Isabella is a Spanish form of Elizabeth. The name was imported into France in the Middle Ages, and from there, into England. It was a popular name amongst royalty.
Queen Isabella I of Spain was the Queen of Spain and the Queen of Castile and Aragon.
Isabella married her second cousin Ferdinand of Aragon in October 1469. After much in-fighting and a war of succession, Isabella was recognized as Queen of Castile in 1479. By this time Ferdinand had become the King of Aragon. The two ruled jointly with equal authority in both realms, thereby unifying Spain.
Unfortunately the two are most famous for beginning one of the darkest periods in Spanish history, the Spanish inquisition.
Although preceeded by years of anti-Jewish sentiment and violence, in 1480 Isabella and Ferdinand began the formalized State / Church sponsored persecution which came to be known as the Spanish Inquisition. Although purification of the faith was the original motive for the Inquisition, it came to have more materialistic, racial, and political motives, which led to the terror for which it is infamous.
Isabella being a devout Catholic may have truly wanted to end heresy within the Catholic faith, but Ferdinand, not being a religious man probably saw it as an opportunity to seize wealth. It is highly likely that some of Spain's military campaigns were financed through wealth seized during the Spanish Inquisition.
The Spanish Inquisition is infamous for the level of inhuman brutality employed to gain confessions of heresy from the accused. Whether the accused ended up confessing or not many were sentenced to death and thrown into a fire.
The Spanish Inquisition began in 1478 and ended in 1826. Napoleon put an end to it during his reign from 1808 to 1812 but it was reinstituted by King Ferdinand VII of Spain when he recovered the throne. Although the number of people which were burned is disputed, the mid-range estimates are in the tens of thousands.
The inquisition is like most other dark periods of history. It was primarily brought on because of jealousy, prejudices and greed. When one people excel within a society and they make up the minority, they historically are labeled as scapegoats for the problems of the rest of society.
In 1492, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand expelled the Jews of Spain by royal edict. The Muslims of Spain (the Moors) were expelled ten years later.
In that same year, 1492, Isabella was convinced by Christopher Columbus to sponsor his voyage of discovery. Because of the timing of this exploration, it is believed that many Jews were counted amongst the explorers.
Variants of the name Isabella include Isabela, Isebella.
The names Izabela, Izabella are all forms of Isabella.
Isabella has the diminutive (nickname) Sabella.
Some famous bearers of this name include: Isabella Rosellini.