Ferdinand and Isabella

Ferdinand and Isabella

Ferdinand and Isabella

Ferdinand and Isabella

Synopsis

This book is about a couple, not a single, dominant ruler. Thus it raises issues of gender, and the dynamics of a marriage over thirty-five years, as well as the practice of monarchical power. The reader sees Ferdinand and Isabella struggle to establish their regime, and then work out an elaborate reform programme in Church and State. It sees them fight a "total war", by fifteenth-century standards, against Muslim Granada, leading to that kingdom's conquest, and an equally "total" war, through the Inquisition and the Church in general, to convert Spanish Jews and Muslims to Christianity, and to reform and purify the religious and social lives of the established Christians themselves. For readers interested in Early European History.

Excerpt

The political figures included in the ‘Profiles in Power’ series, ranging from the sixteenth century to the twentieth, have generally achieved dominance as individuals: they have also generally been male. Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain are unusual in two ways. They are chronologically the earliest in the series and, crucially, they ruled as a couple and generally in harmony. Although the first few months of Isabella’s reign in Castile, in 1474–5, saw some stormy times, while the shape of her husband’s role in the kingdom was hammered out, they eventually gained the reputation, not always justified as will be seen, of possessing virtually indistinguishable ideas and policies. At least until recently, in both popular and official circles in Spain, Ferdinand’s personal motto, ‘Tanto monta’ (‘It amounts to the same’), was familiar, in the expanded form: ‘Tanto monta, monta tanto, Isabel y Fernando’. This implied a unity of personality and purpose between the two monarchs, but it is as false as most medieval etymologies, since Ferdinand’s motto refers, in fact, to the equal difficulty, or impossibility, of using any one of its threads to undo the Gordian knot of Greek mythology. Generally respected in Spain, both in their own time and subsequently, Isabella and Ferdinand became political and cultural role models during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco (himself included in this series), between his victory in the Spanish Civil War, in 1939, and his death in 1975. For Franco and his ideologues, the ‘Catholic monarchs’, as they were entitled by Pope Alexander VI in 1496, represented all that was virtuous. They were, indeed, devout Catholic Christians, whose religion was claimed to give the lie to the secularist creeds of socialism, communism and anarchism, against which Franco’s war was supposedly fought. They ‘unified’ Spain – Castile, Aragon, Navarre – under one government, thus, like Franco, attempting to suppress the culture and national identity of minority peoples, notably the Basques and Catalans, and securing the political, linguistic and cultural dominance of Castile. By means of war in Granada, they ended Muslim rule in Spain and they also affirmed the country’s Catholic Christian identity by expelling from their domain those Jews who would not become Christians and enforced religious orthodoxy by . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.