castile and Aragon when she died and he took the crown. This was a happy thought, the one thing that gave her peace when she inherited her parents’ kingdom when her sister’s son died. Yet since her and Philip’s “adventures” or detours more like it over the past few years, the future was the sole thing she dread to think of. She thought he’d change if she gave him a son; she gave him two and her husband only grew more abusive and cold towards her.

“Your Highness,” Margaret greeted her sister-in-law, bowing with Charles. “Your son wishes to see you.”


Juana lifted herself off the bed, drying her tears with the sleeves of her dress to see her son. He looked just like his father; narrow face, pointed chin, and large set eyes. Yet he took after his mother in possessing her dark hair and brown eyes. She smiled when the light shone on them, revealing the yellow amber held beneath them like those of her and her father, Fernando II de Aragon. Yet the smile faded as she noticed Philip more in him as he bit his tongue, followed by his lip. Mother said nothing to son, admiring and despising him.

“Mama,” the little boy nervously croaked. “I missed you.”

She pet his hair back, going towards him and kissing his forehead.

“My son,” she smiled. “How I desired you…yet I never wanted you.”

“Juana?” a confused Margaret interrupted.

“Your father means to get rid of me,” she calmly stated to the little boy. “He does not believe nor see my love for him. Promise me, boy. Promise me Charles, Carlos– desire not your wife. Love her. Whether she’s Claude of France or Maria’s daughter in Portugal, love her. Don’t desire her.”

The little boy nodded his head, Juana stroking it one last time before he ran out. Yet Margaret remained, stroking Juana’s back to comfort her from her distress.

“Juana, why did you tell him that?”

Juana looked up at her sister-in-law and only friend with a faint smile.

“Because Margaret, Isabel desired Alfonso, and look what happened. Manuel desired Isabel, and look what happened. You and Juan desired one another; look what happened. I desire Philip– its all starting to make sense.”
via Daily Prompt: Desire


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