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Medieval History/Isabella of Castile (Leon)?


I am in the process of improving my coursework, on Isabella of Castile. at the moment and am slightly confused as how best to describe her status. She is commonly referred to as Isabella of Castile but I have also discovered in my research that she was Queen of Leon. How would you put this across, whilst the focus of my essay remains on Castile I think it might be sensible to mention Leon. Why is she more famous as Queen of Castile than of Leon?

Many Thanks, Jess.

Hi Jessica,
Castile and Leon were unified ever since the year 1230, the result of a marriage between the queen of Castile and the king of Leon. Earlier in the Middle Ages Spain had been divided into perhaps as many as a dozen different kingdoms. The process of consolidation was a long one characterized by both inter-dynastic marriages and military conquests. As the different kings accumulated kingdoms it was customary to add the new kingdoms onto the old titles. Isabella's ancestors had officially styled themselves Kings of Castile, Leon, Toledo, Galicia, Murcia, Jaen, Cordoba, and Seville along with other, lesser titles. This was probably done out of royal vanity. It sounds more impressive if a king rules more lands. Elsewhere in Europe kingdoms sometimes retained their separate identities out of fear of being absorbed into a foreign people. Rather than becoming a small, powerless minority in a larger kingdom, a kingdom might relate itself to its king directly and independently of that king's other subjects. This does not seem to be the case in Spain. When the Spanish monarchs summoned their great men to parliament (called the Cortez in Spain) they tended to be lumped together into a single legislative body, not into separate bodies based on their kingdoms. A title like Queen of Castile, Leon, Toledo, etc is just ridiculously long and was only used on the most formal occasions. Most of the time Isabella was known only as the Queen of Castile out of convenience.

Hope this helps,

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C.M. Aaron


I've been studying the early medieval period for almost 20 years. In particular, I've studied the fall of the Roman Empire, the barbarian invasions/migrations, early barbarian law codes, the early medieval church, technology of the period, military campaigns and tactics, and some of the early barbarian dynasties, especially the Merovingians in Gaul (France).


Twenty years of self study. I also write historical fiction of this era.

Bachelor's degree.

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