8:20 World History
10 March 2014
Queen Isabella of Castile
Queen Isabella ruled Spain in the Medieval Era. After the death of her brother, Henry IV, Isabella was named Queen of Castile. When she came to power in the 1460s, a civil war had begun. Isabella married one of the most well-known royals, Ferdinand, who was the Prince of Aragon. Her marriage put Spain on its way to a national unity by uniting the regions of Castile and Aragon.
Before Spain became part of the Roman Empire, it was occupied by Celts, Iberians, and Basques. Not until after Spain became ruled by a Roman emperor named Ataulf did it finally become independent and its own entity. In the year 1469, the country was brought together by the marriage of Ferdinand II and his wife Isabella I. Nearly ten years later; they tried to convert whatever religion that was not Christianity to it. Not long after the conversion of the other religions, Roman Catholicism was discovered, established, and became the official religion and whoever did not convert over were
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.
Another way you can get power is through divine right. This way of thinking made the rulers believe that their authority came directly from god. Under King Philips II reign Spain reached its peak. Along with believing in having divine right he ruled as an absolute monarch. During his reign Spain prospered due the steady stream of gold and silver that came from the Americas. Philip II was a devout Catholic and saw him-self as a leader of the Counter-Reformation. King Philip II wanted to spread Catholicism throughout the European Territories but his faith clashed with the beliefs of the Calvinist Protestants, this lead to a bloody revolt that began in the 1560s when the Dutch refused to declare allegiance to King Philip the II. To punish them he used torture and execution. This made the situation worse. Due to King Philips belief in divine right he justified the killings of thousands of people.
The Spanish Inquisition was used for both political and religious reasons and founded by the Catholic Kings in 1478 . Spain at the time was a nation-state that was born out of religious struggle between numerous different belief systems including Catholicism, Islam, Protestant and Judaism. Following the Crusades and the Reconquest of Spain by the Christian Spaniards the leaders of Spain needed a way to unify the country into a strong nation.
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.
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.
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.
Spain was once of the powerful nations in Europe. However, by the 20th century it was poor and backwards country where corruption was experienced on a commonly basis. After losing its overseas possessions Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico and Philippines during the Spanish-American War Spain was in a state of political tension due extreme measures of wealth, poverty and clearly social tensions. Essentially Spain was a deeply divided country during this time although it was a constitutional monarchy during 1920. During this year King Alfonso XIII remained as the royal figurehead however, Miguel Primo de Rivera was the dictator. The tension was between the right-wing Nationalists and left-wing Republican parties. The nationalist’s party was made up of monarchists, landowners, employers, the Roman Catholic Church and the army. The Republicans consisted of the workers, trade unions, socialists, and peasants. The nationalists were described as traditionalists and fascists, while the republicans were socialists and communists. The real political tension started occurring post 1930 when growing opposition to Miguel Primo de Rivera right-wing government started growing rapidly and leading to his resignation. Miguel Primo de Rivera was not able to solve Spain’s financial disaster from the result of the Great Depression, where unemployment rates increased drastically and Rivera never provided any solutions. Miguel was so unsuccessful throughout his dictatorship even the army refused to support his dictatorship. This then concluded in republican receiving the majority of the election votes, throwing out King Alfonso XIII the following year. The abdication of the King was the turning point; where Spain was now considered the Republic of Spa...
Kern, Robert W., and Meredith D. Dodge. Historical Dictionary of Modern Spain: 1700-1988. New York: Greenwood, 1990. Print.