The Year of Isabella I of Castile – The loss of a son




stillborn son isabella of castile
The scene as portrayed in Isabel (2011) (Screenshot/Fair Use)

Queen Isabella’s first child and namesake daughter had been born before she succeeded her half-brother as Queen. However, a second pregnancy was not quite so quick to happen.

Her first child was born on 2 October 1470, and for several years, she consulted doctors, prayed at sanctuaries and sought the intervention of saints. She also starved herself and engaged in self-mortification. She had begun to worry that her fertility issues were a sign of God’s disfavour.1

We know that she had at least one miscarriage or stillbirth during these years. It is unclear how long she was pregnant, and currently, the medical world sees it as a stillbirth if the fetal death occurred from 28 weeks gestation.2 It was certainly clear enough to determine that the child she lost in 1475 was a boy.3 And it seemed that Ferdinand only returned to Isabella in January 1475, so a miscarriage appears more likely.

These were the early days of her reign when the threat from her niece Joanna and the Portuguese was still high. Isabella hurried towards the city of Toledo on horseback as she was dependent on their support. After arranging the support of Toledo, she set out towards Valladolid and apparently rode so hard that she had to stop in Avila, where she lost the baby on 31 May 1475.

The scene as portrayed in Isabel (2011) (Screenshot/Fair Use)

She had to rest for a month as war with the Portuguese began in earnest. By July, she was eagerly getting ready for war. She would have to wait three more years for the birth of a son.

  1. Isabella the Warrior Queen by Kirstin Downey p.214
  2. WHO
  3. Isabella the Warrior Queen by Kirstin Downey p.150






About Moniek Bloks 2763 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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