Final Surrender: November 25, 1491
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One of the greatest, most revolutionary changes not only for Europe but for all the world occurred in the late 15th century in that western outpost of Europe, the Iberian Peninsula. The little Christian kingdoms of that land – Castile, León, Aragon, and Navarre – had not been at the center of learning and culture, like France. They had not given birth to the Renaissance or been the seat of the Church, like Italy. None of these Iberian states had served as the great political arm of the Church, like Germany. For over 700 years, the Iberian Peninsula had been divided between Christian and Muslim realms, which had been locked in the struggle called the Reconquest. That struggle, in the late 15th century, was about to end and a new task to open for the Christian powers of Iberia.
When Enrique IV, king of Castile and León, died in 1474, the crown went to his sister, Isabel. Enrique IV had been a weak king, and during his reign the Castilian nobles had ignored his authority. Castile was torn by many factions, and when Isabel became queen, she faced a war with Portugal. That country’s king, Alfonso V, was betrothed to Enrique IV’s daughter Juana and claimed the Castilian throne for her. The war ended in 1479, and in 1480 Juana entered a monastery. From thenceforth, Isabel I was the unquestioned queen of Castile and León. Continue reading