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Isabella, Queen of Castille Until the 15th century, Spain was only a distant participant in the general movement of European affairs. The different kingdoms sharing the Spanish peninsula were individually too weak to pursue an energetic foreign policy. Spain was actually poorly developed country. The marriage of royal cousins, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille, in 1469 brought stability to both kingdoms. Both understood the importance of unity; together they effected institutional reform, such as in the Spanish Reformation, and left Spain one of the best-administered countries in Europe. Spanish queen Isabelle was playing very important role in the development of Spain as a united, economically stable, and successful country.
Isabella was born in 1451. She was the daughter of King John II of Castille and of his second wife. In the age of 13, Isabella was brought to the court of King Henry IV, who was her half-brother in order to be controlled. When Isabella turned nine, Spanish monarchs and prices tried to arrange her marriage to different European monarchs. However, Isabella was against all this efforts and eventually left the Kings court in 1466, when a year before she had already decided to marry Prince Ferdinand of Aragon, who was younger than Isabella. Eventually, in 1469 Ferdinand, who by that time was King of Sicily, married Isabella in Valladolid.
This had ended various conflicts between kingdoms of Castille and Aragon, but they remained separate powers. In 1474, King Henry IV and Isabellas brother Enrique died, and Isabella became a Queen of Castille. In 1479, King John died and Ferdinand became new King of Aragon. After this time he made Isabella his successor, which would constantly result into unification of two kingdoms. Ferdinand and Isabella transformed Spain into a dual absolute monarchy. At the time of their rise to power, the crown had beaten off the last assault of the feudal world.
These great monarchs had the firm will necessary to restore order, and to fix the institutions and the governmental hierarchy. The King was the symbol of national and religious aspirations. The influence of Roman Law only increased this respect for the King, and in this case also the Queen. The Isabella and Ferdinand instituted royal councils, composed of: the Council of State, the Council of Justice, and the Council of Finance. The Council of Justice completely dominated judicial organization and was the essential organ of royal power. The Council of State was presided over by the sovereigns in person and it dealt with foreign affairs. The Council of Finance supervised the administration of public finances.
Eventually the persecution of the Moors and Jews led to the organization of the fourth council, the Council of the Inquisition. The Sovereigns appointed a grand inquisitor as its president, and three ecclesiastics and two doctors of law assisted him. The Sovereigns eventually lost control over this council and had to yield to it. Sovereigns were justice itself, and therefore they made and applied the law. They saw themselves as the supreme judge and the redresser of wrongs. In the area of justice, their, mainly Isabella's, study of Roman Law led them away from national customs and national laws when they simplified the laws for the benefit of the people. All this was to the efforts of Ferdinand and Isabella. When Spain conquered Granada in 1492, Islamic Spain ceased to exist and attention was refocused on the internal threat of the hundreds of thousands of Muslims living in the recently acquired Granada. In Spain, it was strongly believed that religious unity was necessary for political unity, but unfortunately, Spain had the most heterogeneous population in Europe.
The Council of Inquisition was organized and authorized in 1478, and it was given the task of enforcing the uniformity of religious practice. Spain developed its own "Reformation", unlike the one in Italy. The Inquisition was originally intended to investigate the sincerity of Conversos, people who converted to Christianity as directed by national law, who had been accused of being Jews and Muslims. During the Inquisition, Jews and Muslims had only three options: to be exiled, to be killed by the Inquisition tribunals, or to convert to Christianity. It is remarkable that only a few men agreed to give up their religion for most preferred to be exiled. In Spain, heresy was more than a religious question; it was also a political and national issue.
As a result, the Catholic Monarchs founded an absolute monarchy. In April of 1492, Isabella faithfully decided to sponsor the voyages of Christopher Columbus. Columbus received from Ferdinand and Isabella a letter to be presented to the Great Khan of the Far East; but the possibility of new territorial discovery in the "Ocean Sea" was allowed for in his contract with the Spanish Monarchs, and he was promised political and commercial privileges in whatever new lands he might encounter. On October 12 of 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered America, which led to the creation of the overseas Spanish colonial empire, bringing great wealth, and power to Spain. Isabella achieved another principle, which was the right of women to succeed the crown. Isabella was especially passionate in her piety, always displayed the concern for the clergy, and the greatest veneration for the Holy See. However, she would never abandon the crown's rights and privileges in deference to the Catholic Church. Isabella and Ferdinand were given the title of "Catholic Monarchs" because they surrounded themselves with priests and monks and employed great enthusiasm in reformation of Church. Isabella promoted and sponsored education and art, established military hospital for wounded people, which shows how much she loved her nation and how humanistic was her spirit.
Isabella had three daughters and one son John, who had died in the age of 11. Her daughters also contributed to the development of Spain after the death of Isabella in 1504, after marriages to European monarchs and Spanish princes. Isabella is truly lowed by Spanish people and is considered the best queen in all Spanish history. Thanks to her Spain exists as a united and quite strong nation today..
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