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 would inherit the throne. She used to feed Ferdinand love potions made from bull testicles to enhance his virility. John was born to them in May 1509, but he died within hours. They did not have a second child. Instead of making him virile, the bull testicle medicine 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 in Spanish 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 religious. They claimed that they wanted to propagate their religion in every part of the world. If propagation of religion was their motive, then why did they send to the Americas their worst killers? They knew what was happening in the Americas but they did nothing to stop the invasions, enslavements, and massacres. 

They were successful in laying the foundation of a worldwide Spanish empire. But their legacy is soaked in the blood of Spain’s minorities and the natives of the Americas.

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