Isabella's education

At a young age, Isabella, her mother, and her brother were banished from the royal court to a remote castle in Arevalo by King Henry IV. Because of this, she did not receive the training to be a ruler like Ferdinand having only rudimentary education. Isabella was only taught to be a housewife and to ride a horse. Because of her lack of cultural education, Isabella became a great advocate of learning and the royal court became a center of art, humanity and education. Isabella tried to provide everything for her children, bringing in famous visitors to tutor her children in theology and philosophy.


Government of the time

Meetings known as the Cortes consisted of a gathering with the Castilian kings, the clergy, and the nobility. It was there that they would discuss important matters. Three estates of people were included in the Cortes. The "first estate" consisted of abbots, bishops, and archbishops. The "second estate" was made up of the most influential dukes and nobles, officers of the crown and wealthy landowners. The "third estate" consisted of deputies from important towns. They were to represent the people. The Cortes proved to be generally effective, but Ferdinand and Isabella's main goal was to increase the power of the Crown. Therfore, to achieve this they needed to decrease the power of the Cortes. Ferdinand and Isabella reorganized the goverment so that it worked more closely through their royal authority. In the end, Isabella and Ferdinand united the various kingdoms of Spain but insisting on their supreme power. They restored order and unity where chaos had previously existed. However, Spain also lost many of its democratic institution.

Death of King Henry IV

December 11, 1474, the King suddenly died without naming an heir to the Castilian throne. The choice was between Juana la Beltraneja (believed to be the illegitimate daughter of Henry) and Isabella, the half sister of King Henry. Immediately, Isabella decided to proclaim herself Queen of Castile and the Cortes swore allegiance to her. Ferdinand was shocked by her force; the marriage had encountered the first conflict. Isabella had the sole claim to the throne, even though they were married. However, they each tried to rule equally and quickly reached an agreement. There were issues of greater urgence. Juana had also claimed the throne as Henry's heir, and her uncle, King Alfonso V of Portugal supported her. In this way, Portugal and Castile could potentially be united. After Juana's announcement, Portugal declared war on Castile. Isabella and Ferdinand, meanwhile, were trying to find support through loans and funding from the Cortes. The Castilians did not support Alfonso and his army quickly fell apart. Portuguese towns were raided. The major turning point was when Ferdinand attacked the troops camping at Toro. Isabella was gaining greater support from Castilians and in 1479 the war was officially over. King John II of Aragon died, leaving the throne of Aragon to Ferdinand. Ten years into their marriage, Isabella and Ferdinand were truly the King and Queen, now focusing on piecing the regions together again.

Education of the time

Excited with the new technology of the printing press, Isabella and Ferdinand passed a new law allowing tax-free importation of foreign books. Isabella commissioned Antonio de Nebrija to write the first Latin-Spanish dictionary allowing the literate to have access to the ideas of poets, philosophers, doctors and scientists of other contries. More than thirty new universities sprang up. By the mid-sixteenth century, Spain was considered the center of learning in Europe.