Why is Queen Isabella famous?

Queen Isabella was the Queen of Castile, who, along with her husband, King Ferdinand of Aragon, financed Christopher Columbus’ expedition to the Indies, which resulted in the discovery of America. She was the half sister of Henry IV, who succeeded to the Castilian throne in 1454. Henry had recognized Isabella as his heir, but when she married Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469, Henry conferred the succession on his daughter. This led to a civil war when Henry died.

The civil war ended with Isabella’s victory in 1479, the year in which Ferdinand became king of Aragon. Isabella and Ferdinand ruled Castile and Aragon jointly, and their reign in effect, marked the beginning of the unified Spanish kingdom. Isabella confiscated the lands of many rich people. She also took over the administration of the holdings of the powerful religious military orders, and was a prime mover in the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, the conquest of Granada, and the forced conversion of the Moors. In what was Isabel’s last decade, she acquired paintings and tapestries by Flemish masters and devotional books from the new printing presses, to bring the Renaissance to Spain too.

With the discovery of America, thanks to Isabella’s courage and foresight in giving Columbus the funds for his venture, Spain began its rise to greatness. Under Isabella’s guidance, Spain’s army and navy became strong, trade flourished, and Spain became a world power.