Isabella of Castile takes the crown, in more way than one….


Isabella of Castile

This article lists the top five  great European queens as Elizabeth I, Maria Theresa of Austria, the Empress Elizabeth, Catherine the Great and Queen Victoria. Ah, but that’s the top five after Isabella of Castile, who reigned from 1474 until she died in 1504. Isabella snatches this particular crown right under the other ladies’ noses. One other thing sets her apart….she was a usurper!

Quite a lady, you’ll agree, and very striking with light chestnut hair and green eyes that were inherited from her English grandmother, Catherine of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt. Although it has to be pointed out that Catherine of Lancaster was part-Castilian, being the grandaughter of Pedro the Cruel/ Just (choose your epithet according to your viewpoint). But then, I’ve read that Pedro and thus his two daughters were blonde, so I imagine the pale chestnut hair might derive from John of Gaunt? Whatever, none of this is important when it comes to Isabella’s character, which made her one formidable monarch. She was as strong as any man, and much cleverer than most of her fellow rulers across Europe.

Oh, and the above article also includes a description of royal medieval artificial insemination!  Not involving Isabella, I hasten to point out.

The article is written by Giles Tremlett, author of Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen (Faber & Faber, 2010) and Isabella of Castile: Europe’s First Great Queen (Bloomsbury, 2017).


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