Isabel the Catholic

Isabel la Católica has been considered one of the most important characters in the history of Spain . His biography and his important legacy have been highly by historians who have analyzed his life and his career. For many, Isabel I of Castile was a woman holy , humble , full of virtues both political and human and for others it is considered a person without scruples.

Personal information

  • When was he born:  04/22/1451
  • Where he was born:  Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Spain
  • When he died:  11/26/1504
  • Where he died:  Medina del Campo, Spain

Who was Isabel the Catholic?

Isabel I of Castilla or Isabel la Católica has been considered one of the most important and influential people in Spain who was responsible for taking the country from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age .

  • Biography of Isabel la Católica
  • Relationship with Fernando the Catholic
  • Testament of Isabella the Catholic
  • Fathers
  • Brothers
  • Sons
  • Importance
  • Books about Isabel la Católica

Biography of Isabel la Católica

Isabel was born on April 22, 1451 in Madrigal de las Altas Torres and was perhaps the most important character in the history of Spain . His early years were spent with his brother Alfonso and his mother, a depressed, slightly crazy woman who consoled herself only in religion . She had a great education since she was little and was surrounded by companion ladies and tutors such as Lope de Barrientos, Gonzalo de Illescas, Juan de Padilla and Fray Martín de Córdoba from whom she obtained received a humanistic training and studies in grammar , rhetoric , painting , philosophy and history .

On October 25, 1464, Prince Alfonso is named as heir to the Kingdom of Castile , later he was named King of Castile . On July 5, 1468, Prince Alfonso died and in the Pact of Bulls of Guisando, Enrique recognized Isabel la Católica as heir and successor of his kingdoms.

She married Ferdinand of Aragon without having the papal dispensation since she put the interests of the kingdom first. On October 19, 1469, she married Fernando. The consanguinity of both spouses was omitted by means of a papal dispensation bull signed by Pope Calixto , which had been falsified by the Bishop of Segovia . When Enrique IV found out, he annulled the agreement in Toros de Guisando and declared his daughter Juana La Beltraneja , as the legitimate heir to the throne.


When Enrique IV de Trastamara died, the nobility named Isabel la Católica as heir against the rights of Juana la Beltraneja. Isabel I proclaimed herself Queen of Castile and demanded obedience. He fought against his niece Juana and managed to unite the dynastic of the two crowns of Castile and Aragon . Being the owner of the crown, she had the ability to exercise power for herself and to lead her kingdom to wealth and prestige . Isabel together with her husband Fernando were the ones who inaugurated the modern State in Spain . Through it, territorial unity was achieved and the authoritarian monarchy with a new internal organization .

With it he began to legally organize the Cortes of Toledo, the compilation of the Royal Ordinances of Castile and the introduction of lawyers into the government as a group addicted to the power of the monarchy. The nobility collaborated with the new regime, consolidating economic and social dominance .


In her last days she suffered from uterine cancer and after having drawn up and delivered her will on October 12, Isabel I of Castilla, La Católica, a title granted by Pope Alexander VI, died shortly before noon on November 26, 1504 , in the Royal Palace , in Medina del Campo . A simple burial was made in the monastery of San Francisco de la Alhambra , on December 18, 1504. A  short time later, her remains, along with those of her husband Fernando, were transferred to the Royal Chapel of Granada, where they were also They find the remains of their daughter Juana I and her husband,Felipe the Beautiful .

Relationship with Fernando the Catholic

Isabel the Catholic chose Fernando the Catholic without knowing him because she considered that he was the candidate that best suited her and that he was the best option for both her and the kingdom. During her marriage she did everything that a Christian wife should have with her husband, in fact she qualified him as the best king of Spain.

She was always faithful and put all her effort to make their marriage work but Fernando el Católico thought differently, he was unfaithful and did not show much interest in their marriage.

Testament of Isabella the Catholic

The will made by Isabel la Católica was made in her mother tongue on October 12, 1504 , three days before her death. On November 23, Isabel signed a codicil in the presence of the notary, Gaspar de Gricio , and in the presence of five of seven witnesses who had been called to sign her last will .

This act took place in Medina del Campo and in her will, Isabel la Católica declares her eldest daughter, Princess Juana I of Castile , Archduchess of Austria and Duchess of Burgundy, as the universal heir of all her kingdoms and all her assets . It is important to mention that within the will there was a clause included by her that said that in the event that she was absent from her kingdoms or could not govern them, it would be Fernando , her father, the governor until her grandson, the infant Carlos , first-born son of Juana and Felipe el Hermoso turned twenty years to be able to rule the lands. Many expert historians believe that this last point was made because Isabel had certain reservations about her daughter .


His father was Juan II of Castile who was King of Castile between 1406 and 1454, he was the son of King Henry III the Mourner and Queen Catherine of Lancaster . He was born in the province of Zamora, in the palace of the Royal Monastery of San Ildefonso.

His mother was Isabel de Portugal who was born on October 24, 1503 in the palace of her father, King Manuel of Portugal.


Isabel la Católica only had one brother, Alfonso de Castilla , who was the youngest brother and who was king of Castilla in part of the territory from 12 to 15 years of age. Also known in his time as Alfonso the Innocent died of poisoning on July 5, 1468.


Elizabeth had a marriage that lasted for many 36 years and during this time she gave birth to five children who grew to adulthood, four women and a single boy. The first daughter was also called Isabel and was the legitimate heir of her parents. In the year 1470, his brother Juan was born , eight years later. In the year 1479 his daughter Juana was born , in 1482 Maria was born and his last daughter was Catalina who was born in the year 1485.

Prince John died of tuberculosis when he was just nineteen years old, a few months after his wedding. She also had a stillborn daughter and her eldest daughter, her firstborn, died after giving birth .


Isabel la Católica is considered to be responsible for having achieved the unity of Spain , that freedom that is enjoyed today. Many experts and historians agree that the kingdom of Isabel and Fernando was responsible for marking and determining the birth of modern Spain.  And the importance was not only for the people of Spain but also for the American peoples , since it was under his reign that Christopher Columbus’ trips to the Americas took place.

Books about Isabel la Católica

There is a lot of bibliography that has been written to tell the story of Isabel la Católica, some of the books that have been written about this important and renowned woman are the following:

  • Isabel the Catholic, Life and Reign. (Tarsicio de Azcona)
  • Isabel la Católica, Critical study of her life and her reign (Tarsicio de Azcona)
  • Isabel la Católica: power and fame. (John Edwards)
  • Isabel’s Spain, a journey through the places that marked the life of a queen. (Teresa Cunillera)
  • The Incomparable Isabel the Catholic. (Jean Dumont)
  • Isabel, The Warrior Queen. (Kirstin Downey)
  • Isabel la Católica, the first great queen of Europe . (Giles Tremlett)

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