Isabella was born in Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Castile, on April 22, 1451. When she was three years old, her brother became King Henry IV and when she was thirteen, she was brought to his court so he could watch her. On September 19, 1498, she was proclaimed as the king's heiress by the Accord of Toros de Guisando. However, out of her many suitors, Henry wanted her to marry the king of Portugal, Alfonso V. Without the king's permission, she married Ferdinand of Aragon instead in October 1469. Because of this, the Accord became void and she was rejected as heiress.
In 1474, her brother the king died, and there were two rivals for the throne: Isabella and Joan, Henry's daughter. Isabella took the throne, but the first four years of her reign were marked by civil war with Joan's faction. On February 24, 1479, Isabella's army defeated them and the same year, the head of Aragon died. Ferdinand became Aragon's king and with Ferdinand and Isabella married, Aragon and Castile were united.
Together, Ferdinand and Isabella conquered Granada and Spain emerged as an actual country. With the crown,Isabella gained control over the military orders of Calatrava, Santiago, and Alcantara. Soon after, a young man named Christopher Columbu came to enlist their aid in financing his voyages after being turned down by other royalty figureheads. Isabella and Ferdinand chose to finance his voyage and the New World was discovered for the Spanish. Unlike other nationalities, Isabella was ready to recognize the Native American's rights. When Columbus brought some back as slaves, Isabella ordered their release.
Isabella also played an important part in the reformation of Spain. She reformed the Spanish churches, although concentrating mostly on the reform of the Poor Clares, a group of nuns who believed in strict poverty. She rejected the Pope's Italian cardinal in favor of her Spanish candidate and rejected the Pope's appointment of his nephew as the archbishop of Seville as well. She also set up schools for the different classes of people.
Isabella died in Medina del Campo, Spain, on November 26, 1504, having made many significant changes in Spanish society.
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