Ferdinand and Isabella's Legacy
To the Reader -
At last, you journey through the lives of King Fernando and Queen Isabella is coming to a close. So far, you have been introduced to the lives of Fernando and Isabella, been given a sneak peek at their previous lives before both taking the Spanish throne, been educated in the major points - good and bad - of their supreme reign, have delved into the customs and cultural workings and in’s-and-out’s of the medieval Spanish court... and now this trip into the past will wrap itself up with a little chat about the legacy that King Fernando and Queen Isabella of Spain left behind after their eventual deaths.
When the king and queen got talking, they realized that they would need someone or something to keep the peace between Spain and France, and pretty much Spain and the rest of Europe. They deeply wished that all their hard work in politics and foreign relations would not go to waste along with their imminent demises. So, they decided, what better thing to do then to pass the duties along to their children? Ferdinand and Isabella eventually had five children - Isabel of Asturias, Juan - Prince of Asturias, Juana, (“La Loca”) Maria of Aragon, and lastly, Catherine of Aragon. These children were then destined to carry on the policies and direction of the Spanish kingdom.
And direct it they did. Isabel of Asturias, who was born in 1470, first married Alfonso of Portugal and then Manuel I of Portugal to establish more connections with other Spanish nations. Unfortunately, she eventually died in childbirth while attempting to give Manuel I of Portugal an heir. The child lived, and she did not. Even though her death was abrupt and depressing, it wasn’t an uncommon thing to perish in childbirth back in the days of primitive medicinal aide during birthing. No matter that she died, Isabel of Asturias still managed to produce an heir, and therefore, the marriage of her to Alfonso was a success. The date of her death is estimated by historians to have occurred in about the year of 1498, more or less.
Juan, Prince of Asturias, was born eight years after his sister Isabel in 1478. He, too, was married - him to Margaret of Austria, and for similar political purposes. Yet, also similar to his sister, he tragically died six months after the union of marriage in 1497. He, unlike Isabel, though, failed to produce any heirs to the throne. The next child, Juana, who is remembered as “La Loca” because of her mental instability after her husband’s eventual death, was born in 1479, a year after Juan first saw the world. She was wed to Felipe, Archduke of Austria, and not only produced heirs, but became queen on the occasion of her dear brother’s sudden and shocking death.
Maria of Aragon was younger than her three other siblings, born in 1482. She married Manuel I of Portugal after the death of her sister, as well. It is not known if she produced a male heir to the throne or not. And, the youngest sibling, Catherine Aragon, was born in 1485 - fifteen years after the birth of Ferdinand and Isabella’s firstborn, Isabel of Asturias. She married very well and managed to even further connect Spain and England with the planned union - she, first, married King Arthur VI of England, and then later, King Henry VIII of England. Unfortunately, this husband eventually divorced her. This was a rather rare occurrence in those olden times, but King Henry VIII’s reasoning was that Catherine Aragon was unable to provide him with a male heir to the throne, and their union was then thought to be quite useless.
In Conclusion -
No matter what their children did when Fernando and Isabella left the world, they still left a huge impact on Spain and medieval Europe that is still remembered hundreds of years since their death, even today! Yes, King Fernando and Queen Isabella left behind a prodigious name for themselves. After their debatably prosperous reign, they seem to have made a permanent mark on history, especially Spain’s, and are remembered in numerous differentiating ways.
For instance, this royal couple may be recalled for having an admirable tendency to balance Spain’s concerns of power, politics, and religion and interfaith relationships in the premodern world in a conjoined effort of both monarchs. They also managed to stop the brutal battles and wars in Spain over the area of Granada, claimed it as their own, and unified Spain as one country - an amazing venture. True, they also had their part in founding the society that we appreciate and enjoy today, because they funded Columbus with ships and men and supplies to go out and find the “new world” as he called it, which was a staggering success.
Yet, then again, those people of Jewish or Muslim descent may definitely think otherwise - these people would remember the persecution of their ancestors and remember King Fernando and Queen Isabella for possessing and an inordinate view of their brutality towards those who rejected Catholicism, and showed little mercy towards those caught practicing any other religion. They also established the Spanish Inquisition, which demanded that every citizen of Spain be Catholic-Christian, and set the laws and punishments for those who would not convert from their original position of Judaism or Islam - even a court set up for torturing. These were definitely some brutal decisions and mistakes on the royal couple’s part.
Yet, despite the varied political, religious, or sociological views of this couple, there is never any doubt that they accomplished great feats with the staggering power that they both wielded - one that they held with pride and companionship for the entirety of their majestic reign.