Genre: Historical Fiction
Subject: Isabel of Castile
Setting: Castille, Spain
Main Characters: Isabel of Castille, Fernando of Aragón
Dates Read: August 4 - August 12
Number of pages: 374
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no, LibraryThing ER book May
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Foreign Languages
I believe that we have all heard of Isabella of Castille, the Spanish queen who sponsored Christopher Columbus' voyages to the New World, but do you know anything else about her? I admit that the only other fact that I knew about her was that she was the mother of Henry VIII's first wife, Katherine of Aragon. So I started this book with a great deal of interest trying to learn more about her. Granted, this is historical fiction, but the research credits in the book were impressive so I believed that I would at least learn a few historical facts along the way.
I will admit that I was blown away by the story. I started it thinking that it would be somewhat heavy, but the tale, as it was woven, told of the early life of Isabella who was never expected to inherit the throne of Castille and how she was drawn into civil war between her brother Alfonso and her half-brother Enrique.
Once she was crowned Queen and she married Fernando of Aragón, the story shifts to the issues of her reign and the decisions that she had to make. The anguish that she went through may not have been historically true, but helps to take the reader through the problems (something not necessarily always perceived) of a reigning monarch. The decisions may not be what she personally wanted but what was best for her country and its people at the time.
What I was not aware of and learned from this book, was how and why the Spanish Inquisition started and some of the feelings of the Christians toward the Jews and the Moors and how they affected policies of the day.
A highly enjoyable read.