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Leonor, Isabel, María and Catalina: the forgotten sisters of Charles V who reigned in Europe

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Their names were Leonor, Isabel, María and Katherine and they were all sisters Charles I of Spain and V of Germany, who was born in Ghent in February 1500 and was the promoter of the great Spanish Empire under whose lands the sun never set. But while he ascended the throne at age 17 after the death of his grandfather, Ferdinand the Catholic, The four sisters ruled in different parts of Europebeing great representatives of the Habsburg dynasty.

The best known of Carlos’s brothers was Fernando, who never maintained good relations with his older brother. In 1516 he had been expelled from Spain and had to do the opposite of Charles I: go through a process of Germanization to become Holy Roman Emperor.

However, the two emperors also had four often forgotten sisters. These, far from maintaining a submissive and ignorant position towards life – as was common in the female education of the Court – influenced the international politics of Europe with great contributions. Now, the writer Vicenta Márquez de la Plata publishes Poker of queens: the four sisters of Charles V (Ediciones Casiopea) and sheds light on the lives of four women unknown to the vast majority. “They were all cultured and prepared following guidelines set by their maternal grandmother.“, is explained in the prologue.

“A notable difference between the two must be highlighted, Maria was a alter ego from his brother CarlosCatalina, on the other hand, defended the interests of the House of Avis. All, except Elizabeth, survived their husbands. Leonor was doubly widowed, María was very young, Catalina was widowed at a mature age,” the book explains.

Leonor, the firstborn

She was the first daughter of Juana and Felipe, and two years older than Charles I. During her youth she was sought after by numerous European nobles but was finally given to the king of Portugal. Manuel the Fortunatewho was 30 years older than him and had previously been married to two Spanish princesses.

After becoming a widow, she married Francis I, king of France and main enemy of Spain. Life in the French country was a nightmare for Eleanor: “Despite her welcome in Paris, also by members of the French royal family, the monarch, more interested in his lover, Anna de Pisselue, future Duchess of Étampes, He humiliated her and barely had sexual contact with her.“.

This is due, according to the writer, to the elephantiasis that the queen suffered. However, she always stood by the Habsburgs and she “was a faithful representative of the dynasty’s interests.”

Isabel, the loyal

There are not many documents about her despite having been Archduchess of Austria and Infanta of Castile and Aragon and Queen of Denmark, Sweden and Norway as the wife of King Christian II.

Like her older sister, she was mistreated by her husband. She went through all kinds of vicissitudes because of an unfaithful husband, as in the case of her sister Leonor. She found peace and stability when Christian’s lover died under mysterious circumstances. Isabel would give birth to six children of which only two would survive: the princesses Cristina and Dorotea.

However, that calm would soon be eroded after Federico’s uprising. Isabel always remained loyal to Christian and took it upon herself to ask for help throughout Europe.specifically to his relatives and brothers.

Mary, governor of the Netherlands

The writer describes her as “the most outstanding and perhaps the most intelligent of the four sister archduchesses of Austria.” She was widowed at age 21 after the death of Louis II and was offered the position of governor in the Netherlands by Emperor Charles.

Maria governed the Netherlands “with great political vision and energy, something that did not prevent an episode of stress and anxiety, which caused depression cured only with love,” it is explained in Poker of queens: the four sisters of Charles V. His older brother sent him letters of affection constantly and She ended up becoming an irreplaceable advisor to the most important emperor in Europe at the time: “She was the sister closest to the emperor.”

Catalina, the only Spanish

Along with her brother Fernando, she was the only one born on Spanish soil. She was also the oldest of them all. She was held with her mother Juana de ella in the Tordesillas Palace, where She learned languages ​​such as Latin and Greek, and was an instrumentalist and dancer of great qualities..

She was strategically married to John III and was fully trusted in the government of the kingdom since Catherine enjoyed a lot of power within the court, both married and widowed. Likewise, she knew how to contradict her older brother the emperor on more than one occasion. “She did not blindly follow fraternal politics and, perhaps because she was queen, she always supported the projects of the Portuguese throne. while remaining loyal to his dynasty, the Habsburgs.

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