Isabella of Castille's marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon was one of convenience, but it blossomed into the union that formed one of the early modern era's great empires. Few historic couples are spoken of in one breath as much as this pair a testament to the aura surrounding Isabella at a time when most queens slunk to the margins of history. By many accounts, she was short and squat, but possessed those much beloved Catholic virtues of seeming chastity, piety and prudence. Whatever the case, her record speaks for itself: under her watch, Spain drove out the last Muslim kingdoms on the Iberian peninsula, cowed Portugal and launched Christopher Columbus to the New World. The galleons of gold and silver that streamed back to Spain in decades to come were all due to Isabella's foresight.
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