Spanish Empire—Hapsburg Spain
1516 to 1700
Charles V, Emperor to War of Spanish Succession
Era Summary—Hapsburg Spain
Spanish throne descends to the Habsburgs—Ferdinand and Isabella had five children, and under Isabel's guidance, all were raised with the utmost care and rectitude. Their son John, the intended heir to the throne, however, died soon after he was married, and two of their daughters and a grandson also died young, leaving their daughter, and her sons as the rightful heirs to the throne. After much palace intrigue, the throne passed to her eldest son Charles I of Spain, better known as (of Austria), who was also the sole heir to the Habsburg empire in the east, inherited from his father.
The Protestant Reformation occured during the reign of Charles V, but he dealt with the problem much more as a political difficulty than a theological one. He saw his primary enemies as the Ottoman Turks and Catholic France, so to a large extent he tolerated the dissentions in Germany. One of the prominent popes early in Charles's reign was Clement VII, who allied himself with France against Spain and failed to support the idea of a Council to reform problems in the Church. For these reasons, Charles V, the supposed protector of the Church, did not hold the Pope in high regard and allowed his army to sack Rome and take the Pope prisoner.
Also during the reign of Charles V, large quantities of gold and silver were found in the New world colonies, and development of the region expanded rapidly. Likewise, the Portuguese settlements in the far east became firmly established. In a relatively short period, therefore, the Iberian Peninsula became the wealthiest region in Europe.
Reign of Philip II of Spain—Charles V was succeeded by his son, who is often portrayed by Protestant historians as a narrow minded bigot for his stalwart defense of the faith. Although he is best known as the Catholic antagonist of of England and of the Netherlands, the most significant military accomplishment of his reign was a crushing victory against the Ottoman Turks. At the Battle of Lepanto, Philip's half-brother, , demolished the Turkish navy, who in league with the Barbary pirates, threatened all the Christian kingdoms of the Mediterranean.
The, and the also occurred during his reign. Although both these wars are generally thought of as religious conflicts, there were political and commercial aspects as well. The nemesis of Dutch Protestants during the Dutch Revolt was the but he only served for a few years, and even the Spanish leaders came to see that his heavy-handedness was counter-productive. All following Spanish governors of the Netherlands took a more diplomatic approach, and succeeded in bringing much of the region back to Catholic Spanish control.
Even though Spain eventually lost the struggle against Protestantism in both England and Holland, she remained at the height of her power for several generations, due largely to the vast wealth inflowing from her American colonies. Unfortunately, the inevitable corruptions that follow easy and sudden wealth were soon to bring about her downfall. During the late Hapsburg era, Spain's American provinces suffered from piracy and smuggling, mainly at the hands of her Protestant enemies. Even more destructive, however, were the indulgence, bureacracy, and lack of industry bread by excessive wealth. There was more money to be made in trade, taxes, and government offices, than in industry or efficient agriculture. Over-indulgence and corruption were as destructive to Spain as conflicts with outside enemies, and during the 17th century she fell from being the leading power in Europe to an inept lackey of France.
The last Habsburg King of France was Charles II, and because he was severely deformed, it was understood even before his death that he was unlikely to produce an Habsburg heir. At this time, France was at the height of her power, and all of Europe feared what would happen if France and Spain were united under one crown. The Austrians, therefore, put forth the claims of a Habsburg cousin, and almost every independent country in Europe joined forces against the behemoth France. The resultingdrug on for 14 years and consumed the whole continent in conflict. Although the allies failed in their objective of placing a Habsburg on the throne of Spain, the conflict dramatically curtailed the power of France.
Leaders of the Counter Reformation—Aside from political developments during the Habsburg era, several very important religious occurances are worthy of note. The Spanish kings tended to see Protestantism primarily as a political threat, and dealt with it in that manner. There was, however, a tremendous need at the time for genuine reform of the Catholic church, and several Spanish religious orders, most notably the Jesuits, led these critical reforms.
Besides, who founded the Jesuits, , , and , were at the forefront of both the reform of exisiting orders, and the propagation of the faith in the new world. Since the interests of the bishops and parish priests were closely aligned with those of the state, it was primarily the religious orders who had enough independence to promote the interests of the universal church, especially when it opposed the material interests of the crown.
Political and Military leaders
|Daughter of Isabel, mother of Charles V, and heir to the throne of Castile. Deposed by Ferdinand due to insanity.|
|16th century Hapsburg Emperor who ruled Austria, the Netherlands, Spain and parts of Italy.|
|Eldest son of Philip II. Mentally unbalanced prince of Spain who was imprisoned and possibly murdered.|
|Tyrannical Governor of the Spanish Netherlands who opposed Protestants during the Dutch Revolt.|
|Illegitimate son of Charles V. Hero of the naval Battle of Lepanto. Briefly governed Spanish Netherlands.|
|Heir to the Burgundian and Hapsburg estates, and married to Juana of Spain. Their son was Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.|
|Catholic king of Spain during Netherland revolt and Anglo-Spanish Wars. Great enemy of Protestant Reformers.|
|Grand Master of the Knights Hospitallers who defended Malta from the siege in 1565.|
|Invalid King of Spain. Last of the Spanish Hapsburgs. His death precipitated the War of the Spanish Succession.|
|Carmelite priest, poet and author associated with St. Teresa of Avila.|
|Mystic Nun who reformed the Carmelite order, and wrote books on prayer. Doctor of the Church.|
|Jesuit Missionary to India. Said to have converted thousands to Christianity.|
|Founder of the Jesuits order, dedicated to the Pope. Important counter-reformation figure.|
|Priest who accompanied the Spanish conquistadors to the New World and tried to protect the native inhabitants from abuses and maltreatment.|
|Dedicated his life to helping the Poor. Founded order of Hospitallers, which cared for the sick.|
Artists and Authors
|Spanish artist who painted during the reign of the Spanish Habsburgs. Best known for his religious works.|
|Author of the classic Don Quixote, the most famous novel in the Spanish Language.|
|1516||ascends the throne of Spain.|
|1517||Protestant Reformation breaks out in Germany.|
|Italian War against.|
|War of the League of Cognac is fought in Italy.|
|1527||sacks Rome and imprisons the pope.|
|1521||Conquest of Aztecs in Mexico by.|
|1521||Diet of Worms—Lutheran doctrines condemned as heresy.|
|1525||Charles V establishes a Council of the Indies to govern American territories.|
|1529||leads a Turkish army against Vienna, but is forced to withdraw.|
|1532||Conquest of Incas in Peru by.|
|1534||founds the Society of Jesus.|
|1535||Charles V leads the Spanish navy to victory at the Conquest of Tunis.|
|1545||First Session of the Council of Trent.|
|1555||Peace of Augsburg—Lutheranism tolerated in Holy Roman Empire.|
|1556||Charles V Abdicates,becomes King.|
|1560||Holy League naval fleet organized under Andrea Doria.|
|1562||begins reform of the Carmelite religious order.|
|1566||Spanish Treasure fleet to Americas and Philippines established on regular schedule.|
|1568||Beginning of the Revolt in the Netherlands|
|1569||Morisco rebellion in Catalonia put down by.|
|1571||The Battle of Lepanto detroys the Ottoman fleet in the Mediterranean.|
|1579||Union of Utrecht—Northern Netherlands declare independence from Spain.|
|1580||After death of heirless king, Portugal is united under the Spanish Crown.|
|1584||, Protestant patriot of the Netherlands is assassinated.|
|1588||Spanish Armada sent to invade England is defeated.|
|1605||publishes Don Quixote|
|1609||Expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain|
|1640||Catalonia made alliance with France, rebelled from Spanish crown|
|1640||Portuguese noble declared King John IV, leads war of Portuguese independence.|
|Franco-Spanish War ended with Treaty of the Pyrenees.|
|1700||Death of, last Habsburg king of Spain|
|1700-14||: England, Austria, oppose Bourbon candidate.|
Recommended Reading—Hapsburg Spain
Read chapters from "core" texts before reviewing study questions.
Core Reading Assignments
|Ober - Spain: A History for Young Readers||When Spain was Great to The Seventeenth Century (4)|
|Horne - Story of the Greatest Nations: Spain||Spain Under the Hapsburgs (1)|
|Baldwin - Stories of Don Quixote||entire book|
|Morris - Historical Tales: Spanish||A King in Captivity to Henry Morgan and Buccaneers (9)|
|Stockton - Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts||entire book|
|Esquemeling - The Buccaneers of America||entire book|