Joanna was betrothed to Philip the Handsome in 1496.
In 1496 she was quite pretty
Joanna didn’t get the big dowry that most daughters would receive. But she did get 70 ladies-in-waiting to accompany her to the home country of Philip. She also received jewellery.
Joanna traveled to Philip by ship on 22 August 1496 and arrived in Flanders October. The reason for this way of traveling was that the conflict that the Spanish had with the French king had made it impossible for them to travel through France. Joanna did not travel light. She went with 133 (!) ships and 15000 (!) men and women to escort her. Joanna’s mom gave her advice how she should her new position as the duchess of Burgundy to further the interests of the Spanish, but Joanna was never able to do that.
The travel wasn’t easy and they lost one ship with 700 people, Joanna’s wardrobe and many personal belongings of her on board. The used the type of ships with three masts that the Spanish used for commerce and war. The plan was to get Joanna safely to Flanders by autumn in 1496 and then pick up Margaret of Austria, sister of Philip the Handsome and Joanna’s new sister-in-law, and take her back to Spain for her marriage with Joanna’s older brother John of Spain. Unfortunately the weather was too bad to return to Spain before the winter and Joanna’s enormous entourage was forced to stay in Flanders over winter. The Flemish people were not well prepared. Philip hadn’t even bothered to meet his future bride when she arrived in Flanders. She was welcomed with festivities in Antwerp though but she and her ladies-in-waiting were gorgeously dressed but it was not appropriate for the chilly weather in October and Joanna fell immediately ill. When that happened she didn’t even get enough blankets to keep herself warm. Eventually Margaret of Austria stepped in and took charge of the situation, but this was obviously not a good start. The Flemish were not able or willing to help the Spanish out much and this was an absolute disaster for the Spanish. It is estimated that of the 15.000 people that accompanied Joanna to Flanders 9000 perished during the winter as a result of diseases and starvation. Not even the couturiers were given enough blankets or food. Joanna tried in the beginning to convince the Burgundian people to aid her people as they should according to their treaties but she was weak and quickly learn to give in. Her countrymen resented her for this. Joanna’s parents had given her enough money to manage her household in style and 20.000 gold thalers for herself but the people around her that were supposed to help her manage the money took advantage of her inexperience and withhold the money from her. They spent money without accounting for it to Joanna and they rather gave favors to the Burgundian people than use the money for the Spanish courtiers that the money was intended for.
Next time I’l write about what happened when Joanna and Philip met. It was at least a pretty bad start.
fijne avond! Hilde