Descendants of Isabel (Elizabeth) De Beaumont








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Descendants of Isabel (Elizabeth) de Beaumont from about 1075AD

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The Castilian version of her name was Ysabel or Isabel, which traces etymologically to Hebrew Elisth or 'Elizabeth'. In Germanic countries, she is usually known by the Italian form of her name, 'Isabella'. Likewise, her husband is Fernando in Spain, but Ferdinand elsewhere. The official inscription on their tomb renders their names in Latin as "Helizabeth" and "Fernandus".

Pope Alexander VI named Ferdinand and Isabella "The Catholic Monarchs". She is also known as Isabel la Católica.


Main article: Kings of Spain family tree

Isabella was great-great-granddaughter of both Henry II of Castile and his half-brother Pedro of Castile and their respective wives (Juana Manuel of Castile and Maria de Padilla). She was also great-great-granddaughter of Peter IV of Aragon and his wife Eleanor of Sicily, daughter of King Peter II of Sicily, as well as of Peter I of Portugal and his mistress Teresa Lourenço. Through John of Gaunt she was great-great-granddaughter of King Edward III of England and his wife Philippa of Hainault and through his first wife of Henry of Grosmont, Duke of Lancaster and his wife Isabel de Beaumont. Finally she was great-great-granddaughter to Nuno Alvares Pereira, Count de Barcelos and his wife Leonor Alvim, Countess of Barcelos.

She was great-granddaughter of John I of Castile and his wife Eleanor of Aragon, a sister of Kings John I of Aragon and Martin I of Aragon. She was also great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and his second wife Constance of Castile, a daughter of Pedro of Castile. Her third set of great-grandparents were King John I of Portugal and his wife Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt from his first wife Blanche of Lancaster. Her final set of great-grandparents were Afonso, Duke de Braganza, a son of John I of Portugal by Inês Peres, and his wife Beatriz Pereira Alvim, countess of Barcelos and first Duchess of Braganza (daughter of the above mentioned Nuno Álvares Pereira).

Her paternal grandparents were King Henry III of Castile and Katherine of Lancaster of the House of Lancaster, a half sister of King Henry IV of England. Her maternal grandparents were Prince John of Portugal, Grand Master of Santiago, who was a brother of Henry the Navigator, and his wife Isabella de Bragança.

Her parents were King John II of Castile and his second wife Queen Isabella of Portugal.

She was the last monarch of the Trastámara dynasty established by Henry II of Castile.

Early years

Isabella was born in Madrigal de las Altas Torres on April 22, 1451. Her brother Alfonso was born three years later. When her father, John II, died in 1454, her much older half-brother Henry IV became king. As soon as he ascended to the throne, he sequestered his half-siblings to Segovia and his stepmother to Arévalo, in virtual exile.

Henry IV, whose first marriage to Blanca of Navarre was not consummated and had been annulled, remarried to have his own offspring. He then married Joana of Portugal. His wife gave birth to Joan, princess of Castile. When Isabella was about ten, she and her brother were summoned to the court, to be under more direct supervision and control by the king. In the Representation of Burgos the nobles challenged the King; among other items, they demanded that Alfonso, Isabella's brother, should be named the heir to the kingdom. Henry agreed, provided Alfonso would marry his daughter, Joan. A few days later, he changed his mind.

The nobles, now in control of Alfonso and claiming him to be the true heir, clashed with Henry's forces at the Battle of Olmedo in 1467. The battle was a draw. One year later, Alfonso died at the age of fourteen, and Isabella became the hope of the rebelling nobles. But she refused their advances, acknowledging instead Henry as king, and he, in turn, recognized her as the legitimate heir in the Treaty of the Bulls of Guisando, rather than Joan whose paternal origin was in dispute. In 1475, Joan married her uncle, the King of Portugal, but their marriage was later annulled by the Pope because of their family relation. Henry tried to get Isabella married to a number of persons of his choice, yet she evaded all these propositions. Instead she chose Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Aragon. They were married October 19, 1469 in Ocaña (another source suggests Valladolid, which was perhaps the place of betrothal).


When Henry IV died on December 10, 1474, Isabella acted quickly. She had herself crowned Queen of Castile at Segovia three days later. While she and Ferdinand began to reorganize the court, Afonso V of Portugal crossed the border and declared Joan the rightful heir. The War of the Castilian Succession had begun. Ferdinand beat the invaders back at the Battle of Toro in 1476, and the challenge to the crown of Castile was rejected. In a series of separate marches, Ferdinand and Isabella went on to subjugate renegade and rebellious towns, fortresses, and points of power that had developed over time. In 1479, Ferdinand's father then died, and they became King and Queen of Aragon. In 1480, the couple assembled the Cortes of Toledo where, under their supervision, five royal councils and 34 civilian representatives produced a codex of laws and edicts as the legal groundwork for the future Spain. This established the centralization of power with the royals and set the basis for economic and judicial rehabilitation of the country. As part of this reform, and in their attempt to unify the country, Ferdinand and Isabella solicited Pope Sixtus IV to authorize the Inquisition. In 1483, Tomás de Torquemada became the first Inquisitor General in Seville.

The events of 1492

1492 was an important year for Isabella: seeing the conquest of Granada and hence the end of the 'Reconquista' (reconquest), her successful patronage of Christopher Columbus, and her expulsion of the Jews and Muslims.


The Capitulation of Granada by F. Padilla: Boabdil before Ferdinand and Isabella

The Capitulation of Granada by F. Padilla: Boabdil before Ferdinand and Isabella

The Kingdom of Granada had been held by the Moors since their invasion of Spain in the 8th century. Protected by natural barriers and fortified towns, it had withstood the long process of the reconquista. However, in contrast to the determined leadership by Isabella and Ferdinand, Granada's leadership was divided and never presented a united front. It took ten years to conquer Granada, culminating in 1492.

When the Spaniards, early on, captured Boabdil (one of the rulers) they set him free - for a ransom - so that he could return to Granada and resume his reign. The Spanish monarchs recruited soldiers from many European countries and improved their artillery with the latest and best cannons. Systematically, they proceeded to take the kingdom piece by piece. In 1485 they laid siege to Ronda, which surrendered after extensive bombardment. The following year, Loja was taken, and again Boabdil was captured and released. One year later, with the fall of Málaga, the western part of the Moorish kingdom had fallen into Spanish hands. The eastern province succumbed after the fall of Baza in 1489. The siege of Granada began in the spring of 1491. When the Spanish camp was destroyed by an accidental fire, the camp was rebuilt, in stone, in the form of a cross, painted white, and named Santa Fe (i.e. 'Holy Faith'). At the end of the year, Boabdil surrendered. On January 2, 1492 Isabel and Ferdinand entered Granada to receive the keys of the city and the principal mosque was reconsecrated as a church. The Treaty of Granada signed later that year was to assure religious rights to the Islamic believers - but it did not last.


Columbus before Isabella and Ferdinand

Columbus before Isabella and Ferdinand

Queen Isabella rejected Christopher Columbus's plan to reach the Indies by sailing west three times before changing her mind. His conditions (the position of Admiral; governorship for him and his descendants of lands to be discovered; and ten percent of the profits) were met. On August 3, his expedition departed. He returned the next year and presented his findings to the monarchs, bringing natives and gold under a hero's welcome. Spain entered a Golden Age of exploration and colonization. In 1494, by the Treaty of Tordesillas, Isabella and Ferdinand divided the Earth, outside of Europe, with Portugal.

Isabella tried to defend the American aborigines against the abuse of the colonists. In 1503, she established the Secretary of Indian Affairs, which later became the Supreme Council of the Indies.

Expulsion of the Jews and Muslims

With the institution of the Roman Catholic Inquisition in Spain, and with the Dominican friar Tomás de Torquemada as the first Inquisitor General, the Catholic Monarchs pursued a policy of "religious cleansing". Though Isabella opposed taking harsh measures against Jews on economic grounds, Torquemada was able to convince Ferdinand. On March 31, 1492, the Alhambra Decree for the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims was issued (See main article on Inquisition). Approximately 200,000 people left Spain. Others converted, often only to be persecuted further by the Inquisition investigating Judaizing conversos (Marranos). The Muslims of the newly conquered Granada had been initially granted religious freedom, but pressure to convert increased, and after some revolts, a policy of forced expulsion or conversion was also instituted in 1502 (see Moriscos).

Later years

Queen Isabella's Will, by E.Rosales. On the left: Juana and Ferdinand, on the right: Cardinal Cisneros (black cap)

Queen Isabella's Will, by E.Rosales. On the left: Juana and Ferdinand, on the right: Cardinal Cisneros (black cap)

Isabella, a very religious person, received with her husband the title of Reina Católica by Pope Alexander VI, a pope of whose secularism Isabella did not approve. Along with the physical unification of Spain, Isabella and Ferdinand embarked on a process of spiritual unification, trying to bring the country under one faith (Roman Catholicism). As part of this process, the Inquisition became institutionalized. After an uprising in 1499, the Treaty of Granada was broken in 1502 and Muslims were forced to either be baptized or to be expelled. Isabella's confessor, Cisneros was named Archbishop of Toledo. He was instrumental in a program of rehabilitation of the religious institutions of Spain, laying the groundwork for the later Counter-Reformation. As Chancellor, he exerted more and more power.

Isabella and her husband had created an empire and in later years were consumed with administration and politics; they were concerned with the succession and worked to link the Spanish crown to the other rulers in Europe. Politically this can be seen in attempts to outflank France and to unite the Iberian peninsula. By early 1497 all the pieces seemed to be in place: Juan, the Crown Prince, married Margaret of Austria, establishing the connection to the Habsburgs. The eldest daughter, Isabella, married Manuel I of Portugal, and Juana was married to another Habsburg prince, Philip. However, Isabella's plans for her children did not work out. Juan died shortly after his marriage. Isabella died in childbirth and her son Miguel died at the age of two. Queen Isabella's titles passed to her daughter Juana the Mad ('la Loca') whose marriage to Philip the Handsome was troubled. Isabella died in 1504 in Medina del Campo, before Philip and Ferdinand became enemies.

Isabella is entombed in Granada in the Capilla Real, which was built by her grandson, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (Carlos I of Spain), alongside her husband Ferdinand, her daughter Juana and Juana's husband Philip; and Isabella's 2-year old grandson, Miguel (the son of Isabella's daughter, also named Isabella, and King Manuel of Portugal). The museum next to the Capilla Real houses her crown and scepter.


Isabella had 5 children with Ferdinand:


Isabella and her husband established a highly effective coregency under equal terms. They utilized a prenuptial agreement to lay down their terms. During their reign they supported each other effectively in accordance to their joint motto of equality: Tanto monta, monta tanto, Isabel como Fernando ("They amount to the same, Isabella and Ferdinand"). In addition to her sponsorship of Columbus, Isabella was also the principal sponsor of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, the greatest military genius and innovator of the age. Isabella and Ferdinand's achievements are remarkable - Spain was united, the crown power was centralized, the reconquista was successfully concluded, the groundwork for the most dominant military machine of the next century was laid, a legal framework was created, the church reformed. Even without the benefit of the American expansion, Spain would have been a major European power. Columbus' discovery set the country on the course for the first modern world power.

Isabella and contemporary politics and religion

In the twentieth century, the regime of Francisco Franco claimed the prestige of the Catholic Monarchs. As a result, Isabella was despised by those opposed to Franco.

Some Catholic Spaniards have attempted to have Isabella declared as Blessed, with the aim of later having her canonized as a Saint. Their justification is that Isabella was a protector of the Spanish poor and of the Native Americans from the rapacity of the Spanish nobility; in addition, miracles have reportedly been attributed to her. This movement has met with opposition from Jewish organizations, Liberation theologians and Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, due to the fact that Isabella had many Moors killed after her entrance to Cordoba. In 1974, Pope Paul VI opened her cause for beatification. This places her on the path towards possible sainthood. In the Catholic Church, she is thus titled Servant of God.

Isabella was the first named woman to appear on a United States coin, an 1893 commemorative quarter, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus's first voyage. In the same year she was the first woman to be featured on U.S. postal stamps, namly on three stamps of the Columbian Issue, also in celebration of Columbus. She appears in the Spanish court scene replicated on the 15-cent Columbian (above), on the $ 1 issue, and in full portrait, side by side with Columbus, on the $4 Columbian, the only stamp of that denomination ever issued and one which collectors prize not only for its rarity (only 30,000 were printed) but its beauty, an exquisite carmine with some copies having a crimson hue. Mint specimens of this commemorative have been sold for more than $20,000.

Isabella in fiction


  • Miller, T. The Castles and the Crown. Spain 1451-1555 (New York: Coward-McCann, New York, 1963)
  • Carroll, Warren H. Isabel Of Spain: The Catholic Queen
  • Meyer, Carolyn. Isabel: Jewel of Castilla, Spain, 1466 (The Royal Diaries)
  • Rubin, Stuart, Nancy. "Isabella of Castile: The First Renaissance Queen" ( New York, St. Martin's Press, 1991,)


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This web site produced 17 Nov 2005 by Personal Ancestral File, a product of
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This web site produced 7 May 2004 by Personal Ancestral File, a product of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

updated Feb. 28, 2007