Joanna of Austria, Princess of Portugal

"Joan of Spain" redirects here. For her grandmother, the Queen of Castile and Aragon, see Joanna of Castile.
Princess of Portugal

Joanna of Austria; Sánchez Coello, 1557.
Born (1535-06-24)24 June 1535
Died 7 September 1573(1573-09-07) (aged 38)
El Escorial
Burial Convent of Las Descalzas Reales
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 the mother of Sebastian of Portugal, and later regent of Spain for her brother, Philip II of Spain.


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

She was born in Madrid to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (who was the first king of united Spain, officially King of Aragon and King of Castile) and his consort Isabella of Portugal. Her siblings were King Philip II of Spain and Maria, Holy Roman Empress.

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


In 1552 Joanna married her double first cousin, John of Portugal, heir of Portugal, who was the sole surviving son of her paternal aunt Catherine of Austria and her maternal uncle John III of Portugal. Joanna's only child, Sebastian of Portugal, was born posthumously in 1554, a couple of weeks after her husband's death at the age of 16.

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. 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]


Coat of arms of Joanna of Austria before her marriage 
Coat of arms of Joanna of Austria after her marriage 
Coat of arms of Joanna of Austria on Real Colegio de San Agustín of Alcalá de Henares. 


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  1. "Female Jesuits". Retrieved 2016-07-05.
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