Isabella I of Castile aka “Isabel la Católica”

Born 1451 – Died 1504 

by Jen Houston  

Why We Should Care: As Queen of Spain, Isabella committed to sponsoring Christopher Columbus’s voyage across the Atlantic, resulting in the beginning of the suburban sprawl, fast-food joints, and Hollywood blockbusters we cherish as “America” today. 

Hottest Hook-Up: When she married Ferdinand I, heir to the throne of Aragon, she unified Spain by joining the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile. Isabella and Ferdinand then shared equal rule under the motto “Tanto monta, monta tanto, Isabel como Fernando,” which translates to “as much as the one is worth, so much is the other, Isabella as Ferdinand.” Their daughter, Catherine of Aragon, became the first wife of England’s King Henry VIII and mother to Queen Mary. 

Three Traits We Admire: Her feminist insistence on equal power as ruler of Spain with her husband, her passionate support of artists and scholars, and her declaration that natives brought to Spain as slaves be freed and returned home. (She also later included requests in her will that the natives of the new world were to be treated with justice and fairness.) One thing we don’t admire – her participation in the Spanish Inquisition, which resulted in the execution of at least three to five thousand “heathens.” 

For Her Biopic We’d Cast: Madonna. Named after Isabella’s favourite virginal mother, the pop queen knows how it feels to be a power of royal proportions. Also, “Her Madgesty” scares the crap out of us almost as much as the Spanish Inquisition does. 

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