Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Legacy of Isabella I and Ferdinand II

Queen Isabella I of Castile died in November 1504. Immediately after her death, her fifty-two year old husband King Ferdinand II of Aragon was looking for a second wife. He married eighteen year old Germaine of Foix in July 1505. Germaine was obsessed with having a male child who could inherit the throne. She used to feed Ferdinand love potions made from bull testicles to increase his virility. A male child John was born to them in May 1509, but he died within hours. They did not have a second child. The bull testicle medicine was clearly a failure—it probably damaged Ferdinand’s heart. He died in January 1516 due to heart complications. 

The rule of Isabella and Ferdinand saw some of the worst massacres ever recorded in history—the minority population of Spain was wiped out and millions of natives in the Americas died within 20 years of the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. The population of Hispaniola declined by ninety percent. Isabella and Ferdinand were very religious. They used to say that they wanted to impose their religion on people in every part of the world. If that was the case, why did they send to the Americas their worst killers and psychopaths? They knew what was happening in the Americas but they did nothing to stop the cruelties, depravities, and massacres. 

Isabella and Ferdinand were quite successful in purely geopolitical terms, but in moral terms, theirs is a blood-soaked legacy.

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