ISABELLA

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ISABELLA of Castile, the celebrated queen of Spain, daughter of John II, was born in 1451, and married, in 1469, Ferdinand V, king of Arragon. After the death of her brother, Henry IV, in 1474, she ascended the throne of Castile, to the exclusion of her elder sister, Joanna, who had the rightful claim to the crown. Durmg the lifetime of her brother, Isabella had gained the favor of the estates of the kingdom to such a degree that the majority, on his death, declared for her. From the others, the victorious arms of her husband extorted acquiescence, in the battle of Toro, in 1476. After the kingdoms of Arragon and Castile were thus united, Ferdinand and Isabella assumed the royal title of Spain. With the graces and charms of her sex, Isabella united the courage of a hero, and the sagacity of a statesman and legislator. She was always present at the transaction of state affairs, and her name was placed beside that of her husband in public ordinances. The conquest of Grenada, after which the Moors were entirely expelled from Spain, and the discovery of America, were, in a great degree, her work. In all her undertakings, the wise cardinal Ximenes was her assistant. She has been accused of severity, pride and unbounded ambition ; but these faults sometimes promoted the welfare of the kingdom, as well as her virtues and talents. A spirit like hers was necessary to humble the haughtiness of the nobles without exciting their hostility, to conquer Grenada without letting loose the hordes of Africa on Europe, and to restrain the vices of her subjects, who had become corrupt by reason of the bad administration of the laws. By the introduction of a strict ceremonial, which subsists till the present day at the Spanish court, she succeeded in checking the haughtiness of the numerous nobles about the person of the king, and in depriving them of their pernicious influence over him. Private warfare, which had formerly prevailed to the destruction of public tranquillity, she checked, and introduced a vigorous administration of justice. In 1492, pope Alexander VI confirmed to the royal pair the title of Catholic king, already conferred on them by Innocent VIII. The zeal for the Roman Catholic religion, which procured them this title, gave rise to the inquisition (see Inquisition), which was introduced into Spain in 1480, at the suggestion of their confessor, Torquemada. Isabella died in 1504, having extorted from her husband (of whom she was very jealous) an oath that he would never marry again. (See Ferdinand V, Ximenes, and Columbus.)