I "La Católica"
(1272 – 1305)
Isabel was born
on 22nd April in 1451 in Madrigal de las Altas Torres (Avila).
She will be King John II of Castille´s third daughter, married for the
second time with Isabel of Portugal, the future Catholic Queen´s mother.
childhood transcurred in Arevalo, where her mother moved short after being
widowed. The period in Arevalo was not very nice, because her mother soon
started to show proofs of her madness. We know very few of her instruction,
and we suppose that in those years she learn to read and write.
of Isabel "La Católica"
In 1464 King Henry the fourth, her brother,
took her to his court, giving her incomes, and a villa in Casarrubios del
The relationship between both brothers was
really closed and Henry showed proofs of dear to the young Princess and also
to her other brother Alfonso.
The situation in
Henry´s court is not very gratified because the nobels wish to take away
more power from the legitimate monarch, provoking a great confrontation
between those who wanted a strong monarchy and those who prefer a manageable
monarch from who they could obtain all kind of goods and graces. At that
moment, a meaningful fact known as "Farsa de Avila".
When in a
grotesque ceremony, the nobels took the crown from Henry IV and named king
of Castille Prince Alfonso, arguing that the heiress Juana is illegitimate
because she is daughter of the love between the queen and Beltran de la
Cueva, from where it comes the name Beltraneja, as the Princes is known
appart from these stratagems, but she started to act very soon.
death in 1468 provoked that his followers chose the young Princess as the
new candidate to take the crown to Henry. The aim of the nobelty was to have
a manageable person to follow their personal interests. At this context, it
was signed the Pact of the "Toros de Guisando" (1468) in which
Henry named his sister Isabel as Princess of Asturias, confirming that his
daughter Juana was illegitimate.
It is curious
that, Isabel, whose posibilities to reign in Castille were minimum when she
was born, she became the sucessor to the thrown. As Princess of Asturias,
Isabel should choose a good husband to marry. There were several candidates
to this political marriage: Alfonso V of Portugal; D. Pedro Giron, mester of
Calatrava, and Fernando of Aragon, heir to the neighbour crown. The choice
was consumated in Ocaña, where Isabel chose Fernando.
The marriage was celebrated in Valladolid on
19th October in 1469. The archbishop Carrillo had to represent a
false bull because both the newly-weds were cousins, having John the first
of Castille as common ancestor.
But this marriage will create a
confrontation betwen both brothers, because Henry will react and declared
illegal the naming of Isabel as Princess of Asturias, and naming Juana as
his legitimate heiress (Valdelozoya, 1470)
civil war was near, although they will still pass several years till it
exploded. Firstly, Isabel and Fernando hardly ever had allies, retiring to
Medina de Rioseco, but the number of followers was rising progresively: the
Vasque Country, Borgoña, Rome and specially the powerful family Mendoza.
Isabel´s position is stronger and it seems that Henry himself wanted to
negociate. But at that moment, the monarch died in Madrid, at the night
between the 11th and 12th December in 1474, without
writing the will.
account the Trate of "Los Toros de Guisando", Isabel proclamed
herself queen of Castille in Segovia, on 13th December.
It is a politics
of consumated facts which will provoke the war between Isabel and her
followers- who support a stable and consolidated monarchy- against Juana and
her followers- with the curious fact that they are the same that considered
her illegitimate, trying to consolidate their feudal rights and to relegate
the monarchy in a merely formal place-
In January in
1475, it was signed "La Concordia de Segovia" between Isabel and
Fernando, where it was produced a distribution of competences between both
monarchs.Isabel is "queen and owner of Castille" and her husband
receive the tittle of king. From that moment, that couple formed an
unseparable block and they together can confront the war.
and Fernando. The Catholic Kings
The civil war was
between 1475 and 1479, and it became and international war participating
Portugal and France supporting Juana while Aragon supported Isabel. The
Portuguese defeat near Toro(1st March in 1476) and the French
difficulties to invade territories in Guipuzcoa thanks to the Vasque marine
that turn into Isabel.
For three years,
they will smother the points of resistence in Extremadura and Andalucia,
what demonstrated that isabelian cause was not so established. The Treates
of Alcaçovas (September in 1479) finished with the fight, and from that
moment, Isabel is firmly settled in her thrown. At that year, 1479, John the
second of Aragon died, and Fernando became king of Aragon, and it began the
dinastic union between Castille and Aragon.
of the modern State were locating in the Iberian Peninsule.To strengthen the
royal power, they were followed a series of important measures, most of them
in the Parliament: the Constitution of "La Santa Hermandad" with
police and judicial aims (Madrigal de las Altas Torres, 1476); the
reorganization of the Royal Council, the enlargement of the competences of
the coregidor, (Toledo, 1480); regulation of the Royal Property; revision of
the otorged duties to the nobels by Henry IV; incorporation of the
maestrazgos of the Military Orders to the Crown, when naming Great Mester to
Fernando;the establishment in Valladolid of the Royal Canceller, and
creating a second Canceller in Granada (1505); creation of a permanent army
that has as the central aim, the Royal Guards, the urban milicies, and Santa
matters, it was produced the expulsion of the jewess (1492); the reformation
of the religious orders, done by the cardinal Cisneros; and the creation of
the Inquisition in Castille (1478) thanks to the bull "Exigit sinceras
devotionis affectus" proclaimed by Sixto IV with which it is conceded
to the kings the power of naming two or three bishops to perform the post of
inquisitors, and they were produced the first sentences in Sevilla during
The Sant Inquisición
In 1492 they happened three very important
facts for Spain:the conquer of Granada, the conquer of the Canary islands
and the discovery of America thanks to Columbus.
These three episodes can be related with the
foreign politics developed by Isabel and Fernando, directed to expand the
iberian domains to estrenghten the Crown as an international power,
confronting with France. It is true that the line drawed by Fernando has as
aim the expansion into the Mediterranean-Italy and Sicilia- but with these
new contributions Castille opened into the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks to the
bulls "Inter Caetera" (May 1493) the Pope Alejandro the sixth
conceded the soberanity of the discovered territories. This Pope himself
will be who conceded the tittle of Catholic Kings in 1904 to Isabel and
Fernando, which all their heiresses will also have.
Reyes Católicos sword
the foreign politics, it should be emphasized the politics of marriages
designed by the Kings for their children. All the marriages are directed to
asolate France: Isabel would marry the Portuguese Prince D. Alfonso, and
after enwidowing, with his heiress, D. Manuel (the lucky); John will marry
Margarita of Austria, Emperor Maximiliano the first and Maria of Borgoña´s
daughter; Juana will marry Felipe of Austria, also the Emperor´s son; Maria
will marry her brother-in-law, the widower D. Manuel of Portugal; Catalina
will be the first Henry VIII of England´s wife.
Portugal, the Empire and England, surrounded
the French reign with their offsprings. Fernando´s design couldn´t be more
perfect. Prince John´s death in 1497 will provoke a depression to D.
Isabel, maybe for succesive motives.
With Isabel´s death (1498) and her son
Miguel´s (1500) the will leaves her daughter Juana as heiress and owner of
the Castilian Crown.
Picture of Juana "La
D. Isabel´s body
was taken to Granada where she will be buried, and at the present we can
appreciate a marvellous mausoleum, created by Domenico Fancelli, in the real
Granadian Capille, accompanied by her husband Fernando.
Tomb of the catholic kings
in the cathedral of Granada.
If you want you can see the sword of
Isabel "La Católcia" with a various selection of historic sword
Isabel "La Católica", Aceros de Hispania