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The aim of this essay is to provide a critical reflection on the “Queen Isabella” who was born on 22nd April, 1451 in “Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Spain.” She was popularly known by the name of Isabella I, the “Queen of Castile.” She was proclaimed as the empress of the “dynastically unified Spain” in 1474. She was coronated the “Queen of Castile” in 1474 and later became the “Queen of Aragon” as well in 1479 after marriage with “Ferdinand II of Aragon” where she jointly ruled over the entire Spain post 1479. It is to be noted that she was the Queen of Spain until she died on 26th November, 1504 in “Medina del Campo” located in Spain. She was one of the most popular rulers in world history as there was a permanent union of Spain under the rule and leadership of the Queen and her husband, Ferdinand II. She is also known for funding or sponsoring “Christopher Columbus” for his voyages especially for the notable voyage to East Indies. It was the beginning of the conquest of Spain of foreign lands thereby spreading the Spanish Empire far and wide. This is why she is counted as one of the most notable rulers of world history whose life and work is worth investigating.
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Queen Isabella I was one of the most significant Spanish rulers of all time who ascended the throne of Castille on 1474 at the age of 23. However, before investigating her life, work and leadership in detail, one has to delve deeper into the early life of the Queen. She is the daughter of the then ruler of Castile, “John II.” She did not enter the politics of the Kingdom by chance but through lack of availability of legal heirs to the throne of Castile. Her mother was Portuguese who happens to be the second wife of King, John II of Castile. Now, as a result, her half-brother, became the King after John II as she was only three years old. However, she had a younger brother as well named Alfonso. She started to come to the Court at the very age of 13 just to acquire the eyes of the King. Unfortunately, her younger brother died and thus she was forced into the politics of Castile by the rebellious magnates. However, she was not legally sworn as the next Queen of Castile until there was a agreement signed by “Henry IV” the then King under the name of “Accord of Toros de Guisando.” As she was now a legal heiress to the throne of Castile, her marriage then became an urgent matter of diplomacy where it could be seen that three Kingdoms of France, Portugal as well as Aragon have each put forward an ideal marriage candidate. It is to be noted that the then King of Castile, Henry IV wanted that his half-sister should marry the then Portuguese King, “Alfonso V.” However, to everyone’s surprise, Isabella chose the “Ferdinand II” of Aragon after getting effective counselling from her small group of secret counsellors. It is also to be noted here that she has married the “Ferdinand II’ of Aragon out of her own free will against the approval of her half-brother and the then King of Castile, “Henry IV.”
It should be specifically noted that Isabella I did not right away become the Queen of Castile as she also had to face numerous struggles before being sworn as the Queen. As noted earlier, she had married to Ferdinand II out of her own free will and decision against the royal consent being provided by the then King, Henry IV who wanted Isabella to marry the Portuguese King. The King of Castile was thus disappointed and wanted that his own daughter, “Joan” to become the legal heir to the throne of Castile. He even wanted the hand of the then French King, “duc de Guienne” for his daughter, Joan. It then could be seen that Isabella was in Segovia when the King of Castile died and a fierce war of succession broke out between the supporters of Joan and Isabella I. It is to be found in history that Isabella was fortunate enough to have gained the access and support of few influential persons within the King’s Court namely the nobles of the Court primarily “Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza”, the then “constable of Castile” followed by the then “admiral” who also happens to be in relation to the mother of Ferdinand II. The opposition camp supporting Joan was also strong comprising of “archbishop of Toledo”, “Master of Calatrava” and many more. Soon there was a fierce Civil war that followed for the next four years and have ended with the defeat of Joan. This is how she became the Queen of two of the most powerful kingdoms within Spain.
Now, mentioning about the notable works of Isabella I, as the Queen of Dynastically unified Spain, she introduced the “Police force” within her Kingdoms to monitor public affairs. Other notable work firstly includes restoring peace in “Galicia” which was a disputed territory infested by robbers. She even restored the finances of the “Crown” through introduction of numerous financial reforms such as stopping the sale of royal estates way below their market prices that was started by Henry IV. She is also known for sponsoring the explorer, Christopher Columbus for discovering and exploring parts of the East Indies.
Queen Isabella was one of the most notable Queens in the history of the ancient and medieval world especially that concerning Spain. She was proclaimed as the Queen of Castile after winning a Civil War against the daughter of her half-brother, the King of Castile, Henry IV. She married to the King of Aragon, Ferdinand II and thus became the Queen of the dynastically unified Spain. She is known for introduction of a police force to control the internal affairs of the state concerning the general public, introduction of financial policies and strategies to recover the debt left behind by the King, Henry IV, funding the explorer, Christopher Columbus which opened the new sphere for expansion of the Spanish empire and for her condemnation of slavery especially concerning the native Americans. So, on a concluding note, it can be said that she is the true and ideal heir to the throne of castle and the true Queen of the Spanish Empire that spread to the other parts of the world under her diligent and objective reign.
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