The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile
by C.W. Gortner
"I had read enough of our history to know that if female succession was not forbidden in Castile as it was in Aragon, no one actually believed a woman capable of ruling. The few who succeeded had encountered relentless opposition, sacrificing everything to retain their tenuous power. In the end, none had lived a happy life; all had paid a price for the right to call themselves queen. Was this what God required of me?"What I quickly discovered while reading this book is how little I know about Spain's colorful history. And all I really knew about Isabella of Castile is that she was the queen who supported Christopher Columbus's journey to America. But she was so much more than that.
Her early life was not easy; her mother was high strung and often suicidal. At thirteen, Isabella had to learn to navigate the intrigues of the Castilian court all while her beloved younger brother, Alfonso, challenged her older half-brother, Enrique, for the crown. Then, at sixteen, when she was declared the official heir to her brother's crown, she had to stand up against the many powerful men around her who wanted to decide her future for her. She refused to give in to them, and somehow even got the king to agree that she could choose for herself whom she would marry.
She chose her cousin, Ferdinand of Aragon. They had five children. And together they united their two realms and drove the Moors from Spain. Isabella valued education and made sure her four daughters were as well-taught as her son. Sadly, she also allowed Torquemada to carry out the Spanish Inquisition. Throughout her life, Isabella drew on her faith in God for guidance and strength. For her, duty to God and to Castile were paramount.
This novel is a fascinating account of Isabella's life; it's well-researched and well-written. I love it when historical fiction is both engaging and informative. And Isabella is such a complex character; Gortner does an excellent job of showing her courage and tenacity, her mistakes and imperfections, and the many struggles she endured over the course of her life. Not only did I enjoy reading this one, but I learned a lot, too.
I don't know much about Spain history either. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention, Lark. :)ReplyDelete
No one ever really talks about Spain much, do they? I certainly didn't learn anything about their history in school.Delete
Aside from interesting characters, historical fiction is the best way to learn about what you don't know about a time and place. Spain's history (for me) is limited to a few names and the Christopher Columbus expedition--now I'm eager to learn more. :)ReplyDelete
I agree...historical fiction is an awesome way to learn about interesting people and places. I don't know why I don't read more of it.Delete
This one sounds fascinating and will go on my list to be requested from my library. Spain, right on through Francisco Franco, had a very colorful history for sure. I think most Americans have a big gap in their historical knowledge when it comes to Spain - and that's a little strange considering our own early history.ReplyDelete
I didn't realize just how big a gap I had until I read this book and realized I know practically nothing about Spain and it's past. Makes me want to read more about it. :)Delete
I read this one a number of years ago and enjoyed it as well. Informative and engaging is EXACTLY how I like my historical fiction :)ReplyDelete
Me, too! :DDelete
HI Lark, Agree with everyone. I also know very little about Spain's history. The Queen's Vow sounds like a great way to find out more. I have noted that when historical fiction focuses on royalty it tends to be British Kings and Queens and they are fascinating but glad to see that other novels out there dealing with French, Spanish, Italian royalty as well.ReplyDelete
The British Kings and Queens do get a lot more press, don't they?Delete
I didn't realize it until you mentioned it, but I don't know much about Spain's history either. The Queen's Vow sounds fascinating and like the perfect read to rectify my lack of knowledge. Thanks for sharing! Great review! :)ReplyDelete
They never really teach you anything about Spain in school. It doesn't even figure prominently in WWII. So my education about its history is sadly lacking. At least I know a little bit more now after reading this book. :)Delete
She sounds like a strong woman! Bummer that she supported the Spanish Inquisition. :/ReplyDelete
Right? But I guess it was part of the time period she was from, and part of her Catholic faith. But it's still sad.Delete
I know a small amount of the family but most of it is Tudor connected with Isabella's daughter Catherine of Aragon and her Tudor husbands. Too many good strong leaders in history supported religious persecution, intolerance and violence sadly.ReplyDelete
I do know a little more about Catherine of Aragon because of her connection to Henry VIII; but I didn't know hardly anything about her mother.Delete
This sounds great! I love historical fiction done well and totally appreciate if there is a side effect of me actually learning something! :DReplyDelete
Painless learning is my favorite kind. :)Delete
I know so little of Spain's history, much less about Isabella. Now I want to know more. I will have to look for this book. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, Lark.ReplyDelete
It's a good one. And I certainly learned a lot about Isabella! :)Delete
Great review! I have always been fascinated by her story and have read a couple of other fictional books centered around her. I need to read this one!ReplyDelete
She's an interesting person, isn't she?Delete