This book attempts to tell the amazing story of Queen Isabel of Castile as it appeared to her contemporaries, against the blood-spattered background of her own times. It is a tale so dramatic, so fascinating, that it needs no embellishing or piecing out with the wisdom— or folly— of another age. To probe the inner cosmos of men and women long dead by the light of a pseudo-science, to strip away with pitiless irony all noble or generous appearances, to prize open with an air of personal infallibility the very secret hinges of the door to that ultimate sanctuary of the human conscience which is inviolable even to father confessors— that is an office for which I have neither the taste nor the talent; and if I have fallen unawares into any such pitfalls of the devils of megalomania, I beg forgiveness in advance. Under the naïve rhetoric of the fifteenth-century chroniclers there is ample material for what Joseph Conrad called rendering the vibration of life and Michelet called the resurrection of the flesh, without resorting to subjective interpretation. And it has seemed all the more imperative to follow the sources objectively and let them speak for themselves as far as possible, because, strange as it may appear, the life of Columbus’s patron and America’s godmother has never been told completely and coherently in our language.
Queen Isabella of Spain