James IV of Scotland (1488-1513): Scotland’s Renaissance King

James IV brought unity, international status and the Renaissance to Scotland but his foreign policies proved his downfall. James encouraged artists, musicians and writers at his court. The first printing press was established in 1507.  His reign was also a time of peace and prosperity. His parliament passed the first compulsory education act in 1496.…

Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth of York was already Queen Regnant when she married Henry VII. They ended the Wars of the Roses and founded the Tudor dynasty. She was known as “one of the most gracious and best-beloved princesses in the world” despite not taking an active role in politics. Elizabeth was an embodiment of all the admired…

The Borgias: History’s Infamous Family

The Borgias were the most infamous family of the Renaissance best remembered for their climb to power, murder and corruption within the Papacy. Calixtus III The first was Lord Alfonso de Borja who was born in 1378. He was Alfonso V of Aragon's private secretary, remained in royal service for forty-two years, before he was…

Isabella and Ferdinand: Spain’s Catholic Monarchs

Isabella and Ferdinand’s reign heralded in a golden age and marked the beginning of Spain’s modern history with the Reconquista, Christopher Columbus and the Inquisition. Their marriage on 19 October 1469 united Spain. Isabella preferred Ferdinand as she turned down all other offers including the Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III). He was handsome, a…