ISABELLA THE CRUSADER---
Known as the great Christian Queen of Spain.
(A book review by E. M.)
It is said that at a very early age this Princess had a majestic presence. But was this surprising since she was the descendant of Alfred the Great, William the Conqueror, the Plantagenet kings of England, St., Louis of France and St. Fernando King of Castile. Even tho her parents and especially her mother often lacked money for food, clothing and the necessities, and was forced to live like a peasant still little Dona Isabel was receiving the usual education daughters of Nobel men of Spain in those days. She learned to speak Castilian musically and with elegance, and to write it with a touch of distinction. She studied grammar, rhetoric, painting, and poetry, history and philosophy. She learned to do beautiful work in embroidery. And she made some banners and ornaments for the Altar in her chapel. And they are still in the Chapel at Granada.
From her father she inherited a great love for music and poetry. And she probably learned much of the philosophy of Aristotle and St. Thomas of Aquinas. At an early age she was betrothed by her father to Prince Charles of Vienna. She was not very old when her Father died, and she and her mother then lived in her 1/2 brothers court. But still without much sustenance.
This was a bad time for all of Europe for they were threatened by those Barbarians who has been threatening the peace and prosperity of the West for nigh on 1000 years. In fact for eight centuries Christendom had been fighting for its very existence. The Mohammadans were all their time fighting their way west. The kings of that area and the princes at times placed their selfish interests above that of the good of Christianity. Thus, the people suffered.
Isabel knew too well that Spain had also been under the heel of certain Spanish Jews who hated Christianity and wished to see its influence destroyed. She knew they had invited the Berbers to cross the narrow straits from Africa and take for themselves the lands of the Christians. This invitation was accepted and the Jews per usual opened the gates of the cities and let them in. Thus this occurred because of wealthy Jews who pretended to be Christians until they gained control. Other Jews fought in the Christian armies. But then the Mohammadians had come in and taken all but Northern Spain, as the Christians had retreated north, until the enemy controlled much of that country. The king at that time had been very generous to his favorites who happened to be Jews who claimed to be Catholics, and in the process had reduced his country to a state of bankruptcy and Anarchy. He farmed out the privileges of collecting taxes to a wealthy Rabbi and to a Converted Jew. He gave them power to exile citizens for non-payment of taxes, or put them to death without a hearing. Thus this was the situation in Spain as Isabel grew up. Usuary had wrung the last penny from farmers, laborers, and merchants, while robber barons and bandits preyed on them, burned their houses, and violated their women. His Majesty's most intimate friends at this period were two men descendants of a Jew, named Ruy Capon, but like many others of the large Jewish population of Spain they outwardly professed themselves to be Catholics.
One of these men by the name of Don Pedro Giron, was a sleek, well-fed man. He was not considered by Catholics to be an ornament to their religion, which he professed, yet he had managed to raise himself to the post of Grand Master of the Order of Caistrove. His income was enormous. He was one of those men in whose presence women feel uncomfortable. He permitted his eyes to rest upon the fair skin and silken hair of the little Princes Isabel with a sort of gloating anticipation. Isabel's mother despised this man but the king was already making arrangements for Isabel's future which was customary at that time in King ruled countries.
The little Princess Isabel was being used as a pawn on the political Chess board of Europe by this ruler of Castile. These arranged marriages were set for the ages of 14 to 15 years of age for the Princesses.
Then the day came when the Princess Isabel and her brother were to leave their mothers realm and live at the court. Their mother was heart broken but she had no power to stop this order. Then Isabel's brother was seized and locked up in a secret chamber so he would not be in line for the Kingship. Castile was in a pitiful state in this year of 1467. There was war between the Jewish Christians (conversos or morranos) and the old Christians. And the poor were starving. Then a Catholic Magistrate, beat the Jews in an election and drove them out of the city of Castile. Fernando de la Torre a rich leader of the Converted Jews then decided to take things in his own hands, and he and his friends secretly assembled 4000 well-armed men, six times as many as the old Christians could muster. And on July 21 he led his men in the attack on the Cathedral. The Crypto Jews burst thru the great doors of the old Church crying---"Kill them, kill them.” The old Christians fought in the old Church before the high altar. Reinforcements of Christians came from other towns and countries and mounted an attack on the luxurious section of the city where most of the Conversos lived. They burned houses on eight streets. They hanged Fernando de la Torre and his brother. Massacred the Conversos indiscriminately.
A few days later Isabel's brother arrived and a delegation of old Christians offered their support to him if he would approve of the massacre and the further measures they planned now against the terrified and disarmed Conversos. In fact his would be a move to start the removal of the Jews from Spain, but this 14-year-old Prince was not ready to assume power this way so that program was put on hold.
The very next year Isabel, in July was summoned to the Village of Cardenosa. Her brother was said to be very ill. By the time that Isabel arrived her brother was dead. The old king then decided to recognize Isabel as his heir. He promised that she would not have to marry someone that she did not like. In fact Isabel wanted to marry Prince Fernando of Aragon to whom she had been promised in early childhood. The king had in mind the King of Portugal, or the Duke of Guyenime, brother apparent to King Louis XI of France. But Isabel now 16 years of age was determined to marry Prince Fernando as this marriage would unite the old kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. Making them one of the most powerful nations of Europe.
The king getting word of this idea ordered the arrest of the Princess, but the people defied the Royal Troops and Isabel fled to the place of her birth and waited for a reply from Aragon. Prince Fernando could not come at this time but he sent her a necklace belonging to his mother. It had been pawned but he had borrowed money from some rich Jews of Aragon and redeemed it. This necklace was imbedded with Jewels and worth a great deal of money, but it was to seal the engagement.
Spies informed the king about this necklace and the king then sent a troop of Calvary to arrest the Princess. The day then came when the Princess heard shouts and feet running, and the clatter of horses hooves galloping over the cobblestones, and she fell on her knees to pray. A few moments later Isabel looked up to see a gleaming Toledo armor whose spurs rattled as he came. This was Carillo the Archbishop of the church, who had kept his word to come to her rescue. The young Princess was appraising this man as he talked. She knew him to be vain, and that he had a love of glory. But he was also generous with his titles and possessions. He helped the poor and had a sincere devotion to the church. He was a strange mixture of Priest and Warrior. But Isabel now depended on this Archbishop for her safety. But the only way to guarantee this safety was for Prince Fernando of Aragon to come and to marry the Princes. The Prince was sent this message and he set out on his journey thru enemy territory dressed as a muleteer with a small caravan. He was successful and arrived safely at Balladolid where the Princess was waiting. She was now 18 years old and he was 17. Actually the Prince was her second cousin as she and be were both descended from the English house of Lancaster, thru John of Gaunt. Early responsibility had made the Prince seem older than his 17 years. He was always master of himself. Always the Prince, and Princess Isabel appears to have loved him at once, and remained in love with him for the rest of her life.
Isabel wrote to the King that she intended to marry Fernando and that she wished for his royal blessing. But she intended to marry the Prince with or without the king’s blessing. The Wedding Ceremony was performed by the Archbishop on October 18. To protect her kingdom of Castile against possible Aragonese aggression she had the Prince sign an agreement to respect all laws and customs of Castile. To continue the holy war against the Moors of Granada. To provide for her aged mother at Arevalo and show respect for the king Enrique the lawful king of Castile whether he deserved it or not.
Fernando and Isabel remained at Valladolid thru out the winter of 1469. They were waiting for word from the king. And then finally this word came saying that Isabel had disobeyed the king with her marriage, and now she must be treated like any other rebel. In the following summer, in fact the first day of October 1470, a little fair haired girl was born to the Queen and was then also given the name of Isabel. Thus now the Queen would write to this King of the land and she pledged her allegiance to him, but she stressed that if he continued to treat her as an enemy then she would take what steps necessary and appeal to the judgment of God. As it turns out then King Enrique decided to make war on the Princess and her husband and it was a dark time for Isabel for even the Pope tended to favor the king as the legitimate sovereign at that time. There was famine at that time, in the winter in Castile. And it was a long hard winter for Isabel and her family but finally it came to an end and with the spring the people began to turn to Isabel and her husband. Whole towns came to her side. Deaths occurred by those opposing her, even the Pope died. To his successor Pope Sixtus II, a devoted and learned Franciscan Monk, Isabel and her friends looked with renewed hope, for they had heard that this Pope hoped to reform the Church.
Everyone was aware of the fact that corruption had entered the Church of Rome. But at this time in history the Pope ruled Rome, but her moral authority went to the ends of the Catholic civilized world. Ambitious kings sought to use him to further their own designs. And this Pope was then constantly struggling to preserve the spiritual independence of the church.
At this time in history the Turks broke into Servia and they overran Hungary and took Constantinople by storm. Thus Europe which was busy with petty kings fighting each other did not notice that the Jews in every place were joining with the enemy. Life ahead of Princess Isabel now Queen of Castile and her Husband was not to be a bed of roses.
Then all Italy and Spain were next in a panic for news came that the Grand Turk Mohammed II had launched a fleet of 400 ships to be thrown against Negroponter, supposedly impregnable Venetian outpost on the Island of Euboea. But Pope Paul II was able to unite enough of the Princes of the church and they took care of the situation. But when this pope died the next summer he left Catholic Christendom in a critical state. There was growing corruption in the church as well as the Turkish invasion to contend with. At home was this fighting between the old Christians and the New Christians who were at heart of course Jewish, except when pretending to be Christian in the church. Actually it was getting so bad in Spain that they were experiencing Ritual murder of young boys.
Now; princess Isabel had deplored this hatred of the Conversos, those secret Jews, but she was beginning to wonder, could she make the Jews stop exploiting the Christians, and proselytizing, even as Christians to destroy, Christianity.
Now came news that the old king had died and Isabel put on mourning garments and went to the church to pray for the repose of the king's soul. When she returned to the castle, she was informed that she would be crowned Queen of Castile on the morrow. Destiny had put into the hands of a girl, the power she had dreamed of using. The Middle ages were now past and modern Spain was about to be born.
On December 13--Isabel looked down upon a town full of people. Into the gates of this great city built on a cliff were coming people from all walks of life. There was then a mighty shout as Dona Isabel came forth on a white horse. Her husband the Governor of Cabrera on one side of her and the Archbishop Carrillo on the other. Here she came ---23 years old, a beautiful lady clad from head to toe in white brocade and Ermine. Jewels sparkled at her throat, and at her bridle, and the arch of her foot. Her mount was covered with a cloth of gold. Just in front of her, on a great horse, rode the herald holding--point upward the Castilian sword of justice. There was much sympathy for this young woman on the white charger who had the power of life and death over all who beheld her. After the herald came two pages bearing a pillow, on, which rested the ancient crown of her ancestors. And the people cried: "Viva la Reinal" for this young woman, now to be officially their Queen. As Isabel dismounted and climbed the stairs to the high platform the bells of all the churches and convents began to ring as the crown was placed on her head.
At last Isabel was a Queen, according to ceremony. After all of the Nobles had kissed her hand and had sworn allegiance to her the young queen then walked to the Cathedral and bowed before the high altar giving thanks to God for bringing her thru all of her troubles. Then she vowed to rule according to His will. Thus Isabel --now officially Queen at last.
Now of all Spain was on her way to becoming known in that age as the most Christian woman whoever lived. But first she had to be ‘Queen Isabella the Crusader'. How then would she win this other title except that she run the Jews out of Spain? Those people who had professed Christianity while out to destroy it. Thus much hardship and duty lay before this young Queen, kneeling there, and she would need God's protection during that time.
Isabel's husband had gone home to restore his ancient kingdom, and now he learned of his wife's coronation and he was coming back. He was thinking that now he would be king of Castile also. Already some were trying to divide this marriage. But Isabel, herself, solved this question, for she said:---As my husband, you are king of Castile and your commands are to be obeyed here. But these realms, please God, will remain after our days, and after the days of our sons and daughter. And since God so far had not seen fit to give us a son then we must be most careful to see that our daughter is also counted in the Royal line. Even tho she be forced to marry a foreign Prince this would not make her forced to turn over this kingdom to another nation who would not then be Castilian. Thus leaving the policy of the nation in the hands of a Prince, and Princess, who were of a foreign race.
This problem then solved the Queen started the process of restoring Spain by appointing trustworthy men to different offices. She and her husband then began to gain the hearts of the people with their even handed justice by which they ruled. They removed the parasites from their court and started to execute thieves and robbers. Then they had to move against the great Barons who had looted this country under a weak king. The Barons then fought back and then Isabel received a letter from the king of Portugal saying that he was marrying La Beltraneja also of the Castile line, and therefore he was entitled to call himself king of Castile and Leon. He added that many of the Castilian nobles, INCLUDING THE ARCHBISHOP OF TOLEDO, were ready to join him.
It was hard for Queen Isabella to believe that her old friend--the Archbishop --had gone over to her enemies. She had her secretary write a passionate letter to him. But he made no reply. Then she decided to ride to Alcola and make a personal appeal to him. She sent Count Haro ahead to make arrangements, but he found that she would not be received. The Queen was in the church waiting for the return of her count. When receiving his report, the Queen was quiet for a long moment. Then looking up she said:---"MY LORD JESUS THE CHRIST, INTO YOUR HANDS I place all my affairs and I implore your protection.
Having said this, she then mounted her horse and rode on toward Toledo. There she learned that the king of Portugal had indeed married his young lady and had then marched into the territory proclaiming that he and his bride were king and Queen of Castile, and Leon.
In the meantime Fernando was riding frantically north to raise an army, but in this he was unsuccessful. Therefore, it would be up to Isabel herself to carry on the fight. Then wearing a Breastplate over her dress Queen Isabel, pressing her lips together then mounted her horse and took the road to the north.
Instead of marching to seize Isabel, the king of Portugal and his bride had gone to the heart of Castile and hoped to prevent her from forming an army. This would prove to be a mistake for on she came, back to her birthplace. Now a determined young woman and the rightful Queen of this territory of which Castile was a part. And this also gave the Queen time to rally the rest of her Empire. But always she spent much time in prayer asking for guidance. And now this victory over Portugal leaves Isabel mistress and Queen of Castile, but now this is a land ridden with famine, pestilence and economically almost beyond repair.
Isabel and Fernando then took steps to restore respect for law. They rode from town to town, sometimes together, sometimes separately. The young Queen would hear complaints and then move quickly to correct. One day the Queen heard that a revolt had started and the insurgents were storming the castle in which she had left her little daughter with a nurse and not much other protection. She then rode with three friends as fast as the horses could travel. The sun flared on the white road as hot as the sands of the desert. The dust was 6 inches deep. It rose in clouds around her, and her horse, it whitened them with powder, it blinded her eyes, and rubbed the skin off of her lips. But she kept going and then this last night had ridden thru the night and by dawn the tower of Alcazar was seen rising in the distance. All around them stretched a barren and treeless desolate waste of a cruelly and inscrutable country. The young Queen then wondered--was her child still in the tower or was she too late?
As the queen came to the gate of the city the Bishop and several chief citizens came forth and begged her not to enter, for there was much fighting close by. At least if she entered please leave outside her friends. Queen Isabel is now very angry, she said:--Tell these citizens and others that I am Queen of castile, this city is mine. To enter what is mine need no conditions and laws. I shall enter and my friends with me. Tell the mob that they shall be loyal subjects and stop making this tumult, and scandal in my city, lest they suffer in their persons and their property. So saying the young Queen put the spurs to her horse, and moved right into the midst of the howling mob which soon surrounded the little party saying:--"Kill them all."
The young Queen then spoke to the people saying:---'My vassals and servants, what is it that you desire. For whatever it is will be agreeable with me, if it is good for this city.' The crowd quieted and one person stepped up to speak for the grievance of the people. Their wish was for the removal of the man who had charge of the city and had brought it down to such a level. The Queen then spoke again:--'from this moment he is removed. I will appoint people as leaders who will work for the people of this city. And now the cry arose of "Viva la Reina" and the enemy began to flee for their lives. The young Queen had thus won another battle. She gave orders for the cleaning up of her city then went to the castle. After seeing her little girl she fell on a bed and went to sleep.
This would now however be her life. If trouble threatened, soon the young queen would be in their midst. She sometimes rode all day then gaining fresh horses rode thru the night when necessary. Rain or shine, nothing mattered but reaching the place of trouble.
Fernando himself, the king was also as busy with the army, strengthening their defenses on the Portuguese border. At last they were to meet again at Ocana. There the Queen ordered a great preparation for a triumph in honor of the king. And they preceded to the cathedral and both knelt before the high altar to give thanks to their God. The next day there was a magnificent procession to the Cathedral. The young Queen wore her crown. Many jewels and precious stones were in sight. And around her neck gleamed the famous necklace of pearls and rubies, the largest of which was supposed to belong to King Solomon. Which he had sent to Sapin the ancient Tarsish of the Hebrews, to purchase gold, silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.
Before leaving this city then Isabel bought several houses between two gates and had them destroyed for here she would build the Franciscan Monastery of Saint John, of the Kings. This was to be a monument to her lifelong love for Fernando. She would then over the years send. Gold, chalices, Jewels, trophies, and paintings to this church. In all parts of the great church could be found the arms of Castile and Aragon with the ciphers of Isabel and Fernando interlaced.
Isabel and Fernando planned to drive the Moors out of Spain. But they would have to move slowly because of the lack of finance and an army large enough to do the job. There was another cause also that hindered. The cause was after all religious. The Jews who had lived among the people of Spain as Conversos had intermarried with the Christians. They then found the way to own the most valuable property, and hold the highest positions in government. The Jews were the money lenders at usuary, and they also run the busy slave market in which Moors and blacks from Africa were bought and sold.
The Jews were fond of luxury and jewelry. They were quarrelsome, and inclined to robbery and the Conversos (daytime Christians and night time Jews) like the Marranos, and even more disliked by their own people, because they donated activities from which the regular Jews were excluded.
Queen Isabel had seemed to have had no prejudice against the Jews as a race. She saw the problem as religious rather than racial and she employed in positions of trust certain Jews who she thought professed to be good Christians. Thus the Queen and King were working to free their land and restore it as of yore, but at the same time they would employ some of the enemy. At times they would meet and then plan their forward march.
The young Queen then gave birth to a baby boy. Little Prince Juan, and a month later the Queen went to Mass to present the Little Prince to God as she knew, the little Prince, Jesus had also been presented by his mother in Jerusalem in former times. At this feat the Queen rode on a white Pony with a gilded saddle and her skirt was woven with pearls.
His majesty rode beside her on a silver grey horse with trappings of gold and black velvet. The king's sombrero was bordered with threads of gold. Three weeks later there was a total eclipse of the sun. Some people feared this might bode ill for little Prince Juan.
The Bishop of Cadiz reported to the Queen that the Conversos were secret Jews who were always continually winning over Christians to Judatical patterns and they were on the point of preaching that their inheritance came from Moses, and doing this even from Catholic pulpits. They were as the Queen had suspected, undermining both church and state. It was the Jews who had welcomed the Mohammedians into the country in the beginning. Thus, Isabel began to think of an inquisition to run the Jews out of Spain.
As the war to expel the Moors would start they would also have trouble in the places where the secret Jews were strongest. Thus the Queen appealed to the Pope in Rome to give her permission for an inquisition if it became necessary. For now she must run the Jews out of Spain to save her country which was so divided into small areas with different Duke's who were now not paying any attention to Queen Isabel. They were mean to the people, they would not obey even the agreements they had signed. As this war began it was to start in two places, and in both the Conversos were powerful. But still the Queen was hopeful that she could bring them back to the Catholic faith, even tho they were now openly back to Judaism. Isabel being a kind and charitable woman could not believe that these people could be as wicked as she was now hearing. They considered her as 'Priest ridden' altho at that time her confessor was of Jewish descent. Many people who wrote to her emphasized the things that she was doing for the Jews. But the very existence of the country was at stake and the country had a right, and a duty to protect itself.
Queen Isabel did not believe that the Jewish version of the history of civilization, which they had hated, should be accepted as impartial and definitive. As a Christian Isabel felt that it was wrong to persecute anyone. But as a Queen she owed it to her subjects to protect them from enemies, and in this position she had to finally place the Jews. She felt that the same blindness that had caused them to call for the crucifixion of Christ, and in later wandering would seek the destruction of the church he had founded, and the enslavement of every society based upon its teaching. But now she was learning that they always, even as they wondered from place to place had. A common cause, which was the destruction of the Christian Faith, and in Isabel's time the Catholic church. It was according to the Jewish encyclopedia that the Jews had invited the Mohammedians into Spain and to possess for themselves of the property. Under the Mohammedians they traveled everywhere from India to England to Bohemia and to Egypt. Their commonest merchandise in their days was slaves. On every high road and on every great river or sea, these Jewish traders were to be found with their gangs of shackled prisoners in convoy.
Now; Isabel and Fernando had become absolute monarchs. In private however the queen was humble and devout. She had the laws of the land rewritten. She must set herself for the recovery of her land and she tried to do it in a most honest and compassionate way.
In 1480 then we find that Mohammed II threw all of Europe into terror. He swooped down upon the shores of Italy, and great and terrible atrocities were committed. The apathy of the Italian princes was incredible. Isabel sent the whole Castilian fleet to help in protecting the kings kingdom in Sicily. Then she sent the Royal officers to the cities of the north to raise a fleet powerful enough to sweep the Turks from the seas.
Queen Isabel found her people wondering what would happen if the Moors on the south rose against them at this time. If that happened she would need every ounce of her strength and every man of the area to follow her. but she still had many enemies within her own gates. Toward the end of the 13th century the Jews were so powerful in the Christian kingdoms that they almost ruled everywhere. So great was their influence that no laws could be enforced against them. Those who had gone from Southern France to Spain used to circumcise themselves, so that they might teach freely as jews heresy for which they had been punished as Christians.
In Europe which on the whole had abhorred usuary as a sin, the Jews were almost the only bankers and money lenders, and little by little the capital and commerce of he country passed into their hands. They generally charged 20% interest in Aragon, and 33% in Castile. During a famine the interest rate was 40%. By loaning money to the kings the Jews had thus acquired control of governments. Thus this was the situation which brought about the idea of the inquisition. And now here is Queen Isabel and it would remain to be seen if she was powerful enough to enforce her will.
At this time even Isabel's closest friend was married to a jew. Her secretaries and confessors had Jewish ancestors on one side or the other. It would be strange if these shrewd and powerful politicians did not make every effort to stop the king and queen and secretly place in their way every possible obstacle.
Thus the inquisition was started and the Conversos met to plan their protection and to fight the Queen every step of the way. Many of the Conversos would again pledge to accept the faith of the Catholic church, and thus were released. Those who did not perished. It was realized that the king and queen were taking from the secret Jews the riches they had confiscated, and were using it for the final crusade for Christendom. Thus, thousands of Conversos then fled in panic in all directions. Some went to Portugal some to Italy where as always the Pope gave them protection.
Since I have written much earlier about the Inquisition and the Marranos I will not repeat here. But I would also remind you that the queen believed it to be necessary for the salvation of her country to remove the Jews from the land, and she was not ashamed of this. Always referred to it with pride. She would have been astonished if she could have foreseen that in later years some would accuse her of bringing about the intellectual destruction of Spain. For after all when the Queen and her husband ran the jews out of Spain then Spain grew into a great nation. Here was found fine schools and universities where foreign scholars flocked to her shores to study as they had one time flocked to Britain. Never had order been so well maintained at home, and prestige established abroad as during the 16th century when Spain became the head of a New Empire that over shadowed all of Europe and even America. Thus, the inquisition did not prevent Spain from coming into her greatness.
Isabel at one time tried to encourage King Henry VII of England to extend the inquisition to England. And altho he promised to do so he failed to keep his promise. Thus, the inquisition remained almost entirely a Spanish Inquisition.
The long expected war with Granada, land controlled by the Moors began on Christmas day. Moors had entered the town of Zahara, 15 miles south east of Sevilla. This was a city high on a cliff, but under cover of a strong wall. The Moors had mounted the west wall by scaling ladders and had entered the town. They killed the men and dragged the women and children off to Granada, slaying any who could not keep up. Here was the greatest crisis of Isabel's life. She proposed now to conquer a rich and fertile kingdom of some three million Moors. In the center of which more than a half a mile above sea level was the high walled city of Granada, on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was protected on every side by high mountains, and fortified cities. No one could lay siege to Granada without first battering down a score of other walled palaces. It was thus evident that the war would require months and even years of heroic effort. But Isabel planned to do the very thing that all good Castilian kings had failed to do. And with God's help and Fernando's accomplishments she then mounted her Christian crusade. At 30 years of age, she would be recycling agent, commissary, purchaser of munitions, field nurse and so forth while God and her husband Fernando accomplished her mission.
Isabel being a devout Christian, then in every crisis she humbly laid her difficulties at the feet of God. Then having appealed to him she would proceed to do her part against an enemy almost unparalleled in history. She believed that the human will, under God, was the supreme factor in existence.
The Mohammedian culture did not permit the high position that women had always occupied in Christian civilization. In fact the Mohammendian culture reduced the women to positions of slavery. They became the chattels of men. For many years the favorite wife of the King of Granada had been a Christian captive---Isabel de Solis, a blond of such surpassing beauty that the Moors called her Zoroya---Star of the Morning. She had a son Boabdil who would be heir to the throne of Granada. In old age the king of Granada took for himself a young wife. And while he was out on a mission the gates of the city were locked and the people declared the son of "Star of the morning" their king. Thus the war against the moors should have been more easily accomplished, but this did not turn out to be true.
Then at that time in history came the man known as Christopher Columbus. He wanted three or four ships to sail the ocean to find certain islands in the west. Isabel had no money for such a mission but she also did not want such a mission to be the work of the French. So she instructed the Duke to say she would hear what Columbus had to say later. She was now bringing into this world her fifth and last child. This little girl would be called Catalina, and later in history would be known as Catherine of Aragon. Columbus had appealed to France and to Portugal earlier for means of his journey to the west. But now he would have to wait for the Queen of Spain had a bigger mission ahead of her, which was this war against the Moors.
One morning word came that a daring young man had managed to scale the walls of Granada and the gates of the city would be opened to Isabel and her army. She immediately moved to take some other fortified cities and then came to Granada. All things had fallen in place and the war was now coming to an end, and Columbus would soon get his ships and supplies for his journey to the west.
Queen Isabel then rested and contemplated as to what she had done. For she had transformed a bankrupt country, drenched in blood into a peaceful and prosperous Spain that was now one of the leading powers of Europe. Thus now the Queen was able to give her attention to Columbus who had been kept waiting for so long.
Columbus set sail from Palos on the day after the exodus of the Jews from Spain. This was a Friday, and a lucky day for him as he had a favorable wind straight from the east. This was a solemn occasion, for Columbus sailed thinking that he went for the lofty purpose of bringing the conversion of the whole world to the Catholic Faith.
Eight months later it is revealed that Columbus had written to the secret Jews. If he wrote to the king and Queen, they never received it. Then Columbus returned and to the king and Queen he made no mention of the possible gain of a flourishing slave trade as he had written to the secret Jews. But then Columbus was himself also of Jewish origin. But Columbus entered Barcelona with a burst of splendor. With him were six Indians he had brought from the Islands, painted and feathered, and shivering from the cold. He had live parrots, stuffed birds from the Islands, and animals from the Islands as well and implements of war, such as weapons from the Indians.
As time progressed the children of Queen Isabel and King Fernando were married. And then calamity struck. They were advised that their son, Prince Juan was very ill. And before she could get to him he was dead. The queen was now in deep mourning. Under the exterior the Queen had received a fatal wound. The world would never be the same to her a it had been before. She had now learned at last the meaning of the word "Impossible." For God gave him and now God had taken away her little Prince.
Queen Isabella of Spain lived, but her first born was now dead, and her little Prince Juan was gone, and of her old friends there were not many left. And the Queen herself was failing in health.
Princess Catalina had been as a child promised to the Prince of England. Finally she set sail for England, May 21, 1501. Her mother at that time was very ill. Catalina was 15 years of age and her husband to be was 16. But now this English kingdom and the Spanish kingdom would be joined by this marriage. The young Prince of England wrote his new family in Spain that he was very delighted with the appearance of Catalina. But six months later this young Prince would be dead. And Queen Isabel and King Ferdinando would be sending frantic messages to England demanding that Catalina be returned home at once.
As time went on the day came when Isabel the Queen of Spain died. Immediately a journey was undertaken to take her body to Granada to the tomb she had selected for her resting place. AS they laid their beloved Queen in her tomb, the sun came out but all knew that something had passed from Spain forever. Somewhere on the high seas there was a ship bearing a letter from Princess Catalina. She had written it the very day her mother had died.
Christopher Columbus wrote of this Queen's passing:---'For this reason, we may rest assured that she is received into HIS Glory, and beyond the care of this rough and weary world.'
(The author of this story has become lost, so I cannot give it to you. But it goes along so well with other story of this Queen that I thought it very interesting. Also as I wrote, I noticed some similar situations for us here in America as we end this century. The U.S. is the only country in the world which had not at some point in history run the Jews out of their country because of the things they did as they took control. So what will be the story here? --E.R.M.)