Librivox’s new free audiobook about the life of Blessed Joanna of Portugal, A Crown for Joanna, by a Dominican named Sister Mary Jean Dorcy. It’s illustrated in black and white, it’s by a black-and-white-habited Dominican, and it’s read by Librivox’s finest.
(I know, it’s not funny if you’ve got to explain it….)
Joanna, the Infanta of Portugal, was offered the hand of Richard III of England after his beloved wife Anne Neville died, as part of a double marriage deal in which Elizabeth of York (Edward III’s daughter) would marry the Duke of Beja (the male heir to the Portuguese throne). Joanna didn’t plan on marrying anybody, but was pressured by her family. She apparently had a dream warning her that Richard was dead, and told her family that she’d marry Richard without demur if he still lived. Bosworth Field was already done.
Since Elizabeth of York got stuck marrying Henry VII, who proceeded to judiciously murder most of her relations and maybe her brothers too, instead of Manuel the Lucky, who got to run Portugal during its early glory days of African exploration, you gotta say she got the short end of the stick. Since Manuel’s resulting ambition to marry a Spanish princess set off some very creepy events in Portugal, I’d have to say that Portugal got the short end of the stick too. History has some very odd twists and turns.
However, since the princess by that time had already rejected three very royal suitors in favor of God, and since she was actually several months older than Richard, it leads one to wonder whether Richard was actually planning to marry this woman in the pursuit of kids, or whether he was just seeking somebody to help with admin and keep the councilors from pestering him to marry again. Shrug. He was still in the prime of life, and it was still possible for her to have kids; and royalty did tend to be very hopeful about such things, back then. But if Elizabeth of York was going to go off and become a queen-in-waiting, even illegitimate, you have to wonder whether Richard was just planning to name the Little ex-Princes his heirs, or what? It’s just a really weird development that I haven’t heard mentioned before.
At any rate, the Infanta Joana is a fascinating figure, sometimes a powerful regent of a farflung empire and sometimes kept from following her dreams by the prison of her rank. The Portuguese seem to love her still, but I wonder why we non-Lusitanians haven’t heard more about her.