Ferdinand II and Isabella I (Dictionary of World Biography: Renaissance)
Article abstract: The Catholic monarchs directed Spain’s transition from medieval diversity to national unity. They achieved governmental and ecclesiastical reform, and established a continuing Spanish presence in Italy, America, and northern Africa.
Ferdinand and Isabella were each born to the second, much younger wives of kings. A much older half brother stood between each of them and the throne; their siblings died with considerable suspicion of poisoning. Thus the young prince and princess grew up the focus of intrigue. Their marriage represented an alliance between Ferdinand’s father, John II of Navarre (from 1458 of Aragon), and a faction of Castilian nobles, including his mother’s kinsmen, the Enríquez family, and Isabella’s protector, Archbishop of Toledo, Alfonso Carrillo.
John II of Castile, Isabella’s father, died when she was three and her brother Alfonso less than a year old. Their mother, Isabella of Portugal, withdrew to her cities of Arevalo and Madrigal to maintain her independence. This dowager queen, a woman of exemplary piety, became increasingly unstable, and King Henry IV, Isabella’s half brother, brought the children to his court in 1461. In 1462, young Isabella stood sponsor at the baptism of the king’s daughter Juana. Henry had married Juana of Portugal, mother of Princess Juana, within a year after his divorce from his first, childless wife, Blanche of...
(The entire section is 2241 words.)
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