Farewell, Isabel

14100124369584Well, that’s it, it is officially over. Isabel said goodbye to millions of viewers the only way it could, with the queen’s death.

Quite a pity, actually, because everything that happened between Isabel’s death in 1504 and Fernando’s in 1516 is an interesting and riveting piece of history: the confrontations of regents Fernando and Cisneros against Felipe, who was now set to be king; his death after only two months of reign; Juana’s insane procession around Spain with Felipe’s corpse, her confinement, the revolts… It is quite a lot, indeed.

principesasturiasisabelBut let’s not think about that right now and just hope that the upcoming miniseries about Carlos (son of Juana and Felipe) will show these things in its first episode. Now it is time to talk about that tearjerker of a finale and everything Isabel has taught us all.

As it was expected, the finale dealt mostly with Isabel’s last days and showed a queen so strong that she spent every waking hour putting everything in order -namely, she established that whenever Juana was not present in Castile (or felt incapacitated), Fernando would rule instead. Funnily enough, Fernando was the only one with the power to incapacitate his daughter.

This last episode consisted of a parade of people saying goodbye to the dying queen, including the beloved Hernando de Talavera and Cristobal Colón, who had just returned from his last trip to America and did not have the chance to say goodbye to her in person.

But the most significant goodbyes came from the people who had spent most of their lives next to Isabel. Beatriz, her childhood friend, could barely hold her tears every time she was around her, and Gonzalo Chacón, who had taken care of her ever since she was a little girl seemed profoundly devastated (as was her confessor, Cisneros, who couldn’t be present when she died). All of them, though, are overshadowed by Fernando. His sadness was so heart-breaking that every time he cried, I cried. Although to be fair, I cried the entire episode. No, wait, I have been crying every episode since the one when Prince Juan died!

jennersanchoWe have to give credit here to Rodolfo Sancho and Michelle Jenner, because they were superb. And I am not talking only about the splendid finale, but about the entire series. Their talent and their chemistry elevated this Spanish production from brilliant to excellent. And everyone else involved made this show unmissable thanks to their talent.

And it is not only about the acting. It was the accuracy, the attention to detail when it came to the clothes, the historical facts, the food, the vocabulary… This is a TV series that teachers all over Spain (and abroad) can show to their students, because they will learn from the best show what happened during one of the most important eras in Spain’s history: the reign of Isabel and Fernando. They understood and loved each other like no other king and queen ever had or ever will and they made their kingdoms shine: they discovered America, they overpowered dangerous enemies, they reconquered Granada and they made Spain unique.

Thank you for these three years, it has been a fantastic journey and an excellent history lesson told by some of the most talented people in my country. There will never be another show as good as you.


But I do hope the “sequel” about Carlos I arrives soon. I really want to watch that stupid Felipe bite the dust (“¡Maldito Borgoñón!). I am so happy that Juana didn’t fall for his tricks during the finale.



PS. Don’t despair if you are already missing Isabel, because TVE is filming a new series with the same producers, called El Ministerio del Tiempo (The Ministry of Time) and it stars our beloved Rodolfo Sancho as a time traveller who goes back to certain moments in Spain’s history. So it is basically a Doctor Who, just so that we are clear. And in the first episode he will meet Lope de Vega.

Categories: Spanish Historical Fiction, Television | Tags: , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “Farewell, Isabel

  1. Pingback: Isabel, the Spanish Series You Should Be Watching | Corleones & Lannisters

  2. Magdalena

    I would love to have the copy of DVD which would provide English subtitles. I understand pretty much what is going on but undoubtedly, the English subs would be helpful, As I live in Europe, I can’t use DramaFever which is supposed to air the last season in the upcoming future.

  3. Pingback: You Should Be Watching ‘El Ministerio del Tiempo’ | Corleones & Lannisters

  4. Heather

    As a Spain-phile I loved watching this show. I thought Jenner and Sancho were at their best this season, even though I missed Pancheco, King Enrique, and Queen Juana.i did wish that the Infantas were blond-it couldn’t be that hard to find actors and that we could have seen more of Catherine-through a Spanish, not British show. And kudos go to the actor who played Felipe, he was so good that I yelled at my computer everytime he was on. The show did a great job with the basic historical fact and didn’t shy away from the Monarchs unpleasant side-ie, the Inquisition.

    I’m interested in Carlos V, and the lead actor at least looks the part, but not so sure the chemistry will be there.

    Finally, speaking of Rodolfo Sancho, as a Doctor Who fan I really enjoyed Él Ministerio del Tiempo and hope that SkyArts or Dramafever will do English subtitles. I’ve told a number of other DW fans about the show and they are interested so its surprising that a British channel hasnt shown it with the popularity of Sci-Fi. Awaiting Season 2, with the hope that this Julian/Amelia relationship won’t take over the show and will be subtle unlike most Spanish shows.

    • Virginia Cerezo

      I agree with everything you say!!! I hope you will be able to see the movie they will release in January, La Corona Partida, which ties both miniseries together. I agree that the chemistry won’t be the same (although that will be obvious: the love of Carlos’ life was more Germana de Foix than his wife, Isabel of Portugal).

      The second series of El Ministerio is being filmed right now and I cannot wait. Sergio Peris Mencheta (the Captain Fernández de Córdoba in Isabel) will be playing El Cid!!

    • Virginia Cerezo

      And I also hope they won’t shove a Julián/Amelia romance to our faces after an entire season of him declaring how he will only love his wife and no one else…

      • Chalon Demier

        Evidently, Ferdinand was nothing more than an alley cat. Isobel suffered much humiliation because of his immorality.

  5. Pingback: First Thoughts on Carlos, Rey Emperador | Corleones & Lannisters

  6. Amnestia

    I loved the series and I really like your reviews but I am not so sure about true love on Fernando’s part since he notoriously cheated on Isabel… Charles V at least was faithful to both Germana de Foix and Isabella of Portugal or so it seems…and he got really depressed after Isabella’s death which is quite natural when your beloved one passes away – I have never read such claim about Fernando…
    Though maybe Fernando just took much after his father, John II of Aragon, who was the same in regards to infidelity and mourning – and it is said he adored his second, beautiful wife, Juana Enríquez – Fernando’s mother. I am not sure if he was unfaithful to her though – I am certain he was not to Blanche of Navarre and that he was a great womanizer until the end of his life at 80 :D. It is not an attack or anything, I am just curious of your stance on the matter – usually romantic love + cheating don’t go hand in hand.. On the other hand Fernando seemed to be really passionate about Isabel and devoted to her so I am really confused… xD

    • Virginia C

      I agree with what you say. I still think Fernando loved his wife, but I also believe he was raised in a way in which having lovers didn’t mean you didn’t love your wife. And Fernando was a very manly man, which means he was probably hurt when he saw how Isabel pretty much ruled over him when in Castile, and perhaps that made him have lovers, to “reclaim” his manhood, but never without not loving Isabel. It is just the way his mind worked, I’m afraid. Luckily, his grandson Charles belonged to the Renaissance, and his mind was more open to understanding that women were not just “the wife” or “the lover”

      • Amnestia

        Oh well, on the other hand I would not sell Fernando so short. I don’t think he was worse than Charles in the matter of women because even though he did not like it, he accepted his wife as a ruler, named his daughter ambassador and appreciated his sister as a politician as well. His father and uncle also appreciated women as politicians. Fernando can not be compared to Charles V because Charles V never shared power as a king – he gave his wife and women of his family power of regents but it is not the same what Fernando did – what kings gave, kings could take away. Fernando could not take the crown away from Isabel – unless it would be by force – and yet managed to co-rule, not as a mere consort.
        As for Charles – being a womanizer as he was and often away from his wife, who knows if he was entirely faithful like they say xD.

      • Carlos Diego

        Well, in the drama, Ferdinand told Isobel that he was a man and a king! So I guess that justified his sexual immorality. The Ottoman sultans and the Chinese emperors had a perfect way of handling this. They were permitted to keep a harem full of very young virgins (sex slaves) and raped them at will! They also enjoyed the company of men (Chinese) and boys (sultans).

  7. Geanna

    I personally think people nowadays pay too much attention to who slept with whom centuries ago. Sadly even some historians do so even though they should be aware of different social norms of the times. Medieval and renaissance womanizers did not change because why would they? Queens would not leave them and take the kids away like it happens today. Also to majority of men, especially men of 15th and 16th centuries sex had nothing to do with love – let’s be honest, today many men think the same but social and moral norms are different. Majority of women see it the other way but the truth is that sexual need is a biological need. I think Ferdinand was a very sensual man and as every ruler of the times did immoral things in spite of his religious convictions and feelings. We can not single cheating out in terms: “he could not be in love with her because he cheated”, since those were the times of executing people and yet no monarch went to prison for that – and they kept attending masses and were more religious than we are today. There is no logic in feelings, sadly. And let’s not exaggerate that Ferdinand did nothing but cheated – he was a great king and had other business to attend. His affairs are shrouded in mystery, the names of four mistresses are known only because he recognized his bastards (just like his father did and like every decent human being would do), we know for sure he had had two bastards before he married Isabel by as many different mothers – not like they showed in the series, and later during the marriage two night stands produced two daughters who were put into a nunnery and were recognized as his daughters only in 1509 in the shortest breve possible (lol) – well, we have mentions of Isabella’s jealousy and her continually watching at any sign of desire in his eye but on the other hand, we must also remember Isabella needed to be in control and her behaviour does not necessarily indicate any deeper intentions on Ferdinand’s part. Marineo Siculo even said that Fernando was gracious and nice to everyone, especially to women and children – just a gallant. Unfaithful womanizer, yes, but let’s not exaggerate. His marriage to Germana and him visiting women even though he had problems with his manhood is another story, lol.
    I think Ferdinand has a bad press and is underrated. Even his biographers who adore him as a monarch are afraid to admit he could be romantically involved with his wife (maybe due to their bias against Isabel?) There is no good, complete biography on this man where he would be presented as a human with feelings, politician and king. They all prefer to write about politics and about him being machiavellian and kick-ass king. Isabella, Charles V and Philip II have more complete biographies, to be honest. Vicens Vives was the closest but he died in the halfway, so his biography on Ferdinand is unfinished. Funnily enough, his biographers and some fan-novelists love to emphasize on how Isabella was crazy about him and how he treated her like a friend and constantly lied he was in love with her?LOL Just take a look at this novel FERNANDO EL CATOLICO: EL DESTINO DEL REY – this is atrocious and full of lies.
    Many people deny Ferdinand was in love with Isabella, labelling all the evidence as some machiavellian scheme – which is unfair. Also no one wants to focus on what he did for her. There was not only cheating. There was continual writing of love letters – being by her side in the most crucial moments, dissimulating his own pain to make her feel better, hell he even hid the truth about Juan’s death from her at the beginning because he wanted to break the news himself, to be able to console her. It is love if you ask me. Why would he lie? Every politician lied but does it mean they never could be sincere in their lives? Also like it has been already mentioned, Ferdinand had a womanizing father as an example and it seems neither Blanche of Navarre, nor Juana Enriquez made a fuss and it can not be denied John II loved his second wife. Sex is sex. Love is love. But social norms, culture we were raised in regulate our beliefs.

    Sorry for this long essay.

  8. Star

    I really miss this brilliant series and while searching it in the Internet, I found this blog. I don’t know, however, how accurate it is or not. You seem to be very well informed. Could you tell me if it is true that Gonzalo was in love with Isabel and Fernando in love with his lover Aldonza, at first? Some claim Isabel had an affair with Columbus and Fernando fell in love with Beatriz de Osorio, who also had affair with Columbus…

    • Virginia C

      There is no way of knowing if Gonzalo was in love with Isabel. However, the series takes the artistic license because, let’s be honest, they were both 15, she was super pretty and they spent almost every hour of every day together. It seems only natural that he was a bit infatuated with her during his teen years. What is proved is that he always had the utmost respect and admiration for her. Fernando wasn’t in love with with Osorio, it was just as fling, and as for Aldonza… just like Gonzalo, this happened when he was like 15-16, it’s not exactly undying love 😛

      • Magdalena

        I have been researching Fernando forvquite a time and there is no evidence Aldonza was Fernando’s great love or that she accompanied him everywhere. They make a big deal out of the fact that in his last will from 1475, he asked his father and Isabel to take care of his illegitimate children and their mothers, especially mother of his son. Yes, stallion Fernando, besides Aldonza, had had other fling at the same time, the same year, just in another town, before he met Isabel 😂. A daughter, Juana, was fruit of it. Both Fernando and Isabel used those kids to achieve their political goals. Another “evidence” that people use to claim Aldonza was a great deal is the fact that Fernando doted on their son. xD But Alfonso was a separate person, love for the kid does not equal love for the mother.
        As for Gonzalo, in the series they made Isabel be his almost eternal love, always faithful, did not even get married, which simply is not true, because he had two wives. But young Isabel was pretty blond and blue-green eyed woman (though some historians claim she was ugly…) who contrary to popular belief, liked to be seen as femenine, perfumes were her great passion, for instance, it is possible men found her attractive. According to contemporary reports of eyewitnesses, Fernando did find her desirable when they met.

      • Star

        Could you recommend any English biographies on Isabella? I have the one written by Kristin Downey… Do you have any opinion on this? To me her assumptions seem to be off and she vilified every male, which does not sit well with me, that’s why I am asking about others. Thanks in advance.

      • Virginia C

        That’s tough, because all the best biographies of her are written by Spanish historians. You can imagine that British historians, for example, would take the rival’s side when writing about her. Manuel Fernandez Alvarez is, by far, the best when it comes to writing about this era, so if any of his books are translated, I suggest you read him.

  9. Pingback: A Thank You Letter to El Ministerio del Tiempo | Corleones & Lannisters

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