Isabella of Castile

and how she sends Columbus on his way


Isabella is known to generations of schoolchildren as the queen who financed Columbus's voyages to the New World. Her marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon helped unite Spain. 1492 was an important year for Isabella: seeing the conquest of Granada, the last muslim stronghold on the Iberian peninsula and hence the end of the 'Reconquista' (reconquest), her successful patronage of Christopher Columbus, and her expulsion of the Jews. Isabella also presided over the notorious Inquisition, led by her confessor Tomas de Torquemada. Apart from leading Spain out of the Middle Ages into a new era, she had 10 children of which only five survived childhood.

Isabella was the first woman to appear on a United States coin, an 1893 commemorative quarter, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus's first voyage. In the same year, she was the first woman to be featured on U.S. postage stamps, namely three stamps of the Columbian Issue, also in celebration of Columbus.


60 minutes with extensive slide show