Isabella of Castile: Europe's First Great Queen
A major biography of the queen who transformed Spain into a principal global power, and sponsored the voyage that would open the New World.In 1474, when Castile was the largest, strongest, and most populous kingdom in Hispania (present day Spain and Portugal), a twenty-three-year-old woman named Isabella ascended the throne. At a time when successful queens regnant were few and far between, Isabella faced not only the considerable challenge of being a young, female ruler in an overwhelmingly male-dominated world, but also of reforming a major European kingdom riddled with crime, debt, corruption, and religious factionism. Her marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon united two kingdoms, a royal partnership in which Isabella more than held her own. Their pivotal reign was long and transformative, uniting Spain and setting the stage for its golden era of global dominance. Acclaimed historian Giles Tremlett chronicles the life of Isabella of Castile as she led her country out of the murky Middle Ages and harnessed the newest ideas and tools of the early Renaissance to turn her ill-disciplined, quarrelsome nation into a sharper, truly modern state with a powerful, clear-minded, and ambitious monarch at its center. With authority and insight he relates the story of this legendary, if controversial, first initiate in a small club of great European queens that includes Elizabeth I of England, Russia's Catherine the Great, and Britain's Queen Victoria.
'Packed with vivid character sketches and lyrical description, Tremlett has told a gripping story, full of beauty and darkness' The Times
Magisterial ... Tremlett's contention, which he supports with a sublime presentation of facts and interpretation, is that Isabella represents the first member in the exclusive club of great European queens who exercised sovereign power in their own hand -- Starred Review * Booklist * Richly enjoyable ... He seeks to understand his subject, while never underplaying the appalling impact of some of her decisions. Packed with vivid character sketches and lyrical description, Tremlett has told a gripping story, full of beauty and darkness * The Times * A triumphant and chilling account of the rise of Spain and its New World conquests * Daily Telegraph * Magnificent * Sunday Telegraph * This is a most enjoyable book - a lively, intense page-turner written in straight-forward, unpretentious prose ... Tremlett balances academic scholarship with journalistic flair to produce an enthralling biography -- Rebecca Rist * Tablet * Magnificent * Daily Telegraph * Tremlett uses his gifts as a writer on Spain's history to offer us a voluminous biography with fluent and evocative narrative that fully exploits the romantic aspects of the age * Times Literary Supplement *