The story of Isabella of Castille and her husband Ferdinand of Aragon uniting Spain in the 15th century is a lively tale told by Lawrence Schoonover in Queen's Cross.
For this review, I mainly did a summary of the book, but the story is so interesting I couldn't resist. My precis has omitted a lot of historical and other details, which the book itself can supply. It's a well known story, but Schoonover has enlivened 15th century history, bringing us the amazing life of Isabella of Spain.
Chroniclers in monasteries, penning her astonishing achievements..., did not hesitate to call her a living saint. She was not logical, but her exploits were magnificent." (ch. 17)At the beginning of the novel, we meet young Isabella and her brother Alfonso, both set to succeed their childless half-brother, the current King Henry. When
Henry later has a daughter but disowns her as not his biological child, and when his second child, a son, is stillborn, Isabella and Alfonso once again assume the title of Infantes, successors to the throne.
To avoid being forced into an arranged marriage, Isabella schemes to marry Ferdinand of Aragon. Her brother Alfonso dies before he can become king, and Isabella is crowned queen of Castille on the death of King Henry.
"Isabella and her consort Ferdinand emerged from the celebrated Cortes of 1480 as absolute monarchs. She began to spend her great revenues in ways that at first he judged foolish.... No one had ever done that before, at least no one since Caesar." (ch. 23)
The landing of the Turks in Sicily, on parts of King Ferdinand's lands, prompts Isabella to begin the building of a fleet of ships, an armada. The Moorish war continues, and so does the spread of the Spanish Inquisition. Granada falls and becomes part of Spain. With the lands under Christian control "from Granada to the Pyrenees," Spain is united, and Ferdinand reluctantly agrees with Isabella that Christopher Columbus can begin his celebrated voyages.
"Oh very well, senora mia," he agreed grudgingly. "I suppose we can afford him now, and you seem to feel strongly about him. Sail him way, for all I care, out of this world. At least he'll quit pestering me."Those who like historical fiction and 15th century Spain will enjoy reading Queen's Cross, one of several historical novels written by Schoonover.
"How do we know,: Isabella smiled, "that he won't bring back another?" (ch. 31)
Book provided by the publisher, for my objective review.