At the start of 1474, Spain was a non-existent entity that was composed of a series of minor kingdoms within the Iberian Peninsula. However Spain was subject to a process of change that led to the unification of the Iberian Peninsula under one monarchy, which controlled the new world and large areas of Northern Europe. This process of change was stimulated by the revenue of the new world and to varying degrees by domestic and international politics. However the New world was not always the primary factor during this period that catalysed the increase and maintenance of power. Over this time period the revenue from the new world increased, and thus directly Spain’s dependence upon it did as well. Isabella and Ferdinand had no reliance on the new world, as it occurred in the later third of their reign, and as such was viewed more as an economic failure. Kilsby rightly argues that with hindsight, the discovery of the Americas was the “the greatest event since the creation of the world.” Kamen shows us that there was a shift in the new world’s importance, as the “Indian globe” controlled by Spain caused their power and Kamen justily argues that the colonies were the sheet anchor of Phillips Power. The necessity of the new world is entirely due to the funds that it provided that stimulated other factors that contributed to Spain’s growing power over the time period.
The Spanish and Ottoman Empires
The Ottomans and Spanish built flourishing empires based on different philosophies from 1450 to 1800. The Ottoman and Spanish were two powerful empires during that time. During the building of the two empires, the Spanish and the Ottoman both developed similarities in their social, political, and economic structures. The Ottoman took control of Europe, while the Spanish saw it as easy to monitor new lands.
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. In Castile however, the
Cortes were relatively powerless; not necessary to pass laws and had
little interest in taxation.
The founding of New Spain in 1521 was the result of the conquest over the Mexica emperor Moctezuma by Hernan Cortes who was a Spanish conqueror. This conquest had lead many artists and writers to capture moments from this period that they believed were important. The indigenous people of Mexica had many Codex’s’, which were books where they recorded important events that happened each year through words and images. The Codex Aubin showcased a simple but meaningful image from around 1576-1608 called “Twin Temple at Tenochtitlan” representing the starting point of events leading up to the conquest of their land. The Spaniards also recorded what they believed was important much later in time through paintings on panel by New Spanish artists Migual
Many people have heard of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. However, only some know of all the things they accomplished. They might be best known for funding the voyages of Christopher Columbus, but they also greatly contributed to the unity of Spain (“Isabella l”). Together, they brought many kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula together to form what Spain is today. Through Spain’s unification, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella strengthened Spain into an economic and dominant world power, enabling the spread of Christianity and the colonization of a New World.
The Conquest of New Spain
Cortés came not to the New World to conquer by force, but by manipulation. Bernal Díaz del Castillo, in the "Conquest of New Spain," describes how Cortés and his soldiers manipulated the Aztec people and their king Montezuma from the time they traveled from Iztapalaopa to the time when Montezuma took Cortés to the top of the great Cue and showed him the whole of Mexico and its countryside, and the three causeways which led into Mexico. Castillo's purpose for recording the mission was to keep an account of the wealth of Montezuma and Mexico, the traditions, and the economic potential that could benefit Cortés' upcoming conquest. However, through these recordings, we are able to see and understand Cortés' strategy in making Mexico "New Spain.
The Black Legend in Spain
William of Orange once stated, “Spain committed such horrible excesses that all the barbarities, cruelties, and tyrannies ever perpetrated before are only games in comparison to what happened to the poor Indians.” This statement is an example of an attempt to discredit the Spanish. Attempts such as these are known as the Black Legend. The Black Legend was the name given to the concept of cruelty and brutality spread by the Spanish during the 14th and 15th century. This legend demonizes Spain and specifically the Spanish empire in an effort to harm the reputation of them.
According to Gregory Rodriguez, in his book “Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans, and Vagabonds,” women played an integral part of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Women were important in the Spanish conquest of Mexico because many were given as gifts to establish political relationships, they were used to help convert the natives to Christianity, and through intermarriage, a new peoples emerged.
Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon were one of the most famous married couples in history. Isabella was beautiful. “She had blue eyes and chestnut hair.” “She was just striking” (Isaacs). By the time she was 18, she wore beautiful gowns and jewels. “She wore them throughout her life” (Isaacs). Ferdinand and Isabella ruled Spain in a joint ruling, converted Muslims to Christianity, sponsored Christopher Columbus’s journey to a New World, had a family and Isabella even had time for education. Isabella and Ferdinand were devout Catholics that pushed and strived for Christianity in Spain. Despite their extreme measure to push for Christianity, their time in reign was the Golden Age of Spain.
Looking back into history, at around the 1500s to the 1600s, people were very much the same in the sense that many countries were looking to aggrandize their economy and appear the greatest. It was this pride and thinking that motivated many of the superpowers of the world’s past. Two such monarchies in the European continent included England and Spain, which had at the time, the best fleets the world has ever seen. Because both were often striving to be the best, they conflicted with one another. Although England and Spain had their differences, they both had a thirst to see new things and it was this hunger that led them both to discovering different parts of the “New World” and thus, colonizing the Americas.