Isabella Castile
Aragonese queen consort
Isabella Castile
Isabella I, commonly known as Isabel "the Catholic", a title granted to Ferdinand and Isabel by a papal bull in 1496, was Queen of Castile and León. She and her husband, Ferdinand II of Aragon, brought stability to the kingdoms that became the basis for the unification of Spain. Later the two laid the foundations for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
Biography
Isabella I of Castile's personal information overview.
{{personal_detail.supertitle}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
Photo Albums
Popular photos of Isabella I of Castile
News
News abour Isabella I of Castile from around the web
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Isabella I of Castile
    FIFTIES
  • 1504
    Age 52
    It is important to note that Isabella's reputation for sanctity derives in large measure from an image carefully shaped and disseminated by the queen herself. In 1958, the Catholic canonical process of the Cause of Canonization of Isabella was started by José García Goldaraz, the Bishop of Valladolid, where she died in 1504. 17 experts were appointed to investigate more than 100,000 documents in the archives of Spain and the Vatican and the merits of opening a canonical process of canonisation. 3,500 of these were chosen to be included in 27 volumes.
    More Details Hide Details In 1970, the Commission determined that "A Canonical process for the canonization of Isabella the Catholic could be undertaken with a sense of security since there was not found one single act, public or private, of Queen Isabella that was not inspired by Christian and evangelical criteria; moreover there was a 'reputation of sanctity' uninterrupted for five centuries and as the investigation was progressing, it was more accentuated." In 1972, the Process of Valladolid was officially submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican. This process was approved and Isabel was given the title "Servant of God" in March 1974. As Princess of Asturias, Isabella bore the undifferenced royal arms of the Crown of Castile and added the Saint John the Evangelist's Eagle, an eagle displayed as single supporter. As queen, she quartered the Royal Arms of the Crown of Castile with the Royal Arms of the Crown of Aragon, she and Ferdinand II of Aragon adopted a yoke and a bundle of arrows as heraldic badges. As co-monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand used the motto "Tanto Monta" ("They amount to the same", or "Equal opposites in balance"), it refers their prenuptial agreement. The conquest of Granada in 1492 was symbolised by the addition enté en point of a quarter with a pomegranate for Granada (in Spanish Granada means pomegranate). There was an uncommon variant with the Saint John the Evangelist's eagle and two lions adopted as Castilian royal supporters by John II, Isabella's father.
  • FORTIES
  • 1497
    Age 45
    By early 1497 all the pieces seemed to be in place: John, Prince of Asturias, married Archduchess Margaret of Austria, establishing the connection to the Habsburgs.
    More Details Hide Details The eldest daughter, Isabella, married Manuel I of Portugal, and Joanna was married to another Habsburg prince, Philip of Burgundy. However, Isabella's plans for her two eldest children did not work out. John died shortly after his marriage. Isabella, Princess of Asturias, died in childbirth and her son Miguel died at the age of two. Queen Isabella I's crowns passed to her daughter, Joanna of Castile, and her son-in-law, Philip of Habsburg. Isabella did, however, make successful dynastic matches for her three youngest daughters. The death of Isabella, Princess of Asturias, created a necessity for Manuel I of Portugal to remarry and Isabella's third child, Maria, became his next bride. Isabella's youngest daughter, Catherine, married England's Arthur, Prince of Wales, but his early death resulted in her being married to his younger brother, Henry VIII of England.
  • 1494
    Age 42
    In 1494, by the Treaty of Tordesillas, Isabella and Ferdinand agreed to divide the Earth, outside of Europe, with king John II of Portugal.
    More Details Hide Details Isabella was not in favour of Columbus' enslavement of the American natives and attempted to enforce the recent policies of the Canaries upon the 'New World', stating that all peoples were under the subject of the Castilian Crown and could not be enslaved in most situations. The principles she established would have very little effect during her lifetime, however. With the institution of the Roman Catholic Inquisition in Spain, and with the Dominican friar Tomás de Torquemada as the first Inquisitor General, the Catholic Monarchs pursued a policy of religious and national unity. Though Isabella opposed taking harsh measures against Jews on economic grounds, Torquemada was able to convince Ferdinand. On 31 March 1492, the Alhambra decree for the expulsion of the Jews was issued. The Jews had until the end of July, three months, to leave the country and they were not to take with them gold, silver, money, arms, or horses. Traditionally, it had been claimed that as many as 200,000 Jews left Spain, but recent historians have shown that such figures are exaggerated: Henry Kamen has shown that out of a total population of 80,000 Jews, a maximum of 40,000 left and the rest converted. Hundreds of those that remained came under the Inquisition's investigations into relapsed conversos (Marranos) and the Judaizers who had been abetting them.
  • 1492
    Age 40
    On January 2, 1492 Isabella and Ferdinand entered Granada to receive the keys of the city and the principal mosque was reconsecrated as a church.
    More Details Hide Details The Treaty of Granada was signed later that year, and in it Ferdinand and Isabella gave their word to allow the Muslims and Jews of Granada to live in peace. An uprising by the Moors in 1500 caused the Catholic side to consider that the Moors had violated the Treaty: this gave them a justification for revoking its provisions. See Morisco Revolt. During the war, Isabella noted the abilities and energy of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba and made him one of the two commissioners for the negotiations. Under her patronage, De Córdoba went on to an extraordinary military career that revolutionised the organisation and tactics of the emerging Spanish military, changing the nature of warfare and altering the European balance of power. Just three months after entering Granada, Queen Isabella agreed to sponsor Christopher Columbus on an expedition to reach the Indies by sailing west (2000 miles, according to Columbus). The crown agreed to pay a sum of money as a concession from monarch to subject.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1480
    Age 28
    In 1480, during the Cortes of Toledo, Isabella made many reforms to the Royal Council.
    More Details Hide Details Previously there had been two distinct yet overlapping categories of royal councillor. One formed a group which possessed both judicial and administrative responsibilities. This portion consisted of some bishops, some nobles, and an increasingly important element of professional administrators with legal training known as letrados. The second category of traditional councillor had a less formal role. This role depended greatly on the individuals' political influence and personal influence with the monarch. During Isabella's reign, the role of this second category was completely eliminated. As mentioned previously, Isabella had little care for personal bribes or favours. Because of this, this second type of councillor, usually of the nobility, was only allowed to attend the council of Castile as an observer. Isabella began to rely more on the professional administrators than ever before. These men were mostly of the bourgeoisie or lesser nobility. The Council was also rearranged and it was officially settled that one bishop, three caballeros, and eight or nine lawyers would serve on the council at a time. While the nobles were no longer directly involved in the matters of state, they were welcome to attend the meetings. Isabella hoped by forcing the nobility to choose whether to participate or not would weed out those who were not dedicated to the state and its cause.
  • 1478
    Age 26
    Two years later, Isabella further secured her place as ruler with the birth of her son John, Prince of Asturias, on 30 June 1478.
    More Details Hide Details To many, the presence of a male heir legitimised her place as ruler. Meanwhile, the Castilian and Portuguese fleets fought for hegemony in the Atlantic Ocean and for the wealth of Guinea (gold and slaves) where the decisive naval Battle of Guinea was fought. The war dragged on for another three years and ended with a Castilian victory on land and a Portuguese victory on the sea. The four separate peace treaties signed at Alcáçovas (4 September 1479) reflected that result: Portugal gave up the throne of Castile in favour of Isabella in exchange for a very favourable share of the Atlantic territories disputed with Castile (they all went to Portugal with the exception of the Canary Islands: Guinea with its mines of gold, Cape Verde, Madeira, Azores and the right of conquest over the kingdom of Fez) plus a big war compensation: 106.676 dobles of gold. The Catholic Monarchs also had to accept that Joanna remain in Portugal instead of Spain and to pardon all rebellious subjects who had supported Joanna and Alfonso. And the Catholic monarchs – who had proclaimed themselves rulers of Portugal and donated lands to noblemen inside this country – had to give up the Portuguese crown.
  • 1477
    Age 25
    In 1477, Isabella visited Extremadura and Andalusia to introduce this more efficient police force there as well.
    More Details Hide Details Keeping with her reformation of the regulation of laws, in 1481 Isabella charged two officials with restoring peace in Galicia. This turbulent province had been the prey of tyrant nobles since the days of Isabella's father, John II. Robbers infested the highways and oppressed the smaller towns and villages. These officials set off with the Herculean task of restoring peace for the province. The officials were successful. They succeeded in driving over 1,500 robbers from Galicia. From the very beginning of her reign, Isabella fully grasped the importance of restoring the Crown's finances. The reign of Henry IV had left the kingdom of Castile in great debt. Upon examination, it was found that the chief cause of the nation's poverty was the wholesale alienation of royal estates during Henry's reign. To make money, Henry had sold off royal estates at prices well below their value. The Cortes of Toledo of 1480 came to the conclusion that the only hope of lasting financial reform lay in a resumption of these alienated lands and rents. This decision was warmly approved by many leading nobles of the Court but Isabella was reluctant to take such large actions. It was decided that the Cardinal of Spain would hold an enquiry into the tenure of estates and rents acquired during Henry IV's reign. Those that had not been granted as a reward for services were to be restored without compensation; while those that had been sold at a price far below their real value were to be brought back at the same sum.
  • 1476
    Age 24
    Isabella's first major reform came during the cortes of Madrigal in 1476 in the form of a police force, La Santa Hermandad (the Holy Brotherhood).
    More Details Hide Details While 1476 was not the first time that Castile had seen the Hermandad, it was however the first time that the police force was used by the crown. During the late medieval period, the expression hermandad had been used to describe groups of men who came together of their own accord to regulate law and order by patrolling the roads and countryside and punishing malefactors. These brotherhoods, however, had usually been suppressed by the monarch. Before 1476, the justice system in most parts of the country was effectively under the control of dissident members of the nobility rather than royal officials. To fix this problem, during the Cortes of 1476, a general Hermandad was established for Castile, Leon, and Asturias. The police force was to be made up of locals who were to regulate the crime occurring in the kingdom. It was to be paid for by a tax of 1800 mavedus on every one hundred households.
  • 1474
    Age 22
    When Isabella came to the throne in 1474, Castile was in a state of despair thanks to her brother Henry's reign.
    More Details Hide Details It was not unknown that Henry IV was a big spender and did little to enforce the laws of his kingdom. It was even said by one Castilian citizen of the time that murder, rape, and robbery happened without punishment. Because of this, Isabella needed desperately to find a way to reform her kingdom. Due to the measures imposed, historians during her lifetime saw her to be more inclined to justice than to mercy, and indeed far more rigorous and unforgiving than her husband Ferdinand.
    Isabella's reign got off to a rocky start. Because her brother had named Isabella as his successor, when she ascended to the throne in 1474, there were already several plots against her.
    More Details Hide Details Diego Pacheco, the Marquis of Villena, and his followers maintained that Joanna, daughter of Henry IV, was the rightful queen. Shortly after the Marquis made his claim, a longtime supporter of Isabella, the Archbishop of Toledo left court to plot with his great-nephew the Marquis. The Archbishop and Marquis made plans to have the Infanta Joanna marry her uncle, King Alfonso V of Portugal and invade Castile to claim the throne for themselves. In May 1475, Alfonso and his army crossed into Spain and advanced to Plasencia. Here he married the young Joanna. A long and bloody war for the Castilian succession then took place. The war went back and forth for almost a year until 1 March 1476 when the Battle of Toro took place, a battle in which both sides claimed victory and celebrated the victory: the troops of Afonso V were beaten by the Castilian centre-left commanded by the Duke of Alba and Cardinal Mendoza while the forces led by Prince John of Portugal defeated the Castilian right wing and remained in possession of the battlefield.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1469
    Age 17
    They were married immediately upon reuniting, on 19 October 1469, in the Palacio de los Vivero in the city of Valladolid.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1468
    Age 16
    Once again in 1468, a marriage proposal arrived from Alfonso V of Portugal.
    More Details Hide Details Going against his promises made in September, Henry tried to make the marriage a reality. If Isabella married Alfonso, Henry's daughter Joanna would marry Alfonso's son John II and thus, after the death of the old king, John and Joanna could inherit Portugal and Castile. Isabella refused and made a secret promise to marry her cousin and very first betrothed, Ferdinand of Aragon. After this failed attempt, Henry once again went against his promises and tried to marry Isabella to Louis XI's brother Charles, Duke of Berry. In Henry's eyes, this alliance would cement the friendship of Castile and France as well as remove Isabella from Castilian affairs. Isabella once again refused the proposal. Meanwhile, John II of Aragon negotiated in secret with Isabella a wedding to his son Ferdinand. On 18 October 1469, the formal betrothal took place. Because Isabella and Ferdinand were second cousins, they stood within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity and the marriage would not be legal unless a dispensation from the Pope was obtained. With the help of the Valencian cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (later Alexander VI), Isabella and Ferdinand were presented with a supposed papal bull by Pius II (who had died in 1464), authorising Ferdinand to marry within the third degree of consanguinity, making their marriage legal. Afraid of opposition, Isabella eloped from the court of Henry with the excuse of visiting her brother Alfonso's tomb in Ávila.
    When Henry recognised Isabella as his heir-presumptive on 19 September 1468, he also promised that his sister should not be compelled to marry against her will, while she in return agreed to obtain his consent.
    More Details Hide Details It seemed that finally the years of failed attempts at political marriages were over. There was talk of a marriage to Edward IV of England or to one of his brothers, probably Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but this alliance was never seriously considered.
  • 1465
    Age 13
    In 1465 an attempt was made to marry Isabella to Alfonso V of Portugal, Henry's brother-in-law.
    More Details Hide Details Through the medium of the Queen and Count of Ledesma, a Portuguese alliance was made. Isabella, however, was wary of the marriage and refused to consent. A civil war broke out in Castile over King Henry's inability to act as sovereign. Henry now needed a quick way to please the rebels of the kingdom. As part of an agreement to restore peace, Isabella was to be betrothed to Pedro Girón Acuña Pacheco, Master of the Order of Calatrava and brother to the King's favourite, Juan Pacheco. In return, Don Pedro would pay into the impoverished royal treasury an enormous sum of money. Seeing no alternative, Henry agreed to the marriage. Isabella was aghast and prayed to God that the marriage would not come to pass. Her prayers were answered when Don Pedro suddenly fell ill and died while on his way to meet his fiancée.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1453
    Age 1
    Her younger brother Alfonso was born two years later on 17 November 1453, lowering her position to third in line.
    More Details Hide Details When her father died in 1454, her half-brother ascended to the throne as Henry IV. Isabella and Alfonso were left in Henry's care. She, her mother and her brother Alfonso then moved to Arévalo. These were times of turmoil for Isabella. Living conditions in their castle in Arévalo were poor, and they suffered from a shortage of money. Although her father arranged in his will for his children to be financially well taken care of, Henry did not comply with their father's wishes, either from a desire to keep his half-siblings restricted or from ineptitude. Even though living conditions were lackluster, under the careful eye of her mother, Isabella was instructed in lessons of practical piety and in a deep reverence for religion. When the King's wife, Joan of Portugal, was about to give birth to their daughter Joanna, Isabella and Alfonso were summoned to court (Segovia) to come under the direct supervision of the King and to finish their education. Alfonso was placed in the care of a tutor while Isabella became part of the Queen's household.
  • 1451
    Born
    Isabella was born in Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Ávila, to John II of Castile and Isabella of Portugal on 22 April 1451.
    More Details Hide Details At the time of her birth, she was second in line to throne after her older half-brother Henry. Henry was 26 at that time and married but childless.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
All data offered is derived from public sources. Spokeo does not verify or evaluate each piece of data, and makes no warranties or guarantees about any of the information offered. Spokeo does not possess or have access to secure or private financial information. Spokeo is not a consumer reporting agency and does not offer consumer reports. None of the information offered by Spokeo is to be considered for purposes of determining any entity or person's eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing, or for any other purposes covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)