• Due to a glitch in the old vBulletin software, some users were "banned" when they tried to change their passwords at the end of February. This does not apply after the site was converted to Xenforo. If you were affected by this, please contact us.




Queen Isabella of Castile the feminist founder of western imperialism:

Respvblica

Active member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
212
As the five hundred years of global hegemony by the western world comes to an end, it’s worth pausing to look back at the controversial mastermind who more than anybody, established western dominance in the world. Queen Isabella, or Isabel, to use her Spanish name, ruled Castile more than 500 years ago and together with her husband Ferdinand of Aragon, still inspires both disgust and devotion in many countries today. In the Anglo-sphere however, she is seen as a mere footnote - one half of the royal couple that sponsored Columbus, and way behind her more famous, though less consequential namesake Elizabeth I of England.
Columbus was as we know, not the first person to cross the Atlantic and discover America, but the significance of 1492 is not just the discovery, but the royal decision to claim the lands, colonise and Christianise them and keep them connected to Europe. 1492 was not only one of the most important years in human history, but also, after 100million years of continental separation of flora and fauna, in biological history too.
A recent television series on the Borgia Pope never even mentioned Isabel, which is strange considering that he was her political creature, the same one who conveniently gave her the Americas (Inter Caetera 1493) for fear of her army which was camped outside Rome. In 1504, the Italian diplomat and general Prospero Colanna, came to the fortress of Medina del Campo, in northern Spain to as he said "see the woman who governs the world from her bed". She would die later that year of cancer and they would rewrite the rules of Chess in her honour, replacing the vizier with the queen and making it the most powerful piece on the board, and like the game of chess her influence still remain her creation.
After usurping the throne and a war of succession in Castile, it was her war on the Muslim emirate of Granada that formed her political vision. In this 10 year war of attrition, the seeds of empire were sown and the fate of Muslim Europe was sealed in the west. She used every means possible, including propaganda, diplomacy, new technologies from Germany and Britany and new methods of war. The army was led officially by her husband Ferdinand, but she was the quarter master general and of course the spiritual force behind it. The army that conquered Granada would, under her devoted general and childhood friend, Fernandez de Cordoba, become one of the most ruthless fighting machines in the history of war. In Italy, de Cordoba's Tercios's, the first modern army, would soon smash much larger French forces at Cerignola and Garigliano establishing dominance among the Christian powers. That military muscle would soon be used to take the Americas and also equally important save Europe from a far more powerful force than the French at Vienna and Lepanto.
But Isabel's eyes were always looking to Islam in the east. Born in 1451, she was 2 years old when the Turks conquered Constantinople which had for 1000 years acted as a bulwark against Arab invasions. Now that bulwark was gone, leaving Christendom exposed to one of the world's great superpowers – the Ottoman Turks. Isabel was driven by a single fear -the extinction of Christendom – the only place she thought - where she as a woman would have a chance to show her talents. Almost everything she ever did, from sending Columbus to America and unifying Spain, to marriage alliances with the Hapsburgs was done as preparation for the Great War between Christianity and Islam.
Of extreme importance was her takeover of the Catholic Church in Castile. As a female ruler she must have feared being labelled an unnatural for doing what was until then considered a mans occupation, and so she identified herself with the one organisation that could really destroy her - the catholic church. Her ally here was archbishop Cisneros who cleaned up corruption in the church to such an extent that Spain would be practically immune from the reformation. And not only that, the seeds of Catholicism’s counter-reformation were planted in her time. Ignatius Loyola, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, were born in her reign, and it is hard to see the church surviving at all where it not for the efforts of the queen.
The "indies" were claimed not for wealth, but for Christianity. In her final years, no doubt also worried for the state of her soul, Isabel expressly forbade the mistreatment of indigenous peoples and pronounced them as her free subjects (not slaves). She worried that brutality would turn them against Christianity towards other infidels. When she died Spanish, brutality in the Americas worsened, though the Spanish settlers continued her command to take wives from the natives. And so Isabel’s influence is seen again in the great Mestizo race of Latin America, unlike English and French colonies were the colonialists were discouraged from mixing.
Terrible things were done too. The Jews, who were her big supporters in the war of succession, were suddenly expelled in 1492, as soon as Granada was taken. The Muslims would soon follow and then there was the inquisition to weed out insincere Catholics and dissent. Isabel was transforming a non-functioning feudal country into one of Europe's first absolutist monarchies. Frighteningly the inquisitors answered to her and not to the church and so acted as state spies - imagine a clerical KGB. On a more positive angle, she was one of the biggest sponsors of the renaissance art and literature and the new printing technology and was by all accounts a humanist. An avid reader, she learned Latin in her 30s and built up Europe’s largest personal library. The fall of Granada was preceded the construction by the Castilians of a stone town underneath its walls called Santa Fe. Isabel and her humanist teacher, Beatriz Galindo had been reading about how the ancient Romans used such psychology to break the will of their opponents. Even though male contemporaries such Machiavelli and Sultan Bayezid deliberately tried to avoid mentioning her name (credit was given to her husband Ferdinand who as a male was acceptable), Isabel was the political embodiment of the Renaissance - the “perfect” mixture of the fox and the lion – the “perfect prince”.
Finally there is the feminist angle, which has been studied by Barbara Weissberger and here by Elizabeth Lehfeldt. The rise
http://www.asu.edu/courses/rel376/total-readings/Lehfeldt--RulingSexualityIsabelCastilla.pdf
Imperialism, State control, feminism, Catholicism, America - the eclectic mixture of things that have dominated the world these past centuries all bear the marks of her influence.
Today her Spain is simply crumbling. The Catalans are going to get their independence and catholicism is crumbling rapidly. Her world too, but at least, she may reflect, women have broken free. As a condition of marriage she forced Ferdinand and his father to change the salic law so that should she have a daughter it too would inherit his kingdom . An enigma to the last, Franco idolised the great queen until the day he found out of her hatred for bull-fighting. Surely the man must have put manners on her. IN the following centuries in Spain Ferdinand was more acceptable and being a man it made more sense. The woman meanwhile remains forgotten and left on the chess board.
 


Morgellons

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 24, 2012
Messages
5,064
Nice post-thanks. Never knew the chess piece was named after her.
 

flavirostris

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 21, 2007
Messages
25,042
Welcome back Respvblica. Haven't seen you in years.
 

Respvblica

Active member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
212
Thanks Flavirostris. It's been a while alright
 

wombat

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 16, 2007
Messages
32,688
Whatever about Spanish imperialism, the native people south of the Rio Grande seem to have fared better than those north of it.
 

silverharp

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 21, 2015
Messages
15,936
how much of Europe's history is tied to being hemmed in by Islam? trade routes to the East were blocked , the Mediterranean Sea was unsafe. Did it extend the dark ages in Europe? and as hinting here encourage the push West
 

Respvblica

Active member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
212
I was trying to find some Irish angle to her life and unfortunately there's nothing. But if you are in Rome go to the church of San Pietro di Montorio. Within its grounds it there is a temple called the Tiempietto by Bramante which is one of the most harmonious Renaissance buildings in Rome. It was commissioned by Isabel and was apparently a big deal as lies on the very spot of where St. Peter was crucified. No Spanish kings are buried there but in the church are the tombs of Hugh O Neill and Rory O'Donnell - the earls that fled Ireland after Kinsale
 

Cellachán Chaisil

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2009
Messages
10,011
1492 was not only one of the most important years in human history, but also, after 100million years of continental separation of flora and fauna, in biological history too.
Might be overegging the pudding here a bit. There was a land connection between the North America and Eurasia as recently as the last Ice Age. It's no accident that both continents have and have had very similar fauna, bears, bison, wolves, horses, foxes, mammoths and even lions.
 
Last edited:

wombat

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 16, 2007
Messages
32,688
One of the justifications for Columbus' expedition was to find access to the eastern spices which were controlled by the Ottomans, they knew the world was round, they didn't know America was in the way.
 

Respvblica

Active member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
212
Well that's true. There is even the conundrum of monkeys making it across the Atlantic some how. To be sure I was thinking about the deadly exchange of diseases( smallpox and syphalis) and the better exchange of fruits and vegetables( potatoes and tomatoes)
 

Cellachán Chaisil

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2009
Messages
10,011
One of the justifications for Columbus' expedition was to find access to the eastern spices which were controlled by the Ottomans, they knew the world was round, they didn't know America was in the way.
He was rather a cruel bastard that Columbus. Driven by avarice and greed.
 

Cellachán Chaisil

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2009
Messages
10,011
Well that's true. There is even the conundrum of monkeys making it across the Atlantic some how. To be sure I was thinking about the deadly exchange of diseases( smallpox and syphalis) and the better exchange of fruits and vegetables( potatoes and tomatoes)
Important points.

As for the monkeys, the rafting hypothesis is the one I favour.
 

Respvblica

Active member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
212
Yes. Reading the Spanish literature there is even mention of an ambitious plan of conquering Jerusalem from the east. Before that They were also aware that Indonesia had just converted to Islam and if Islam was already in the western horizon how long before the west would be trapped, or so the thinking went.
 

Respvblica

Active member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
212
He was actually arrested by the Spanish for being too cruel on the natives - which is saying something
 

Windowshopper

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 14, 2011
Messages
9,017
Labeling Queen Isabella a feminist is as anachronistic as calling Jesus Christ a Marxist.

Also praising take over the church and leaving Spain as fallow ground for Lutheranism but condemning her repressive religious policies seems to me rather difficult as the latter were an intrinsic part of the former. It's a bit like praising how Stalin opened up the leader of CPSU to a younger generation while condemning the purges.
 

New Threads

Popular Threads

Most Replies

Top