Ferdinand and Isabella
Ferdinand V, called The Catholic (1452-1516), King of Castile (1474-1504); as Ferdinand II he was also King of Sicily (1468-1516) and of Aragón (1479-1516); as Ferdinand III, King of Naples (1504-1516). He was the son of King John II of Aragón.
Isabella I (1451-1504), Queen of Castile, called la Católica ("the Catholic"). She was the daughter of John II of Castile and León by his second wife, Isabella of Portugal.
The union of the Spanish kingdoms of Aragón and Castile was effected in 1469 by Ferdinand's marriage to his cousin Isabella I, Queen of Castile. Ferdinand had hoped by this alliance to obtain the Castilian crown for himself, but his high-spirited and politically astute wife firmly retained sovereign authority in her own realm.
Ferdinand and Isabella took steps to curb the power of the nobles, organising the Santa Hermandad, or Holy Brotherhood, a kind of national military police. Insistence on religious conformity was one of their basic policies. In 1478 a bull issued by Pope Sixtus IV empowered the king and queen to appoint three inquisitors to deal with heretics and other offenders against the church; this marked the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition.
The year 1492 opened with the conquest of Granada, which marked the victorious conclusion of the long struggle against the Moors. In August Christopher Columbus, sponsored by Ferdinand and Isabella, set sail from the small Spanish seaport of Palos on his epoch-making voyage to America, which was the first step in the creation of the Spanish overseas colonial empire. In 1493, by the terms of a treaty between Spain and France, Ferdinand recovered from King Charles VIII of France the ancient province of Roussillon (now forming the French department of the Pyrénées-Orientales), which Ferdinand's father had mortgaged to King Louis XI of France.
Because his daughter Joanna the Mad became insane after the death of Isabella in 1504, Ferdinand assumed the regency of Castile in 1506. He joined the League of Cambrai against the republic of Venice in 1508, and conquered Oran and Tripoli on the North African coast in 1509. He annexed the kingdom of Navarre in 1512, thereby extending the borders of Spain from the Pyrenees to the Rock of Gibraltar. Ferdinand was in many ways a competent ruler. He was succeeded by his grandson Charles (Holy Roman Emperor Charles V).