SPAIN FROM FERDINAND AND ISABELLA TO PHILIP
The marriage in of royal cousins, Ferdinand of Aragon () and Isabella of Castile (), eventually brought stability to both kingdoms. Ferdinand of Aragon marries Isabella of Castile in Valladolid, thus beginning a of the Spanish-American War, U.S. forces launched an invasion read more. She was one half of a 15th-century power couple that united Spain and helped propel The young woman was Isabella of Castile – who owed her . It became a working relationship without par in the history of royal couples.
The Escorial, the great palace that was built for him, housed one of the finest art collections in the world. He played the guitar and even did a little composing. He was said also to do painting and modeling. Philip was a devoted family man, affectionate and tender toward his children, except for the ill-fated Don Carlos, an unbalanced and unruly character who died in prison in Philip was an obedient son, who revered his father and tried to emulate him. He was apparently a more faithful husband than many crowned heads of his day.
He was married four times and widowed four times. His last marriage is a good example of Hapsburg inbreeding. Philip's successor, Philip III, was one of the children of this last marriage. Philip II's reputation among non-Spaniards and non-Catholics as an inhuman monster has been challenged only since the nineteenth century.
His manner is one element in this picture. He was reserved and impassive, never showing emotion publicly. He was grave and courteous in bearing, spoke in a low voice, and never talked of himself. He submerged the man in the king. He had an intense sense of duty, which helped to make him one of the most hardworking of monarchs, spending interminable hours at his desk, year in and year out.
His father had left him the advice, "Depend on none but yourself," and he followed it. Since he made all the decisions, and since he was even slower, more cautious, and more hesitant than his father, immense delays occurred in the conduct of public business. One of his officials in Italy once remarked, "If death came from Spain, we should live to a very great age.
Ferdinand and Isabella marry - HISTORY
He governed through the system of councils and viceroys that had been established, and all matters of state business received thorough discussion in the appropriate councils, including the Council of State, the most important one. However, none of the councils had any decision-making authority. So jealously did the king guard his power that nobody but himself had full information about affairs of state. Sometimes, when he made a decision, the councilors who had discussed the problem would be surprised to learn how much information had been withheld from them.
With all the decisions that had to be made, this system would hardly have worked if the king had been a fast thinker and worker. In Philip's case it was impossible. The king was unable or unwilling to distinguish important matters from trivial ones and to delegate the latter to subordinates. Thus the ruler of the greatest empire of his day would spend hours over minutiae, while matters of immense consequence had to wait.
When the Armada was being prepared for the expedition against England, the king even decided how much water should be mixed with the sailors' wine. In his efforts to avoid competitors, he kept the great nobles away from the seats of power. His secretaries, who shared more of the king's knowledge than anyone else, were of undistinguished birth. If great nobles were employed, they were given military and diplomatic posts that kept them out of the country.
The only member of the class to whom the king ever gave his confidence was the duke of Alva, and even he spent part of his career in disgrace.
Before Philip's reign the Spanish monarchs had moved about, having no fixed residence. Under Philip, Madrid came to be regarded as the capital of Spain, and there the court became settled.
The location of Madrid in the geographical center of the country made it seem to a certain extent the appropriate place for the seat of government, but the king's fixed residence deprived most of his subjects of the opportunity to see him and tended to induce a feeling that their king was neglecting them. Other monarchs, including Philip's father, were aware of the importance of personal contact with their subjects as a means of stimulating loyalty and devotion.
Philip's subjects had no way of knowing that the solitary and inscrutable figure at his desk was deeply devoted to their interests as he understood them.
His Italian subjects were offended at being ruled by a monarchy that came to appear more and more Spanish, while the Aragonese complained that the monarchy was becoming more and more Castilian. One reason for the king's relative immobility was the size of the court, which comprised some fifteen hundred persons, a far cry from the simple days of Ferdinand and Isabella.
It must be said that Philip's personal habits were simple and even ascetic. It was in that the court came to rest at Madrid. Two years later, in a lonely region of foothills about twenty miles northwest of the city, Philip began the construction of the Escorial, a royal residence, a mausoleum, and a monastery. In the center was a church, and a community of Hieronymite monks was also housed there. Built in honor of St. Lawrence on whose day, August 10, the great victory of St. Quentin was won init was shaped like a gridiron, the instrument of the saint's martyrdom.
Finished init became Philip's favorite residence. Here he buried his father, all his wives except Mary Tudor, and his children who predeceased him. The king's room was as bare as a monk's cell. In the Escorial Philip worked, prayed, died, and was buried. The Escorial, with its religious character, seems to symbolize the importance of religion in the life of Philip II. He heard Mass daily, and he consulted his confessors and theologians before taking any act that presented a moral problem.
His policies he sincerely believed to be for the glory of God and the welfare of the church. Nevertheless, the older view of Philip as a crusader for the Counter Reformation has been questioned in recent years. The guiding principle of his policies, as in the case of other rulers, was reason of state. Though he saw the suppression of heresy as a religious duty, he also believed, as did most others in the sixteenth century, that the stability of his rule depended on religious uniformity within his domains.
While Protestants were afraid of an international Catholic conspiracy, Catholics by the second half of the century could see in Protestantism, especially in its Calvinistic form, an international plot to subvert the Catholic church and Catholic governments.
For Philip, this was no mere threat. Calvinism was making inroads in his Netherlands territories, and even in Spain, as we have seen, evidences of heresy cropped up early in the reign.
Philip often had trouble with the papacy. At the time of his accession, the pope was Paul IV, who hated Spain. Philip actually went to war with him, and in had troops in the Papal States. Sixtus V, one of the most zealous popes of the Counter Reformation, said in"The preservation of the Catholic religion which is the principal aim of the Pope is only a pretext for His Majesty whose principal aim is the security and aggrandisement of his dominions.
The appointment of bishops was in the king's hands, and the clergy were expected to assist in carrying out royal policy. There was also conflict between the king and the papacy over the decrees of the Council of Trent, ratified by Pius IV on January 26, Philip found some of the decrees distasteful, such as the one declaring bishops papal delegates; Philip had supported the view that the bishops were divinely appointed.
The king hesitated for months to publish in Spain the council's decrees. When he finally did, it was with the proviso that they should not encroach on the rights and privileges of the Spanish crown. This meant in actual practice that some of the council's enactments were invalid in Spain.
In the field of foreign affairs, Philip was at odds with the papacy again and again. This was true even when their interests coincided, as in the Netherlands. Pius V 72 wanted Philip to go to the Low Countries in person, and when he refused to do so, the pope blamed him for all the Spanish misfortunes.
While Pius was advocating a peaceful settlement in the Netherlands, Philip was reaching the decision to use force. In the case of England, he utterly repudiated the hostile policy of the popes toward Elizabeth's government, since he was not disposed to weaken the English for the benefit of his enemies the French.
He opposed the bull of excommunicating Elizabeth, and wrote to the queen herself to that effect. After the failure of the Armada, which was launched against England inSixtus V 90 refused to pay the subsidy he had promised.
The final blow to the already weakened relations between Philip and the papacy came in connection with France. Philip wanted to prevent Henry of Navarre from ascending the French throne; the popes, fearing any further increase in Philip's power, adopted a conciliatory policy toward Henry and recognized him as soon as he embraced the Catholic faith.
On the whole, Philip's record in foreign affairs would probably have to be regarded as unsuccessful. He failed to achieve his aims in England, France, and the Netherlands. In the Mediterranean struggle against the Turks, the fleet of Spain, Venice, and the papacy, commanded by Philip's half brother, Don John of Austria, won a great victory over the Turks at Lepanto in The victory, famous and celebrated as it was, had no permanent effects; and Turkish power remained unbroken.
In Portugal Philip scored a success. The Spanish monarchs had long been preparing for the day when they could take over that country by promoting marriages between the members of their family and the Portuguese royal family.
Thus when the king of Portugal, Sebastian, died in battle against the Moslems in Morocco inleaving no direct heir, Philip pushed his claims vigorously. Sebastian's immediate successor was his uncle, Cardinal Henry, who died in Philip used diplomacy, propaganda, and bribery, but finally had to resort to force. This was successful, and in he was able to go to Portugal and be recognized as king. The terms of annexation respected the autonomy and constitutional rights of the country, and on the whole the king kept his promises.
He lived in Lisbon from to The union of Spain and Portugal lasted untilwhen the Portuguese regained their independence. In the later years of his reign, Philip had domestic problems as well as foreign ones. In Aragon revolt broke out in The Aragonese were very jealous of their "liberties" and resentful of the fact that the monarchy was becoming increasingly Castilian.
The revolt of was precipitated by events that appeared to the Aragonese as violations of their precious liberties. One was the appointment of a viceroy who was not Aragonese. Another was the king's attempt to arrest his former secretary, Antonio Prez, who had escaped from prison, fled to Aragon, and taken refuge behind the liberties.
The king's attempts to have Prez apprehended led to mob violence and the death of a royal officer. Philip was meticulous in his respect for legal rights and procedures, but finally in October he sent an army of twelve thousand men into Aragon. He subdued the country without much difficulty, and imposed a relatively mild settlement. Prez had escaped to France, and only a few men were put to death, while most were pardoned.
Philip could have destroyed the Liberties of Aragon, but he did not do so. Changes were made in the constitution to strengthen royal control at the expense of the power of the nobles, a power that had been used for selfish ends and not for the general welfare. As in the case of Portugal, the king respected local rights. His concept of empire, like his father's, was that of a group of territories under one ruler, but otherwise possessing their separate identities and institutions. Probably the most serious development in Spain was the continued decline of the economy.
All the factors that have been identified earlier continued to operate and need not be repeated here in detail. The landed aristocracy remained wealthy because of its control of the land, and the peasants and artisans became more and more wretched. Those who worked got little return for their labor and had to bear the burden of higher taxes. Increasing numbers were unemployed, and added to the crowds of beggars and vagabonds who swarmed over Castile and the brigands who terrorized Aragon and Catalonia.
Agricultural production continued to decline, and increasing amounts of grain had to be imported. Grain was even purchased from the Dutch, against whom Spain was fighting during most of the reign. Even the mesta suffered at this period, although the government still favored it at the expense of agricultural interests. The high price of Spanish wool made it difficult to export, and the size of the flocks shrank; from to the number of sheep went down by 20 percent. Industry too was declining, especially in Castile.
Excessive government regulation and guild restrictions hampered its development, while the adverse trade balance made it impossible to earn the needed capital through normal commercial channels.
The government failed to lend adequate support to industry; the one source of capital available to Spain was America, but the wealth acquired from there was used for war expenditures, to pay for imported goods, or for luxuries. The most important causes of Spanish industrial decline, however, were the rise in prices and the high level of taxation.
The effects of these factors were not clearly understood, and the government's ignorant attempts to deal with them only made matters worse. It was believed that excessive exportation of goods helped to account for the rise in prices, and so a policy of forbidding exports and encouraging imports was adopted. The burden of taxes fell much more heavily on industry than on agriculture, driving businessmen to invest their capital in land rather than in business enterprise.
The growing needs of the state, arising from Philip's wars, raised taxes and further helped to ruin industry. The government was, of course, affected by these economic forces. While its revenues increased, its debts rose even faster.
At several points during his reign, Philip was forced into what amounted to bankruptcy. In he suspended payment on government debt, an act which weakened the credit of the government and made money more difficult to get. Thereafter the Spanish government had to pay higher interest rates on the money it borrowed. It had to continue borrowing, however, and by had pledged all its revenues in advance to its creditors, most of whom were foreign bankers.
By this time, the campaigns in the Netherlands were costing an immense amount, and there were no longer any lenders willing to supply money. Therefore, on September 1,the crown once more made a virtual declaration of bankruptcy.
The government eventually made a settlement by repudiating much of its indebtedness, causing great distress both at home and abroad; the two largest banks in Seville, for example, failed as a result.
These financial failures had their effects on foreign policy. The crisis of made it impossible to continue the war with France and thus helped to bring about the Peace of Cateau-Cambrsis. The breakdown in meant that the troops in the Low Countries went without pay for months, until they finally sacked Antwerp in November in "the Spanish Fury. New taxes were levied, especially in Castile, and fell heavily on the poor, since now essential foodstuffs were taxed.
In Philip once more had to admit bankruptcy. This time it meant the final blow to his imperial designs, already thwarted in one theater after another. The New World was ceasing to be an unfailing source of support for the Spanish economy. The Dutch and English, Protestant and maritime nations at war with Spain, were encroaching on the Indies trade.
True Confessions of Ferdinand and Isabella
The native population of Spanish America was decimated by epidemics, so that the Spanish could no longer count on an adequate labor force. The development of the colonial economy meant that the New World was producing the very goods previously imported from Spain: At the end of the century, natural catastrophes intervened; crop failures and plague took a heavy toll.
The labor supply was diminished and higher wages became necessary. A mood of bitterness, cynicism, and defeat spread over the country. The atmosphere of national disillusionment forms the background of Cervantes's Don Quixote, written in the first two decades of the seventeenth century.
By the end of the reign of Philip II, Spain was going into a decline which would cause it eventually to sink to a position of secondary political importance among the European states, yet this decline is more evident to us than it was to contemporaries.
When Philip II died on September 13,the country that he left to his successor still appeared to be a great and imposing power. Only time would reveal to what an extent the foundations of its strength had been undermined during the years of its greatest splendor.
By the group of provinces that constituted the Netherlands, or Low Countries, possessed an economic, cultural, and strategic importance far out of proportion to their modest geographical extent. They were centers of a flourishing trade and industry that had produced great and prosperous cities and a vigorous merchant class. This was especially true of the county of Flanders, with Ghent and Bruges, and the duchy of Brabant, with Brussels and Antwerp.
For the greater part of the sixteenth century, Antwerp was the greatest financial and commercial center of Europe. The rise of the great merchants and industrialists in the cities, and later the seizure of power by the craftsmen organized into guilds that came to dominate city governments, had made the histories of many cities a story of turbulence and upheaval. The urban classes had won recognition of their rights and privileges at the expense of nobles and of princes secular and ecclesiastical.
In general, lay rulers proved easier to deal with than ecclesiastical ones. A good deal of anticlerical sentiment had grown up, coupled with a zeal for religion. Education had been to some extent wrested from clerical control, at least on the elementary level.
The religious devotion present in the Low Countries was manifested in the movement known as the Devotio Moderna, or Modern Devotion, discussed in Chapter 9, and in the spread of radical theological ideas that later found expression in the left wing of the Reformation. To grasp something of the cultural flowering of the Netherlands in the late Middle Ages and on the eve of the Reformation, one has only to remember the masters of Flemish art in the fifteenth century and to bear in mind that Erasmus was a Dutchman who never lost the impress of his early training in the Netherlands by the Brethren of the Common Life.
From aboutvarious forces combined to bring about a decline in the independence and power of the towns. They were governed by narrow oligarchies of craftsmen who ruled in their own interest and without much thought for the general welfare. They were in conflict with the great industrial enterprises, which they could not control.
The workers were discontented with their position, and their unhappiness led to a number of violent but unsuccessful revolts. Conflicts within the towns were intensified by foreign complications. The French kings were consistently interested in annexing Flanders, and the different classes within the Flemish towns took sides either for or against these ambitions.
Opposed to the kings were the counts of Flanders, in alliance with the workers, while the upper classes sided with the kings. When Philip the Fair of France defeated the count and annexed Flanders inhis victory was annulled by a popular rising, which led to the massacre of French troops by the workers in the so-called Matins of Bruges in While the cities were torn by internal conflicts, they were also afflicted with hostility and jealousy of one another, making it impossible for them to combine for the protection of their common interests.
Consequently, they fell prey to the centralizing policies of the great Burgundian dukes of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and later of the Hapsburgs, under whose rule they had fallen by the start of the sixteenth century. The spectacular career of the duchy of Burgundy is one of the most interesting political developments of the late Middle Ages. For a while Burgundy seemed on its way to becoming one of the great powers of western Europe and constituted a serious threat to France.
Ironically, it was the French monarchy itself that unwittingly raised up this enemy. King John the Good of France 64having acquired Burgundy at the extinction of the line of Capetian dukes, bestowed the duchy on his youngest son, Philip. The duchy, a fief of the crown, lay on the eastern border of France, just south of the county of Champagne.
Philip entered into his inheritance in His marriage to the daughter of the count of Flanders brought him that important territory on the count's death in Thereafter, Philip known as Philip the Bold and his successors acquired by marriage, purchase, and conquest a vast agglomeration of territories in the Low Countries, the Holy Roman Empire, and France. Some of their lands they held as fiefs of the French crown, others as fiefs of the Holy Roman Empire.
The dukes, ruling over a rich and flourishing territory, presiding over perhaps the most splendid court of its time, aspired not unnaturally to the creation of an independent state. Their ambitions appeared to be favored by the desperate condition of France during the Hundred Years' War.
The four dukes who ruled Burgundy were men of marked ability. Philip the Bold died into be succeeded by his son John the Fearless, who was murdered in His son, Philip the Good, had the longest and most successful career, ruling until his death in The end of the great Burgundian state came with Philip's son and successor, Charles the Bold or Charles the Rashwho died fighting the Swiss at Nancy in In Charles we can see most clearly the force of the ambition that drove his dynasty; he fought incessantly and, as his epithet implies, recklessly for territory such as Lorraine, which would consolidate his domains and enable him to become a great monarch.
His premature death, coming before he could achieve his ambitions, may seem to have meant failure, but in the long run the work of the great dukes endured. In their efforts to create a state, they gave to their disparate territories a unity that had not previously exited, and laid the foundations for the modern nations of Holland and Belgium. Charles's successor was his young daughter, Mary.
Louis XI of France took advantage of the situation to recover the original duchy of Burgundy, which remained French in spite of the claims asserted by the descendants of Charles. That the Burgundian state did not disintegrate is a tribute to the work of the great dukes. It is also due in part to the fact that Mary's husband, Archduke Maximilian, later Emperor Maximilian I, was able to defend and preserve the greater part of the Netherlands.
In this way the Low Countries became part of the Hapsburg lands, and one of the areas of friction between the Hapsburgs and the French crown. A native of the area, he was a popular ruler. During his reign, the Netherlands reached new heights of prosperity, and Antwerp entered the era of its greatest influence. A class of great capitalists flourished, and alongside them a real industrial proletariat. Charles himself was born in Ghent, as we have seen, and brought up in the Low Countries.
His father died when Charles was six, and during his childhood the Netherlands were ruled by his aunt Margaret, his father's sister, who was in charge of the boy's upbringing. In he was declared of age as duke of Burgundy. As a native of Flanders, he was popular in the Netherlands and never quite lost his rapport with his subjects there, although the relationship was strained by the tremendous financial demands that Charles made on the Low Countries to help support his far-flung ventures.
He drew mercilessly on their wealth, especially in the first half of his reign, until they had reached the limit of their resources. Both the Burgundian dukes and their Hapsburg successors pursued policies that helped to build up a national consciousness in the Netherlands. The Burgundians established a bureaucracy to administer the territory as a whole, and developed the Estates-General, made up of representatives of the provincial assemblies or estates, as a means of raising money.
These meetings helped create a sense of unity. The noble Order of the Golden Fleece, founded by Philip the Good, had helped to give the members of the great nobility a sense of nationality. Charles V continued the work of building toward a unified state.
He conquered several outlying provinces and added them to his domains; as late asGelderland became the seventeenth Netherlands province to be ruled by him. Charles carried out a number of measures aimed at centralizing the government of the Low Countries. In he required all the provinces to take an oath of fealty to his designated successor, his son Philip. In each province he established organs of the ruler's authority, including the official known as the stadtholder, the chief man in the province.
Charles also reorganized the central administration. An ordinance of set up three specialized councils: The great nobles sat on the Council of State and discussed matters of general policy; it was from their ranks that the stadtholders were chosen.
During the reign of Charles, the nobles served their prince devotedly, and he never went too far in his relations with the Netherlands. When he could not get his way, he yielded. No doubt his need for money, as well as the fear that a harsh policy would push the Low Countries in the direction of his great enemy France helped to impose this restraint.
The problem of religion became a serious one in the Low Countries during the reign of Charles. Protestant ideas began to make headway there from an early date. It was the radical side of the Reformation, especially Anabaptism, which had the greatest appeal at first, though there was some Lutheranism as well. Charles was determined to wipe out heresy in his domains by every means available to him. He issued severe edicts, which culminated in the so-called Edict of Blood of This prescribed the death penalty for all offenses of this nature.
This harsh policy was so contrary to the spirit and wishes of the people that it was never thoroughly enforced. There were a number of executions, but they failed to destroy heresy. Instead, they had the effect of driving the new ideas underground, causing many persons to leave the country, and even attracting many to the doctrines for which they saw their fellows ready to die courageously.
Before Charles abdicated, he had seen his son and successor, Philip, married to the English queen Mary Tudor.
For Charles, the English alliance was essential to the security of the Netherlands, and he hoped it would be preserved. With the death of Mary inhowever, the link was broken, weakening the Spanish hold on the Low Countries.
Philip's foreign birth and failure to understand the outlook and traditions of the area as his father had done, was to prove a further source of trouble, especially because he was determined to rule there as an absolute monarch without respecting the liberties of the provinces or the prerogatives of the great nobles.
One thing that Philip knew quite well about the citizens of the Netherlands, was that they were rich. He wanted them to contribute a share of their wealth to meet his urgent needs. They proved unwilling, however, to part with their money to support enterprises foreign to their interests.
Money had been traditionally raised through the Estates-General, and during the earliest years of his rule, Philip had to abide by this method.
But when frequent meetings of the estates gave them a chance to express their objections to his policies, he turned to absolutist methods, secretly instructing the regent, Margaret of Parma, not to call the estates again. Margaret was Philip's half-sister, the illegitimate daughter of Charles V by a Flemish mother. Philip deprived her of all real power by naming her advisers and governing through them.
The chief one was Antoine Perrenot, lord of Granvelle, whom he named president of the Council of State. The native nobles, accustomed to playing an important role in the government, were deliberately set aside, and made their resentment known. In Philip was prevailed upon to make one important concession by withdrawing three thousand Spanish soldiers who had been stationed in the country during the war against France and who were hated by the natives.
Even this move, however, may have been dictated more by financial considerations than by the local opposition, which deeply offended the king.
An even more inflammatory issue was the royal plan to reorganize the ecclesiastical structure of the Low Countries. Hitherto parts of the area had been under foreign archbishops Reims and Cologne. Now there were to be three new archbishoprics, Cambrai, Malines, and Utrecht, with the archbishop of Malines serving as chief prelate. There were also to be fourteen new bishoprics, with the bishops named by the crown, not by the cathedral chapters as before.
- Isabella I of Castile
- Ferdinand and Isabella marry
- Catholic Monarchs
Since the bishops would be members of the Estates-General, the power of the crown in the affairs of the Netherlands would be increased. Philip also hoped that enlarging the number of bishoprics would make it possible to deal more effectively with heresy.
The bishops were to be good theologians, so that the great nobles would no longer be able to provide for their sons in this manner. From the standpoint of administrative efficiency, and from a national and linguistic point of view, the plan had much to recommend it.
Nevertheless, it aroused widespread opposition among all classes. In most cases, the new bishops required the intervention of armed force before they could enter their dioceses, and in some cases they had to wait several years. Granvelle was named archbishop of Malines, and in he was named cardinal.
His position made him the chief target of discontent, and the nobles took the lead in a movement to get him removed from office. In this case, as in that of the troops stationed in the Netherlands, Philip gave in, and in Granvelle was removed. William of Nassau, prince of Orange 84also known as William the Silent, was the greatest of the nobles. He was stadtholder of the provinces of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht. He had inherited vast estates and great wealth, but his lavish scale of living had brought him into debt.
The greater part of his expenses, however, went for the welfare of his tenants and the payment of his troops, since his position made him commander in the armed forces of his three provinces. Brought up a Lutheran in Germany, where he was born, he had become a Catholic when he went to live at the imperial court in Brussels. He had enjoyed the confidence of Charles V, but was on very cool terms with Philip. Time would show him to be unalterably opposed to religious persecution. His attitude on this subject was made clear at a meeting of the Council of State on December 31,after Philip had ordered the enforcement of the decrees of the Council of Trent in the Netherlands.
Philip's answer was to instruct Margaret to enforce strictly the laws against heresy. Orange, Egmont, and Hoorn protested by resigning again from the Council of State. By the end ofPhilip's reassertion of his policy of repression had brought a tremendous wave of protest which spread throughout the entire territory.
Out of it came a league or confederation of lesser nobles determined to secure a mitigation of religious persecution. The bull gave the monarchs exclusive authority to name the inquisitors. During the reign of the Catholic Monarchs and long afterwards the Inquisition was active in prosecuting people for violations of Catholic orthodoxy such as crypto-Judaism, heresy, Protestantism, blasphemy, and bigamy.
The last trial for crypto-Judaism was held in In the monarchs issued a decree of expulsion of Jews, known formally as the Alhambra Decreewhich gave Jews in Spain four months to either convert to Catholicism or leave Spain. Spanish Empire Although the Catholic Monarchs pursued a partnership in many matters, because of the histories of their respective kingdoms, they did not always have unified viewpoint in foreign policy.
Despite that, they did have a successful expansionist foreign policy due to a number of factors. The victory over the Muslims in Granada that allowed Ferdinand to involve himself in policy outside the Iberian peninsula. Aragon had a traditional rivalry with Francewhich had been traditional allies with Castile.
Castile's foreign interests were focused on the Atlantic, making Castile's funding of the voyage of Columbus an extension of existing interests.
The treaty set boundaries for overseas expansion which were at the time disadvantageous to Castile, but the treaty resolved any further Portuguese claims on the crown of Castile. Portugal did not take advantage of Castile's and Aragon's focus on the reconquest of Granada. Following the reestablishment of good relations, the Catholic Monarchs made two strategic marriages to Portuguese royalty.
The matrimonial policy of the monarchs sought advantageous marriages for their five children, forging royal alliances for the long term benefit of Spain. Their first-born, a daughter named Isabellamarried Afonso of Portugalforging important ties between these two neighboring kingdoms that would lead to enduring peace and future alliance. This ensured alliance with the Holy Roman Empirea powerful, far-reaching European territory which assured Spain's future political security.
Their only son, Johnmarried Margaret of Austriaseeking to maintain ties with the Hapsburg dynasty, on which Spain relied heavily. Their fourth child, Mariamarried Manuel I of Portugalstrengthening the link forged by Isabella's elder sister's marriage.
Their fifth child, Catherinemarried Arthur, Prince of Wales and heir to the throne of England, in ; he died at the age of 15 a few months later, and she married his younger brother shortly after he became King Henry VIII of England in These alliances were not all long lasting, with their and heir-apparent Juan dying young; Catherine was divorced by Henry VIII; and Joanna's husband Philip dying young, with the widowed Joanna deemed mentally unfit to rule.
Isabella at the center, Columbus on the left, a cross on her right. The emblems of Ferdinand and Isabella, the yoke and sheaf of arrows, are those of the Catholic Monarchs.
The monarchs accorded him the title of Admiral of the Ocean Sea and he was given broad privileges. His voyage west resulted in the European discovery of the Americas and brought the knowledge of its existence to Europe. Columbus' first expedition to the supposed Indies actually landed in the Bahamas on October 12, Since Queen Isabella had provided the funding and authorization for the voyage, the benefits accrued to the Kingdom of Castile.
His main goal was to colonize the existing discoveries with the men that he had brought the second time around. Columbus finished his last expedition inand discovered Trinidad and the coast of present-day Venezuela.
The colonies Columbus established, and conquests in the Americas in later decades, generated an influx of wealth into the new unified state of Spainleading it to be the major power of Europe from the end of the sixteenth century until the mid-seventeenth century, and the largest empire until Death[ edit ] Coffins of the Catholic Monarchs in the Capilla RealGranadaSpain Isabella died in ending the remarkably successful political partnership and personal relationship of their marriage.
During the first year of her reign, Isabella established a monopoly over the royal mints and fixed a legal standard to which the coinage had to approximate[ citation needed ]. By shutting down many of the mints and taking royal control over the production of money, Isabella restored the confidence of the public in the Crown's ability to handle the kingdom's finance.
Government[ edit ] Both Isabella and Ferdinand established very few new governmental and administrative institutions in their respective kingdoms. Especially in Castile, the main achievement was to use more effectively the institutions that had existed during the reigns of John II and Henry IV. The household was traditionally divided into two overlapping bodies. The first body was made up of household officials, mainly people of the nobility, who carried out governmental and political functions for which they received special payment.
The second body was made up of some permanent servants or continos who performed a wide range of confidential functions on behalf of the rulers. The positions of a more secretarial nature were often held by senior churchmen. Substantial revenues were attached to such offices and were therefore enjoyed greatly, on an effectively hereditary basis, by the great Castilian houses of nobility. While the nobles held the titles, individuals of lesser breeding did the real work.
The Council, under the monarch, had full power to resolve all legal and political disputes. The Council was responsible for supervising all senior administrative officials, such as the Crown representatives in all of the major towns. It was also the supreme judicial tribunal of the kingdom. Previously there had been two distinct yet overlapping categories of royal councillor. One formed a group which possessed both judicial and administrative responsibilities.
This portion consisted of some bishops, some nobles, and an increasingly important element of professional administrators with legal training known as letrados. The second category of traditional councillor had a less formal role. This role depended greatly on the individuals' political influence and personal influence with the monarch. During Isabella's reign, the role of this second category was completely eliminated. Because of this, this second type of councillor, usually of the nobility, was only allowed to attend the council of Castile as an observer.
Isabella began to rely more on the professional administrators than ever before. These men were mostly of the bourgeoisie or lesser nobility. The Council was also rearranged and it was officially settled that one bishop, three caballerosand eight or nine lawyers would serve on the council at a time. While the nobles were no longer directly involved in the matters of state, they were welcome to attend the meetings. Isabella hoped by forcing the nobility to choose whether to participate or not would weed out those who were not dedicated to the state and its cause.
Therefore, Isabella and Ferdinand set aside a time every Friday during which they themselves would sit and allow people to come to them with complaints. This was a new form of personal justice that Castile had not seen before. The Council of State was reformed and presided over by the King and Queen.
This department of public affairs dealt mainly with foreign negotiations, hearing embassies, and transacting business with the Court of Rome. In addition to these departments, there was also a Supreme Court of the Santa Hermandad, a Council of Finance, and a Council for settling purely Aragonese matters.
Isabella and her husband moved in the direction of a non-parliamentary government and the Cortes became an almost passive advisory body, giving automatic assent to legislation which had been drafted by the royal administration. Within four years the work stood completed in eight bulky volumes and the Ordenanzas Reales took their place on legal bookshelves.
The Emirate of Granada had been held by the Muslim Nasrid dynasty since the midth century. On 1 Februarythe king and queen reached Medina del Campo and this is generally considered the beginning of the war for Granada.
While Isabella's and Ferdinand's involvement in the war was apparent from the start, Granada's leadership was divided and never able to present a united front. The Spanish monarchs recruited soldiers from many European countries and improved their artillery with the latest and best cannons. In they laid siege to Rondawhich surrendered after only a fortnight due to extensive bombardment. The eastern province succumbed after the fall of Baza in The siege of Granada began in the spring of and at the end of the year, Muhammad XII surrendered.
On 2 January Isabella and Ferdinand entered Granada to receive the keys of the city, and the principal mosque was reconsecrated as a church.
Columbus and Portuguese relations[ edit ] Main article: Just three months after entering Granada, Queen Isabella agreed to sponsor Christopher Columbus on an expedition to reach the Indies by sailing west miles, according to Columbus. He named it San Salvador after Jesus the Savior.