Part 1: Catherine of Aragon
Ferdinand of Aragon (1452-1516) and Isabella of Castille
Through their marriage, Ferdinand II, King of Aragon and
Isabella I, Queen of Castille united the two kingdoms that later
became known as Spain. Pope Alexander VI gave them the title of the
Their joint rule was rigidly centralised. The infamous
Inquisition council was established in 1480, using torture, public
burnings, and secret tribunals to eradicate what it called heresy.
This started with Marranos (Christianised Jews who practised their
religion in private), Moriscos (Christianised Moors), and then
extended to humanists, protestants and others who did not agree with
the regime's policies. Nevertheless, Ferdinand and Isabella's
administration was to become the most modern in Europe.
On Isabella's death in 1504 the union of the kingdoms nearly
collapsed when the couple's daughter Joanna and her husband Philip,
with the backing of the Grandees, tried to snatch the Castillian
throne. With Philip's death, Ferdinand got himself recognised as
regent of Castille, taking power from his insane daughter.
Ferdinand went on to forge greater international alliances,
including one with England, but although at the time of his death
(1516) Spain was well placed on the world stage many of his children
and their issue were to die, leaving the country to Joanna and then
Charles I, who favoured his position as Holy Roman Emperor.
Arthur, Prince of Wales (1486-1502)
With Arthur's birth in 1486, Henry VII was happy that he had a
son who would ensure the security of his line following from his
reign, which began just a year earlier. The choice of name was meant
to encapsulate this hope of a happy future, harking back to the
magic of the legendary King Arthur of the fifth or sixth century,
about whom little was known, but much imagined.