The Alhambra and the Reign of Queen Isabella of Spain

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The Alhambra and the Reign of Queen Isabella of Spain
This playlist was created by Wendy Collins on Friday, August 14, 2009.

Account: Arizona State University
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The Alhambra and the Reign of Queen Isabella of Spain (53:11)

In seeking to unite Spain under Catholicism, Queen Isabella expelled the Muslims from the country—and during that period, many Moorish buildings were destroyed. But the queen spared the Alhambra because of its magnificent beauty. Using two contrasting castles—the gothic Segovia Palace, where she resided, and the Islamic-style Alhambra Palace—as the settings, this program paints a fascinating portrait of the reign of Queen Isabella, from the unification of Spain to the launch of the great period of Spanish sea voyages. Not available in French-speaking Canada. (53 minutes)

Reign of Queen Isabella (03:13)
Queen Isabella (1451-1504) rules Spain in times of great strife. The Catholic religion holds great meaning for her, yet she accepts the Moorish architecture of Spain's greatest castles. In her last will and testament, she asks for humble interment.

History of the Iberian Peninsula (03:20)
Muslims occupy the Iberian Peninsula from the 8th century onward. In the 11th-13th centuries, Catholics launch a counterattack. In Granada the Alhambra stands as the Moors' last fortress. Princess Isabella harbors secret political ambitions.

Isabella Becomes Queen of Castile (03:04)
Upon the death of King Henry IV, Princess Isabella enthrones herself in the castle at Segovia and reigns with her husband Prince Ferdinand of Aragon. Isabella turns her attention to Alhambra Palace, the last Moorish fortress.

Moorish Architecture and Arabic Tile Art (03:02)
The Alhambra and Seville Palaces are filled with "arabesque," or geometric patterns. In the Seville Palace, however, Catholics have added depictions of men and animals. A tile artist explains "Arabic-style tile."

Queen Isabella: Nation-Building (02:60)
Within the Moorish Seville Palace, Catholics build a small church for Queen Isabella and her husband. After Isabella becomes queen, she travels to distant cities, rebuilding a dilapidated nation. This segment features the Hall of Ambassadors.

Fortress of Alhambra (04:30)
Queen Isabella desires to be buried in the Alhambra. The fortress is impenetrable and consists of a number of castles and countless secret passageways. The exterior of the palace hides the bloodstained past of its inhabitants.

Islamic Interior of Alhambra Palace (04:29)
In 1491, the last sultan in Granada surrenders without a fight and Alhambra Palace passes to Queen Isabella. This segment features the details of Islamic decoration and numerous complex motifs that read, "Only god is victorious."

Islamic Art Forms (03:37)
"Arabesque" uses certain elements of nature as abstract motifs of expression. These motifs become part of an infinite chain design. Manual laborers create scores of elaborate tiles by using advanced Islamic knowledge and expertise.

Queen Isabella and Christopher Columbus (02:04)
After 7 years of waiting, Christopher Columbus receives permission from Queen Isabella for the "grand voyage." He returns with gold and wealth after a highly successful voyage to the West Indies.

Moorish Art: Interior Decoration (02:32)
In Mexuar Palace within the Alhambra, a sultan's prayer room faces Mecca. The walls are covered in "arabesque" and exhortations to live a life of prayer. Poetry is also hidden among the intricate designs in the palace.

Catholicism and Islam in Spain (03:34)
Queen Isabella adds only one Catholic statue to the Moorish Alhambra Palace. In violation of her treaty with the last sultan, Isabella destroys a mosque and erects a Catholic church. The interior of the Alhambra, however, remains relatively untouched.

Succession to the Castilian Throne (03:50)
The line of succession was interrupted by the death of Queen Isabella's eldest son, daughter, and her infant grandson. She names her daughter Juana to succeed her, though Juana demonstrates jealousy and instability.

Queen Isabella's Last Will and Testament (02:57)
As Queen Isabella lay dying, she continued to add to her will, which sounded more like a sermon than a will. Meanwhile, in the West Indies, Catholicism is responsible for raids and pillaging more than it is for conversations.

Alhambra Palace: Resting Place for a Queen (03:56)
Queen Isabella's body is brought to Alhambra Palace for burial where it is covered with a simple marker. Opinions vary about her choice of interment. Many suggest she simply wanted peace and repose in a beautiful setting.