Why Was Isabella Able to Win the Civil War in Castile 1475-1479.
During the late 15th century in Castile, a civil war took place. This war was between two women who both claimed to be the rightful queen of Castile. These two were Isabella of Castile and Juana La Beltraneja, or Joanna the bastard. In this essay I will argue that the main reason for Isabella’s victory was the fact that her opponent, Joanna, and Joanna’s council, predominantly the King Alfonso of Portugal and the Marquis of Villena, were weak in terms of military and political leadership.
In the War of Succession each woman felt that she was the rightful ruler of Castile. Joanna felt that she should be queen as she was the daughter of the King, as that was how lines of succession worked. However it was disputed, at the time, that Joanna was really Henry IV’s daughter as she was the only child that he had fathered, thus she earned the name Juana la Beltraneja. This nickname was earned because many people of the time believed that Joanna was not actually Henry’s daughter. However now many historians believe that Joanna was legitimate and that the rumours that she wasn’t Henry’s daughter were false. Isabella used the fact that many people saw Joanna as illegitimate, to further her own claim to the throne as the king’s half-sister.
There were many reasons for Isabella’s success in the War of Succession, and lots of people have differing opinions on this topic. Some people would argue that the main reason for Isabella’s victory was her’s and Ferdinand’s strength as leaders. The couple, although having never met before their wedding day, worked well together. Ferdinand’s prowess in military affairs was useful for Isabella, as many battles were fought in this war, due to the fact that it was not socially acceptable for a woman to lead the troops into battle. Ferdinand was an excellent military leader, which was shown in his battle against Alfonso of Portugal, who was Joanna’s Fiancé. This battle, the battle of Toro in 1476, was a humiliating defeat for Alfonso and Joanna. Ferdinand also worked effortlessly to gain support from the nobles to support Isabella, due to the fact that it was these nobles who controlled the land and the industry.
During the war of succession the throne of Castile officially belonged to Isabella as Henry IV had pronounced her his heir before his death. This meant that Isabella had the power to promise certain luxuries and grants to the nobles. Joanna did not have this luxury because she was unfamiliar with the inner workings of the Castilian kingdom. Isabella, to win support in her favour, said that once she had won this war that she would let the nobles keep collecting the financial grants called, mercedes, and that all grants of nobility conferred by Henry IV would be confirmed. She also promised to investigate complaints about the fact that only a small percentage of the tax collected by the tax farmers reached the nobles. These promises by...