Thursday, January 24, 2013

“Isabel” - the television series

Spain’s history triumphs on the small screen. 

Isabel I of Castilla, Enrique IV, and Alfonso of Castilla. TVE photo.

If you understand Spanish, you may wish to watch one of this fall’s most popular television series in Spain, “Isabel.” It was aired on Televisíon Española (TVE), and you can watch the 13 episodes at the series’s website:

RTVE describes it this way:

The thrilling battle of a woman to become queen: this is the story that “Isabel” tells in its first series. Specifically, it begins with her education when she was hardly more than a girl, and ends with her coronation at only 23 years old, a key period for understanding the personality of the woman who was later called Isabel the Catholic.

If you watch closely, you’ll notice a few historical inaccuracies, and social customs and language have been simplified. I’m particularly disappointed in the choice of the actor to portray Fernando of Aragon, whom she marries at age 18. He was only 17 years old when they wed, but the actor — talented and handsome, to be sure — is twice that age.

On the other hand, the series makes good use of Spain’s heritage: the actual castles where events took place, for example. The intrigues, battles, and personalities were real, and the photography and scripts will keep you riveted. This series gathered a 22% audience share for a reason.

“Only God can take me from this throne,” Isabel declares at the end of the final episode, but He didn’t make it easy to get there.

A second season is planned that will include the war of succession between the backers of Isabel and Juana la Beltrana, the conquest of Granada, the expulsion of the Jews, and the voyage of Christopher Columbus.

The only surviving version of Amadis of Gaul was written during Isabel’s reign. I don’t know if she read it, but future Spanish kings did.

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