Joanna of Austria, Princess of Portugal

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Princess of Portugal
Alonso Sánchez Coello - Portrait of Juana of Austria, Princess of Portugal - Google Art Project.jpg
Portrait by Sánchez Coello
Born 24 June 1535
Died 7 September 1573(1573-09-07) (aged 38)
El Escorial
Spouse John Manuel, Prince of Portugal
Issue Sebastian of Portugal
House Habsburg
Father Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Isabella of Portugal
Religion Roman Catholic

Joanna of Austria (in Castilian, doña Juana de Austria; in Portuguese, Dona Joana de Áustria, 24 June 1535 – 7 September 1573) was a Princess of Portugal by marriage to John Manuel, Prince of Portugal. She served as regent of Spain to her brother Philip II of Spain during his trip to England to marry Mary I in 1554-1556, and from 1556 to 1559. She was the mother of King Sebastian of Portugal.


Joanna of Austria, Princess of Portugal; by Cristóvão de Morais, 1551.

Early years

Born in the royal court of Madrid, Joanna was the daughter of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (who was the first king of united Spain, officially King of Aragon and King of Castile) and his wife Isabella of Portugal. Therefore, her paternal grandparents were Philip of Castile and Joanna of Castile, and her maternal grandparents were Manuel I of Portugal and Maria of Aragon. She was the sister of King Philip II of Spain and Maria of Austria.

Among others, Joanna held the titles of Archduchess of Austria, Infanta of Castile and of Aragon, and princess of Burgundy.

Named for the saint's day of her birth (June 24 is the Nativity of St. John the Baptist) and in honor of her paternal grandmother, Juana of Castile, Joanna of Austria was motherless at the age of four and was entrusted to Doña Leonor de Mascareñas. By age eight she could understand Latin and could play several musical instruments.

Princess of Portugal

On January 11, 1552, at the age of seventeen, she married her first double-cousin, the fifteen-year-old crown prince of Portugal, John Manuel of Portugal, by proxy in Toro. She arrived at the Portuguese court in November 1552.

The marriage was cut short when John Manuel died of tuberculosis at age sixteen on January 2, 1554. However, Joanna was pregnant by that time, and the future Portuguese king Sebastián I was born on January 20, 1554.

Joanna returned to Spain in May 1554 at the request of her father, leaving her newborn son with her mother-in-law, the Portuguese Queen Catherine of Austria.

Return to Spain

Shortly after Sebastian's birth, Joanna was called back to Madrid by her brother Philip to act as regent during his absence in England from 1554. She filled this role with intelligence and efficiency. Joanna never remarried and never returned to Portugal. She never saw her son Sebastian again, although she sent him letters and had portraits of him painted at various ages so she could see what he looked like.

In 1557, Joanna founded the Convent of Our Lady of Consolation (Nuestra Señora de la Consolación) for the nuns of the order of Poor Clares, also known as Discalced Clarisses (in Spanish, clarisas descalzas) because they did not wear covered shoes, and only walked either barefoot or in sandals, now known as the Convent of Las Descalzas Reales, or convent of the barefoot royals, partly due to her affiliation and that the convent continued to attract aristocratic women as nuns. This convent is now a national monument and holds an art collection. It was founded in the royal palace where Joanna was born and where Charles V had lived when in Madrid.

Joanna repeatedly intervened in favor of the new order of the Jesuits, founded by Ignatius of Loyola. In 1555, she is reputed to have been admitted surreptitiously to the male-only Jesuit order under the name of a pseudonym, Mateo Sánchez.[1]




  1. ^ "Female Jesuits". Archived from the original on 2016-07-10. Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  2. ^ a b Wikisource Armstrong, Edward (1911). "Charles V. (Roman Emperor)" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ a b c d Stephens, Henry Morse (1903). The story of Portugal. G.P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 139, 279. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  4. ^ a b Wurzbach, Constantin, von, ed. (1861). "Habsburg, Philipp I. der Schöne von Oesterreich" . Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich [Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire] (in German). 7. p. 112 – via Wikisource.
  5. ^ a b Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Joanna" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  6. ^ a b "Maria (D.). Rainha de Portugal". Portugal - Dicionário Histórico, Corográfico, Heráldico, Biográfico, Bibliográfico, Numismático e Artístico (in Portuguese). IV. pp. 823–824.
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