IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > B. Early Modern Europe, 1479–1815 > 1. Europe, 1479–1675 > e. The Iberian Peninsula > 1. Spain > 1569–71
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
Revolt of the Moriscos (converted Muslims suspected of secretly retaining their original faith). The rising was put down with great severity and ultimately (1609) the Moriscos were expelled from Spain.  1
Discovery of mercury mines in Peru and the development of new silver refining process led to flood of silver into Spain (See Economic Conditions). Philip used this wealth to finance his military ventures; anticipated galleons of silver served as basis for credit extended by Genoese bankers.  2
1571, Oct. 7
Battle of Lepanto. The naval fleet of the Holy League (Spain, Venice, and the papacy) under Don John of Austria met the Ottoman navy in a bay at the mouth of the Gulf of Patras off Lepanto in western Greece (See 1571, Oct. 7). The Ottoman fleet was hardly prepared; most of its sailors had been sent home for winter and the remaining officers were involved in political quarrels. Superior European numbers and command prevailed and the Ottoman fleet was routed. While Europe celebrated a great victory, the battle was not decisive: the Ottomans quickly rebuilt their navy with larger vessels, and their ability to ravage the coasts of Sicily and Italy in 1573 and to seize Tunis in 1574 showed that they retained control of the western as well as the eastern Mediterranean. The spell of complete Ottoman supremacy, however, had been broken, and the Christian galleys gained a huge crop of prisoners to man the oars.  3
Philip succeeded to the Portuguese throne (See 1580–98).  4
Sir Francis Drake destroyed the Spanish fleet at Cadiz. England had for some time been incurring the displeasure of Philip; the succession of Elizabeth and the progress of Protestantism, the aid given the Dutch rebels, and the piratical raids on the Spanish treasure ships all were factors. The execution of Mary Stuart (1587) brought matters to a crisis.  5
1588, Aug. 8
Philip sent against England the Spanish fleet, “la felicissima armada” (the most fortunate armada”) as it was ironically called. Comprising 130 vessels and perhaps 30,000 men, it sailed from Lisbon harbor and met 150 smaller, more maneuverable English ships in the Channel, where the English attacked (Aug. 8). (See 1588). Storms, spoiled food and rank water, inadequate ammunition, and, to a lesser extent, English fire ships that caused the Spanish to scatter combined to give England the victory. The Spanish soon rebuilt their navy and the war continued.  6
The battle proved that Philip II could not reimpose Catholicism on western Europe by force.  7
War with France, arising from Philip's intervention against Henry IV. The Spaniards played an important role in this last phase of the religious wars in France but failed to attain their objectives. The war ended with the Treaty of Vervins (See 1598, April 13).  8
Devastating plague hit Castile, causing labor shortage, rapid rise in wages, psychological depression, and increased illegal emigration to the Indies.  9
PHILIP III, the son of Philip II by his last marriage. A melancholy, retiring, and deeply religious man, the king devoted himself to the interests of the Church (9,000 monasteries in this period and one-third of the population in the church service). Philip left the government to his favorite (privado), the duke of Lerma. Formation of elaborate court ceremonial to emphasize the sacred character of the king; vast court nobility; growth of huge estates. Philip II had financed imperialist ventures in Europe by borrowing on future imports of silver, which in 1570s and 1580s created false sense of endless wealth. Decline in silver imports forced the crown to repudiate state debts, which undermined confidence in government; population decline caused by war, plague, and emigration led to marked decline in agriculture, trade, and industry. Increasing sense that the costs of empire outweighed its presumed or real benefits.  10
Beginning of the Thirty Years' War (See The Thirty Years' War), into which Spain was drawn by Habsburg interests and religious considerations.  11
PHILIP IV, an amiable prince, not interested in politics and therefore quite content to leave the conduct of affairs to his privado, the Count-Duke Olivares (1587–1645; count of Olivares, duke of Sanlúcar), an able and patriotic administrator who, until his fall in 1643, made valiant efforts to modernize the governmental system by means of greater centralization and increase of the royal power.  12
The occupation of the Valtelline Pass (between Milan and the Austrian lands) by the Spanish led to war with France, which, in a sense, was merely one aspect of the Thirty Years' War. France, under the able leadership of Richelieu, gradually established its ascendancy over Spain.  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.