Isabella: The Warrior Queen

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2015 - Biography & Autobiography - 520 pages
An engrossing and revolutionary biography of Isabella of Castile, the controversial Queen of Spain who sponsored Christopher Columbus's journey to the New World, established the Spanish Inquisition, and became one of the most influential female rulers in history

Born at a time when Christianity was dying out and the Ottoman Empire was aggressively expanding, Isabella was inspired in her youth by tales of Joan of Arc, a devout young woman who unified her people and led them to victory against foreign invaders. In 1474, when most women were almost powerless, twenty-three-year-old Isabella defied a hostile brother and a mercurial husband to seize control of Castile and León. Her subsequent feats were legendary. She ended a twenty-four-generation struggle between Muslims and Christians, forcing North African invaders back over the Mediterranean Sea. She laid the foundation for a unified Spain. She sponsored Columbus's trip to the Indies and negotiated Spanish control over much of the New World with the help of Rodrigo Borgia, the infamous Pope Alexander VI. She also annihilated all who stood against her by establishing a bloody religious Inquisition that would darken Spain's reputation for centuries. Whether saintly or satanic, no female leader has done more to shape our modern world, in which millions of people in two hemispheres speak Spanish and practice Catholicism. Yet history has all but forgotten Isabella's influence, due to hundreds of years of misreporting that often attributed her accomplishments to Ferdinand, the bold and philandering husband she adored. Using new scholarship, Downey's luminous biography tells the story of this brilliant, fervent, forgotten woman, the faith that propelled her through life, and the land of ancient conflicts and intrigue she brought under her command.

From the Hardcover edition.

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User Review  - wagner.sarah35 - LibraryThing

I appreciated that this biography of Isabella of Spain took the time to detail not just Isabella's life, but to profile and delve into the figures who surrounded her and who she interacted with on the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BrokenTeepee - LibraryThing

Isabella of Castile is often remembered as the other half of Ferdinand and Isabella. Women in her day were not seen as much more than “producers of the heir.” While history did not, until recently ... Read full review


two A Childhood in the Shadows
THREE Frightening Years
Four Isabella Faces the Future Alone
six Ferdinand and His Family
seven The Newlyweds
eight The Borgia Connection
NINE Preparing to Rule
Eleven The Tribe of Isabel
FIFTEEN Landing in Paradise
sixteen Borgia Gives Her the World
seveNTEEN Lands of Vanity and Illusion 276
NINETEEN Turks at the Door
Twenty Israel in Exile
twentytwo A Church Without a Shepherd
TwentyFour The World After Isabella

Twelve The Whole World Trembled
THIRTEEN The Queens War
FourTEEN Architects of the Inquisition

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About the author (2015)

KIRSTIN DOWNEY is the author of The Woman Behind the New Deal, which was a finalist for the 2009Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She was one of the writers of the New York Timesbestselling Report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, and was previously a staff writer at theWashington Post, where she shared in the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. She was a Neiman fellow at Harvard University in 2001. She is married to Neil Warner Averitt, and together they have five children.

From the Hardcover edition.

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