Isabella I, Queen of Castile

views updated


Reigned Dec. 11, 1474, to Nov. 26, 1504; b. Madrigal, Spain, April 22, 1451; d. Medina del Campo. She was devoted to the religious and political unity of Spain, the modern history of which begins with her reign. Daughter of John II of Castile, she gained the throne after the death of her brother Henry IV (145474) and united Castile with Aragon when Ferdinand V, whom she had married in 1469, succeeded to the throne of Aragon in 1479. Together the reyes católicos suppressed civil war and banditry; reformed the law, the judiciary, and the administration; encouraged sheepbreeding and trade; built a regular army; reconquered Granada (148192); and strengthened the monarchy vis-à-vis the nobles, the cities, and the Church. They thus acquired the right to administer the military orders of calatrava (1487), Santiago (1493), and Alcántara (1494); and to appoint all prelates in Granada (1486) and, in practice, all bishops in Spain. They chose excellent men, such as ximÉnez de cisneros and F. de Talavera. They reformed the secular and regular clergy, anticipating the counter reforma tion, and founded universities to encourage the revival of learning. In 1480 the inquisition was established for all of Spain, and under Tomás de torquemada (148398) it investigated marranos, whose conversion

to Christianity was suspect. In 1492 Jews were required to become Christian or leave Castile and Aragon, and in 1502 Moslems had to make the same choice. Isabella personally commissioned columbus's voyages and the settlement and evangelization of America. Of her five children, Joan the Mad, her successor, was the mother of charles v, and Catherine married henry viii of en gland. Isabella is buried in Granada.

Bibliography: w. t. walsh, Isabella of Spain (New York 1930). h. del pulgar, Crónica de los reyes católicos, ed. j. de mata carriazo, 2 v. (Madrid 1943). b. llorca, La Inquisición en España (3d ed. Barcelona 1954). t. de azcona, La eclección y reforma del episcopado español en tiempo de los reyes católicos (Madrid 1960). r. garcÍa y garcÍa de castro, Virtudes de la Reina Católica (Madrid 1961). t. miller, The Castles and the Crown (New York 1963). j. h. elliott, Imperial Spain, 14691716 (London 1963). t. de azcona, Isabel la Católica (Madrid 1964).

[d. w. lomax]

About this article

Isabella I, Queen of Castile

Updated About content Print Article


Isabella I, Queen of Castile