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  4. The Last Will and Testament of Ferdinand II of Aragon: Madrigalejo, 22nd January 1516

The Last Will and Testament of Ferdinand II of Aragon: Madrigalejo, 22nd January 1516

The Last Will and Testament

On the eve of his death, and seeing that his condition was worsening, Ferdinand II of Aragon dictated his last will and testament in Madrigalejo (Cáceres) to the prothonotary Miguel Velázquez Climente. Revoking any previous will, specifically the two signed and sealed testaments the king had torn up and of which no note or transcript should ever remain, the monarch sets out the procedures for his mortal remains, mentions all his children, names the executors of the will and asks for various actions to be carried out for the redemption of his soul and that of his first wife, Isabel. He recalls the great deeds achieved in the conquest and winning back of the kingdom of Naples, he allocates monies to the atonement of prisoners, the marrying of orphan girls and alms for the poor, and lists the works to be built for the salvation of his soul. He charges his children John and Isabella to ensure that his commands are met, mentions the dowries of his daughters Maria and Catherine, the Queens consorts of Portugal and England respectively, the assets and revenues to be granted his wife Germana de Foix and the Queens of Naples, his sister and niece, and his grand-son Ferdinand, and he pardons his nephew imprisoned in Xàtiva.

The King died in the early hours of January 23rd, 1516. On the 24th, Germana wrote to the deputies of the General of Catalonia to notify them, signing the letter in her own hand as “the sad Queen”.Salto de línea

The Succession

Ferdinand designated his daughter Joanna as his heir and Prince Charles as governor in his name of all the lands belonging to the Crown of Castile (including the kingdom of Navarre, which had recently been incorporated), where the monarch already ruled. The realm also included territory belonging to the Crown of Aragon (which had latterly incorporated the kingdom of Naples, plus Roussillon and Cerdanya), the cities of Béjaïa, Algiers and Tripoli and all his overseas territories of the West Indies Ocean Sea. He ensured that the terms confirmed that Prince Charles, at that time a minor, was to be considered of legal age so that he might rule and govern in his own right. He instructed the will executors to write to all of these territories requiring them to urge the prince to return to Spain from Flanders.

The Dynastic Union

The will of Ferdinand II of Aragon, who died very soon after it was drawn up, led to a profound change in the dynastic map of Europe, uniting the two crowns of Castile and Aragon into one body and entrusting the new monarch, Charles, to sustain the sway of his line throughout the rest of Europe and the known world. Prince Charles, the son of Joanna of Castile and Philip of Burgundy, was also the grandson of Isabella and Ferdinand (of, respectively, Castile and Aragon) and also of Emperor Maximilian I and Marie de Bourgogne. So, he is at one and the same time, the first of the Spanish Habsburgs, future emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and father of the king over whose lands, it was said, the sun never set.

ACA, Real Cancillería, Registros, 3604, fol. 274r-290r Salto de línea ACA, Colecciones, Autógrafos, I-1-p (b)