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||The English used in this article or section may not be easy for everybody to understand.|
|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|
|- Loss of the Spanish Sahara||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 a very powerful country. It led European exploration of the world, building the largest colonies in the New World at the time. Spain also created trade routes across the oceans. The Spanish traded goods across the Atlantic Ocean, between Spain and its colonies in the Americas. They also traded across the Pacific Ocean, between Asian-Pacific countries and Mexico.
Spanish Conquistadors destroyed the Aztec, Inca, and Maya Empires. They took large territories in North, South America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Spain made these territories into colonies. Spain, especially the kingdom of Castile, became much more powerful. Also, through marriage, the Spanish monarchs created alliances with the Crown of Aragon (and later on, temporarily, Austria). This allowed the Spanish Empire to gain control of many territories in Europe. With all of these territories and colonies across the world, the Spanish Empire became the greatest and richest empire in the world.
For a time, the Spanish Empire was a great power in the oceans, with its experienced navy. It was also very powerful in European land battles, with its well-trained infantry. Spain enjoyed a cultural golden age in the 16th and 17th centuries.
However, eventually, the French, Portuguese, and British Empires gained power and land in the New World. Starting in the second half of the 17th century, the Spanish Empire began to suffer bankruptcies, and its military began to lose battles and colonies. Finally, in the 19th century, Spain lost its last major colonies in the Spanish-American War.
Colonization[change | change source]
The Spanish Empire was very big, and was scattered all over the world. It was constantly fighting with other powers about territories, trade, or religion. For example, the Spanish Empire fought:
- In the Mediterranean with the Ottoman Empire
- With France, which did not want Spain to be so powerful
- In America, where its colonies wanted to be independent
- With the Portuguese and British Empires, which also controlled colonies in the New World
- With the Dutch, once they won their independence
Many of these different powers fought constantly, often at the same time, for long periods. They fought about both political and religious differences. Each empire wanted to be the most powerful and to control the most colonies and trade.
In Europe[change | change source]
The Spanish Empire slowly lost power, as it gradually lost territory to other empires. In 1648, Spain and many other powers signed the Peace of Westphalia, which ended both the Thirty Years' War and the Eighty Years' War. In 1659, the Treaty of the Pyrenees ended fighting between France and Spain. With these treaties, Spain began to lose its status as one of the world's greatest powers.
In 1713, Felipe V signed the Peace of Utrecht. In this treaty, Spain gave up its territories in Italy and The Netherlands. Spain was no longer Europe's greatest power. However, it would still have an important role in European politics.
Overseas[change | change source]
However, during this time, Spain kept its large overseas empire, and even made it larger. The Spanish Empire fought with the British Empire, which was trying to take over more of America; the French Empire; and the Dutch in the New World. Spain remained a major economic power until it lost its colonies in the Americas through revolutions.
Decolonization[change | change source]
Spain kept control of two colonies in its empire in America: Cuba and Puerto Rico. It also held onto the Philippines and some preserved islands in Oceania, including the Carolinas (including the Palau Islands) and the Marianas (including Guam). However, when Spain lost the Spanish-American War of 1898, it lost almost all of these last territories. Spain kept control only of the small islands of Oceania (not including Guam). Spain sold these islands to Germany in 1899 .
Spain tried to make up for these losses by creating a second colonial empire in Africa. Spain controlled Morocco, Western Sahara, and Equatorial Guinea, until decolonization in the 1960s and 1970s. The last colony to gain its independence was the Sahara, in 1975.
Definition[change | change source]
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. However, the Low Countries were effectively 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.
In 1492, Spain drove out the last Moorish king of Granada. This unified the Iberian peninsula, except for Portugal. 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.
Results till today[change | change source]
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.
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
- Archer, Christon; Ferris, John R.; et al (2008). World History of Warfare. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0803219410
- Armstrong, Edward (1902). The emperor Charles V. New York: The Macmillan Company. ASIN B012DESOAI
- Black, Jeremy (1996). The Cambridge illustrated atlas of warfare: Renaissance to revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-47033-1
- Braudel, Fernand (1972). The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, Vol. I. Translated by Siân Reynolds. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0060104528
- Braudel, Fernand (1979). The Perspective of the World: Civilization and Capitalization 15th–18th Century, Vol. 3. Translated by Siân Reynolds. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520081161
- Brown, J. and Elliott, J. H. (1980). A palace for a king. The Buen Retiro and the Court of Philip IV. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300025071.
- Brown, Jonathan (1998). Painting in Spain : 1500–1700. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-06472-1
- Dominguez Ortiz, Antonio (1971). The golden age of Spain, 1516-1659. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-297-00405-0
- Edwards, John (2000). The Spain of the Catholic Monarchs, 1474-1520. New York: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-16165-1
- Harman, Alec (1969). Late Renaissance and Baroque music. New York: Schocken Books. ISBN 978-0805202625
- Kamen, Henry (1998). Philip of Spain. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07800-5
- Kamen, Henry (2003). Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492-1763. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-093264-3
- Kamen, Henry (2005). Spain 1469-1714. A Society of Conflict (3rd ed.) London and New York: Pearson Longman. ISBN 0-582-78464-6
- Parker, Geoffrey (1997). The Thirty Years' War (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-12883-8
- Parker, Geoffrey (1972). The Army of flanders and the Spanish road, 1567-1659; the logistics of Spanish victory and defeat in the Low Countries' Wars.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-08462-8
- Parker, Geoffrey (1977). The Dutch revolt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-8014-1136-X
- Parker, Geoffrey (1978). Philip II. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-69080-5
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- Shaw, D.L. (ed.) (1983). Historia de la literatura española 5: El siglo XIX. In Spanish. Barcelona: Editorial Ariel. ISBN 978-8434483569
- Stradling, R. A. (1988). Philip IV and the government of Spain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-32333-9
- Thomas, Hugh (1997). The Slave Trade; The History of the Atlantic Slave Trade 1440-1870. London: Papermac. ISBN 0-333-73147-6
- Wright, Esmond, ed. (1984). History of the World, Part II: The last five hundred years (3rd ed.). New York: Hamlyn Publishing. ISBN 0-517-43644-2