Isabella I of Castile is known as one of the most powerful queens in all the history of humankind. Her reign lasted for 30 years and was marked by many great achievements, including the unification of Spain, the lowering of crime rate and discovery of the New World.
Today, we decided to share with our readers the most interesting facts from her life. Let’s see what these facts are…
Isabella I of Castile: 8 interesting facts about the queen that unified Spain
1. Isabella’s family often had financial problems
Isabella was born in April 1451 to John II of Castile and Isabella of Portugal. 3 years after the death of her father, the family moved to Arévalo. According to the will of John II, his elder son, King Henry IV of Castile, was to take care of his half-siblings.
Unfortunately, King Henry didn’t comply with the last will of his father. He did all he could to ensure that neither Isabella nor Alfonso would never threaten his status as the king. The children often had nothing to eat and were forced to live in terrible conditions, an interesting fact about Isabella I of Castile
2. Isabella’s path to the throne wasn’t free of obstacles
Isabella was the first child from the second marriage of King John. The heir to the throne was her elder half-sibling Henry, the son of John II and his first wife. In 1453, the marriage of the royal family was blessed once again. The Queen gave birth to a boy who was named Alfonso.
After the death of King John II, the life of Isabella and his brother changed. Henry became the King. Even though he wasn’t close with his half-siblings, he ensured that they were educated properly. He sent Isabella to Segovia, where she enjoyed a rather comfortable and easy life.
Everything changed in 1468 when Isabella’s brother Alfonso died. In his will, he named Isabella his successor to the throne. The noblemen whose main goal was to overtake the power saw this as a valuable opportunity. They asked Isabella to become the leader of the rebellion that had already been planned.
Isabella decided to resolve the issue between her and Henry in her own way. She met with Henry to discuss the matters and reach a compromise. They agreed that Henry would proclaim her his successor. Isabella promised that she would only marry the person her brother approved of.
3. Isabella and her husband Ferdinand were married secretly
Isabella was engaged to Ferdinand at the age of 6. However, their marriage took place many years later. The agreement between Henry and Isabella implied that Isabella would not marry against her will. Henry wasn’t supposed to force her to marry the person she didn’t like.
Truth be told, Henry didn’t keep his word. During the last years of his reign, he was rapidly losing power. He needed new alliances to make his position stronger. He made many attempts to organize the marriage of his sister. Obviously, his main priority was the political benefits that her marriage could bring.
Isabella reminded Henry of his promise to her, but he never listened to her. Finally, she decided to secretly marry Ferdinand, with whom she had been engaged in childhood. The fact that they were second cousins caused certain problems. In order to marry legally, they needed to obtain the Pope’s permission.
Isabella and Ferdinand secretly married in October 1469, an interesting Isabella I of Castile fact.
4. Isabella took the question of chastity very seriously
Isabella’s mother gave her lessons on religion. Isabella believed in God and regularly prayed. She was against any sexual relationships between the servants in her household. Male servants were separated from female servants. You will be surprised to know how far Isabella went. She even forbade males and females to eat at one table.
5. Isabella was a strong ruler and a great diplomat
Isabella was officially proclaimed the Queen of Castile and León in 1474. The first period of her reign was rather difficult. The supporters of Joanna la Beltraneja, the daughter of Henry, believed that she was the only queen to take the throne. What followed were several wars, the longest and bloodiest of which was the Battle of Toro.
The Battle was the first and one of the greatest political victories during the era of Isabella. The army under the command of King Alfonso V was defeated and left Castile.
In August of 1476, Isabella successfully repressed a rebellion in Segovia. She herself went to negotiate with the rebels, an interesting fact about Isabella I of Castile.
6. Isabella put an end to the Reconquista
The conquest of Granada in 1492 marked the end of the Reconquista, the very long period of the Iberian Peninsula conquest.
7. Isabella unified Spain
The marriage to Ferdinand resulted in the physical unification of Spain. Isabel strived for unifying the country not only physically, but spiritually as well. In order to achieve this goal, the Catholic Inquisition was introduced into the life of the country.
8. Isabella financially supported Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus search for investments to fund his voyage to the New World. He asked Queen Isabella to provide finds for the expedition 3 times. He was rejected 3 times. However, he didn’t give up. He came to the queen with the same offer for the 4th time. Luckily, this time Isabella agreed to invest in his trip, an interesting Isabella I of Castile fact. The discovery of the New World created expansion opportunities for Spain.
During her reign, Isabella introduced many reforms in various spheres of the society’s life, including the spheres of law and finance. Isabella and her husband Ferdinand represented a union of two strong personalities that managed to significantly improve the life of their country.
We hope that the facts about Isabella I of Castile provided above will motivate you to learn more about the personality, life and achievements of Isabella I. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Facts Page!