However, there was one story that really stood out to me. One that, no matter how much time passes between readings, I will never forget. It is the story of Juana la Loca, or Joanna the Mad. She was the daughter of the famed King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the same king and queen that sent Columbus sailing the ocean blue. But while Ferdinand and Isabella seemed to wield a fair amount of control over their subjects (they oversaw the Spanish Inquisition, after all!), their daughter was another story.
Joanna was obsessed with her husband, Philip, aka, Philip the Handsome. It was an arranged marriage, of course, and, having been brought up in a strict Catholic home (okay, castle), Joanna lost her virginity to her new husband. Apparently, the sex was fantastic, and this is how Joanna became obsessed. Her hubby, however, had no loyalty to the marriage bed, and this started Joanna's deep, dark spiral to madness.
I won't go into too much more detail, but I do have to share my favorite part of Joanna's story, about the night she truly went off the deep end...
"Barefoot, half-dressed, and raving, Joanna ran out of the castle where she was lodged, wailing in agony. Though the November night was freezing, she refused warm clothing and ignored desperate pleas to come back inside. Dressed only in her flimsy nightgown, she stayed out in the cold for thirty-six hours, clinging to the castle gates and hurling obscene insults at anyone who dared approach her."
Can you imagine?And her story doesn't end there. Wait till you hear about when Philip died! Such a sad and tragic story!
I will admit, I've used Joanna as inspiration for a character in my second book, though that character is already dead by the time the story begins. I thought the actual writing of the story might be a bit much for a light Regency romance. Even at that, I toned the story down quite a bit. I had to! I think most people, if they read Joanna's full story in a book of fiction, would say, "That was over the top!" or "That author took it too far!"
What about you? Do you have a favorite true story from history that has inspired a scene or a character in your own writing? Did you have to tone down the story for fear it wouldn't seem believable in a work of fiction?