Queen Isabella – The Soul of the Inquisition


Modern Western Civilisations


Nov. 19 2001


As the end of the 15th century was approaching, King Henry IV, ruler of Castille passed away, leaving his kingdom in the hands of his sister Isabella. When she married Ferdinand, King of Aragon, they united the Spanish nation, and were about to be remembered as the most famous and significant rulers of Spain. This unity reduced the power of the nobles, who before this time had held so much power that they were almost independent from the Crown. As soon as Isabella came into power she established the Holy Brotherhood (military force) to secure her power and influence, thereby weakening the traditional aristocracy. She had a vision of Spain that she was determined to see carried out, and she used absolute feudalism to expand her royal authority and influence the nation. Wealth although, was not the only goal of the Queen, she wished to see a unity of the Christian faith in her nation, with no other “bad religions” to desecrate her strong belief in the power of the Christian religion. She mainly saw the Jewish people as a threat to her, both politically and economically, and fabricated a plan to rid her of this problem. Through her desideratum for the highest possible political power and her notion of religious obligation, she devised a system to legitimise and achieve her objectives and completely annihilate all Non-Christians. Thus, she established the Spanish Inquisition.


Isabella was raised and taught by her mother to always believe strongly in the Christian faith so that she could live a virtuous Christian life. When she was growing up the idea of “pure blood” was enforced, which excluded people of Jewish and Moorish descent (Fernandez-Urmesto 168). She had always believed in the Biblical book the Apocalypse that explained the prophecy of the Second Coming, and imagined herself or one her descendants in the position of ruler at that time. However, she presumed that that empirical ruler would only be able to emerge when all Jews would disappear as a race. “Devoutly religious, Isabella believed that it was the duty of Christian rulers to implement God’s will on Earth” (Commire, Women 713). She concluded that the only way to fulfil that duty would be to impose her authority through religion, to either convert or eliminate all non-Christians. She felt that it was the Queen’s royal and sacred duty to do so. Ferdinand and Isabella consequently acted to bring religious uniformity throughout Castille and Aragon. Isabella saw herself in a position where she was servicing both God and herself and doing what was needed for the realm, the faith, and the Crown (Liss 277).


Isabella felt that not only did the Jews pose a threat religiously, but they also posed a danger to the independence and security of the nation (Mariejol 40). Not only did she wish for her religion to be the same with the Spanish people, but she and her husband also wished to have total control of the kingdom’s political and social structure. In order to have total control Isabella complied with the theory, “He who is not with me, is against me” (Walshe 224). Isabella devised a plan parallel to royal purpose and strategy that besides enforcing religious conformity, would also enhance popular adhesion and internal control, and would bring in funds (Liss165). By ridding the nation of all non-Christians, the idea of patriotism and political conformity would be strongly enforced.


By the time Isabella and Ferdinand came into power, some Jews had begun to convert because they felt discriminated against, but still, together with the remaining Jews they managed to control many assets in the country and pose a threat to the Queen’s power. There was no doubt that they were at the height of prosperity, with the capital and commerce of the country in the palms of their hands. By the time Isabella came into power, the Jews were a power, almost a state within a state (Walsh 261). Wherever Jews would be situated, their individuality would strongly influence both the people and environment around them. Isabella fathomed that if nothing were to be done about the Jews, “The government would gradually be passed into Jewish hands” (Walsh 261). Castille had a