Queen Isabella Queen Isabella lived in medieval times, or in, "The Dark Ages," as some referred to it. She lived in a time when the majority of the population was catholic, and she did her best to see to it that those who weren't a part of that majority, became a part.
The queen was born on April 22, 1451. She was born in Madrigal, Castile, which is why she later became know as Queen Isabella of Castile. Her father was John II of Castile and her mother was Isabella of Portugal. Her marriage was a politically arranged marriage. What I mean by this is that it wasn't a marriage where guy meets girl and they fall in love, it means that they were wedded for certain political reasons, sometimes against their will.
However, Isabella was fortunate enough to actually fall in love with her husband. Many politically arranged marriages where arranged by the couple's father, and married against there will.
This was not the case in Queen Isabella's situation. She was married to Ferdinand II of Argon in October of 1469 in Segovia. Their marriage was intended to unify the two countries, Castile and Argon. The odd part about this was that Isabella almost forfeited her rights to the throne by marrying Ferdinand.
This story started when Louis XI of France, a very clever king, made separate treaties with both Castile and Argon in hope of someday gaining control of a place called Catalonia. Louis realized that Isabella was going to become heir to the throne and so if she married Ferdinand, the rulers of the two countries that he made treaties with might join forces against him. Not only that, but they might destroy his dream of taking over Catalonia. So what Louis figured he would do was see to it that they never became married, and that would solve all of his problems. He did this by strongly urging King Henry IV of Castile, the current one in the throne, Isabella's brothe, and most importantly, the one who would choose the heir to the throne when he died, to reject his permission for Isabella to marry Ferdinand. However, even though he rejected his permission, they still married.
Now Louis was becoming very nervous that now they were married and they were only one step away of becoming king and queen. Becoming very desperate, he now came back to king Henry and reminded them that they married against his will, and should therefore forfeited their rights to the throne. He added that he should consider the rights of Henry's daughter, Juana la Beltraneja, of becoming queen. Louis made his proposal to Henry even more tempting by offering the same brother of Louis, that Isabella had rejected earlier, as a husband for Juana.
Later, Henry agreed that Isabella had forfeited her rights to the throne by marrying against his will, however, making a big mistake, he never actually said that Juana was going to be the new heir to the throne. Well, this caused and enormous uproar throughout Castile about who the next queen should be, Isabella or Juana. As a part of the uproar, old feuds were revived, armies were raised, towns were burned down, and crops were destroyed.
Isabella started campaigning throughout Castile in hope that a personal appearance would create enthusiasm and support for her. Louis, again being the clever king that he is, he took advantage of this situation to take Roussillon and Cerdagne (located in the northeast pyrenees of Argon) from Argon while this civil war was going on in Castile. Because of this, Ferdinand couldn't help rally up support for Isabella because he was busy with his father fighting France for the possession of Roussillon and Cerdagne.
When King Henry died in 1474, as I stated before, without specifying the heir to the throne, Isabella immediately had herself proclaimed Queen of Castile in Segovia. Once queen, the cortes met in Segovia to swear allegiance to her.
Ferdinand immediately rushed over to be at her side as king consort.
Once Queen, she and Ferdinand accomplished and took part in many things such as the Conquest of Granada. In 1478, they established the Spanish Inquisition. The Inquisition was intended stop all unorthodox opinion towards Spain and strengthen the Church. It was also used to either expel, or kill, all Moors and Jews depending upon whether they agreed to convert, leave the country, or both. They tried to unify the country by persuading the pope to revive the inquisition and put it under their control. However, the Spanish Inquisition really turned out to be a bad idea because while they obtained religious uniformity, they also lost most, if not all, of their best artisans and businessmen. Their expulsion accentuated the economic weakness of Spain.
In the conquest of Granada in 1492, Isabella hoped for a few small Islands to conquer, instead she received vast kingdoms that could be conquered and managed by a few thousand soldiers and officials. The conquest, however, was very expensive, so the queen had to do a lot of collecting money and taxes to support it. Once she ran out of tax money, she sent letters to all of the cities, villages, knights, ladies, merchants, and others, asking them for loans to support the war. Surprisingly, each and every one of them did. Then once she used up all of that money, she again sent out letters, this time apologizing, but again asking for loans to support the war. And again the people sent in their money. The reason that they did this without the slightest bit of hesitation was not only because they felt honored to send money to her majesty, but because the queen had a very good reputation of paying back the loans she borrowed. Then, when all of that money was used up, she took some of her jewels and pearls, and had them brought into town and bid off in order to raise money.
When Columbus came to Isabella about requesting her sponsorship in his finding a way to reach India sailing west, thus proving that the world was round, she, oddly enough, was easily convinced by him that the world was round and that he could discover a way so sail west instead of east. The queen said that the only obstacle holding her back was the lack of money that Spain had at the time.
However, she was very careful to make it very clear to Columbus that she was interested in sponsoring him, so that he shouldn't go wondering off to some other country requesting sponsorship. Columbus agreed and the queen saw to it that he was taken very well care of, just like a member of the palace. She appointed her confessor, Hernando de Talavera to examine his proposal. He had Columbus brought infront of a council of the queen's to discuss, how and why he thought that the world was round and that he could sail west instead of east and not fall over the edge of the world. Columbus must have been a very good speaker because, once again, he persuaded the council into believing that the world was round.
Eventually, the queen saved up enough money to sponsor him, and they agreed that while the queen got to keep some of the riches that he was going to find, he too would be able to keep a pretty generous share of the riches. So he set off, and when he reached America, thinking it was India, he called the people, "Indians" and that is how the Native Americans get the name Indians being that it was they he discovered, along with America. Well, he certainly came back with plenty of riches for himself and the queen. The queen had certainly gotten more than she bargained for, and much more.
Queen Isabella died in Medina del Campo on November 26, 1504 and the Spanish mourned for many days. She died at the age of 53. She left the throne behind to her daughter Joan (Joan the Mad) and her husband. Her husband died in 1506. Ferdinand married Germaine de Fox. They had a son, but he died in 1509. Ferdinand was left the ruler of Castile until death in Madrigalejo on January 23, 1516. The crown eventually passed onto his grandson, Charles I, ruler of the Netherlands and heir to the Holy Roman Empire as Charles V.
Over all, I think that Isabella had a very good influence on the world, and inspired a lot of good things to happen. While she did take part in a couple of not so great things like the Spanish Inquisition, she also took part in lots of good things like helping discover America, unifying Spain, strengthening the church, and helping Spain become what it is today.