Isabella: The Warrior Queen

  • by Kirstin Downey
  • Narrated by Kimberly Farr
  • 21 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

An engrossing and revolutionary biography of Isabella of Castile, the controversial Queen of Spain who sponsored Christopher Columbus's journey to the New World, established the Spanish Inquisition, and became one of the most influential female rulers in history.
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.


What the Critics Say

"A strong, fascinating woman, Isabella helped to usher in the modern age, and this rich, clearly written biography is a worthy chronicle of her impressive yet controversial life." ( Kirkus Reviews)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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?

Highly recommend

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- Matthew

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.
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- Jim

Book Details

  • Release Date: 28-10-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audio