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The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner

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Posts: 1462
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: I love history, but it's boring in school. Historical fiction brings it alive for me.
Preferred HF: Iron-Age Britain, Roman Britain, Medieval Britain
Location: New Orleans

The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner

Post by Rowan » Thu January 7th, 2016, 5:19 pm

This book is about the early life of Isabella of Castile who, along side her equally well-known husband Ferdinand of Aragon, is known to history for two big events: green lighting the start of the Spanish Inquisition and supporting the idea of Christopher Columbus of finding a quicker route to the East Indies.

While Isabella was born into a royal family in a kingdom that did not follow Salic Law, it was assumed she would never have the opportunity to reign as queen because she had an older half brother and a younger brother to follow in their father's footsteps and reign over the Kingdom of Castile. As fate would have it, or perhaps as God had ordained, however, Isabella did, in fact, ascend the throne after the deaths of both brothers. During her thirty year reign, she was able to rebuild a kingdom that had floundered financially and in nearly every other way possible under the rule of her father, Juan II, and brother Enrique IV. She and Ferdinand also continued the Reconquista of their lands - reconquest of lands taken and occupied by the Moors.

While Isabella was a devout Christian, she grew up in a part of Europe that had Jews as money lenders and royal financiers. Many of Castile's cities had Moorish architectural influence as well as other cultural influence. In other words, everyone got along peacefully for the most part. That all changed when a Dominican friar called Tomás de Torquemada entered Isabella's life.

This is where Gortner possibly strays from known history. I say possibly, because I'm not as familiar with the details of her beliefs, though I am now reading NF about her life. Gortner chooses to portray this part of Isabella's life in a manner which I believe to be rather human. Isabella is torn between not wanting to just kick Jews out purely based on suspicion of some conversos merely pretending to follow the Christian faith and not wanting the rest of Europe seeing her and Ferdinand as anything less that Roman Catholic. In the end, though, she approves the start of the Inquisition, though at that point it wasn't what we came to know it to be.

I truly enjoyed this book and since I've decided to broaden my horizons and move beyond my comfort zone of my favourite era to read, I am viewing history as one giant puzzle piece with this book as another piece in the puzzle.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Posts: 3554
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Re: The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri January 8th, 2016, 12:49 am

I liked the Queen's Vow. So did my bookgroup. Thanks for the review. (was too busy to write one of my own at the time.)

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