• Isabella of Castile

  • Europe's First Great Queen
  • By: Giles Tremlett
  • Narrated by: Karen Cass
  • Length: 19 hrs and 33 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (63 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Isabella of Castile  By  cover art

Isabella of Castile

By: Giles Tremlett
Narrated by: Karen Cass
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $24.51

Buy for $24.51

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

In 1474, a 23-year-old woman ascended the throne of Castile, the largest and strongest kingdom in Spain. Ahead of her lay the considerable challenge not only of being a young female ruler in an overwhelmingly male-dominated world but also of reforming a major European kingdom that was riddled with crime, corruption, and violent political factionism. Her marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon was crucial to her success, bringing together as it did two kingdoms, but it was a royal partnership in which Isabella more than held her own. Her pivotal reign was long and transformative, uniting Spain and setting the stage for its golden era of global dominance. For by the time of her death in 1504, Isabella had laid the foundations not just of modern Spain but of one of the world's greatest empires.

Acclaimed historian Giles Tremlett chronicles the life of Isabella of Castile as she led her country out of the murky middle ages and harnessed the newest ideas and tools of the early Renaissance to turn her ill-disciplined, quarrelsome nation into a sharper, modern state with a powerful, clear-minded, and ambitious monarch at its centre. With authority, insight and flair, he relates the story of this legendary, if controversial, first initiate in a small club of great European queens that includes Elizabeth I of England, Russia's Catherine the Great, and Britain's Queen Victoria.

©2017 Giles Tremlett (P)2017 Audible, Ltd
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Isabella of Castile

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    50
  • 4 Stars
    10
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    44
  • 4 Stars
    10
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    46
  • 4 Stars
    11
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Enlightening

In 1474 the twenty-three-year-old Isabella of Castle (1451-1504) ascended to the throne of Castle, the largest and strongest kingdom in Spain. She was a young female ruler in a male-dominated world, and she held her own. She set about reforming a corrupt, crime ridden kingdom but one with violent political fractions to caused her problems. She also set about converting the Jews and Moors to Christianity and was responsible for the Inquisition. Her marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon united the two kingdoms. Ferdinand was weak, so Isabella was the dominance force of the partnership. She united Spain and set the stage for its golden dominance. She died in 1504 after creating one of the world’s greatest Empires. The book is full of famous people from her priest, Cardinal Valentia (Rodrigo Borgia) who became Pope Alexander VI, to Christopher Columbus. Her children were married for political alliances. The oldest daughter married Manuel I and became the Queen of Portugal. Juana married Philip I of the Habsburgs and Juan married Margaret of Austria. The most famous of her daughters was Catherine of Aragon, wife of Henry VIII of England.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. Giles Tremlett, well known historian, chronicles Isabella’s life. Tremlett describes how she led her country out of the middle ages harnessing the newest ideas and tools of the renaissance. She led her quarrelsome nation into a powerful kingdom. Tremlett provides insights into the story of a contradictory and controversial Queen. The author brings to life this extraordinary monarch and the turbulent 15th century Spain. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

The book is about 20 hours long. Karen Cass does an excellent job narrating the book. Cass is a British actress trained in the theatre and is also an audiobook narrator.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Informative and not dull

Many historical elements explained in detail without being boring. From the crusades and persecution of Muslims and Jews alike to the expansion of the New World.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling Read

I learned a lot about this controversial queen. The book gives an unbiased look at Isabella, and leaves final judgement to the reader/listener.
The narration was okay except for the narrator's constant imitations in the quotations of men throughout the book.
I highly recommend this book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Astounding and enlightening

So enjoyed this book as it connected many dots in my understanding of history.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Philadelphus
  • Philadelphus
  • 01-17-20

A fascinating but grim tale, very well read.

I knew the history of the reconquista and the forced conversion of non-Christians, the horror of the Inquisition and the expulsion of the Jews. But hearing it read aloud made it twice as horrific as usual.

This is a good book though, telling expertly the quite extraordinary tale of the immensely able but ferocious Isabella.

And thank goodness the publishers found a narrator who didn’t mangle the many Spanish names. She sounded as though she speaks Spanish, and if she doesn’t she’d taken the trouble to learn pronunciation. So different from the many non-fiction readers who just charge at everything and pronounce it as though it’s English. I hope she does more non-fiction.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Azahara Sanchez Khan
  • Azahara Sanchez Khan
  • 12-09-18

Fabulous

I think the conclusion was spot on but should have included that Spain's greatness was also down to what the Moors brought to Spain. I wish history A-level in the 1980s when I was studying 15th century Europe was told in this way. I am absolutely hooked now and this explains so much of modern day Europe and beyond. I'm also just finishing Elizabeth Drayson the Moors last Stand equally fabulous but I think I prefer Giles Tremlett as a historian at the end of the day, Isabel was Power hungry and use god as her excuse with which was just a sign of the times and sad in a way that all her efforts didn't quite go the way she had envisaged. We need more dramas more books for teens and documentaries in the English language about this period of time, told exactly like this, balanced and without agendas. BBC should Commission this historian to do a documentary based on this book. I speak fluent Spanish so it's not an issue for me to source other resources about this period of time but there seems to be a lack of resources in this area in the English language and I think young people would really benefit from understanding this period of history especially young people being radicalised in extremist groups because they use in this period of time to justify their behaviour and beliefs.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mark
  • Mark
  • 05-29-17

Great book, very good narration!

History made interesting. I love the way the book is written and hope there is another book to come soon from this fantastic author.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Meirion
  • Meirion
  • 07-24-22

Enlightening and entertaining

Isabella was such an important queen to Spanish and World history but I knew very little about her. This book puts that right in an entertaining and thought provoking way. I'm really pleased to have spent 20+ hours in her company. Well narrated, and now plan to read more of Giles's books.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mikael
  • Mikael
  • 03-22-18

emotional narrator

Hated the young woman narrator who puts too much stress and emotion into nearly every sentence.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for jackie salmon
  • jackie salmon
  • 06-27-17

Super weird narration

I was really looking forward to hearing this book as it's a subject I'm interested in, however the narrator's strange speech rhythm was so distracting I had to keep turning it off. She paused in strange places and puts emphasis on odd words. Annoying. Have my finished it and wished I'd got it on kindle books.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Debra K
  • Debra K
  • 05-29-17

Blood curdling horror

What did you like best about Isabella of Castile? What did you like least?

I enjoyed the historic value of this book. I did not enjoy the seemingly extended section on Christopher Columbus and the author's attempts to make Isabella of Castile a sympathetic character.

Would you recommend Isabella of Castile to your friends? Why or why not?

No. The ethnic cleansing, slavery and the Spanish Inquisition would turn most stomach's

What about Karen Cass’s performance did you like?

Very clearly spoken. She did not hiss her s's or make audible gasps when inhaling. Those sounds can ruin an audible book.

Could you see Isabella of Castile being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

The extreme violence would have to be turned down a great deal and thereby not giving a true portrait of this woman.

Any additional comments?

I didn't read all the blurb for this audio book and wish I had done so now. This book is blood curdling in its horror against tens of thousands of people.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Grit my teeth and carry on
  • Grit my teeth and carry on
  • 05-14-17

An extraordinary life and complicated legacy

Assessing Isabella and her impact on history in the context of modern sensibilities is not easy. This history does not shy away from the difficult - often horrifying - issues. It is fascinating and engrossing. She was truly formidable. Karen Cass's precise diction suits the text well, I thought.