Isabel the Queen by Peggy K. Liss
Life and Times

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Isabel of Castile was one of the most influential monarchs ever known, the central figure in some of the most potent and far-reaching events in world history. She supported the Spanish Inquisition (which tortured and punished or had executed thousands of baptized Christians accused of practicing Judaism). She waged a successful war against Muslim Granada. And bent upon overseas expansion (she was after all the grand-niece of Prince Henry the Navigator), Isabel sponsored Christopher Columbus. Yet questions remain as to her actual role in these and other events. Why did she introduce the Inquisition? Why did she expel the Jews from Spain and the Muslims from Castile? Was it bigotry or piety or something else? And how aware was she of the injustices committed against New World peoples? For such a notable and controversial figure, much about Isabel has remained a mystery.
Now, in Isabel the Queen, Peggy K. Liss proposes answers and provides both a sweeping biography of a Queen who had a profound impact on history, and a vivid portrait of a vanished, turbulent world. We see young Isabel as a poor relation at the corrupt court of her half-brother, Enrique IV (known as The Impotent), where she became a pawn in a civil war between the king and the great nobles. We learn how Isabel survived plots to disinherit her, how she won her way to succession, and why she secretly married Fernando, Prince of Aragon. And we witness the unprecedented ceremony in which Isabel assumed the crown alone, without Fernando, thereby paving the way for her daughter and other women to rule in their own right. Peggy Liss works through the fact and fiction, legend and opinion that have swirled around Isabel to reveal for the first time how her goals for Spain, her piety, and swelling power culminated in the remarkable year of 1492. (A variety of sources--documents, chronicles, literature, art, and architecture--reveal Isabel's attitudes towards religion, politics, and royal policy.) And finally, she shows us the older Isabel, who, having won the respect of Europe, suffered a series of family tragedies ruining her plans and her health and bringing her unprecedented reign to an end in 1504 with her death at the age of fifty-three.
Based on years of research, travel, and reflection, Isabel the Queen brings to life the people, places, and events that surrounded one of history's most dynamic monarchs. In these pages we meet the mind of the ruler who left her country with an imperial legacy of power and glory, and a vision of conquest, that was to endure over the centuries.

About Peggy K. Liss

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About the Author: Peggy K. Liss is an eminent historian and currently a Visiting Fellow at The Johns Hopkins University. She is also the originator and historical advisor of the television series The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World, airing this year on both cable television and PBS.
Published October 15, 1992 by Oxford University Press. 424 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction

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Before the ``surreptitious royal wedding'' comes the classic meeting of Fernando of Aragon and Isabel of Castile: ``[Fernando] came to Valladolid from Duenas, secretly, with only three retainers, and entered the house by a postern gate....As they entered the room, Cardenas excitedly pointed him o...

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Publishers Weekly

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Remembered chiefly for her patronage of Columbus's voyages, Isabel I (1451-1504), who was the Queen of Castile from 1474-1504, together with her husband, Fernando of Aragon, greatly increased the power of the monarchy and unified Spain by their conquests and cruelty to the conquered.

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London Review of Books

Isabella the Catholic, who is Peggy Liss’s subject, seems boring by comparison: an exemplary wife and mother, virginal before marriage and chaste within it, who inspired comparisons with St Helena and the Virgin Mary.

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