Financed Columbus in his Discovery of America
1451 – 1504 A.D.
Isabella, Queen of Castile, daughter of John II. In 1469 she married Ferdinand of Aragon, and when the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile united, Ferdinand and Isabella assumed the royal titles of Spain, and by this union the foundation of Spain’s future greatness was laid.
Isabella was beautiful in person, of pleasing manners and kindly heart, though of inflexible will, proud, ambitious, and exceedingly punctilious. She was always present in meetings of the council, and insisted on the use of her name with that of Ferdinand in all public documents.
Spain undoubtedly owed to Isabella’s clear intellect, resolute energy and unselfish patriotism much of that greatness which for the first time in acquired under “the Catholic Sovereigns.” The moral influence of the queen’s personal character over the Castilian court was incalculably great; from the debasement and degradation of the proceeding reign she raised it to being the “nursery of virtue and of generous ambition.”
She did much for letters in Spain by founding the palace school, but the very sincerity of her piety and strength of her religious convictions led her more than once into errors of state policy, and into more than one act which offends the moral sense of a more refined age; her efforts for the introduction of the Inquisition, and for the proscription of the Jews, are evidences of her bigotry.
Queen Isabella’s chief title to fame rests upon the well known part she took in promoting the great project of Columbus, and in the New World, at least, her memory will be immortal. When all others had herd with incredulity the scheme of Columbus, she recalled the wanderer to her presence with the words, “I will assume the undertaking for my own crown of Castile, and am ready to pawn my jewels to defray the expenses of it, if the funds in the treasury should be found inadequate.”
Through her influence, Ferdinand was prevailed upon to assist Columbus, and thus, the discovery of America, one of man’s greatest achievements, was made largely possible by the help of a woman.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.