Spain’s Golden Age and the Reign of Philip II

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Spain’s Golden Age and the Reign of Philip II

A ‘golden age’ can be interpreted in many ways; it can be a time of

great power for a monarch, or a country. It can be described as a

time when some activity is at its peak, or as a period of great peace,

prosperity and happiness. I will look at the period 1474 – 1598 to

see if any of the monarchs’ reigns meet any of these interpretations

of a ‘golden age’.

The kingdom of Aragon had its own Cortes, which limited Ferdinand’s

power as he was subject to the fueros[1]. In Castile however, the

Cortes were relatively powerless; not necessary to pass laws and had

little interest in taxation. No Cortes was called between 1480 and

1498, which is indicative of Isabella’s power.

To help keep peace and control Isabella appointed ‘corregidors’, and

town councillors. However these methods were unsuccessful; the town

councils became too large and the ‘corregidors’ were disliked and were

withdrawn in some cities; Segovia and Burgos, and Aragon. The Royal

Council did not increase much in Ferdinand and Isabella’s reign, as

they dealt with matters in person and did not delegate to officials.

In Aragon the royal authority diminished, and it was run by viceroys,

as Ferdinand spent very little time there. There was also no

permanent place of government, as Ferdinand and Isabella travelled

most of their life, so the administration was wherever they were.

Charles I of Spain had many problems even before he arrived in Spain;

the idea of uniting Spain was under threat. He could not pay

officials properly, so administration was corrupt, as bribery was

often used. However, Charles did make re...

... middle of paper ...

...reign could be described

as a ‘golden age’, as they were mainly at peace, they eradicated

heresy and internal enemies, their finances were reasonably balanced,

and they made Spain a great power in Europe.

[1] The laws or traditions of the land

[2] Annual payment to pay for the crusade against Granada

[3] They were originally a peacekeeping force in Castile and Aragon,

but they ended up supplying troops and money for the Crown.

[4] Sales tax

[5] Process that allowed towns to convert the sales tax into a fixed

sum

[6] A new church tax, levied on the income from property in each

parish

[7] A subsidy levied on 4 basic foodstuff; meat, wine, oil and vinegar

[8] A church the monarch controls, even if officially the Pope does

[9] Moriscos are converted Muslims and Conversos are converted Jews

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