Isabella and Ferdinand organized the Spanish Inquisition with the goal of ridding Spain of Jews and Muslims primarily, along with heretics who rejected Catholicism. As a result of the Inquisition, Isabella and Ferdinand were recognized by the Pope for their diligent attempts to purify Catholicism in Spain. By 1492, all Jews who would not convert to Christianity were exiled from Spain, as were the Muslims. This is also the year when Isabella and Ferdinand began funding the voyages of Christopher Columbus, who would give any lands he discovered to Castile.
Isabella was an advocate for education, and she educated both her sons and her daughters, one of whom was Katharine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife. She was a patron of several scholars and of the arts. She had a large collection of art established, and she also established a number of educational institutes. Queen Isabella died on November 26, 1504.
The Unification of Spain
Like many other countries Spain was divided at the beginning of the Renaissance into five major territories. These included the independent state of Portugal, the northern state of Navarre, the southern Muslim state of Granada, the large central state of Castile, and the eastern state of Aragon. By the end of the era, however, the states were unified.
What led to the unification was the union of King and Queen Ferdinand and Isabella. They strengthened control of their states, and filled the royal council with middle-class lawyers. The two also managed to create a standing army in Spain that became the best in Europe by the end of the 1500's. Ferdinand and Isabella also secured the right to pick the important figures in the clergy which gave them control of the church in Spain. They also worked, with the Inquisition, to expel the Jews from Spain. Under the Inquisition about 150,000 Jews left Spain. The Muslims were also persecuted against and their state of Granada was taken by the two, ending the large Muslim presence in Spain.