Joanna of Naples (1478–1518)

For other people named Joanna of Aragon, see Joanna of Aragon (disambiguation).

Joanna of Naples (15 April 1479[1] – 27 August 1518) was the Queen consort of Ferdinand II of Naples.

Joanna was born at Naples, a daughter of Ferdinand I and his second wife, Joanna of Aragon, which made her a half-sister of Alfonso II of Naples and Frederick IV of Naples.

Queen of Naples

In 1496, the 17-year-old Joanna married her 27-year-old nephew, Ferdinand II, the son of her half-brother, Alfonso II. Ferdinand II died on 7 September of the same year. He was childless and was succeeded by his uncle, Joanna's half-brother Frederick.

Prospective queen of England

King Henry VII of England lost his wife, Elizabeth of York, on 11 February 1503. At age 46, he was interested in taking a second wife and (the still young) Joanna was suggested as a potential bride by her aunt, Isabella I of Castile, who probably wanted to divert Henry's interest from her daughter, Catherine of Aragon. Lacking a portrait of Joanna, Henry sent ambassadors to Naples in 1505 to report on the physical qualities of the prospective bride.

Henry's questions, and the ambassador's answers, were mentioned by Francis Bacon in his 1622 biography, The Historie of the Raigne of King Henry The Seventh. A document containing the questions and answers was published in London, 250 years after the fact, as "Instructions given by King Henry the Seventh, to his embassadors, When he intended to marry the young Queen of Naples: together with the answers of the embassadors".[2] The 1761 book lists "Articles" in sequential Roman numerals, each "Article" followed by an "Answer" - sought by Henry dealt with all aspects of Joanna's appearance: the color of her hair, the condition of her teeth, the size and shape of her nose, the complexion of her skin, whether she had hair on her upper lip. Article XVI instructed the ambassadors to note "hir brestes... whether they be bigge or smale." The ambassadors told the king that Joanna's breasts "be somewhat great & fully, and in as much as that they were trussed somewhat high after the manner of (the) country, which causes her Grace for to seem much the fuller and her neck to be the shorter."

The ambassador's report on Joanna's appearance was satisfactory, but the marriage negotiations failed for political and financial reasons.[3]



  1. Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, Kings of Naples
  2. published in London: 1761, by T. Becket and P.A. De Hondt
  3. Schwarz, Arthur L., VIVAT REX! An Exhibition Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Accession of Henry VIII, The Grolier Club, 2009, p. 58: "Henry's Father Searches for a New Wife".

Royal titles
Preceded by
Joanna of Aragon
Queen consort of Naples
Succeeded by
Isabella del Balzo
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