Ferdinand II married his grandniece

So Ferdinand II had a problem in 1505. He didn’t want to give up the power in Castile to his daughter  Joanna who was the rightful heir of her mom’s throne after her mother’s death in 1504.

Ferdinand II was 53 at the time and looking around for a young wife that could give him a son. He turned to the king of French. Normally they didn’t get along, but if he would marry a French princess they might become allies instead and that way Ferdinand could fix two problems at once. Maximilian tried to prevent this by offering Ferdinand a free choice of noble virgin German princesses but Ferdinand declined.

Ferdinand decided to marry the teen aged niece of Louis XII (daughter of the king’s sister) instead. Germaine of Foix was her name and she was actually related to Ferdinand as well. She was his grandniece, the granddaughter of his half sister. (!). The age difference was 36 years. Germaine lived at the French court because she was the niece of Louis XII and she and her brother were orphaned. She was in the care of Anne of Brittany   who made sure she got a good education.

Louis XII and Ferdinand signed the Treaty of Blois where they agreed to have Germaine of Foix marry Ferdinand. Louis XII gave up his claim to Naples and agreed to let Germaine’s children inherit it. Naples would be returned to Naples if she would remain childless. This was great for Louis XII because Ferdinand had just conquered Naples back from him. Ferdinand even promised him a million ducats as compensation for the expenses of waging war of Naples.

Ferdinand was described by his contemporaries as lusty but still notable, with a lisp because he had lost a tooth and a slight cast of the left eye. Despite all that they though he would be a good candidate for her because by marrying him Germaine would become the queen of Aragon, Naples, Sardinia, Navarra, Sicily and Jerusalem and vicereine over Valencia.


Louis XII and Ferdinand  signed the treaty of Blois where the French king promised Naples to Germaine’s offspring if she would produce a son. This was acceptable to the French and the Spanish since they were both related to her and they finally didn’t have to fight about Naples anymore. If Germaine would not produce a son Naples would be returned to the French king which was great for Louis XII, because the Spanish had just won Naples back. Ferdinand was happy to not have to worry about the French coming back to fight over Naples again. Ferdinand also agreed to pay a million (!) ducats (this should be at least 70 million Euro in today’s money) to Louis XII as a compensation for the costs of war over Naples. Ferdinand clearly did all this to take away the French kings support to his son-in-law Philip the Handsome. This worked well.

Philip and Maximilian were worried that this meant that the Betrothal between Charles V and Claude of France would be canceled. Philip lost supporters in Spain and it becomes apparent that Philip has no other option than to travel together with Joanna to Spain if he wants to be the king of Spain. Philip wasn’t happy with this. He had no idea if Joanna  would support him once the are in Spain after he had confined her to her own rooms , but if he would go to Spain without her he would be treated as an outsider.

goedenavond allemaal, Hilde



6 thoughts on “Ferdinand II married his grandniece

  1. If Ferdinand had had a son with Germaine di Foix, he would have only been King of Aragon and Naples, not of Castile. This would have split Spain up and Isabella of Castile did not want this. She wanted Castile and Aragon to be one. She, herself, could have wed Alfonso of Portugal when she was young and yet did everything she could to wed with Ferdinand. And why is Philip worrying about Juana, is he not declaring her insane? I did not like Germaine di Foix. She had been a mistress of Philip of Flanders. Dear Hilde, you know I will not call Philip, the Handsome for I detest the guy so it is Philip of Flanders for that is what he was.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Why Charles V and Claude of France never got married | hemmahoshilde (@Hilde's home)

  3. Hilde – Thank you for this fascinating blog. It was actually Anne of Brittany, Europe’s greatest matchmaker, who Ferdinand reached out to, not so much her husband Louis XII. With your permission, I will use the image of Germaine de Foix in my upcoming book Anne and Louis: The Story of Anne of Brittany’s Marriage to Louis XII of France. So glad you’re blogging again, keep them coming. Let me know if you would like to review Anne and Charles. I would be honored to have a short blurb from you in its forward pages. Will send you the galley end of Oct. if interested.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi rozsa sorry to get back to you so late but Mathilda was sick for the first time. Now she’s much better thank god. I had just been thinking about Anne of Brittany and her matchmaking abilities. FINALLY working on a new post now that my mom is on a visit for a week i have some time. I’d love to write another blurp for you :). Nice to see things go well for your books.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s