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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote Juana la Loca and Philip the Handsome


and humiliation of France.

The entering wedge came through the French possession of the Catalan regions of Cerdagne and the Roussillon which had been granted to the king of France by Juan II. Charles VIII of France consented to restore the two provinces, but in return exacted Ferdinand's promise not to interfere with the former's designs respecting the kingdom of Naples. Ferdinand readily agreed in 1493 to aid no enemy of the French king save the pope, and not to form matrimonial alliances between members of his family and those of the reigning houses of Austria, England, and Naples. With Cerdagne and the Roussillon in his possession he proceeded with characteristic duplicity to disregard the treaty. Marriage alliances were projected or arranged, some of them to be sure before 1493, not only with the ruling families of Portugal and Navarre but also with those of Austria and England. Thus Ferdinand hoped to secure considerable accessions of territory and to avoid any interference on the part of the Holy Roman Empire and England, the only outstanding powers which might be able to hinder his plots against France. It is perhaps poetic justice that these plans, so cleverly made and executed at the time, were to have an ultimate result which was quite different from that which Ferdinand had reason to expect. Untimely deaths rendered the various Portuguese alliances of no effect; the authorities of Navarre would have nothing to do with Ferdinand's proffer; and Spanish Catherine in England was to figure in the
famous divorce from Henry VIII, precipitating the English Reformation. One marriage was productive of results, that of Juana, heir of Ferdinand and Isabella, to Philip the Handsome of Burgundy. Thus the Spanish kings were brought into the line of the Hapsburg family and of imperial succession, which was to prove less a boon than a fatality.

[Sidenote: The acquisition of Naples.]

Charles VIII wished to revive the Angevin claim to the Neapolitan territory held at the time by the illegitimate branch of Alfonso V of Aragon, related by blood to Ferdinand the Catholic. Alleging that Naples was a fief of the pope and therefore excepted from the treaty of 1493, Ferdinand resisted the pretensions of Charles, and formed an alliance with the pope, the emperor, Venice, and Milan against him. The forces of the league proving too much for him, Charles was forced in 1497 to suspend hostilities, whereupon Ferdinand agreed with him in secret to divide Naples between them, renewing the agreement with Louis XII, who ascended the French throne in 1498. The division was carried into effect, but a quarrel sprang up over a certain portion of the territory, and war broke out. Thanks to the military genius of the great Spanish leader, Gonzalo de C?rdoba, Ferdinand was victorious by the year 1504, and Naples came under his authority.

[Sidenote: Juana la Loca and Philip the Handsome.]

In the same year, 1504, Isabella the Catholic died, leaving her throne to her elder daughter, Juana, and in case she should prove unable to govern to Ferdinand as regent until Juana's heir should become twenty years of age. Since Juana had already given evidence of that mental instability which was to earn for her the soubriquet "La Loca" (the Crazy), it was the intention of both Isabella and Ferdinand that the latter should rule, but Philip the Handsome, husband of Juana, intervened to procure the regency for himself. This was a serious set-back to the plans of Ferdinand, but fortunately for him there occurred the unexpected death of Philip in 1506. On the occasion of the latter's burial Juana gave such ample proof of her mental unfitness that it was now clear that Ferdinand would be called in as regent. In 1507 he was so installed, and he now had the resources of Spain at his back in the accomplishment of his ambitious designs. Leaving Cardinal Xim?nez to effect conquests in northern Africa and to carry into execution other Castilian projects Ferdinand once again turned his attention to the aggrandizement of Aragon in Italy.


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