IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > B. Early Modern Europe, 1479–1815 > 1. Europe, 1479–1675 > e. The Iberian Peninsula > 1. Spain > 1640–59
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
The great REVOLT IN CATALONIA, a direct result of the policy of Olivares. The king's failure to summon the Catalan Cortes, the imposition of new taxes, the demands for aid for the foreign wars, the quartering of troops in the country, and in general the centralizing tendencies of the count-duke precipitated the conflict. The movement was supported by France, which even recognized a Catalan republic. After the struggle had gone on for 12 years, Barcelona was obliged to submit (Oct. 1652). In the final settlement (1659) the Catalans retained most of their former rights and privileges.  1
1643, May 19
The Battle of Rocroi in Picardy. Defeat of the Spanish infantry is generally taken as marking the end of supremacy.  2
The peace of Westphalia (See 1648, Oct. 24). This did not apply to the war between France and Spain, which continued for another 11 years.  3
1658, June 14
Battle of the Dunes; decisive defeat of the Spaniards.  4
1659, Nov. 7
TREATY OF THE PYRENEES (signed on the Isle of Pheasants, in the Bidassoa River). Spain was obliged to cede to France the frontier fortresses in Flanders and Artois as well as Roussillon and Cerdagne. Louis XIV married Maria Teresa, daughter of Philip IV. (See Spain)  5
Cultural Developments
Culturally speaking, the entire 16th century and the first half of the 17th century comprised Spain's golden age, a period of humanism: Luis Vives (1492–1540), for a time professor at Oxford; Elio Antonio de Nebrija (or Lebrija), the leading humanist (1444–1532); Juan del Encina (c. 1469–1529), popular dramatist; poets Garcilaso de la Vega (1503–36) and Juan Boscán Almogáver (d. 1542); Luis Ponce de León (b. 1528), theologian, poet, and one of those who made Castillian a great literary language. To this period belong the first printings of the chivalrous romance Amadis de Gaul (1508) and the first realistic novel, Celestina (c. 1499). Religious leadership in the cause of Roman Catholicism: Arias Montano (1527–98) one of the outstanding scholars at the Council of Trent; Francisco Suarez (1548–1617), a Jesuit, a neoscholastic and an outstanding jurist (De Legibus ac Deo Legislatore, 1612); while Francisco de Vitoria (1486–1546) wrote extensively on the government of the colonies and became a pioneer of international law (De Indis et de iure belli relectiones, 1532). In political theory Juan Marquez (1564–1621), El Gobernador cristiano (1612), and Diego Saavedra Fajardo (1584–1648), Idea de un Principe politico cristiano (1640). At the same time the Spaniards took the lead in the work of the Catholic Reformation. Ignatius of Loyola (Iñigo Lopez de Recalde, 1491–1556) with five associates founded the Society of Jesus, Jesuits, which was officially approved by Pope Paul III in 1540. The first Jesuits, recruited primarily from the wealthy merchant and professional classes, saw the Reformation as a pastoral problem, its causes and cures related less to doctrinal issues than to the spiritual condition of the persons concerned. Although the Reformation played no role in the future they planned for themselves, the highly centralized Jesuits became major agents in the Catholic Reformation through missionary activity (eastern Europe, India, China, Japan, the Americas), preaching, and superb teaching. Sta. Teresa de Jesús (1515–82) undertook the reorganization of the Carmelite nunneries and, in her autobiography and her Castillo interior, made outstanding contributions to mystical literature, as did San Juan de la Cruz (1542–91), her disciple, who effected similar reforms of the monasteries.  6
The period was one of equal greatness in the realm of literature and art. Juan de Mariana (1536–1624) wrote a popular history of Spain and an important work on political theory, De Rege et Regis Institutione (1599), while Bartolomé de Las Casas (1474–1566), Fernandez de Oviedo, and Lopez de Gómara distinguished themselves in treatments of the New World. Felix Lope de Vega (1562–1635), who produced more than 2,000 plays, poems, and stories, was one of the great literary figures of all time and a founder of the modern drama; Tirso de Molina (c. 1571–1648) and Pedro Calderón (1600–1681) continued the drama on a high plane; Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616) in his Don Quijote (1605) produced an incomparable picture of the Spain of his day and at the same time one of the world's most popular masterpieces. In the same year, Mateo Alemán (1547–1610) published the second part of Guzmán de Alfarache, a picaresque novel with a moral for each adventure.  7
In the field of art the Italian influence was very strong, though the Escorial (begun in 1563 and built by Juan de Herrera) had a severe style of its own. But the achievements of painting overshadowed those of the other arts. El Greco (1541–1614; really a Greek (Kyriakos Theotokopoulos) from Crete, trained in Italy) came to Spain in 1575 and lived at Toledo until his death in 1614. One of the greatest painters of the Renaissance, he was the first of a number of world-famous artists: José Ribera, called Spagnaletto (1588–1652); Francisco de Zurbarán (1598–1664); Bartolomé Murillo (1617–82); Juan de Valdés Leal (1630–91); and above all the incomparable Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velásquez (1599–1660). In music Tomás Luis de Vittoria was a worthy contemporary of Palestrina.  8
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.