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Beatriz Henrique di Arana is an orphaned Basque girl whose mother served as handmaiden to Princess Isabella of Castile. Her father, Pedro Torquemeda, a converted Jew, is an adviser to the court. Four year old Beatriz and her older brother Pedro, are orphaned when their parents die suspiciously. Their aunt and uncle take them in, and they move from Valladolid, a big city, to a small estate in the hills north west of Cordoba along the Rio Guadialato. Used to the bustle of the city, the isolated nature of the estate makes it difficult for them to adjust. While the estate is not large, it has horses. It is a center for raising bulls for fighting and produces a well recognized wine.
The estate is a center for Basque expatriates, and the family becomes embroiled in the conflict as Isabella consolidates her power after marrying Ferdinand and taking the crown of Castile. Cordoba is caught in the clash of cultures between Catholic Castile, Moorish Andalucía, and the large Jewish community on the Iberian peninsula. Her own Jewish roots become an issue for Beatriz when her uncle is appointed as Grand Inquisitor for the movement to purify Christian Spain.
Her cousin, Diego, who grew up with her on the estate, is a sailor with the Portuguese and Basque fleet. As Christopher Columbus becomes more insistent on his grand plan to sail west, the Basque become more concerned. Christopher has been turned down by the Portuguese King and is looking to Spain and France for support. When he finally makes an appeal to Isabella she tries to marginalize him while she and Ferdinand finish with the Moors. To keep him in Spain Diego introduces him to Beatriz. She finds him intoxicating. She falls in love with him, joins the conspiracy to be with him, has his second son, and introduces him to the court of Isabel and Ferdinand.