Isabella the Catholic, Queen regnant of Castile. Painting by Antonio del Rincón
Isabel herself knew the end was not far off, and bade those about her restrain their tears. When she heard of the processions and pilgrimages made throughout the kingdom in the hope of restoring her to health she asked that her subjects should pray “not for the safety of her life but the salvation of her soul.”
On the 12th of October she signed her will, commanding in it that her body should be taken to Granada, and there buried without ostentation in a humble tomb. The money that would have provided an elaborate funeral was to be spent on dowries for twelve poor girls and the ransom of Christian captives in Africa….
On November 26th the end so long expected; and, having received the Sacraments and commended her soul to God, the Queen, clad in a Franciscan robe, passed peacefully away.
The death of Queen Isabella the Catholic. Painted by Eduardo Rosales
“My hand [says Peter Martyr] falls powerless by my side for very sorrow. The world has lost its nobles ornament… for she was the mirror of every virtue, the shield of the innocent, and an avenging sword to the wicked….”
The day after her death, the coffin with its funeral cortège left Medina del Campo for Granada, amid a hurricane of wind and rain such as the land had rarely witnessed. Peter Martyr, who was one of the escort, declared that the Heavens opened, pouring down torrents that drove the horsemen to shelter in the ditches by the wayside, while the mules sank exhausted and terrified in the road. Never for a moment was there a gleam of either sun or star until on December 25th, as the funeral procession entered Granada, the clouds lifted for the first time.
There in the city of her triumph, in the Franciscan monastery of the Alhambra, the very heart of the kingdom she had won for Christianity, Isabel of Castile was laid to rest.
Ierne L. Plunket, Isabel of Castile and the Making of the Spanish Nation: 1451-1504 (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1915), 383-86.
Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 309