24 thoughts on “WCW: Isabella of Castile

  1. The armour: the suit in the first pic doesn’t seem all that anachronistic; it’s plate, which was definitely in use by that time, the pieces coming up from the pauldrons (the shoulder defences) look more like something for jousting, but remember each suit is made individually, so there’s no real pattern to go by.

    1. Agree on the armor, but where is the cap between her hair and the chainmail? Ow ow ow, and I say that from experience, trying on a decorative chainmail cap at a RenFaire once and having it get caught in my hair when I tried to take it off. I feel bad for the actress.

      1. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if the costumiers hadn’t inserted a lining in the coif for just that reason, but had carefully ensured that it didn’t show when it was being worn, because they just didn’t know about arming caps and thought it would look ‘inauthentic’ if she had anything on her head under the mail!

  2. The shot of Izzie and Nando up on their thrones for Dawn of America (1951) looks fabulous. I love that weird opaque veil(?) thing (with embroidery!) frames her face and goes right to her shoulders, eliminating the line of the neck and shoulder. It’s a very odd shape, but it looks damned REGAL.

  3. You missed the most agonizingly anti-historic and epically awful portrayal in The Fountain. Granted it was the representation of the cheap romance novel the wife was writing, but still…

    I do have to say that was the most misunderstood movie ever produced. It was NOT about time travel. One third was a doctor’s struggle to cure his wife’s illness and failing to spend what time was left actually being with her, one third was the horrible romance novel she was writing, and one third was what was going on inside the husband’s head. The romance novel part was still laughably awful though.

  4. I couldn’t think of the name of the actor in the top photo with Rachel Ward, so I ran it through a Google Image search.

    And while it identified the man in the photo as Georges Corraface, it also helpfully suggested:

    “Possible related search: costume party”

    Damn, even a search engine algorithm is getting snarky on that one!

  5. I laughed out loud when I saw the Tom Selleck photo, so… thanks for that.

    The entire appearance of Isabella and Ferdinand in The White Princess made me go HUH. Why does she look so awful in it? Why would Henry and Elizabeth traipse across the sea to meet them in the first place? They didn’t have airplanes back then, Starz. :P

  6. Queen Isabel in Person looked promising from the picture and Mad Love at least references that veil from her portrait.
    I haven’t seen any of these, but Isabella and Ferdinand are some of those historical figures that you probably shouldn’t like or even admire, but you need to consider them if you’re going to look at their era (and colonization/the Reconquista/Expulsion in general), how powerful they were and how they changed the world (I’d argue more for the worse but they were more complicated than simply evil overlords.) The Iberian peninsula and the Renaissance in Western Europe just don’t make sense without studying them.

  7. Looking at Isabella’s lower lip in the paintings makes me wonder if it’s the origin of the Habsburg chin. And now I take a moment of silence for Carlos II of Spain.

    1. I don’t think so. The Hapsburgs had outslung jaws, not just a full lower lip. Isabella seems to have had a receding chin, the exact opposite of the Hapsburg jaw.

      1. Also, Gerard David was known for his “apple” chins. It was one way we were taught in Art History to recognize his works.

  8. Isabel is a good series not terribly inaccurate from the writing point of view; season 1 is possibly the one that takes the most liberties especiallywith clothing because she’s… young and she has to be… with loose hair and all that (sigh). Season two and three had different showrunner and they changed some things (e.g. Isabella being addressed as Highness instead of the inaccurate “Majesty” of season 1).
    All in all it takes its liberties as I said but they did a good job with historical sources overall. And as seasons went on they discovered young lady don’t equal to not having hair pins.
    Jenner’s cameo in EMDT was just that, a fun wink to Isabel, without the least pretense of accuracy.

  9. Roughly half the productions seem to have remembered Isabella was a fair skinned redhead.
    I love Sigourney Weaver’s state robes. They are gloriously insane.
    Why does Isabella have a painted face while Ferdinand and that friar, Torquemada? Look perfectly normal.
    Isabella and Ferdinand did what they believed was right for Spain. The past is a different country, they do things differently there. I don’t hold it against them.

  10. It’s obvious that queen Isabella was a very attractive figure for filmmakers. However it’s obvious too that most didn’t tried to come close to the real person and prefered a fantasy version of their own. In “The Spanish Princess” Isabella is looking like a Comic-super hero. Why? She really was an interesting and powerfull person. Maybe that’s not enough for modern directors?

  11. Oh, great article! As a spaniard I adore Isabella and Ferdinard, they brought “greatness” to our contry, however, I also undertand how much pain they inflicted upon others, and Im terribly sorry about that tbh.

    And, honestly, I sincerely reccomend you to watch Isabel, the spanish series, It doesnt have much of a budget (it was made by the public spanish TV and god forbid that the government invests in culture…) but its the best historial show Spain has ever produced in my opinion, and way better in terms of acting, costuming (at least they try to be as acqurate as the can, even though you can tell the budget is tight) and writting than other historial shows like the tudors or the medicis…

    The show also explores The kingdoms of Portugal, Aragon, Granada (funnily enough, Alicia Borrachero played the muslim badass “queen” Aixa on Isabel and Isabella the catholic on The spanish princess), France and the Duchy of Burgundy, and it honestly does a pretty good job portraying the characters, especially Juana´s madness,Catalina´s inteligence and resilience (not that insulting character we saw on The spanish princess), Isabella´s tragic fate…

    1. Agreed! I’m not Spanish, just a history nerd, and I have watched many historical dramas from many countries. Isabel is one of the best, much better than many British productions, very accurate from a historian’s point of view, also very good quality. Deserves every single one of the many awards it received.
      Costumes are also very accurate, with some of the usual modernizations we always see (because you have to sell the show to a 21st century audience). But one of the most accurate costume design ever appearing in a 15-16th century show. Especially when we look at other productions about this era: The Tudors, The Spanish Princess, The White Queen… If Isabel’s costumes are “crap” and “inaccurate”, what about every other production? 😄

  12. I think the “German fairy tale”-ish costume must have been directly inspired by a romanticized 19th century engraving depicting Isabella in a sort of Renn Faire costume with hood that was very pointed on the sides. I remember it from a children’s book. I did manage to find a reprint of it…

  13. How on Earth can ANYONE think Isabel is a crap show? Seriously… 😄😄😄
    Do you guys know anything about her? Every single Isabella historian loved that show.

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