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A description of the catholic spain in the late 15th and early 16th centuries

Isabella, aged eighteen, marries Ferdinand, a year younger than herself. Five years later, in 1474, she inherits the throne of Castile.

Cameron Addis, Ph.D.

Her husband argues on the grounds of masculinity rather than seniority that the crown should be his, but the nobles of Castile support Isabella. It is agreed that the young couple shall rule jointly. After another five years, in 1479, Ferdinand inherits the throne of Aragon.

At first he keeps it to himself, but the habit of partnership has become engrained. In 1481 he shares this crown too with Isabella. Castile and Aragon remain for the moment separate kingdoms, with their own laws and governments. But the shared rule of the Catholic Monarchs means that most of Spain is now finally reunited Navarre will not be formally annexed to Castile until 1515.

The Iberian peninsula is not quite a single kingdom - the old Visigothic concept of the Reconquista - for Portugal has long been independent.

European Encounters in the Age of Expansion

But the later ideal of reconquest, for Christianity, is almost complete. Only the Moorish kingdom of Granada stands in the way - together with what is perceived to be an internal threat to the purity of the Christian religion. There is believed to be a danger to the church from Jews masquerading as Christians. Such Jews are referred to as marranos 'swine'. Their conversion is the result of anti-Semitic violence during the previous century.

To escape the likelihood of death at the hands of Christian mobs, many Jews probably about 100,000 accept baptism. But a considerable number continue to practise their Jewish faith in secret. The concept of secret groups of heretics particularly alarms the church; and the remarkable tenacity of the Jews of Belmontein maintaining their faith behind a Catholic facade, proves that there is good cause for the inquisitors' suspicions.

The first Grand Inquisitor is appointed in 1480. He is Tomas de Torquemada, who himself comes from a family of converted Jews. His dedication to his task will become legendary. The inquisitor and those accused of heresy process into a public place, such as the main square of a town.

  1. By , with the conquest of Cuba and the founding of Havana, the islands of the Caribbean are under Spanish control.
  2. This alliance has major but unintended consequences. They agree, instead, to a new expedition in which he will search for a further sea passage westwards.
  3. About , of them leave the country.

After the holding of a mass, the verdicts on the accused and the sentences on the guilty are announced. In 1492 Torquemada persuades Ferdinand and Isabella to expel from Spain all Jews who are unwilling to convert to Christianity. About 160,000 of them leave the country.

Ten years later the same demands are made of the Spanish Muslims. From being one of the most tolerant countries in Europe, in the heyday of Cordoba and ToledoSpain becomes the most intolerant.

It is not finally suppressed until 1820 in Portugal and 1834 in Spain. The expulsion of the Jews in 1492 coincides with the completion of the Reconquest.

Muslim power in Spain is at last brought to an end with the fall of Granada. The fall of Granada: While steadily capturing outlying strongholds of the Muslim kingdom, the Spanish also meddle in a dispute between members of the ruling family.

Their chosen prince, Boabdil, agrees under duress to surrender Granada to Ferdinand and Isabella when he is in a position to do so. In 1491 they call in their pledge. When Boabdil refuses to deliver, they besiege the city of Granada.

  1. The three last voyages.
  2. There is believed to be a danger to the church from Jews masquerading as Christians. The Portuguese court rejects his argument.
  3. Scholars of Asian history and law, such as Abraham-Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron — , disproved the perception of the lack of written laws, private property, dependable justice and regular administration of public affairs in the Orient. In he shares this crown too with Isabella.
  4. Secondly, they produced an impressive array of printed travel accounts and historical writings, through which the deeds of European adventurers, conquistadores and navigators entered into national historical narratives. San Salvador, Cuba and Hispaniola.
  5. This hierarchical thinking completely rejected the notion that the desirable ends of life could be attained by means other than the property ownership, exchange, money, trade, and consumption of goods which "civilized society", the protection of "civil jurisprudence", and the ideological basis of Christianity provided. This is the dilemma already imposed by the Spanish Inquisition in 1492 on the Jews.

It falls to them in 1492. The reconquest of Spain is complete. The long Spanish tradition of tolerance between Muslim and Christian survives briefly after this final Christian victory. The Moors of Granada are promised religious freedom. The promise is honoured for only a few years. He decrees that Muslims must convert to Christianity. The result is a Moorish uprising in 1499, after which the choice becomes even more stark. From 1502 the Muslims of Granada must convert immediately or leave Spain.

This is the dilemma already imposed by the Spanish Inquisition in 1492 on the Jews. Identifying fraudulent conversions, whether from Judaism or Islam, will keep the inquisitors busy for years.

Columbus and the Catholic monarchs: For eight years Columbus has been pestering European courts, particularly those of Portugal and Spain, to sponsor him in an undertaking which obsesses him. The Portuguese explorers have had notable success in their attempts to sail east round Africa towards India and China, but Columbus has become convinced that he can achieve the same more easily by sailing west.

It has long been the accepted view, deriving from Ptolemythat nothing but sea separates Europe from India and China round the back of a spherical world. During the 15th century the notion has developed that the unseen distance by sea is much less than the known distance between Europe and China by land.

Columbus believes that he has found mathematical proof of this in an apocryphal text of the Old Testament where the prophet Esdras states that the earth is six parts land to one part sea. Columbus argues, first to the king of Portugal in 1484 and then to the Spanish monarchs, that India is therefore within reach of a caravel sailing west from the Canaries. The Portuguese court rejects his argument. The Spanish monarchs delay for years while a commission investigates his claims.

Finally, in the camp near Granada, they accept his somewhat exorbitant terms regarding the honours which will be heaped upon him if he reaches India or China, and his share of whatever is found. Once agreement is reached, after so many years, Columbus moves fast. Three weeks are spent loading stores in the Canaries until, on September 6, the three ships sail west into the unknown.

During the next month there are several sightings of coastlines which turn out to be illusions. At last, on October 12, a look-out on the Pinta spies real land.

4 Protestant Reformation & America

San Salvador, Cuba and Hispaniola: They plant in the ground the royal banner of Spain, claiming the place for Ferdinand and Isabella.

They name it San Salvador, after Jesus the Saviour. It is not known which island they landed on, though one in the Bahamas now bears the name San Salvador.

These are not the first Europeans to reach the American continent, but they are the first to record their achievement. Columbus believes that he has reached the East Indies. Greeted by friendly inhabitants of San Salvador, he therefore describes them as Indians - an inaccurate name which has remained attached to the aboriginal peoples of the whole American continent.

By the same token this region becomes known to Europe as the West Indies. A few days later the explorers sail on. They pass many more islands, giving each a new Spanish name, until they reach during November the most important landfall of their expedition - the large island of Cuba, which Columbus convinces himself to be Cipango.

This is a place of marvels described by Marco Polo at the eastern extremity of Asia, usually now assumed to be Japan. On its shores the Santa Maria runs aground and is wrecked.

Columbus decides to leave here a small colony of some forty men, with food and ammunition for a year, while he sails back to Spain with news of his achievement. Columbus makes his way to the court of Ferdinand and Isabella in Barcelona, where he is received with every honour.

He presents the monarchs with a few captured natives of the Bahamas and some gold treasure. This is the high point of Columbus's career.

Three more voyages to America lie ahead of him, and great achievements. But from now on misfortune, often deriving from his own inadequacy as a colonial administrator, increasingly blights his endeavours. The three last voyages: This time the expedition is on a much larger scale, with the intention of establishing colonies. Seventeen ships, carrying between them almost 1500 people, leave Cadiz. Their first landfalls yield new discoveries - Guadalupe and Puerto Rico - but on arrival in Hispaniola they find that the garrison left there earlier in the year has been massacred by the natives.

News of this disaster, reaching Spain, raises the first doubt about Columbus's judgement. It will not be the last, as discontent grows among the Spanish colonists in the New World. Columbus returns to Spain in 1496 to confront his critics at the court, which he does with some success. He is able to sail west again in 1498, on a third voyage, with his position of authority confirmed. But further troubles lead to the arrival in 1500 of a governor sent out by Ferdinand and Isabella with authority over Columbus.

On Columbus's refusal to accept the situation, the governor arrests him and has him sent back to Spain in chains. The king and queen receive him with sympathy.

They continue to reward him for his achievements, but they will not allow him to return to the valuable colonies which he has discovered for them. They agree, instead, to a new expedition in which he will search for a further sea passage westwards.

The explorer departs on his fourth and final voyage in May 1502. But somehow he limps home, yet again, to reach Spain in November 1504. Since 1492 he has spent half his time in the transatlantic places he so passionately believed in long before he found his way to them. Even more significantly, he has made the Atlantic crossing seem just an arduous journey rather than a terrifying step into the unknown.

Other navigators, sailing for other monarchs, are fishing now in his waters. It is a measure of this change that Columbus himself crosses the Atlantic successfully no fewer than eight times. In a a description of the catholic spain in the late 15th and early 16th centuries short years the New World has become linked to Europe in what is unmistakably a new era. They secure from the Borgia pope, Alexander VI, a papal bull to the effect that all lands west of a certain line shall belong exclusively to Spain in return for converting the heathen.

All those to the east of the line shall belong on the same basis to Portugal.