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Isabel: Jewel of Castilla, Spain, 1466

(The Royal Diaries)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  5,666 ratings  ·  133 reviews
While waiting anxiously for others to choose a husband for her, Isabella, the future Queen of Spain, keeps a diary account of her life as a member of the royal family.
Hardcover, 205 pages
Published July 2000 by Scholastic (first published January 1st 2000)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  5,666 ratings  ·  133 reviews

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Apr 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Continuing my project of reading this entire beloved series from my childhood. There was nothing wrong with this one, it was quite good in some places. I enjoyed reading about the dynastic turmoil between Enrique and Alfonso, the feuding royal brothers and the warring factions for the crown. I also enjoyed reading about Queen Juana, who sounds deliciously awful.

But this one wasn't one of my favorites just like it wasn't one of my favorites when I read it as a kid. Although Isabel of Castile is a
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Such good memories! RTC
"To see her speak was divine."- Fernandez de Oviedo

Setting:Spain, 1466-1468

Coverly Love?:Yes! I’ve always loved the beautifully illustrated covers this series has.

Plot:Princess Isabel is a sister caught between two brothers. On the one hand, her older stepbrother Enrique is supreme leader of Castilla and León, and she’s forced to obey his every command. On the other hand, her brother Alfonso has raised rebel forces and claimed himself King of Castilla, effectively driving a wedge throughout
Carlyn Brody
Aug 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Isabel: Jewel of Castilla is a fictional diary of Isabella the first who reigned Castile (now Spain) in the 15th century. The diary is about Isabel as a teenager and the lead up to her wedding. Isabel is the daughter of Juan II of Castilla and Isabel I of Portugal. Her father dies and her mother goes into a deep state of depression. Isabel’s brothers Enrique and Alfonso divide the kingdom, each proclaiming that they are the rightful king. They vie for control over Isabel, as they both want her t ...more
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was really interested in reading this book because I wanted to read more about royalty from Spain (or, rather, at the time, it was the kingdoms of Leon and Castile, Aragon, and Granada. Maybe some others too, but those are the ones I remember). All I knew about Isabel is that she is particularly famous for helping Christopher Columbus’ plans on traveling to the Americas. This is a middle school book, but perfect for my purpose of wanting an introduction to Isabel. Also, I adore the Royal Diari ...more
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelsey Hanson
Isabel was one of the few royal women who was actually able to have a partnership and equal ruling power with her husband. She was politically savvy, clever and incredibly brave. This story shows how she had to be intelligent in order to claim her throne at a very young age. This one shows her childhood up to when she married Fernando and how she managed to work with her elder brother Enrique.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked this when I was younger it was one of my favorite royal diaries but this time around I wasn't the biggest fan. I enjoyed the history section and learning about the connections these people had with the tudors in England
Rachel Kulik
Truth be told this is totally a 3 star rating, but I gave it an extra star for being one of my childhood favorites. Strange how many overtly religious books I enjoyed (this one is only overtly because Queen Isabel was very Catholic) for growing up in a non religious family.
Lady Judith
May 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-have
This is a well written book, but I found it boring.
Jun 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Kind of hard to keep track of family members at the beginning, but it got better at the end. I really enjoyed reading the epilogue and the historical notes, very interesting.
Ana Mardoll
Dec 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ana-reviewed
Isabel, Jewel of Castilla / 0-439-07805-9

A solid addition to the Royal Diary series, Isabel deals with the young adulthood of the queen who would later become the patron of Christopher Columbus. The diary centers around the dilemmas that Isabel faces as she chooses which of her two brothers to support as king, and as she hopes to be married to someone who will not be completely repugnant to her. Isabel is forced to grapple with her conscience as she supports one of her brothers over the other in
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
One thing that I really like about the Royal Diaries is that they do a great job detailing how…involved being royalty can be. This is especially apparent in Isabel, which has politic intrigue and heir drama galore as Isabel is stuck in the middle of her two warring brothers, fighting off unwanted marriage proposals and meandering through a court rife with corruption and petty vindictiveness.

Meyer does a fairly good job of introducing a lot of the politics and thoughts of the day, especially in t
Aug 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Although a big fan of this series, I never really became interested in this installment until after seeing the made-for-tv adaptation. Surely the tale of the infamous strong-willed mother of Catherine of Aragon must be just as exciting as the real woman?

I was disappointed.

The writing is okay, & it's nice to have a book about Isabel's childhood rather than her adulthood or the same old story about Columbus, but I found our 'heroine' to be dreadfully dull. I understand she (along with most of the
Carrie Slager
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-borrowed
Queen Isabel of Spain was both a woman to be admired and a woman to be hated. On one hand, she was an incredibly strong female leader for her time who actually chose who she got to marry. On the other hand, she was the very woman that started the horrible, bloody Inquisition that killed thousands of innocents and forced thousands more to flee their homes. Here in Isabel: Jewel of Castilla, Carolyn Meyer has attempted to explain both her strong side as well as her ruthless side that came from a c ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Second installment in this series that I read in 2018. Book #3 in my Reading Challenge.

The first few pages in the book set a pretty dimsal tone. Not just because of the political difficulties of Isabel's situation, but because of how strict Isabel is over confession and penance and all that. I'm actually pretty religious myself, but every time Isabel wrote about her sins I went all 'Come on, girl, you're just going to make yourself depressed.' Even one of Isabel's friends has this complaint! Ove
I really liked this one. While Isabel’s future endeavors (mainly the Spanish Inquisition and persecution of Muslims and Jews), as well as slow pacing, prevent me from giving this more than three stars, I’m glad I read this. Isabel had such a great character! It was so nice to see her be sassy in her diary, and then feel conflicted about it. I often feel the same way in my own life, so I appreciated seeing that.

I was disappointed that the romance was nonexistent. There were so many suitors going
This was an interesting (fictional) account of young Isabel (later the Queen Isabella of Christopher Columbus fame). There were ample mentions of bawdy and immoral behavior by those at court (without any specific details) and rumors that Isabel's sister-in-law, then queen, was unfaithful to her husband the king and bore children that were not his. There were also many Roman Catholic references, such as praying to the saints, penance, confession to the priests, making vows to particular saints, c ...more
Small Review
Another nice addition to the series. Kinda glosses over Isabel's feelings for non-Christians, but I guess that's to be expected in a MG book. Carolyn Meyer did a nice job capturing the excitement of her will-it-happen secret marriage. Full review to come.

Originally posted on Small Review

My first historical fiction foray into Isabel's world was through C. W. Gortner's powerful The Queen's Vow. Now, that book was an adult book that clocked in at about 400 pages. This one is a MG book with fewer th
Yes, I read one of the Royal Diaries. What of it?

For those of you who don't know, the Royal Diaries are kind of an offshoot of the Dear America books which purport to be the diaries of various princesses throughout history. This one is Isabel of Spain, as in Ferdinand and, though of course she's not married yet. It recounts her preteen and early teenage years.

Now, it's very accurate, factually speaking, and there are some things that ring true when compared with Isabel's later actions, like her
Sep 27, 2009 rated it liked it
The book Isabel Jewel of Castilla is about a princess that wants to find true love. Her brother the king wants her to marry this ugly guy that she doesn't want to marry. The kingdom is divided into two. One goes to Isabel's brother and the other kingdom goes to her other brother. In the story, Isabel runs away with one of the kings servants. She then finds out that the ugly guy dies. Her brother then tries to capture her but he fails. In the end she marries a guy named Fernando. She really like ...more
Jan 09, 2013 rated it liked it
One of the better ones that I have read. Checked the author, realized it was Carolyn Meyer and agreed with my findings. You may not, but I think she writes engagingly well for the younger audience.

Isabel of Castilla is the sister of two brothers that are both "crowned" King of lands that will become Spain. The diary covers the time from when she moves in with her younger brother to the day she meets her husband, King Ferdinand.

What I liked about the book was how Isabel questioned women ruling. I

Shirleon Benson
So far, in my re-reading, this one has been my favorite. I like how Isabel adds her dialogue's into her diary. (And by her I mean the author, since I don't know how accurate this actually is.)

One thing that I did find annoying to see was how strict her priest was at the beginning of her diary to write down all her sins. While this is not a terrible practice, the way that he was coming across was a "fire and brimstone" kind of guy. She ended up changing her writing to be more about her everyday
Sarah Crawford
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is about the person better known as Queen Isabella who helped back Christopher Columbus' voyages to the "New World." It mostly deals with her earlier years and the incredible complexity of the political webs that she had to pass through as she was growing up. The terror of the Bubonic Plague is also discussed briefly.

Although a lot of the book is about her daily live, the majority of it is involved in tying that daily life into the political problems, betrayals and dangers that she fa
Jul 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: adapted-to-movie
While I do not appreciate the sexual content in this book, I loved how Meyer weaved so much history into these journal entries. The story gives a good look into the daily life of Spanish royalty in the 1400s, including the Catholic religion, food, wares sold at fairs, diseases, and the political spectrum. I appreciated how many of Isabel's writings set the stage for her future role as the sender of Columbus and the starter of the Inquisition. Included in the book are pictures of the historical c ...more
Kristen (belles_bookshelves)
"We are all sinners."


Imma tell you something, but the 0% segue between "my brother, King Alfonso" and "King Alfonso thinks you're very attractive and wants to marry you" threw me for a loop for 10 pages before I realized that the Spanish and Portuguese kings have the same name for some ridiculous reason.

Her daughter was Catharine of Aragon, who married Henry VIII. She and her husband are the monarchs who support Columbus' voyage. The Spanish Inquisition to covert Jews to Christianity, which was
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love reading the Royal Diaries! They always manage to get me interested in the time period and people they are about. Well, they've done it again!
Isabel was a fabulous little excerpt from the childhood of one of the most powerful and influential queens of the time. She certainly had a rough life but I admired how she remained spirited and determined yet still humble and submissive at the correct moments. It was a story of faith and power. The characters were well written and portrayed in excit
Feb 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting historical view from a very young Isabel. It seems that all we ever learn about is Isabel after her marriage, it was nice to get to know her from a younger perspective. It seems as though she had a chaotic youth with the warring between her two brothers. It must have also been difficult for her when her brothers' roles and allegiances switched to her or from her, all while they decide her future with various marriage alliances. It is understandable how she became such a strong ruler, ...more
Young Adult Historical Vault
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is your classic I'm A Princess And People Keep Trying To Marry Me Off. Also a fun fact: this is the book that taught me Isabel is the Spanish version of Elizabeth. Anyway, Carolyn Meyer isn't a master of subtlety, so this one tends to hit you over the head with things, but it's reasonably interesting and well-written. Maybe worth taking out from the library instead of buying, though.

For my full review including spoilers, check out Young Adult Historical Vault.
Well, I like Isabel of Castilla/Castille a little less than I used to. I know that she was a child of her time, but it was such a horrid time, with ghastly attitudes (that a lot of people still haven't shed)... (Also, the daughter I'm never likely to have should be glad of her non-existence, because despite not liking Isabel the character/person, I'm developing quite a love of the name Ysabel..., with just that spelling.)
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Carolyn Meyer is as versatile a writer as you will find. Along with historical fiction and realistic novels for young adults she has written nonfiction for young adults and books for younger readers on topics as diverse as the Amish, the Irish, Japanese, Yup'ik Eskimos, a rock band, rock tumbling, bread baking, and coconuts. And ten of her books have been chosen as Best Books for Young Adults by t ...more

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  • Kaiulani: The People's Princess, Hawaii, 1889
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