Isabella: The Warrior Queen

  • by Kirstin Downey
  • Narrated by Kimberly Farr
  • 21 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

An engrossing and revolutionary biography of Isabella of Castile, the controversial Queen of Spain who sponsored Christopher Columbus's journey to the New World, established the Spanish Inquisition, and became one of the most influential female rulers in history.
Born at a time when Christianity was dying out and the Ottoman Empire was aggressively expanding, Isabella was inspired in her youth by tales of Joan of Arc, a devout young woman who unified her people and led them to victory against foreign invaders. In 1474, when most women were almost powerless, 23-year-old Isabella defied a hostile brother and a mercurial husband to seize control of Castile and León. Her subsequent feats were legendary. She ended a 24-generation struggle between Muslims and Christians, forcing North African invaders back over the Mediterranean Sea. She laid the foundation for a unified Spain. She sponsored Columbus's trip to the Indies and negotiated Spanish control over much of the New World with the help of Rodrigo Borgia, the infamous Pope Alexander VI. She also annihilated all who stood against her by establishing a bloody religious Inquisition that would darken Spain's reputation for centuries.
Whether saintly or satanic, no female leader has done more to shape our modern world, in which millions of people in two hemispheres speak Spanish and practice Catholicism. Yet history has all but forgotten Isabella's influence, due to hundreds of years of misreporting that often attributed her accomplishments to Ferdinand, the bold and philandering husband she adored. Using new scholarship, Downey's luminous biography tells the story of this brilliant, fervent, forgotten woman, the faith that propelled her through life, and the land of ancient conflicts and intrigue she brought under her command.

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What the Critics Say

"A strong, fascinating woman, Isabella helped to usher in the modern age, and this rich, clearly written biography is a worthy chronicle of her impressive yet controversial life." (Kirkus Reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good Biography! Learned so much about the Queen

I have read many historical novels and books about Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand and how they united Spain and began the European conquest of the New World by financing Colombus. I have also read about their daughters, especially Juana and Catalina. I am a student of history and have been studying world history both formally in school, including college, and informally through my personal reading for over 50 years.

However, I never knew of Isabella's direct responsibility for the infamous Spanish Inquisition. This biography, with references, credits the queen with the major responsibility for this holocaust. Of course, she was a product of the times during which she lived. From her perspective, she was saving these people's souls from a hellish afterlife and doing the work of G-d. However even the Pope disagreed with her.

I always thought it was the church that was responsible for the torture, massacre and dispossession of non-Catholics in Spain during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. But I was wrong. It was Isabella and Ferdinand. Talk about self-rightgous fanatics!

This book was indeed very enlightening!
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- Linda Erlich "shrink rapped"

Poorly narrated

What disappointed you about Isabella: The Warrior Queen?

The narrator's inability to pronounce in Spanish


What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The narration was so bad I could not finish the book.


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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-28-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audio