Ferdinand II of Aragon
|Ferdinand the Catholic|
|Portrait by Michael Sittow|
|King of Castile and León|
|Reign||15 January 1475 –
26 November 1504
|King of Aragon|
|Reign||20 January 1479 –
23 January 1516
|Successor||Joanna and Charles I|
|Spouse||Isabella I of Castile
Germaine of Foix
|Isabella, Queen of Portugal
John, Prince of Asturias
Joanna, Queen of Aragon and Castile
Maria, Queen of Portugal
Catherine, Queen of England
|House||House of Trastámara|
|Father||John II of Aragon|
10 March 1452|
Sos del Rey Católico
|Died||23 January 1516
|Burial||Capilla Real, Granada, Spain|
Ferdinand II (10 March 1452 – 23 January 1516), called the Catholic, was in his own right the King of Sicily from 1468 and King of Aragon from 1479. As a consequence of his marriage to Isabella I, he was King of Castile jure uxoris as Ferdinand V from 1474 until her death in 1504. He was recognised as regent of Castile for his daughter and heir, Joanna, from 1508 until his own death. In 1504, after a war with France, he became King of Naples as Ferdinand III, reuniting Naples with Sicily permanently and for the first time since 1458. In 1512, he became King of Navarre by conquest after asserting a hereditary claim.
Ferdinand is today best known for his role in inaugurating the discovery of the New World, since he and Isabella sponsored the first voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492. That year he also fought the final war with Granada which expunged the last Islamic state on Spanish soil, thus bringing to a close the centuries-long Reconquista. At his death he was succeeded by Joanna, who co-ruled with her son, Charles V, over all the Iberian kingdoms (save Portugal).
Acquiring titles and powers
Ferdinand was born in Sos del Rey Católico, Aragon, as the son of John II of Aragon (whose family was a cadet branch of the House of Trastámara) by his second wife, Juana Enríquez. He married Infanta Isabella, the half-sister and heiress of Henry IV of Castile, on 19 October 1469 in Valladolid. Isabella also belonged to the royal House of Trastámara, and the two were cousins by descent from John I of Castile. They were married with a clear prenuptial agreement on sharing power, and under the joint motto "tanto monta, monta tanto". He became jure uxoris King of Castile when Isabella succeeded her deceased brother in 1474 to be crowned as Queen Isabella I of Castile. The two young monarchs were initially obliged to fight a civil war against Joan of Castile (also known as Juana la Beltraneja), the purported daughter of Henry IV, and were swiftly successful. When Ferdinand succeeded his father as King of Aragon in 1479, the Crown of Castile and the various territories of the Crown of Aragon were united in a personal union. For the first time since the 8th century, this union created a single political unit referred to as España (Spain), the root of which is the ancient name Hispania. The various states were not formally administered as a single unit, but as separate political units under the same Crown. (The legal merging of Aragon and Castile into a single Spain occurred under Philip V in 1707–1715.)
The first years of Ferdinand and Isabella's joint rule saw the Spanish conquest of the Nasrid dynasty of the Emirate of Granada (Moorish Kingdom of Granada), the last Islamic al-Andalus entity on the Iberian peninsula, completed in 1492.
The completion of the Reconquista was not the only significant act performed by Ferdinand and Isabella in that year. In March 1492, the monarchs issued the Edict of Expulsion of the Jews, also called the Alhambra Decree, a document which ordered all Jews either to be baptised and convert to Christianity or to leave the country. That document was signed with the defeated Moorish Emir of Granada Muhammad XII, who had bargained for the Muslims of Spain to be left alone. It allowed Mudéjar Moors (Islamic) and converso Marrano Jews to stay, while expelling all unconverted Jews from Castile and Aragon (most Jews either converted or moved to Islamic lands of North Africa and the Ottoman Empire). 1492 was also the year in which the monarchs commissioned Christopher Columbus to find a westward maritime route for access to Asia, which resulted in the Spanish arrival in the Americas.
Ferdinand violated the 1492 Alhambra Decree peace treaty in 1502 by dismissing the clearly guaranteed religious freedom for Mudéjar Muslims. Ferdinand forced all Muslims in Castile and Aragon to convert, converso Moriscos, to Catholicism, or else be expelled. Some of the Muslims who remained were mudéjar artisans, who could design and build in the Moorish style. This was also practised by the Spanish inquisitors on the converso Marrano Jewish population of Spain. The main architect behind the Spanish Inquisition was King Ferdinand II. Ferdinand destroyed over ten thousand Arabic manuscripts in Granada alone, burning them.
The latter part of Ferdinand's life was largely taken up with disputes with successive Kings of France over control of Italy, the so-called Italian Wars. In 1494, Charles VIII of France invaded Italy and expelled Alfonso II, who was Ferdinand's first cousin once removed and stepson of Ferdinand's sister, from the throne of Naples. Ferdinand allied with various Italian princes and with Emperor Maximilian I to expel the French by 1496 and install Alfonso's son, Ferdinand, on the Neapolitan throne. In 1501, following the death of Ferdinand II of Naples and accession of his uncle Frederick, Ferdinand signed an agreement with Charles VIII's successor, Louis XII, who had just successfully asserted his claims to the Duchy of Milan, to partition Naples between them, with Campania and the Abruzzi, including Naples itself, going to the French and Ferdinand taking Apulia and Calabria. The agreement soon fell apart and, over the next several years, Ferdinand's great general Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba fought to take Naples from the French, finally succeeding by 1504.
|“||"The King of France complains that I have twice deceived him. He lies, the fool; I have deceived him ten times and more." --Ferdinand the Catholic.||”|
After Isabella I's death in 1504, her kingdom went to their daughter Joanna. Ferdinand II served as the latter's regent during her absence in the Netherlands, ruled by her husband Archduke Philip. Ferdinand attempted to retain the regency permanently, but was rebuffed by the Castilian nobility and replaced with Joanna's husband, who became Philip I of Castile. After Philip's death in 1506, with Joanna supposedly mentally unstable, and her and Philip's son, the future Emperor Charles V, only six years old, Ferdinand resumed the regency, ruling through Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, the Chancellor of the Kingdom. Charles I (to later become Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) became the King of Aragon in 1516, with his mother Joanna as Queen in name, upon Ferdinand's death.
Ferdinand disagreed with the policies and foreignness of Philip I. Ferdinand remarried to Germaine of Foix in 1505, the granddaughter of his half-sister Queen Eleanor of Navarre and niece of Louis XII of France. His hope to father a new heir of Aragon, separating it from Castile, was not realised. It would have denied his son-in-law Philip I, and his grandson Charles I, from inheriting the crown and governance of Aragon. A son, John, Prince of Girona, was born, but died within hours. John was buried in the convent of Saint Paul in Valladolid, and later transferred to Poblet Monastery, traditional burial site of the kings of Aragon.
Ferdinand also had children from his mistress, Aldonza Ruiz de Iborre y Alemany of Cervera. He had a son, Alonso de Aragón (born in 1469), who later became Archbishop of Saragossa, and a daughter Joanna (born in 1471), who married Bernardino Fernández de Velasco, 1st Duke of Frías.
In the 16th century his son Alonso de Aragon, who later became Archbishop of Saragossa in Aragon, found a hidden study under Ferdinand's palace containing over 400 documents written by Ferdinand. In these documents Ferdinand explained his general outlook on political power, and his true goals behind all his decisions during life as the King of Castile and Aragon. Also through these documents, Ferdinand wrote that "during times of very complicated decision making he blindfolded himself to concentrate on the true matter of a situation, and not let other things 'cloud his judgment'."
In 1508 war resumed in Italy, this time against the Republic of Venice, which all the other powers with interests on the Italian peninsula, including Louis XII, Ferdinand II, Maximilian, and Pope Julius II joined together against as the 'League of Cambrai'. Although the French were victorious against Venice at the Battle of Agnadello, the League of Cambrai soon fell apart, as both the Pope and Ferdinand II became suspicious of French intentions. Instead, the 'Holy League' was formed, in which now all the powers joined together against Louis XII and France.
In November 1511 Ferdinand II and his son-in-law King Henry VIII of England signed the Treaty of Westminster, pledging mutual aid between the two against Navarre and France ahead of the Castilian invasion of Navarre as of July 1512. After the fall of Granada in 1492, he had manoeuvred for years to take over the throne of the Basque kingdom, ruled by Queen Catherine of Navarre and King John III of Navarre, also lords of Béarn and other sizeable territories of the Pyrenees and western Gascony. Ferdinand annexed Navarre first to the Crown of Aragon, but later, under the pressure of Castilian noblemen, to the Crown of Castile. The Holy League was generally successful in Italy, as well, driving the French from Milan, which was restored to its Sforza dukes by the peace treaty in 1513. The French were successful in reconquering Milan two years later, however.
Legacy and succession
Ferdinand and Isabella established a highly effective sovereignty under equal terms. They utilised a prenuptial agreement to lay down their terms. During their reign they supported each other effectively in accordance to their joint motto of equality: "Tanto monta (or monta tanto), Isabel como Fernando", ("They amount to the same, Isabel and Ferdinand"). Isabella and Ferdinand's achievements were remarkable: Spain was united, or at least more united than it ever was, the crown power was centralised, at least in name, the reconquista was successfully concluded, the groundwork for the most dominant military machine of the next century and a half was laid, a legal framework was created, the church reformed. Even without the benefit of the American expansion, Spain would have been a major European power. Columbus' discovery set the country on the course for the first modern world power.
During the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, Spain pursued alliances through marriage with Portugal, Habsburg Austria, and Burgundy. Their first-born daughter Isabella was married to Alfonso of Portugal, and their first-born son John was married to Margaret of Austria. However, the deaths of these children, and the death of Isabella, altered the succession plan forcing Ferdinand to yield the government of Castile to Philip of Habsburg the husband of his second daughter Joanna. 
In 1502, the members of the Aragonese Cortes gathered in Zaragoza, and Parliaments of the Kingdom of Valencia and the Principality of Catalonia in Barcelona, as members of the Crown of Aragon, swore an oath of loyalty to their daughter Joanna as heiress, but Alonso de Aragón, Archbishop of Saragossa, stated firmly that this oath was invalid and did not change the law of succession which could only be done by formal legislation by the Cortes with the King. So, when King Ferdinand died on 23 January 1516, his daughter Joanna inherited the Crown of Aragon, and his grandson Charles became Governor General (regent). Nevertheless, the Flemish wished that Charles assume the royal title, and this was supported by his paternal grandfather the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and by Pope Leo X. Consequently, after Ferdinand II's funeral on 14 March 1516, Charles I was proclaimed King of Castile and of Aragon jointly with his mother. Finally, the Castilian Regent, Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros accepted the fait accompli, and the Castilian and Aragonese Cortes paid homage to him as King of Aragon jointly with his mother.
His grandson and successor Charles, was to inherit not only the Spanish lands of his maternal grandparents, but the Habsburg and Burgundian lands of his paternal family, which would make his heirs the most powerful rulers on the continent and, with the discoveries and conquests in the Americas and elsewhere, of the first truly global Empire.
With his wife Isabella I the Catholic (whom he married 19 October 1469), King Ferdinand had 6 children:
- Isabella (1470–1498), Princess of Asturias (1497–1498). She married first Prince Afonso, Prince of Portugal, but after his death she married his cousin Prince Emanuel, the future King Emanuel I of Portugal. She died in childbirth delivering her son Michael of Paz, Crown Prince of both Portugal and Spain who, in turn, died in infancy.
- John (1478–1497), Prince of Asturias (1478–1497). He married Margaret of Habsburg (daughter of King Maximilian I). He died of tuberculosis and his posthumous child with Margaret was stillborn.
- Joanna I (1479–1555), Princess of Asturias (1500–1504), Queen of Castile (1504–1555), Queen of Aragon (1516–1555). She married Philip I (Philip the handsome) (son of the Emperor Maximilian I); and was the mother of King Charles I of Spain (also known as Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor). She was mentally unstable and was incarcerated by her father, and then by her son, in Tordesillas for over 50 years. Her grandson, Philip II of Spain, was crowned in 1556.
- Maria (1482–1517). She married King Emanuel I of Portugal, the widower of her elder sister Isabella, and was the mother of King John III of Portugal and of the Cardinal-King, Henry I of Portugal.
- Anna died at birth (twin of Maria) 
- Catalina, later known Catherine of Aragon, queen of England, (1485–1536). She married first Arthur, Prince of Wales, son of and heir to King Henry VII of England and, after Prince Arthur's death, she married his brother Henry, Duke of York, who also became Prince of Wales and then King Henry VIII. She thus became Queen of England and was the mother of Queen Mary I.
- John, Prince of Girona, who died hours after being born on 3 May 1509.
He also left several illegitimate children. With Aldonza Ruiz de Iborre y Alemany, a Catalan noblewoman of Cervera, he had:
- Alonso de Aragón (1470–1520). Archbishop of Zaragoza and Viceroy of Aragon.
- Juana (1471 – bef. 1522). She married Bernardino Fernández de Velasco, 1st Duke of Frías.
With an unknown mistress, he had:
- Isabella(? – ?), Abbess of the Royal Convent of Our Lady Mother of Grace at Avila.
|Ancestors of Ferdinand II of Aragon|
|Heraldry of Ferdinand of Aragon|
Depiction in film and television
- TV series
|1991||Réquiem por Granada||TVE|
|2004||Memoria de España||TVE|
|2012||Isabel, mi reina||TVE|
- Aragonese: Ferrando, Spanish: Fernando, Catalan: Ferran
- Aragonese crown included the kingdoms of Majorca, Sardinia and Valencia, as well as the Principality of Catalonia.
- Edwards, John. The Spain of the Catholic Monarchs 1474–1520. Blackwell Publishers Inc, 2000, p. xiii
- Edwards, John. The Spain of the Catholic Monarchs 1474–1520. Blackwell Publishers Inc, 2000, pp. 1–37
- Edwards, John. The Spain of the Catholic Monarchs 1474–1520. Blackwell Publishers Inc, 2000, pp. 38–39
- Joseph F. O'Callaghan, A History of Medieval Spain (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1983), 24. ISBN 978-0-8014-9264-8. Preview of cited page available on Google Books as of 10 March 2011. See also: Richard Fletcher, "The Early Middle Ages, 700–1250," in Spain: A History, ed. Raymond Carr (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000). ISBN 978-0-19-280236-1.
- Michael C. Thomsett, The Inquisition: A History (Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, Inc., 2010), 158.
- Bernard Lewis, Cultures in conflict: Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Age of Discovery (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 35–6.
- Miles H. Davidson, Columbus then and now: a life reexamined, University of Oklahoma Press 1997, ISBN 978-0-8061-2934-1, p. 474.
- De Francisco Olmos, José María: Estudio documental de la moneda castellana de Carlos I fabricada en los Países Bajos (1517), Revista General de Información y Documentación 13, 133–153, 2003. URL: L. Külső hivatkozások
- Elliot, J.H. Imperial Spain 1469–1716. Penguin Books (New York: 2002), pg. 208.
- Estudio documental de la moneda castellana de Carlos I fabricada en los Países Bajos (1517); José María de Francisco Olmos, Revista General de Información y Documentación 2003, vol 13, núm.2 (Universidad complutense de Madrid), page 137
- Estudio documental de la moneda castellana de Juana la Loca fabricada en los Países Bajos (1505–1506); José María de Francisco Olmos, Revista General de Información y Documentación 2002, vol 12, núm.2 (Universidad complutense de Madrid), page 299
- Estudio documental de la moneda castellana de Carlos I fabricada en los Países Bajos (1517); José María de Francisco Olmos, Revista General de Información y Documentación 2003, vol 13, núm.2 (Universidad complutense de Madrid) page 138
- Historia general de España; Modesto Lafuente (1861), pp. 51–52.
- Fueros, observancias y actos de corte del Reino de Aragón; Santiago Penén y Debesa, Pascual Savall y Dronda, Miguel Clemente (1866), page 64
- Menéndez Pidal de Navascués, Faustino (2004) «Los Reyes Católicos», El escudo de España, Madrid, Real Academia Matritense de Heráldica y Genealogía; Ediciones Hidalguia. ISBN 978-84-88833-02-0
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ferdinand II of Aragon.|
Ferdinand the CatholicBorn: 10 March 1452 Died: 23 January 1516
John the Great
|King of Sicily
Joanna the Mad
|King of Aragon, Valencia, and Majorca,
Count of Barcelona
Isabella the Catholic
as sole monarch
|King of Castile and León
with Isabella the Catholic
Charles the Affable
|Count of Roussillon and Cerdagne
|King of Naples
Catherine and John III
|King of Upper Navarre
|Titles of nobility|
Charles of Viana
|Prince of Girona
John of Asturias
John the Great
|Lord of Balaguer
|Duke of Gandía
|Merged with the Crown|
|Lord of Casarrubios del Monte