How Isabella consolidated her rule of Castile by 1479

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  • Created by: Kasha 2
  • Created on: 17-02-16 14:54


Isabella was able to consolidate her rule of Castile by 1479 by:

  • limiting the power of the nobility and church,
  • winning the series of civil wars,
  • restoring order with the Santa Hermandad
  • successfully increasing Castile’s revenue

This is because, by getting rid of any potential rival to the Castile throne Isabella secured her rule of Castile, alongside making sure that the church and nobility were limited in power, making her the supreme leader of Castile.


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Assessing key reason for consolidation

  • it can be argued that the key reason for Isabella’s consolidation of Castile by 1479 was winning the Succession Wars.
  • By restoring the Santa Hermandad, Isabella made sure that Castile was lawful and orderly.
  •  by increasing Castile’s revenue, Isabella gained much needed finance for foreign wars and to successfully govern and feed Spain’s most populous kingdom.
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  • Isabella’s marriage to Ferdinand in 1469, gave Castile military and financial protection.
  • Prior to Isabella’s ruled the largest Kingdom in Spain, Castile had incompetent rulers, including John 11 and Henry 1V who had allowed the nobility to undermine their authority alongside the powerful Catholic Church.
  • between 1464 to 1479, the ‘Succession War’ led to the discontent of the nobility and church in Castile.
  • during her reign Isabella laid the foundations in Castile for absolute power for Monarchs in Castile, which unlike Aragon was not restrained by its institutions that limited the Catholic Monarch    
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Internal war ( arguably key reason )

  • the key way in which Isabella managed to consolidate her rule of Castile in 1479 was by winning the civil war that arose in Castile over the two contenders for the Castilian throne, Joanna and Isabella, with Isabella receiving help from Aragon because she was married to Ferdinand and Joanna receiving help from King Alfonso V of Portugal.
  • This was precipitated by the King’s death in 1474. A dispute between the King’s daughter and the King’s sister arose with claims surrounding Joanna’s legitimacy.

                          The war continued until 1479.


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Marriage of Catholic Monarchs

It may be suggested that because Isabella married Ferdinand, she was able to gain the Castilian throne. Due to his military aid, their alliance was a powerful one and provided Castile with troops when needed.

Without the help of Ferdinand, Isabella would not have had the troops to win the War against Joanna and her ally and husband, the son of the King of Portugal.

Ferdinand was experienced in warfare and his marriage to Isabella ensured that he fought in earnest for a throne that would be jointly his if victory was obtained.

so :  Isabella was able to consolidate her rule by 1479 by getting rid of all conceivable internal threats to her reign.


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Consolidation by winning the War of Succession

In 1476, the so called ‘War of Succession’ ended with the Portuguese army being defeated at the Battle of Toro in March. 

  • many people at the time saw Isabella and Ferdinand’s reigns as an end to a tyrannical government.

This is because the Catholic Monarch restricted the powers of the nobility, stood for the rights of the common people and allowed a level of democracy in their kingdoms through the Cortes.

  • The Cortes of Castile were held at Madrigal in April 1476 and this led to an alliance between the Crown and municipalities, the Treaty of Alcacovos arguably this was of vital importance to Isabella as it allowed for the reassertion of royal authority;

The treaty of 1479 recognized Isabella and Ferdinand as the sovereigns of Castile and handed Portugal control of the Atlantic (with the exception of the Canary Islands) also the treaty took Joanna’s right to throne and stated she must spend the rest of her life in Portugal. The Cortes of Madrigal created the Santa Hermandad to restore peace in Castile.

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Consolidation by using the Santa Hermandad

Isabella’s revival of the Santa Hermandad helped her consolidate her rule by 1479 as it allowed the Crown to play an intrusive role in Castilian towns because the Santa Hermandad’s revenue was sourced from urban taxation.

  • The Santa Hermandad helped to stop crime and restore order to the kingdom this is because they had the special ability to collect wartime funding (servicios) and could use force to collect money from towns that tried to resist. 
  • the Santa Hermandad made her royal supremacy know all over the Kingdom of Castile. In addition, Isabella gain further control of towns with her use of correigidores which led to a more efficient collection of taxes.They also oversaw justice and public order and acted as an intermediary preventing potential conflicts between different fractions in the town. 

Isabella also limited the correigidores rule by appointing a new one every two years and allowing the town to publish a report on their correigidores actions over the two years. The corregidores played a vital role in the War of Succession and the subsequent Granda War, and as they had significant dealings with the peasantry as well as merchants and the nobility they became, could enforce Isabella’s power throughout Castile .

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More on the marriage

 Ferdinand’s role in Isabella’s successful consolidation of her rule in Castile must be considered. Aragon had provided Isabella with support during the Succession War.

Ferdinand also helped Isabella to gain control in Castile over the nobility and the Church.

Isabella respected Ferdinand and so entrusted him with far wider powers in Castile than originally envisaged. This meant both monarchs could sign royal decrees and administer justice in Castile jointly and apart.

Perhaps, the greatest evidence of the love and respect that Isabella and Ferdinand had for one another is in their joint moto ‘Tanto monta, monta tanto, which means that ‘they are the same’. In effect this motto highlights that the Monarchs felt each other their equal, and therefore equally able to rule over each others kingdoms jointly because of the mutual trust their shared.

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Controlling the Church - Part one

Isabella had to take control of the Church in order to consolidate her rule of Castile by 1479.During the Succession war of 1467 to 1479, the Church in Spain had acted entirely independently.The Archbishop of Toledo, Alfonso Carlillo even supported Portugal during the Battle of Toro 1476. The Battle of Toro, was fought on 1 March 1476 and was between the Castilian forces of Alfonso and Prince John. The Castilian’s were led to victory by the Duke of Alba and Cardinal Mendoza.

This victory ended Isabella’s conflict with Portugal and allowed her to begin to concentrate of domestic policy, allowing her to consolidate her rule.

In order to consolidate her rule in Castile after the battle, Isabella realised that she had to be able to control the Church.

Therefore, at the end of the Succession war, Isabella made Carrillo place all Church fortresses under royal control ensuring her rule of Castile was absolute as he would not defy her again. It was important for Isabella that her subjects saw her as the supreme leader and so did not follow the Churches laws against hers. 

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Controlling the Church Part 2

  • in 1478, the Council of Seville facing increasing pressure from the Catholic monarchs, agreed to let higher clergy be appointment by the Monarch, even though the Pope had yet to grant the Monarchs the right to do so.
  • This empowered Isabella to consolidate her rule of Castile by 1479, as she could carefully select who was appointed to the highest positions in the Church, making sure her allies and not her enemies were given great power over Church revenue and the hearts and minds of her subjects which she did not want manipulated against her.
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Summary - Assessing reasons for consolidation

  • It may be suggested that Isabella was able to consolidate her rule of Castile by 1479 by:
  • Winning the War of Sucession 
  • gaining control of the church and reducing the powers of nobility within Spain. 
  • Through her foreign policy and increase in court revenue, she managed to provide for Castile’s economic needs and furthermore through the revival of the Santa Hemandad managed to restore law and order to her Kingdom.
  • Through the unity of Ferdinand and Isabella, they ( the Catholic Monarchs) reached a new height of power over Castile.
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