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Early Modern Spain

The early modern period is typically said to have started around the late 1400s and ended in the late 1700s. For early modern Spain, it meant the establishment of royal authority, a more unified Spain, the discoveries of the New World, and Spain’s development into a dominant European power.

The late fifteenth to sixteenth century was a decisive period for Spain, in which the country became more unified and expanded its power around the world. However, during this prosperous period, there was also a lot of suffering. Jewish, Muslim, and Protestant Spaniards experienced harsh oppression under the force of the Spanish Inquisition, while the Spanish colonisation in the New World had deadly consequences for indigenous populations.

Key dates

  • Late 500AD- The Arianist Visigoths convert to Christianity.

  • 700AD- The Muslim Umayyad caliphate conquers most of the Iberian Peninsula.

  • 1469- The marriage of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon.

  • 1474- King Henry IV dies and Isabella is crowned Queen.

  • 1478- The Spanish Inquisition is established.

  • 1492- Ferdinand successfully conquests Granada; Christopher Columbus begins his expedition to the Americas.

  • 1504- Queen Isabella dies.

  • 1516- Charles I becomes the King of Spain.

  • February 1519- The conquistador Hernando Cortés and his men land on the coast of Mexico and capture Montezuma, ruler of the Aztec Empire.

  • 1520- The Revolt of the Comuneros begins.

  • 1551- Spanish rule is established in Peru.

  • 1553- Spanish rule is established in Mexico.

  • 1555- Charles I abdicates.

  • 1556- Philip is crowned King of Spain.

  • 1568- The Morisco uprising. The Eighty Years' War begins.

  • 1598- Philip dies of cancer at El Escorial.

What was Spain like in 1469?

The Spain we know today is very different from the Spain of the Middle Ages. The Iberian Peninsula (the areas of Spain and Portugal) was fragmented, with warring religions fighting for control. Multiple conquests had led to a diverse peninsula with Muslim, Jewish and Christian populations. Although this period, is characterised as one of convivencia, there were clashes (especially between Muslims and Christians, who were fighting for power over the different regions).

Convivencia

A Spanish term meaning “co-existence”, used to refer to Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities residing together until 1492.

How did Spain change under Isabella and Ferdinand, 1474-1516?

Isabella and Ferdinand are often credited with having unified Spain due to the reconquest of Granada, the last Muslim kingdom. However, they are also remembered for their religious fervour and the horrific consequences of this on the Muslim and Jewish populations.

Background

Isabella was born to John II of Castile and Isabella of Portugal and was second in line to the throne after her half-brother Henry. After a tumultuous period of fighting over the throne during the War of Castilian Succession, King Henry IV died in 1474, and Isabella was crowned Queen. In 1469, she had married her second cousin, Ferdinand of Aragon, and he joined her as King in 1479, after some opposition.

When Isabella died in 1504, Ferdinand continued to rule alone. His daughter, Joana I, became the queen of Castile but this had little effect on national policy as she was declared insane and imprisoned. After that, Ferdinand served as her regent.

Regent

A person put in charge of a kingdom or state because the original ruler is incapacitated or absent.

Early Modern Spain Wedding Portrait of Ferdinand and Isabella StudySmarterWedding portrait of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella

Gender in early modern Spain

In a time where the monarchy was largely dominated by men, Isabella and her sovereign rule challenged gender norms. Isabella and Ferdinand ruled as a partnership with Isabella establishing a strong authoritative rule as a Queen. Ferdinand consulted with her about policy, and she wielded power over administrative decisions.

Some historians like Theresa Earenfight argue that former rulers of the Iberian Peninsula such as Queen Urraca of Castile (1186-1220) and Juana Enríquez of Aragon (1458-1468) provided inspiration and legitimacy for Isabella.¹ However, scholars like Elizabeth Lehfeldt doubt the actual power of these women, stating that Isabella was an anomaly and represented a new kind of Queen.²

Scholars group Isabella and Queen Elizabeth I of England together as they were both seen as the two great exemplars of female sovereignty in early modern Europe. They differed in how they presented themselves; Elizabeth flouted convention and used virginity to acquire and maintain her position whilst Isabella took a more subtle approach.

Ecclesiastical punishment in early modern Spain

Ferdinand and Isabella were devout Catholics and wanted to transform Spain into an entirely Catholic country, for purposes of religious unity and to strengthen the crown. Between 1475-1479 (the modernisation period), they asked Muslims and Jews to convert to Catholicism or face expulsion.

The Spanish Inquisition

Many did baptise and convert; however, suspicions arose as many still practised their faith in secret. Jewish converts (known as marranos), were denounced as a danger after Isabella and Ferdinand married. And, in 1478, the Spanish Inquisition was established, supported by Pope Sixtus IV, to root out any non-converters or heretics.

Marrano

A derogatory name (in Spanish it means pig) that was given to Jews who had publicly converted to Christianity to avoid persecution but continued practising Judaism in secret.

The Spanish Inquisition swept throughout Spain; neighbours, friends, and family members were encouraged to act as informants on each other. An edict of grace gave people 40 days to confess heresy, within which time they would be given mercy. This resulted in many groundless confessions by devout Catholics, simply through fear.

Public ceremonies called autos-da-fé tried anyone suspected of heresy and jailed, tortured, expelled, or executed anyone found guilty. Tomás de Torquemada was the first grand inquisitor and became infamous for his brutal torture and it is reported that 2000 people burned at the stake during his tenure.

Auto-da-fé

A Portuguese term, meaning “expression of faith”, was used as the name for the public ceremonies of those brought before the Spanish Inquisition.

Spain lost a large proportion of its population from exile too. In 1492, Jews were given the choice of exile or baptism, resulting in 160,000 Jews being expelled from Spain. The Inquisition lasted until 1834.

Heretic

A person whose views do not conform to the views of the Roman Catholic Church.

Religious unity

The Spanish Inquisition, whilst brutal and oppressive, is seen as having some positive effects. By 1516, there was to some extent religious unity in Spain. The Inquisition also meant that the country did not experience the same religious divisions that tore other European countries apart.

Spain did not conduct witch trials like other countries, such as England did in the 15th-18th centuries.

Christopher Columbus

In 1492, when Christopher Columbus, an inexperienced but determined seafarer, came to Spain to ask for support for an expedition, the crown agreed (after rejection in 1486). Spain was not renowned for its expertise in seafaring at this time, but Columbus had been turned away everywhere else. Spain was keen to supersede its rival, Portugal, which held a monopoly on West African sea routes.

Early Modern Spain Portrait of a man said to be Christopher Columbus StudySmarterPortrait of a man said to be Christopher Columbus

Discoveries

On his expedition, Columbus found the Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola and then returned several times to discover Trinidad, mainland South America, and Honduras. Whilst he did not encounter anything significant at this time, the crown laid claim to these countries with the Inter caetera of 1493 and his discoveries began the Spanish Empire, paving the way for future explorers.

The Treaty of Tordesillas

Spanish and Portuguese rulers decided a division of influence would be necessary to prevent conflict over areas of exploration. In 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas was established. This divided the territories between the two powers; the Portuguese received everything outside Europe east of a demarcation line through the Atlantic Ocean (giving them Africa, Asia, and east Brazil) and Spain received anything west of this line (giving them control over the western part of the Americas and the Pacific Ocean islands). Most of Spain’s territory was completely undiscovered, later proving beneficial to Spain, in the form of Mexico and Peru.

Early Modern Spain Map showing the demarcation of territory after the Treaty of Tordesillas StudySmarterMap of the meridian line set under the Treaty of Tordesillas by Antonio de Herrera

Effects on the inhabitants

The discovery of these territories was beneficial for Spain. For the inhabitants themselves, they were not. Spain enslaved them, forcing them to adopt Spanish culture (language, Catholicism). Many inhabitants died because of Spain’s exploration of its newfound territories, and from the warfare, forced labour, and disease that accompanied it. Around three million native Taíno inhabitants of Hispaniola were killed between 1494 and 1508. Ferdinand issued the Laws of Burgos in 1512, designed to protect the spiritual and material welfare of the inhabitants of colonised lands, but this was a small and ineffectual gesture.

Hispaniola

An island in the West Indies that is now divided into the Republic of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Reforms

This was definitely a time of change for Spain. This meant that the way the state was administered also had to undergo modifications.

Hermandades

During this period Isabella and Ferdinand utilised the pre-existing Hermandades, local peacekeeping forces in the towns, as a police force. They supplied them with arms and facilitated organisation across towns. These forces proved valuable for collecting taxes and regulating crime, something that Henry IV did very little to help.

Finances

Isabella and Ferdinand inherited a financially bankrupt nation after Henry IV’s period of heavy spending, leaving the kingdom of Castile in great debt. To restore the Crown’s finances, the kingdom took back estates that had been gifted or undersold in Henry’s reign and took back control over the production of money.

How did Spain change under Charles I (1519-56)?

The accession of Charles I to the throne resulted in a new era for Spain, one that was less unified, and led by an absentee King. This contrasted sharply with Spain’s growing power abroad, as the exploration of the Americas continued.

Early Modern Spain Portrait of Charles I StudySmarterPortrait of Charles I

Background

Charles I, grandson of Isabella and Ferdinand and the emperor Maximilian I, grew up in the Netherlands. He was set to inherit a vast empire. His childhood meant that he was an outsider in Spain as he did not know the language or customs. This made it difficult to consolidate his rule and he was largely unpopular with swathes of the population.

Furthermore, having power over several territories made it very difficult for him to focus on one country. External threats, such as the growing forces of Protestantism and Ottoman and French pressure, kept him very busy and he somewhat neglected Spain. He rarely spent time there, leaving the population restless and dissatisfied.

Throughout his reign, Charles I balanced Spanish domestic affairs and overseas expansion; in addition, he was occupied with maintaining the power of the Habsburg Dynasty and the Holy Roman Empire’s fight against Protestantism. His attentions were not focused on Spain, leading to the emergence of internal issues such as the Revolt of the Comuneros and Germanias. These were quickly put down by Charles but symbolised the distrust towards him.

Exploration

During Charles' reign, Spanish explorers arrived in Mexico (1519) and Peru (1526). This marked a new period for Spain's position in colonial expansionism. Although colonisation took a long time, it made Spain incredibly wealthy. However, Charles I’s foreign wars across the Holy Roman Empire meant that most of the country’s wealth was spent on the imperial armies. In addition, Spain suffered from inflation and royal debt. Nevertheless, Spain emerged as a military power.

Imperial army

The army of an empire.

Wars

During Charles I’s reign, he was engaged in constant conflicts across Europe and elsewhere. Charles was part of the Habsburg dynasty and war aimed to protect and expand that dynasty. The Ottoman-Habsburg Wars were fought against the Ottoman Empire (which controlled much of south-eastern Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia). The Habsburg-Valois wars were fought against the French Valois dynasty.

Soldiers in early modern Spain

During Charles’ reign, the Spanish army established itself as a powerful land force, famous for its effectiveness on the battlefield. It became one of the first modern European armies and its capability was crucial to helping Charles win in foreign wars and suppress internal disputes. These military units, known as the tercios, consisted of groups of volunteer soldiers and were initially established during Isabella and Ferdinand’s reign to help conquest of Granada.

Their legacy is long-lasting, helping Spain become one of the most dominant European powers throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.

How did Spain change under Philip II, 1556–98?

Philip’s rule re-established stability in Spain after Charles I’s absenteeism and neglect. His reign is associated with prosperity and Spanish culture (it is sometimes called the Golden Age). It was at this time that Spain’s colonial expansion began to have demonstrably positive effects on Spanish society.

Early Modern Spain Portrait of King Philip II of Spain StudySmarterPortrait of King Philip II

Background

Philip II was crowned King of Spain in 1556 (and King of Portugal in 1581) but was already experienced at running the country, having served as regent to his father Charles I intermittently since 1543. His accession to the throne marked political continuity as Charles I had given him instructions on how to rule, which he followed throughout.

He inherited a weak financial position. His father had spent a lot of money on foreign wars and Spain was in a state of inflation. Philip had to declare bankruptcy in the first year of his reign.

He was known as the prudent or paper King because he was incredibly cautious about any decisions and worked slowly, often to the detriment of Spain.

Religious Threats under Philip

Under Philip, the Spanish Inquisition continued to root out heretics, focusing particularly on Jews and Muslims. However, the threat of Protestantism grew even stronger during Charles I’s reign and into Philip’s.

Morisco Uprising

Philip II became increasingly concerned about Moriscos, former Muslims in Granada, and their attempts to rebel against him. They accounted for over half of the population of Granada, which had been conquered by Isabella and Ferdinand. In 1556, he banned expressions of Morisco culture.

On Christmas eve 1568, Moriscos rebelled against Philip, resulting in a deadly two-year uprising, supported by the Ottomans. It was quelled in 1570. Philip issued a decree, expelling 50,000 Moriscos from Granada to be resettled in other regions like León and Toledo. This expulsion was harsh and over a quarter died. Between 1571 and 1614, 300,000 were expelled from Spain.

Morisco

Name given to Moors (Muslim inhabitants of Spain), especially those that had converted to Christianity.

Wars under Philip II

Philip continued to engage with the Wars that had dominated his father’s reign, fighting the Valois monarchy of France in Italy in the 1550s and 1590s, as well as the Ottomans in North Africa. Philip saw himself as the protector of Catholicism in Europe and intervened in states that had turned to Protestantism. These wars led to increasing financial problems for Spain.

The Ottoman Empire

In 1571, Philip used the Spanish navy to defeat the Ottoman Empire. This left Spain in control of the western Mediterranean, opening up shipping routes.

France

Philip’s intervention in the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598), between Catholics and Protestants, resulted in Spain financing French Catholic efforts. Despite Spain’s failure to suppress Protestantism in France, Henry IV did convert to Catholicism.

The Eighty Years War

The Eighty Years War, where the Dutch fought for independence against Spain began in Philip's reign in 1568 and continued after his death until 1648. His means of suppressing revolts in the Netherlands led to him becoming seen as a despotic and cruel figure by many in these regions.

The Spanish Armada

Spain went to war with England in 1585. The aim was to establish Catholicism in the country but resulted in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Despite Spain’s naval strength, England forced Spanish ships to retreat. This strengthened England’s reputation but was only a minor setback for Philip, and Spain remained a military superpower for another century.

Early Modern Spain - Key takeaways

  • Spain was originally referred to simply as the Iberian Peninsula and was an amalgamation of independently ruled territories where Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived together.

  • In the 8th-century, the Muslim Umayyad caliphate conquered most of Spain and this was gradually reconquered by Christians during a 700-year war, culminating in the final capitulation of Granada under Isabella and Philip in 1492.

  • Philip and Isabella were devoutly Catholic and forced the Jewish and Muslim population to convert.

  • Concerned that their conversion was not genuine, Philip and Isabella created the Spanish Inquisition to weed out heretics.

  • In 1492, Spain’s power on the global stage changed drastically when Christopher Columbus discovered America. This initiated an era of colonisation.

  • Isabella and Ferdinand created a stable Spain, establishing dominance, sorting out the finances, regulating crime, and creating religious unity (although forced).

  • Charles I’s reign was very different, characterised as it was by financial difficulties, absenteeism, and foreign wars.

  • Charles was unpopular as he did not speak the language, know the culture, or spend much time in the country. The Revolt of the Comuneros is an example of some of the discontent which existed about his reign.

  • During Charles’ reign, Protestantism gained popularity across Europe. This encouraged Charles, as Holy Roman Emperor and member of the Protestant Habsburg dynasty, to fight wars against it.

  • The discoveries of Mexico and Peru by Cortés and Pizarro led to a further expansion of Spain’s power and a large increase in its wealth, partly due to theft from the Inca and Aztec populations.

  • Philip II’s reign was characterised by prosperity but also by war, financial problems, and prudence.

  • Philip fought against Morisco uprisings in Spain, Protestantism in the Netherlands, and Spanish Armada was defeated in a battle with the English.

1. Theresa Earenfight, ‘Two Bodies, One Spirit: Isabel and Fernando’s Construction of Monarchical Partnership,’ Queen Isabel I of Castile: Power, Patronage, Persona, 2008.

2. Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt, ‘Ruling Sexuality: The Political Legitimacy of Isabel of Castile,’ Renaissance Quarterly 53, no. 1, 2000.

Frequently Asked Questions about Early Modern Spain

The early modern period is typically said to have started around the late 1400s and ended in the late 1700s. For Spain, it meant the establishment of royal authority, a more unified Spain, the discoveries of the New World and Spain’s development into a dominant European power.

Modern-day Spain (and Portugal) was referred to as the Iberian Peninsula. It was divided into different kingdoms: Castile, Aragon, Granada, Navarre, and Portugal.

Spain originated from the Iberian Peninsula (modern-day Spain and Portugal). In the late fifteenth century, Spain consisted of four kingdoms and one emirate: Castile, Aragon, Navarre, Portugal, and Granada. After Ferdinand’s conquest of Granada and invasion of Navarre, these kingdoms became three: Castile (with Granada), Aragon (with Navarre) and Portugal. The merging of Castile and Aragon under Philip II led to the more unified Spain we know today.

Romans lived in Spain between the third century BC and fifth century AD. They replaced the Celts, who lived in Spain from the sixth century BC.

Final Early Modern Spain Quiz

Question

Which regions did the Muslim Umayyad caliphate conquer in the eighth century? (Choose three).


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Answer

Andalusia


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What had happened to the major Muslim strongholds by the thirteenth century?


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Answer

Christians had gained control of most of the major Muslim strongholds apart from Granada, which was ruled by the Nasrid Dynasty.

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What happened to Granada in 1482-92?


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Answer

In 1482-92 Ferdinand directed a campaign against the Muslim kingdom of Granada, aiming to reconquer it as a Christian territory. He was successful. A long siege in January 1492 forced the sultan Muhammad XII to surrender the city. The remaining Mudéjars, Muslims, were offered a choice between exile or baptism in 1502.

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Question

Which Religions were forced to convert under Isabella and Ferdinand? (Choose two)


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Answer

Catholics

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What was the purpose of the Spanish Inquisition?


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Answer

 Isabella and Ferdinand created the Spanish Inquisition with the support of Pope Sixtus IV to root out any non-converters or heretics from Spanish society. Autos-da-fé were ceremonies to try anyone suspected of heresy. Heretics were jailed, tortured, expelled, or executed.


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Question

Which of these countries did Christopher Columbus 'discover'? (Choose three).


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Answer

Cuba

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Question

What was the Treaty of Tordesillas?


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Answer

The Treaty of Tordesillas was an agreement signed between Spain and Portugal on the division of non-European territories. The Portuguese received everything outside Europe east of the Cape Verde Islands (giving them Africa, Asia and Brazil) and Spain received everything west of this line (giving them control over the western part of the Americas and the Pacific islands).


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Question

Which of these titles did Charles hold? (Choose three).


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Answer

 Duke of Burgundy, Lord of the Netherlands


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Question

Why did the citizens of Castile revolt in 1520?

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Answer

Discontent grew over Charles’ lack of knowledge of Spanish culture and language. The elites wanted more power in government, and they feared the Dutch influence Charles had brought with him.

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Which two explorers discovered which two important countries in the Americas during Charles' reign?


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Answer

Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro discovered Mexico and Peru respectively. Wealth came from the Aztec and Inca populations.

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What were the consequences of the discoveries of Mexico and Peru? (Choose three).


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Answer


Inflation

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Which wars did Charles engage in during his reign? (Choose three).


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Answer

 Schmalkaldic Wars


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What instructions did Charles I give Philip II? (Choose three).


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Answer

Conquer more of the Americas


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Why was there a revolt in the Netherlands?


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The Netherlands was under Philip II’s rule, handed to him by his father Charles. The rising popularity of Protestantism, heavy taxation to pay for Charles’ foreign wars, and the desire for independence against Spain, led the Dutch to rebel against Spanish rule.


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How did the defeat of the Spanish Armada affect Philip II’s reign?


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Answer

Whilst the Armada was defeated by the English, this did not destroy Philip’s reputation or power. It was merely a setback. Spain remained a superpower for another century.

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Who were the Arianist Visigoths?


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Answer

The Arianist Visigoths were a Christian Germanic tribe who conquered the Iberian Peninsula after the Romans. They converted to Catholicism in the late sixth century.


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Which regions were part of Al-Andalus? 


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Northern Spain


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What had happened to Spain and the Reconquista by the thirteenth century?


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Answer

By the thirteenth century, major Muslim strongholds had fallen to the Christians, who had acquired almost the entire peninsula apart from Granada, ruled by the Nasrid Dynasty.


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Why was Ferdinand’s reconquest of Granada so important?


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The Conquest of Granada brought Spain under Catholic rule and was a huge success for Isabella and Ferdinand. The region of Granada was absorbed by Castile, further uniting Spain. It also made Christopher Columbus’ voyages possible as Spanish rulers could devote more time to overseas exploration now that internal disputes and territories had been settled.

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To what extent was Spain unified after the Reconquista?


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In terms of geographical rule, Spain was unified after the Reconquista as the Catholics had reconquered all of the Muslim kingdoms. However, each kingdom was ruled independently and was culturally and politically very different. Whilst Catholicism ruled, Muslims and Jews still lived in convivencia, meaning that religion was not fully unified (later leading to the Spanish Inquisition). Essentially Spain was superficially unified after the reconquest of Granada. It would take marriage alliances and more invasions to unify the country.


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What three kingdoms existed after 1512?


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Castile (with Granada)


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How did the Spanish Inquisition affect Jews and Muslims living in the Iberian Peninsula?


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Answer

Jews and Muslims living in Spain were asked to convert to Christianity or face expulsion from the country. Many chose baptism but still practised their faith in secret. The Spanish Inquisition sought to use judicial institutions to find these ‘heretics’ (often Marranos/ Conversos and Moriscos) and either jailed, exiled, tortured or killed them. Many fled Spain.

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How did the War of Castilian Succession affect Isabella?


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Isabella’s victory during the War of Castilian Succession, where she put down a plot to oust her from the throne, strengthened her power as ruler. In particular, the Catholic Monarchs’ victory at the Battle of Toro in 1476 established her as a strong leader.


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Why did Portugal’s victory at sea represent a major loss for the Catholic Monarchs?


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It meant the Portuguese had the exclusive right to navigation in the Atlantic where they could acquire wealth and power from conquering new lands.


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How did the Treaty of Tordesillas prevent conflict between Spain and Portugal?


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Spain and Portugal were both exploring the New World and there was potential for disputes over the territories. The treaty divided the territories between the two powers. The Portuguese received everything east of the Cape Verde Islands (giving them Africa, Asia, and Brazil) and Spain received everything west of this line (giving them control over the western part of the Americas and the Pacific Ocean islands).


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What led to Philip II becoming the King of Portugal in 1581?


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Answer

The death of King Sebastian of Portugal in 1578 triggered a succession crisis as he did not have an heir. Phillip II of Spain claimed the throne and António, Prior of Crato, was acclaimed King of Portugal across many cities. In the end, Philip was crowned on account of the considerable support base he had accrued.

Philip II marched into Portugal and defeated António’s troops in the Battle of Alcântara. He then assumed the Portuguese throne in 1580 and was crowned Philip I of Portugal in 1581.


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With which two married rulers is the ‘New Monarchy’ associated? 


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Isabella I

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What does the Iberian Peninsula refer to?


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Answer

The areas of modern-day Spain and Portugal.


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What did the Reconquista mean?


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Answer

Reconquista is Spanish for ‘reconquest’ and refers to the battles of the Christians in the North of Spain against the Muslims that controlled the other territories. It was labelled the reconquest because the Christians believed they were reconquering their old territories from Muslim rule.


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Question

Which of these did Henry IV of Castile achieve during his reign? (Choose two) 


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Answer

The successful invasion of Granada


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Why did Isabella I stand out at the time of her rule?

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Answer

Isabella was a strong female leader in a time where the monarchy was largely dominated by men. She challenged gender norms, establishing herself as authoritative and wielding power over Ferdinand, who came to her about decisions. She represented a new kind of Queen and is frequently compared to Queen Elizabeth I of England, the other great exemplar of female sovereignty in early modern Europe.

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What were the effects of the War of Castilian Succession? (Choose two) 


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Answer

 Isabella I established herself as a strong leader


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Which of these institutions did Isabella and Ferdinand establish? (Choose three) 


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Answer

The Council of Comuneros


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What were the effects of the Sentencia Arbitral de Guadeloupe? (Choose three) 


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Answer

Some of the peasants’ feudal obligations were abolished

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Question

What effects did the Conquest of Granada have on Spanish expansionism? 


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Answer

Granada’s conquest meant that Spain was more unified and could focus on overseas exploration rather than internal disputes and territories. This meant that when Christopher Columbus came to ask for support for overseas exploration, the Crown granted it. Whilst exploring, he discovered the New World. This would eventually lead to Spain colonising the Americas. 


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Which titles did Charles I take on? (Choose three) 


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Answer

Charles I, Archduke of Austria


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Question

To what extent were the rebels successful in the revolt of the Comuneros?


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Answer

Whilst royal forces suppressed the revolt of the Comuneros in 1552, the rebels were somewhat successful in achieving their aims. Charles removed unpopular, ineffective, and corrupt officials from government. He also positioned the Castilian elite in government, like the rebels had desired. He had fulfilled their demands and the lack of future revolts suggests they were satisfied with this.

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Question

Do you agree with McElwee, that Charles’ reign marked a ‘disastrous period for Spain’?


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Answer

When answering this question, you can argue either way, as long as you back up your argument. You might cite his unpopularity, taxes on the Spanish people, and losses in foreign wars as arguments to support McElwee. Or you might cite his successful suppression of the Comuneros (and the subsequent internal peace), his wins in foreign wars, the successes of exploration to argue against him.


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Who were Charles I’s maternal grandparents? 

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Answer

Isabella I

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Question

Why did Charles I become the Holy Roman Emperor?

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Answer

Charles I’s grandfather was Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. This gave Charles the right to succession of his title when he died in 1519.

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Which of these titles did Charles hold? 


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Answer

Duke of Burgundy

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Question

Who was Infante Ferdinand and why did he pose a threat to Charles I?


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Answer

Infante Ferdinand was Charles’s brother. He posed a threat because many Castilians wanted him to be ruler instead of Charles because he had grown up in Spain. Many of his supporters later joined the Comunero Revolt.

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Question

Why did discontent grow among the citizens of Castile in 1520?


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Answer

Charles had left Spain for Germany.

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Question

Why did historian Henry Kamen argue that the period after the Comunero Revolt was perhaps the most successful phase of Charles' reign?


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Answer

Charles decided to stay in Spain after the Revolt and build relations with the Castilians. His efforts were successful and he managed to settle the government of the country. This period is seen as one of his most successful phases as very little internal dispute arose in Spain after the Revolts.

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Question

What caused the Revolt of the Germanías?

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Answer

Valencia had been plunged into a severe economic crisis due to reduced trade. Artisan guilds were unable to generate income and rebelled against King Charles. They protested against monarchy and feudalism, the nobility that had fled Valencia after the Plague broke out, and against the Muslim population of Aragon.

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Question

Why did Charles’s son Philip become his regent in 1543?


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Answer

Due to his duties across the Empire, Charles spent very little time in Spain. He initially left his wife Isabella of Portugal in charge of Spain as his regent but when she died, Philip was given the role.

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Which two main dynasties was Charles fighting against? 

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Answer

The Hapsburg Dynasty

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Question

Why were the Spanish critical of foreign wars?


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Answer

The imperial pursuits did not coincide with Spanish interests. The wars were costly and Charles I used Spanish funds to pay for them. There was heavy taxation to support them and the wealth gained from exploration in the Americas was channelled into those foreign wars.

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Which religion was sweeping through Europe and posing a threat to the Catholic Kingdoms?


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Answer

Protestantism

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Question

What were the consequences of Cortés' and Pizarro’s exploration in the Americas?


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Answer

 Spanish citizens enjoyed vast amounts of wealth.

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