Statute of Queen Isabel at the Sabatini Gardens by Giovanni Domenico Olivieri. Madrid.

Isabel, daughter of Juan II of Castile and Isabel of Portugal, belonged to the House of Trastámara and was born in 1451. She married Fernando of Aragón, who would later became King of Aragón and Sicily. Together, they laid the foundations for the political unification of Spain and finished the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula. Isabel was also responsible for financing Columbus 1942 voyage to “India”. The Catholic Monarchs, as they were known, also ordered the conversion or exile of the Muslim and Jewish citizens ending centuries of (difficult) coexistence. She was also the first woman featured on U.S. postage stamps.

Isabel and Fernando had five children, Isabel, who married the King of Portugal Manuel I; John, who died shortly after marrying Margaret of Austria; Juana, Queen of Castile, who married Philip the Handsome and whose son Charles became King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor; Maria, who married Manuel I of Portugal, her sister Isabel’s widower; and Catalina, who became Henry VIII first wife and mother of Mary I of England.

Isabel I of Castile had 15 grandchildren who survived to adulthood. Among them a plethora of regnant Kings and Consorts: Leonor of Austria, Queen Consort of Portugal and later of France; Carlos I of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor; Isabel of Austria, Queen Consort of Denmark; María of Austria, Queen Consort of Hungary and Bohemia; Catalina of Austria, Queen Consort of Portugal; Fernando I, Holy Roman Emperor; John III of Portugal; Isabel of Portugal, Queen Consort of Spain and Holy Roman Empress Consort; Beatriz of Portugal, Duchess of Savoy; Henry I of Portugal and Mary I of England. All the current Monarchs in Europe are descendants of Isabel and Fernando.

Photo: Luis García

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