History : Mar-Apr 2018
a select group of witnesses. Official chroniclers presented their meeting as love at first sight, but both partners had a shared political inter- est in the marriage and practical reasons for making it work. Many of Spain’s noble families were closely related, which had led to power struggles in the past. In this case, Ferdinand and Isabella were second cousins. According to canon law, they required papal authorization to get married. Concerned by the consequences the marriage could have for the territories of Castile and Ara- gon, Pope Paul II refused to grant it. When the wedding took place in October 1469, the archbishop of Toledo had presented a forged papal bull, of which the couple were no doubt aware. They repeatedly requested dispensation from Rome but did not obtain it until December. So the woman who ended up receiving the title of “Catholic Queen,” in fact married in defiance of church law. By the time she was pardoned, she had already given birth to her first child—a daughter, also named Isabella—in 1470. A Nation United Henry was furious when he received news of the marriage. He rightly regarded Isabella as having infringed their pact and immediately decided to cancel her right of succession and return it to his daughter, Joanna. Isabella was not surprised by his reaction and might have even welcomed it. She never forgave Henry for cruelly separating her from her mother all those years ago; however, she did not directly challenge her brother for the throne while he lived. Instead, Isabella kept a cool head and bided her time. One freezing December morning in 1474, news of Henry’s death reached Isabella and Fer- dinand. The following day Isabella solemnly PRISMA/ALBUM POWER COUPLE A miniature in a late 15th-century devotional book showing the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand, with their young daughter Joanna. who would succeed her mother as Queen of Castile in 1504. ORONOZ/ALBUM GOLDEN COUPLE. A LATE 15TH-CENTURY COIN, MINTED IN GRANADA, BEARS THE LIKENESSES OF FERDINAND AND ISABELLA. Isabella and Ferdinand’s marriage preparations were carried out secretly.