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Isabella of Castile

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Isabella of Castile (Spanish: Ysabel, Isabel or Isabela) (22 April, 1451 - 26 November 1504) was queen of Castile.

She was great-great-granddaughter of both Henry II of Castile and his half-brother Peter I of Castile and their respective wives Joan of Villena and Maria de Padilla . She was also great-great-granddaughter of Peter IV of Aragon and his wife Leonor of Portugal , daughter of King Afonso IV of Portugal, as well as of her half-brother Peter I of Portugal and his mistress Teresa Lourenço. Through John of Gaunt she was great-great-grandaughter of King Edward III of England and his wife Philippa of Hainault and through his first wife of Henry of Grosmont, Duke of Lancaster and his wife Isabel de Beaumont . Finally she was great-great-grandaughter to Nuno Alvares Pereira, count de Barcelos and his wife Leonor Alvim, Countess of Barcellos.

She was great-granddaughter of John I of Castile and his wife Eleanor of Aragón, a sister of Kings John I of Aragon and Martin I of Aragon. She was also great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and his second wife Constanza of Castile, a daughter of Peter I of Castile. Her third set of great-grandparents were King John I of Portugal and his wife Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt from his first wife Blanche of Lancaster . Her final set of grandparents were Afonso, Duke de Braganza , a son of John I of Portugal by Inez Perez, and his wife Beatriz Pereira, countess da Barcellos.

Her paternal grandparents were King Henry III of Castile and Catherine Plantagenet of the House of Lancaster, a half sister of King Henry IV of England. Her maternal grandparents were Prince Joao of Portugal, Grand Master of Santiago , who was a brother of Henry the Navigator, and his wife Isabella de Bragança .

Her parents were King John II of Castile and his second wife Queen Isabella of Portugal.

She married Ferdinand II of Aragon, and their children included Joanna of Castile and Catherine of Aragon. Isabella was the patron of Christopher Columbus. In 1492, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, Granada, was taken, fulfilling Isabella's long-held dream. Ferdinand and Isabella are buried together in Granada Cathedral .

Motivated by politics and religious zealotry, she and her husband started the Inquisition in Spain, which targeted converted Moors and Jews. The Spanish Pope Alexander VI, father of Cesare Borgia and Lucrezia Borgia, gave them each the sobriquet "the Catholic" (or Catholic King/Queen) because of those efforts.

During her reign, she approved the voyage by Christopher Columbus that ultimately led to the "discovery" of the Americas. Consequently, together with Ferdinand, Isabella initiated the chain of events that would lead to the Golden Age of Spanish imperialism. As a legacy of this empire, Spanish is the fourth most spoken language in the world after Mandarin, Hindi, and English.

"In the love of Christ and his Maid-Mother," she says, "I have caused great misery. I have depopulated towns and districts, provinces and kingdoms."

Isabella was the first named woman to appear on a United States coin, an 1893 commemorative quarter, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus's first voyage.

Some Catholic Spaniards are trying to get Isabella declared as blessed and later saint. This has met opposition by Jewish organizations, Liberation theologists and Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger.

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Preceded by:
Henry IV
Queen of Castile
with Ferdinand V
Succeeded by:
Queen of Leon
with Ferdinand V

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45