Germaine of Foix

Germaine of Foix (Catalan: Germana de Foix; French: Germaine de Foix; 1488 – 15 October 1536) was the queen consort of King Ferdinand II of Aragon from their marriage in 1506 until his death in 1516. His first wife, Isabella I of Castile, died in 1504.

Germaine of Foix
Germaine de Foix1.jpg
Queen consort of Aragon, Naples, Sardinia and Sicily
Tenure22 March 1506 – 23 January 1516
Queen consort of Navarre
Tenure24 August 1512 – 7 June 1515
Bornc. 1488
Foix, France
Died15 October 1536 (aged 48)
Liria, Valencia, Spain
IssueJohn, Prince of Girona
Isabel of Castile
FatherJohn of Foix, Viscount of Narbonne
MotherMarie of Orléans
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Germaine's father was John of Foix, Viscount of Narbonne and son of Queen Eleanor of Navarre. Her mother, Marie of Orléans, was the sister of King Louis XII of France.


With the death of his wife, Isabella I, in 1504, Ferdinand had to yield the government of Castile to his son-in-law Philip of Burgundy, who assumed power in the name of his wife Joanna, Isabella's heiress. Ferdinand objected to Philip's policies, and to prevent Philip from gaining Aragon through Joanna, he sought to have a male heir with a new wife. A new male heir would displace Joanna (and by extension her husband) from the line of succession. He negotiated with King Louis XII of France for a marriage, hoping to gain accession to the throne of Navarre. In the Treaty of Blois (1505), Louis agreed to have Germaine of Foix marry Ferdinand; Germaine was Louis' niece (daughter of his sister) and Ferdinand's grandniece (granddaughter of his half-sister). Louis XII also ceded his weak claims to the Kingdom of Naples (already controlled by Aragon) and the Kingdom of Jerusalem (controlled by neither) to his niece, conditional on a male child being produced. The marriage, between Ferdinand (aged 54) and Germaine (aged 18), took place in March 1506.[1] A short truce and brief alliance between the two kings resulted, despite several wars before and after the Treaty.

In 1506, Philip of Burgundy died and Ferdinand became regent of Castile for Joanna, who was mentally unstable. Ferdinand and Germaine did have a son, John, Prince of Girona, born on 3 May 1509, but he died shortly after birth. Despite the use of love potions, they did not have another. If John had lived, then the Crown of Aragon would have split from the Crown of Castile once again (after being semi-unified by Ferdinand and Isabella's marriage). This included Aragon, Valencia, Majorca, and Catalonia in Spain, and the Kingdoms of Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia in Italy. With John's death, Aragon as well as Castile would pass to Joanna.

Ferdinand's diplomatic deviousness and off-and-on alliances with France infuriated Henry VIII of England, married to Ferdinand and Isabella's youngest daughter, Catherine of Aragon. Seeing this match devalued, Henry in 1514 forced his sister Mary into a loveless marriage with Louis XII to spite Ferdinand. Louis XII died the next year.

Death of Ferdinand and Succession of Charles VEdit

Ferdinand died after two years of health problems in 1516, leaving Germaine a widow. Ferdinand's successors were Joanna and her son Charles V. Ferdinand did, however, leave Germaine a yearly income of 50,000 gold florins, and exhorted his grandson Charles V in his last letter not to abandon her.

In 1517, Charles V moved from the Netherlands to Castile as the new King of Castile and Aragon. Germaine moved from Aragon to Castile to join his court as well, where the 17-year-old king took well to his 29-year-old stepgrandmother. He organized several tournaments and banquets in her honor. On 20 August 1518, Germaine gave birth in Valencia to a daughter, Isabel. It is widely speculated among historians that Charles V was Isabel's father; Germaine refers to her in her will as the "Infanta Isabel", a title that would usually only be given to the daughter of a King.[2][3]

Charles V, Germaine, and Charles V's sister Eleanor moved from Castile to Aragon in 1519, where he would be formally sworn in as King of Aragon. He would spend a year in Aragon, negotiating with its parliament and managing affairs. While in Barcelona, Charles V arranged for Germaine to marry the margrave Johann of Brandenburg-Ansbach, a landless cadet and cousin of Joachim I, Elector of Brandenburg. Germaine left Spain to travel with Charles V to Germany, where she was married.

Vicereine of ValenciaEdit

In 1523 Charles V appointed the couple jointly viceroys of Valencia. There Germaine, recently returned to Spain, dealt with the fallout of the Revolt of the Brotherhoods by the Valencian guilds (Germanies). Germaine favored harsh treatment of the agermanats; she is thought[citation needed] to have signed the death warrants of 100 former rebels personally, and sources[citation needed] indicate that as many as 800 executions may have occurred in total. This undid the more lenient policy of Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, who had favored reconciliation with the rebels. In December 1524, Germaine signed a pardon that officially ended the persecution of all former participants in the rebellion. However, fines imposed on the guilds and guild-aligned cities as punishment would take many years to pay.

It is maintained by Valencian historians[who?] that the fact that Germaine moved her court to Valencia was the first step in the degradation of social prestige of the Valencian language in the Kingdom of Valencia, as the higher classes started favouring Castilian/Spanish over their native language to please her.

Next year after Johann's death in 1525, Germaine married Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria, a son of King Frederick IV of Naples (1496–1501) by his second wife Isabella del Balzo. The two continued as viceroys of Valencia and were patrons of the arts and music. Germaine also encouraged the slow integration of Valencia with Castilian-dominated Spain as a whole.

Germaine died on 15 October 1536 in Liria, probably due to obesity related edema, and was interred in the Monastery of San Miguel de los Reyes.[4] The Duke of Calabria continued in office until his death in 1550.



  1. ^ Baumgartner, Frederic J. Louis XII. St. Martin's Press, 1996. p 146.
  2. ^ Wim Blockmans. Carlos V: la utopía del imperio. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 2000. Page 150.
  3. ^ Manuel Fernández Álvarez. Carlos V, el César y el hombre. Madrid: Espasa Editorial, 1999. Page 591.
  4. ^ Real Academia de la historia: Diccionario Bibliográfico español - Germana de Foix
  • Lynch, John (1964). Spain under the Habsburgs. (vol. 1). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 40.
Preceded by
Isabella I of Castile
Queen consort of Aragon, Majorca, Valencia, and Sicily, Countess consort of Barcelona
Queen consort of Naples

Succeeded by
Isabella of Portugal