Isabella of Castile

1451-1504. Daughter of John II of Castile, she married Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469. On the death of her half-brother Henry IV in 1474, she ascended the Castilian throne, and in 1479 Ferdinand became king of Aragon (see Ferdinand V). The result was a union, not of countries, but of crowns-whose bearers came to be known as the “Catholic Sovereigns.” Isabella was successful in increasing royal power at the expense of the independence of the nobles, the towns, and the church. She developed a regular army and played a personal role in its successful campaign to recapture Granada (1492). She was the friend of exploration and learning, and the enemy of heretics and infidels, supporting the endeavors of Columbus and the universities while instigating the work of the Spanish Inquisition (1478) and developing the policy for the expulsion of Jews (1492) and Muslims (1502). Isabella's five children included Joanna “the Mad,” who gave birth to the future emperor Charles V, and Catherine who married Henry VIII.