Imperial Spain Essay

Submitted By caudillj
Words: 1713
Pages: 7

The empire of Imperial Spain is a very important part of history to discuss. The formation and expansion of the empire caused many influential events which would change the entire world for years to come. Among the numerous rulers of the empire, two rulers had an everlasting effect. Isabel I of Castile, along with Fernando II of Aragon, and Phillip II drastically changed Imperial Spain during their reign. Their decisions and actions influenced Europe as a whole, and lead to many new world discoveries. In order to get a foundational understanding of the two sovereigns it is important to discuss where each began and developed, their political tactics and style of ruling, and the influential factors of each sovereign which played a major impact on Europe. Before Isabel I came into power, her brother Enrique was king of Castile. This wasn’t a very successful time for Castile. Enrique had many issues during his reign. He didn’t fulfill universal characteristics of being a king. He didn’t carry himself well as a king should. He dressed poorly and had poor hygiene. He would make lots of deals with nobles which lead to personal gain and not to the gain of the kingdom as a whole. During his reign the ruling of Castile became less centralized, which can be a very big problem with such a large empire. Enrique was also afraid to make militant decisions. This was crucial because the Reconquista was occurring at this time.
The Reconquista was a movement which occurred in the Iberian Peninsula from 711 A.D. to 1492. This was the militant movement against the Muslim invaders to reconquer Spain. Each ruler before Enrique made this a top priority. All of these poor decisions reflected very badly on Enrique. But the key to Isabel I coming to power was Enrique’s marriage to Joan of Portugal. The most important part of being a king during this time is the ability to produce an heir to the throne. The problem with Enrique was this was not his first marriage. He was married to Blanche before this. His marriage with her was annulled do to his sexual impotency. He then married Joan of Portugal. This time they had a child, Joanna. Since Enrique’s marriage was annulled due to his inability to have children, the entire kingdom knew of this. Now he has a child and expects her to be the heir of his throne. This made a lot of people question Joanna’s legitimacy to the Castilian throne. These drastic events lead to Isabel coming into power after Enrique had passed away. Isabel and Fernando inherited all the problems Enrique had caused during his rule. But by combining Castile’s powerful economy and population with Aragon’s militant power and sophisticated government, their new marriage lead to a new, powerful empire. By inheriting a kingdom which was on a downward slope so to speak, Isabel and Fernando were able to better it in every aspect, especially with working with their citizens.
Isabel and Fernando were very active rulers. Both traveled throughout their kingdom and actually interacted with their people. They both fulfilled the ruler’s standard characteristics. Isabel always provided proper justice. One major characteristic of Isabel and Fernando’s ruling was there policies. Isabel would handle issues quickly. She would get to the point and fix the problem, then move on. An example of this would be her policy for Seville. In 1478 Isabel hired a commission to persuade those of Seville to convert. Those converted were called Conversos. Then in 1481 all Jews were banished from Seville. The key concept to Isabel and Fernando’s marriage is Isabel made sure to include in the martial contract that she retain most power in the ruling of Castile. This allowed Isabel to correct most of the wrongs she had experienced throughout her brothers rule. At the same time, Isabel could travel throughout her kingdom while Fernando was in battle, still representing the crown. This one aspect revolutionized royalty. By giving Isabel, the queen, equivalent…