Saturday, April 20, 2013



From my experiences, Spanish history is not something that's taught in most American schools.  If you were to ask me about it five years ago, I'd have replied,

"Columbus discovered America, then Cortés killed all the Indians.  There was the Inquisition sometime…"

Fortunately, I've come a long way since then, thanks to some excellent history professors.  So, today I'm going to talk a little about the reyes católicos, or the Catholic Monarchs, Fernando II de Aragón and Isabel I de Castilla (Ferdinand and Isabella).  What's really neat about them is that they were a team:  rarely do you hear about one without the other, which makes them a cute historical couple.  Though not nearly as cute as my favorite royal couple, King William III and Queen Mary II, who chartered this great university somewhere in Virginia ;)

Spain owes a lot to Fernando and Isabel.  But what, exactly, did they do?

Get married

Probably one of the most important weddings in history.  When they married, they united the two largest and most powerful kingdoms, Aragon and Castile.  Thus began the unification process.  Until now, Spain was just a jumble of kingdoms.  It wouldn't become a unified nation until 1492, when Fernando and Isabel defeated the Moors in Granada.


Spain was occupied by Moors from North Africa from 711 to 1492.  Fernando and Isabel kicked them out, making Spain one unified Catholic country (as opposed to Muslim), which is why they're called the "Catholic Monarchs."


Part of the Reconquista was the establishment of the Spanish Inquisition.  Even after the fall of Granada, many muslims and jews remained in Spain, though usually in hiding.  The Inquisition, begun by Fernando and especially Isabel, was a way to find these so-called "heretics" and be rid of them.


Yup, Fernando and Isabel funded Christopher Columbus's journeys to America!

Had Children

Their five children married into the major ruling families of Europe, but the most famous one is Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely an interesting history you've shared here. I've done some personal research about some of the things you've mentioned. It's fascinating.