cover image Isabella of Castile: The First Renaissance Queen

Isabella of Castile: The First Renaissance Queen

Nancy Rubin Stuart / Author St. Martin's Press $29.95 (468p) I

Isabella (1441-1504) was a master strategist, seizing the crown of Castile and, with husband Ferdinand of Aragon, ruling both her kingdom and his and winning a virtually nonstop succession of wars to preserve their strongholds. Freelance journalist Rubin presents the queen also as loving wife and mother, promoter of the arts and sponsor of Columbus, views emphasized to soften the dominant persona: Isabella la Catolica. Her goal to make Spain exclusively and permanently Catholic drove the queen to supporting the tortures of the Inquisition, burning dissenters at the stake and evicting Jews from the country. Packed with information, the book holds the reader's interest, despite pedestrian prose and a clear bias in Isabella's favor. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Oct.)