IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > B. Early Modern Europe, 1479–1815 > 1. Europe, 1479–1675 > e. The Iberian Peninsula
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1479–1516)
e. The Iberian Peninsula
1. Spain
REIGN OF FERDINAND of Aragon and his wife, ISABELLA, queen of Castile (1474–1504). During this period much progress was made, notably in Castile, toward the suppression of the fractious aristocracy and the regulation of the Church. Aragon, on the other hand, retained most of its privileges. Ferdinand devoted his efforts to the conclusion of profitable marriage alliances and to the furtherance of his designs in Italy, which brought him into conflict with France and other Italian powers.  1
In the 14th century, economic dislocation, the search for scapegoats during visits of the Black Death, and anti-Jewish preaching contributed to growing anti-semitism in Spain. In 1331, a mob attacked the Jewish community of Gerona in Catalonia; in 1335, royal troops massacred Jews in Toledo; in 1391, mobs sacked and burned the Jewish community in Seville, and from Seville, anti-semitic pogroms swept Valencia, Majorica, Barcelona, Burgos, Madrid, and Segovia. Those forced to convert were called “New Christians.”  2
In the 15th century, New Christians held high positions in the administration of Castile, including the royal secretaryship; controlled the royal treasury; composed one-third of the royal council; were arch-bishops, bishops, and abbots; included some of the leading merchants; intermarried with the nobility; and held prominent positions in law and medicine. They numbered perhaps 200,000 in a total population of 7.5 million. New Christians, also called conversos, insisted their faith was identical to that of other Christians. Detractors stressed not belief, but blood, developing the racial theory that New Christians were the same as their ancestors, Jews. This theory emerged at the same time as Spanish nationalism. Courting public opinion, on Sept. 28, 1480, Ferdinand and Isabella (with papal permission) established the Inquisition, ecclesiastical tribunals to judge “heretical depravity … to search out and punish converts from Judaism who had transgressed against Christianity by secretly adhering to Jewish beliefs and performing Jewish rites.” The inquisition became an important instrument of Spanish royal policy. The Most Catholic kings, as they were called, had the able assistance of Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros (1436–1517), an austere Franciscan and (1507) cardinal: he directed the forcible conversion of the Muslims of Granada; pressed monastic reform and education of the clergy; served as regent of Castile (1506–7); and financed and led an expedition to Africa (1510–11), resulting in the capture of Oran.  3
The centuries-long reconquista (reconquest), the term given the Crusades led by the northern kingdoms to expel the Muslims from the Iberian peninsula by 14th-century clerical propagandists, ended Jan. 2, 1492 with the conquest of Granada.  4
1492, March 11
Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews from Spain, giving them four months to leave. Many went to Istanbul and other parts of the Ottoman Turkish empire.  5
Foundation of the Consulado for foreign trade at Burgos. This chamber and the Casa de Contratación at Seville (1503) undertook to regulate Spanish trade and had much to do with the commercial expansion of the 16th century.  6
By the Treaty of Granada, France and Spain again engaged to cooperate in Italian affairs, but friction over Naples soon led to hostilities. Victories of the great Spanish commander Gonzalvo de Córdoba (especially at Garigliano, 1503). Aragon retained Naples.  7
The first gold from Mexico arrived at the Port of San Lucar at Seville. Beginning of Spanish emigration to the Americas.  8
The death of Isabella made Joanna (wife of Philip, archduke of Austria) legal heiress to Castile. Ferdinand, who had long planned the union of Castile and Aragon, in Joanna's absence secured from the Cortes authority to carry on the government in his daughter's behalf. In 1506 Philip and Joanna came to claim their inheritance. Treaty of Villafavila between Philip and Ferdinand, the former securing the regency. Philip's death in the same year and the insanity of Joanna (kept in confinement for 49 years, d. 1555) allowed Ferdinand to resume control.  9
African campaigns, organized, financed, and led by Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros (1436–1517), aided by Pedro Navarro. Cisneros was one of the ablest statesmen of his time who, having reformed the Spanish church, now devoted himself to the crusade. The Spanish forces took Oran, Bougie, and Tripoli and forced the Muslim rulers to pay tribute.  10
The Holy League (the pope, Ferdinand, and Venice) against France and the Empire. Victory of the league at Novara (1513). At the same time (1512) the Spaniards conquered Navarre, which was annexed to the Castilian crown, though it retained its own government (1515).  11
The death of Ferdinand led to the regency of Cardinal Cisneros, who vigorously repressed incipient disturbances by the nobles. The crowns now passed to the son of Philip and Joanna, Charles of Ghent, who became  12
CHARLES I of Spain, founder of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty. Charles, who had been educated in Flanders, arrived (1517) with a large Flemish following, which regarded the Spaniards with disdain. Dissatisfaction of the Spaniards with Charles's election to the imperial throne (1519) led to widespread opposition to his leaving the country and using Spanish money and men for imperial purposes.  13
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.