|Capital||Toledo (1492-1561) Madrid (since 1561)|
|- 1516-1556||Charles I|
|- 1886-1902||Maria Christina of Austria, Regent during the minority of king Alphonse XIII|
|- Discovery of the Americas||1492|
|- Conquest of the Aztec Empire||1519-1521|
|- Conquest of the Inca Empire||1532–1537|
|- Spanish-American War||1975|
|Currency||Spanish real, Spanish escudo|
The Spanish Empire was one of the largest empires in history and one of the first global empires.
In the 15th and 16th centuries Spain was in the center of European global exploration and colonial expansion and the opening of trade routes across the oceans, with trade across the Atlantic Ocean between Spain and the Americas and across the Pacific Ocean between Asia-Pacific and Mexico via the Philippines. Conquistadors destroyed the Aztec, Inca, and Maya civilizations, and took a lot of land in North and South America. For a time, the Spanish Empire the oceans with its experienced navy and ruled the European battlefield with its well trained infantry. Spain enjoyed a cultural golden age in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Spanish Empire generally means Spain's overseas colonies in the Americas, the Pacific, and elsewhere. But it is not clear what is exactly part of the Spanish Empire. For instance, traditionally, territiories such as the Low Countries or Spanish Netherlands were included as they were part of the possessions of the King of Spain, governed by Spanish officials and defended by Spanish troops. But the British historian Henry Kamen writes that these territories were never part of a "Spanish" state and instead formed part of the wider Habsburg estate. Therefore many historians use both "Habsburg" and "Spanish" when they speak of the empire of Charles V or Philip II. Only from an "Anglosaxon" point of view can these observations be accurate since, with all effect, the Low Countries were part of Spain during that period.
Portugal was occupied by Spanish forces and was ruled by the same monarch in "personal union", but Portugal remained a separate state. The Portuguese empire continued to be ruled from Lisbon during this period. Therefore there was a joint Spanish-Portuguese rule for some time. These jointly run empires have sometimes been called the Spanish-Portuguese Empire, but they were not parts of one state.
[change] The Beginnings of the Empire (1402–1521)
In 1492, Spain drove out the last Moorish king of Granada. After their victory, the Spanish monarchs allowed Christopher Columbus to try to reach India by sailing west. Columbus instead "discovered" America. That was the start of the Spanish colonization of the continent.
By the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494, the globe was divided into two hemispheres between Spain and Portugal. Therefore Spain had the right to start colonies in all of the New World from Alaska to Cape Horn (except Brazil), as well as Asia. The Castilian Empire was the result of a period of rapid colonial expansion into the New World, as well as the Philippines and colonies in Africa: Melilla was captured by Castile in 1497 and Oran in 1509.
[change] Results till today
The Spanish language and the Roman Catholic Church were brought to the Americas and to the Spanish East Indies (Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marianas, Palau and the Philippines) by the Spanish colonization which began in the 15th century. Together with the Portuguese empire, the Spanish empire laid the foundations of a globalised trade by opening up the great trans-oceanic trade routes. Modern International law has its roots in the Spanish colonial expansion and bad experience with imperialism as well.
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- Fernand Braudel, The Perspective of the World (part iii of Civilization and Capitalism) 1979, translated 1985.
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- Brown, Jonathan (1998). Painting in Spain : 1500–1700. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-06472-1
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- Harman, Alec (1969). Late Renaissance and Baroque music. New York: Schocken Books.
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- Kamen, Henry (2003). Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492-1763. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-093264-3
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[change] Other pages
[change] Other websites
- Library of Iberian Resources Online, Stanley G Payne A History of Spain and Portugal vol 1 Ch 13 "The Spanish Empire"
- The Mestizo-Mexicano-Indian History in the USA
- Sizes of the largest Empires in History:"To Rule the Earth"
- Documentary Film, Villa de Albuquerque
- The last Spanish colonies (in Spanish)