Born at a time when Christianity was dying out and the Ottoman Empire was aggressively expanding, Isabella was inspired in her youth by tales of Joan of Arc, a devout young woman who unified her people and led them to victory against foreign invaders. In 1474, when most women were almost powerless, 23-year-old Isabella defied a hostile brother and a mercurial husband to seize control of Castile and León. Her subsequent feats were legendary. She ended a 24-generation struggle between Muslims and Christians, forcing North African invaders back over the Mediterranean Sea. She laid the foundation for a unified Spain. She sponsored Columbus's trip to the Indies and negotiated Spanish control over much of the New World with the help of Rodrigo Borgia, the infamous Pope Alexander VI. She also annihilated all who stood against her by establishing a bloody religious Inquisition that would darken Spain's reputation for centuries.
Whether saintly or satanic, no female leader has done more to shape our modern world, in which millions of people in two hemispheres speak Spanish and practice Catholicism. Yet history has all but forgotten Isabella's influence, due to hundreds of years of misreporting that often attributed her accomplishments to Ferdinand, the bold and philandering husband she adored. Using new scholarship, Downey's luminous biography tells the story of this brilliant, fervent, forgotten woman, the faith that propelled her through life, and the land of ancient conflicts and intrigue she brought under her command.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Matthew on 09-05-15
A great listen
Where does Isabella: The Warrior Queen rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
This has to be among the best I have listened to. Well written and narrated history of one of Spain's greatest monarchs
What did you like best about this story?
Surprised how much there was to learn
Which character – as performed by Kimberly Farr – was your favourite?
All of them
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Any additional comments?
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Jim on 16-01-16
Wide Screen History
I got this as a double bill with Roger Crowley's Conquerers which covers the same period from aross the border in Portugal. Both are great books. The joy of this lies partly in how little I knew about Isabella who is kind of Spain's equivalent to Elizabeth the first. A woman who became Queen of Castille despite being no one's first choice and then went on to rule through a mixture of hard work, intelligence, common sense of people skills. In the debit column she established the inquisition. This is a gripping tale of how Isabella took Spain from an affiliation of kingdoms still partly occupied by the Moors to a global superpower through her cannily engineered marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon, diplomatic schmoozing with the papacy (including the Borgias) and funding of Columbus' discovery of America. As a sideline she set up the inquisition with Torquemada. With that cast of characters there's almost too much to work with but the author brings it together beautifully to offer a panoramic view of one of the most dynamic periods in history. Highly recommended; think about this and "Conquerers" as a double bill.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Linda Erlich on 03-12-14
Good Biography! Learned so much about the Queen
I have read many historical novels and books about Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand and how they united Spain and began the European conquest of the New World by financing Colombus. I have also read about their daughters, especially Juana and Catalina. I am a student of history and have been studying world history both formally in school, including college, and informally through my personal reading for over 50 years.
However, I never knew of Isabella's direct responsibility for the infamous Spanish Inquisition. This biography, with references, credits the queen with the major responsibility for this holocaust. Of course, she was a product of the times during which she lived. From her perspective, she was saving these people's souls from a hellish afterlife and doing the work of G-d. However even the Pope disagreed with her.
I always thought it was the church that was responsible for the torture, massacre and dispossession of non-Catholics in Spain during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. But I was wrong. It was Isabella and Ferdinand. Talk about self-rightgous fanatics!
This book was indeed very enlightening!
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
By Amazon Customer on 11-01-15
This is a beautifully written, meticulously researched, and wonderfully narrated book on one of the most controversial figures in world history. Queen Isabella ruled from 1474 to 1504 but those 30 years changed in the world in many-many important ways. This book is a detailed chronicle of those years and has been written and narrated in such a way that I felt that I was transported to that time and actually watched these events unfold as a silent observer. I would recommend this book highly not just to the erudite historian but to a lay person like me that wants to know what forces shaped our existence and how we came to the peoples that we are today.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful