I’ve been reading a ton of fantasy these last few years. This might change a little as I recently started a new project that requires a significant amount of Mexican and Spanish history knowledge. So I decided to first start reading about The Catholic Kings, in particularly Isabella.
Queen Isabella I of Castile is undoubtedly the most important female monarch in human history.
Isabella: The Warrior Queen is a book that narrates the life and legacy of this mighty monarch and why she was and still is a very import person. In this biography, we get learn about Isabella’s life:
- From her birth
- Childhood upcoming
- Conquest of Granada
- The Inquisition
- Christopher Columbus and the Discovery of the New World
- Her heirs
- Her legacy
Given that I’ve recently started reading A Song of Ice and Fire, it’s amazing to see the parallels between George R.R. Martin’s fictional world and Isabella’s real life. (Yes, I know, ASoIaF was heavily influenced by the real events that were part of Wars of the Roses). However, the similarities are fairly staggering, like when the different royal family members are battling for the Crown of Castile, reminiscent to the different houses fighting for the Iron Throne all while in Martin’s world the biggest threat to their existence is the Army of the Dead, and on Isabella’s world their biggest threat are the Muslims. Also not to mention the occasional enemy poisoning and bast amount of illegitimate bastard children!
I learned an incredible amount of information regarding the politics of Europe during the middle ages by reading this book. For obvious reasons, the Mediterranean Kingdoms were primarily focused. I already had an idea how much political power the Catholic Church had at time, but I never really imagined to what extend. This book does a really good job explaining the role of the Church and the different Christian Kingdoms were at the time and how incredible corrupt its institutions were.
Reading this book, the popular quote “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” certainly falls into context during the era of Queen Isabella’s life, both in by The Inquisition and Sharia Law.
Finally to conclude, they’re many topics in this book that in today’s politically correct / “safe space” world, many people will deemed it as “offensive”, without given much critical thinking before they start complaining. Reading the author’s Afterword first, should hopefully convince you that this book was written without any political, racial, or religious biases.
Thus said, as a person who’s native tongue is Castilian, religion is Roman Catholic, and lineage being both Iberian and native indigenous; to my eyes Isabella of Castile is a saint, whose reign shaped the world positively.