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Isabella of Castile

Artist's impression

Isabella of Castile (Spanish: Ysabel, Isabel or Isaabela; sometimes in English: Elizabeth) (22 April, 1451 - 26 November 1504) was queen of Castile.

She was great-great-grandaughter 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-grandaughter 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 Lourenšo. 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-grandaughter of John I of Castile and his wife Eleanor of Aragˇn, a sister of Kings John I of Aragon and Martin I of Aragon. She was also great-grandaughter 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, Countess of Derby. 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 Braganša.

Her parents were King John II of Castile and his second wife Queen Isabella of Portugal. Later wife of Ferdinand II of Aragon, they were parents to Joanna of Castile and Catherine of Aragon. She also served as the patron of Christopher Columbus.

In 1492, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, Granada, was taken, fulfilling Isabella's long-held dream.

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 and Lucrezia Borgia, gave them each the sobriquet "the Catholic" (or Catholic King/Queen) because of those efforts.

"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' first voyage.


Preceded by:
John II of Castile
List of Castilian monarchs Followed by:
Joanna of Castile