Isabella of Castile is known as Europe’s first great queen. Renowned for her marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon and birthing of modern day Spain, Isabella is also known as the queen who launched the Inquisition, completed the Reconquista and expelled the Jews from her nation. Not long after her triumph in 1492, her dynasty came apart and unraveled, and it was whispered by many that the Trastamara line was cursed.
But, What if Isabella had been wiser and not expelled the Jews, some of the very people who ironically helped put her on the throne of Castile? What if Isabella had had more foresight and had her successor be Catalina, who, although the youngest, was the most like her and the wisest of her children? How would the power balance of 15th and 16th century Europe shifted if Catalina had been the powerful queen regnant of Spain and not one of the ‘merry wives’ of Windsor?
A joint effort, Isabella Unashamed is written by two authors from very different cultural backgrounds who have nonetheless joined together to create a haunting portrait of Spain’s most famous queen, as well as a glimpse of what might have been had Isabella been wiser.
Isabella balked at the suggestion. “Convivencia?” She asked, her face a mask of outrage.
“You think this is what this is?” She walked to Talavera. “This is not some sick show like the Infidels did. This is real! It will ensure the trust of nations and my subjects’ obedience. What better than to give them a second chance while also making it clear that those who defy the Crown will be shown no mercy?”
“Your Majesty, I say this as a friend and as your adviser who has supported you and your husband’s enterprise. Do not do this. The Infidels did this and turn our flock against us.”
“Convivencia.” She smirked. She released a little laugh. “The people love to say that the Infidels showed mercy to those who renounced on their realm so they could live comfortably, but their words are as stupid as their view of the world is. If you must know, and I am sure you do but for some reason you still desire to play the deaf man who refused to listen to reason, that twisted practice was a myth. A lie that the Infidels that sold to our once loyal flock so they could turn their backs on us. They said that they would show them mercy but instead they received cruelty. When Ferdinand and I arrived at their gorgeous palace we were appalled to discover the hundreds of Christian imprisoned underground in the caves. Half of them are still shouting, waking their remaining family members. One of their wives came to me crying, begging me to behead her husband. ‘Why?’ I asked her and she told me ‘Don’t you know what the Infidels did to him, Your Majesty? They broke him and he is too helpless that he wakes me and my children at night. We have tried everything; our local priest has told him to pray but prayer has led us nowhere.’ The Infidels promised him to leave in peace as long as he became a spy, he refused and you know why?”
She gave a colder laugh. “No. I wish it were that but alas, it was ambition.” Talavera’s brow furrowed in confusion. Isabella continued: “When he heard what the Christians and Jews had to endure in other
Islamic realms, he was horrified. He refused to become their spy because he didn’t want to be treated like a leper. Christians are not allowed to live in the same neighborhoods as their Muslim overlords, in most places, they are not allowed to ride ahead of Muslims or demand justice if some wrong was done against them. By law, Christians are required to give their place on the road to a fellow Muslim, but God forbid if they demand the same respect. Christian cemeteries had to be built as far away as possible from Muslim ones and those who fail to pay the special tax on time aren’t allowed to practice their faith anymore. That, if you ask me, is not a life worth living and he saw it too.”
She sat on an arm chair and beckoned Talavera to do the same. “I know where my loyalties lie. With the people of Castile and my husband’s realm, and as such I am convinced that we are doing the right thing. God is on my side and so is his mother whose mercy knows no bound.”
“Your Majesty, you speak with great wisdom but I am afraid that many people won’t see it that way.”
“Then let them talk. It is not their business to decide what is better for them that is why they have me. The best decisions are not the most popular ones but once they see how prosperous our nation becomes they will cheer. Now leave me, I am tired and I wish to speak to my husband alone.”
Talavera sighed. She was an impossible and stubborn woman. He sent someone to fetch her husband. When Ferdinand arrived at Isabella’s chambers he asked how the meeting had gone.
“As well as it can be expected.” He nodded, giving her a small smile then sat in the same armchair that Talavera had occupied minutes earlier, facing her. “We have committed ourselves to serve an ideal. That ideal can only be achieved if we are united. You will not agree with this decision now, but trust me, in time you will see that this was for the best.”
Buy on Amazon
About the Authors
Helen R. Davis is an American author. Her first novel, Evita: My Argentina was previously published as Evita: My Life and republished with Custom Book Publications in Hong Kong. Her second novel, CLEOPATRA UNCONQUERED, which is the first in a series, imagines a world in which Antony and Cleopatra, rather than Augustus Caesar, are the victors of the Battle of Actium. the sequel, CLEOPATRA VICTORIOUS, will be released soon, followed by the titles CLEOPATRA MAGNIFICA and CLEOPATRA TRIUMPHANT. Her third novel, or at least, her third historical novel/alternate history, THE MOST HAPPY, will be published with Callipe Editorial, based out of Madrid Spain, on July 25th, 2017.
Carolina Casas has a BA in History and a minor in women’s studies.
Her debut novel “Isabella Unashamed” was co-written with the author of “Cleopatra Unconquered” & “The Most Happy”, Helen R. Davis and it is a powerful alternative historical novel that asks the important question that has been on everyone’s mind: what-if? What if Isabella had taken a different route than the one she did following the surrender of Granada at the beginning of 1492.
A young woman who enjoys life and giving to others, she is also a self-proclaimed nerd who currently resides in the lone star state of Texas where she spends her free time writing, drawing, reading about her favorite historical subjects and watching classical horror and rom-coms with her friends.
Carolina’s journey into the realm of alternate history began when she was very little. After a frightful and sleepless night, she was introduced to the legend of King Arthur and his knights through Sir Thomas Mallory’s epic “Le Morte d’Arthur” which started her fascination with the medieval period and later with other eras. This, along with her curiosity, has led her to delve into the realm of alternate history.
Carolina has several pages on Facebook where she works alongside other history buffs and novelists (Tudor Nerds with Glasses and Tudor Facts vs. Fiction), as well as a history blog where she shares her thoughts on movies and TV shows as well.