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Isabelline Ávila

ISABELLA THE CATHOLIC AND ÁVILA

The life of Queen Isabella the Catholic, who was born in the province of Ávila (in the village of Madrigal de las Altas Torres) in 1451, is closely linked to the town and province of Ávila, where she lived on a regular basis.

Two years after her birth, her brother, Alfonso, was born in Tordesillas. Before her, from the marriage between Juan II of Castile and María de Aragón, Enrique was born. He was Isabella's brother on her father's side and was crowned in 1454; he was to be known as Enrique IV the Impotent.

On her father's death in 1454, Isabella retreated to the Ávila village of Arévalo with her mother and her brother Alfonso. Although her father had left important instructions in his last will and testament in her mother's favour, King Enrique IV did not carry them out.

On Alfonso's death in 1468, Isabella refused to be crowned Queen while Enrique IV was still alive. In exchange, she was given the title of Princess of Asturias. The ceremony took place in Toros de Guisando (El Tiemblo, Ávila) on 19 September 1468, making her heiress to the throne and taking away all rights to succession from the daughter of Enrique IV, Juana la Beltraneja. From that moment on, Isabella moved to Ocaña.

In order to consolidate her political position, Isabella's advisers agreed her marriage with Prince Fernando, the eldest son of Juan II of Aragón.For the betrothal and in fear of Enrique IV putting an end to the wedding plans, in May 1469, using the excuse of visiting her brother Alfonso's grave in Ávila, Isabella left Ocaña and Fernando crossed through Castile under cover. In October of 1469, they were married in Valladolid.

Upset by the marriage, Enrique IV made his daughter Juana heiress to the throne. As a result, when the king died in 1474, one sector of the nobility proclaimed Isabella as Queen of Castile and another faction recognised Juana; this led to civil war.

She was proclaimed Queen of Castile in Segovia in December 1474, based on the Treaty of Toros de Guisando. She sat on the throne after overcoming supporters of her niece Juana in the War of Succession of Castile (1475-1480).

Isabella died in Medina del Campo in 1504. She lived for 53 years; she was Queen of Castile for 30 years and Queen of Aragón for 26 years.http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reina_consorte_de_Arag%C3%B3nIsabella spent much of her life in two of the town's most emblematic monasteries: the Royal Monastery of Santa Ana and the Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás.

 

ROYAL MONASTERY OF SANTA ANA

In its most important period, the nobles sent their daughters to study at this monastery, especially Princess Isabella, who studied and received instruction here as a child. Very popular with Isabella the Catholic, she spent periods at the monastery and it was here where the nobility offered her the throne of Castile. Isabella rejected the idea and forced the nobles to obey her brother Enrique, who, in exchange, recognised her as heiress to the throne by proclaiming her Princess of Asturias at a ceremony in Toros de Guisando.

The Empress Isabella and her son Felipe II, as a young boy, spent long periods there, as did Felipe III later with his wife.

 

ROYAL MONASTERY OF SANTO TOMÁS

The Monastery of Santo Tomás was built under the patronage of Hernando Núñez de Arnalte (treasurer of the Catholic Monarchs), his wife, María Dávila, the Inquisitor Fray Tomás de Torquemada and the Catholic Monarchs. The work began in 1482 and was completed in 1493; however, at the Catholic Monarchs' initiative, a palace was built around the eastern cloister or the cloister 'of the Monarchs', where the monarchs spent long periods in summer.

The cloister of the Monarchs distributes the areas in the Royal Palace. It has 40 arches on the ground floor and 56 on the upper floor, decorated with the typical Ávila beading that characterises the Isabelline style. In the Cloister of Silence, the walls are decorated with yokes and arrows (symbols of the Catholic Monarchs) and other motifs.

There is a large coat of arms of the Catholic Monarchs on the top of the church facade. Inside, the sepulchre of Prince Juan, who died in Salamanca in 1497, occupies a prominent position in the church next to the main altar.

Prince Juan was the only son of the Catholic Monarchs and died young at the age of 19 years, before reaching the throne. Isabella left him a marble sepulchre in her last will and testament. Sculpted in Genoa (1511-1512) and then installed in the church of the monastery, it is by Doménico di Alessandro Fancelli, who drew inspiration from the sepulchre of the Catholic Monarchs (in the Royal Chapel of Granada) and from the bronze of Pope Sixtus IV (in the Vatican).

Dressed as a soldier, he rests serenely and his features are shown as both young and beautiful. The perfection of the folds in the cloak is of particular interest. At his feet, an inscription refers to the young man's qualities and laments his premature passing. The sepulchre is decorated with reliefs of virtues, allegories and saints, various of which were damaged during the French occupation.

 

ALFONSO XII OF CASTILE, BROTHER OF ISABELLA AND THE FARCE OF ÁVILA

Under pressure from the nobility, King Enrique proclaimed Alfonso Prince of Asturias in 1464, in detriment of his daughter Juana.http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pr%C3%ADncipe_de_Asturiashttp://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juana_la_Beltraneja The same members of the nobility proclaimed Alfonso king in 1465, leading to a war between his supporters and those of Enrique IV. Alfonso was given the title of Alfonso XII of Castile and fought against his stepbrother for the Crown until his premature death in 1468.

On 5 June 1465, in the area near the walls of Ávila, a group of important members of the Castilian nobility deposed an effigy of Enrique IV and proclaimed Prince Alfonso king. Alfonso was known as Alfonso the Innocent and as Alfonso of Ávila.

The ceremony was referred to by its detractors as the 'Farce of Ávila'. The nobles placed a wooden effigy of the King on a stage, dressed in mourning with the royal crown, staff and sword. The event involved Prince Alfonso, who was 12 years old, the Archbishop of Toledo, the Marquis of Villena, the Count of Plasencia, the Count of Benavente and other knights, as well as the general public.

After a mass, a declaration was read out with the accusations against Enrique IV: friendship with the Muslims, homosexuality, of a peaceful nature and not the real father of Princess Juana and, consequently, denying her right to inherit the throne.

The Archbishop of Toledo then removed the Crown from the effigy as the symbol of royal dignity; the Count of Plasencia removed the sword as the symbol of justice; and the Count of Benavente removed the staff as the symbol of government.

Diego López de Zúñiga, brother of the Count of Plasencia, knocked the effigy to the ground and shouted 'Get down, sod!' They then proclaimed Alfonso king to the cry of 'Castile, for King Alfonso' and continued with the royal audience.

The situation led to riots that lasted until Alfonso's death in 1468 and the submission of his sister, Isabella, to the authority of Enrique IV. However, he governed as Alfonso XII during the 30 years of his life and maintained a Court with an active cultural life in the town of Arévalo.http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabel_I_de_Castilla In 1468, Alfonso died in Cardeñosa on his way to Ávila, possibly poisoned.

 

THE ISABELLINE GOTHIC STYLE

The Isabelline or Catholic Monarchs Gothic style was typical of Castile during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs and represented the transition from the late Gothic style to the Renaissance.

More than structural innovations, the Isabelline style introduced decorative elements, some of which were original and others of Islamic, Flemish and traditional Castilian influence.

Many of the constructions that were built in the style were commissioned by the Catholic Monarchs or sponsored by them in some way; this is the case of the Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás. The most evident feature is the predominance of heraldic and epigraphic motifs, especially the yoke and arrows and the pomegranate, which refer directly to the monarchs; decoration with balls or Ávila beading is also characteristic of this period.

Decoration with balls is very common on the Ávila buildings of the time and is known as Ávila beading. It can also be seen on the facade of the church and the cloisters of Silence and the Monarchs at the Royal Monastery of Santo Tomás. It is also present in the cloister of the Monastery of Santa Ana, on churches (the façade of San Juan and the Shrine of Las Nieves, the Church of Santiago, the upper end of Mosén Rubí and the Chapel of the Convent of San Francisco) and on certain palaces (Tower of the Palace of Los Mújica and the façade of Los Verdugo).

Sepulcro del Infante D. Juan