Spanish Empire
Overview
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs
Habsburg Spain
Habsburg Spain refers to the history of Spain over the 16th and 17th centuries , when Spain was ruled by the major branch of the Habsburg dynasty...

, Spain reached the peak of its world power. being the foremost global power. It lasted from the 15th century through — in the case of its African holdings — the latter portion of the 20th century.

After the War of the Castilian Succession
War of the Castilian Succession
The War of the Castilian Succession was the military conflict contested from 1475 to 1479 for the succession of the Crown of Castile fought between the supporters of Juana la Beltraneja, daughter of the late monarch Henry IV of Castile, and those of Henry's half sister, Isabella, who was ultimately...

 (1475–1479), Spain had emerged with a personally unified monarchy, with the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs
Catholic Monarchs
The Catholic Monarchs is the collective title used in history for Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. They were both from the House of Trastámara and were second cousins, being both descended from John I of Castile; they were given a papal dispensation to deal with...

 or los Reyes Catolicos between the Queen of Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

 and the King of Aragon
Crown of Aragon
The Crown of Aragon Corona d'Aragón Corona d'Aragó Corona Aragonum controlling a large portion of the present-day eastern Spain and southeastern France, as well as some of the major islands and mainland possessions stretching across the Mediterranean as far as Greece...

: the internal and foreign policy was coordinated although the rule was separate.
Encyclopedia
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs
Habsburg Spain
Habsburg Spain refers to the history of Spain over the 16th and 17th centuries , when Spain was ruled by the major branch of the Habsburg dynasty...

, Spain reached the peak of its world power. being the foremost global power. It lasted from the 15th century through — in the case of its African holdings — the latter portion of the 20th century.

After the War of the Castilian Succession
War of the Castilian Succession
The War of the Castilian Succession was the military conflict contested from 1475 to 1479 for the succession of the Crown of Castile fought between the supporters of Juana la Beltraneja, daughter of the late monarch Henry IV of Castile, and those of Henry's half sister, Isabella, who was ultimately...

 (1475–1479), Spain had emerged with a personally unified monarchy, with the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs
Catholic Monarchs
The Catholic Monarchs is the collective title used in history for Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. They were both from the House of Trastámara and were second cousins, being both descended from John I of Castile; they were given a papal dispensation to deal with...

 or los Reyes Catolicos between the Queen of Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

 and the King of Aragon
Crown of Aragon
The Crown of Aragon Corona d'Aragón Corona d'Aragó Corona Aragonum controlling a large portion of the present-day eastern Spain and southeastern France, as well as some of the major islands and mainland possessions stretching across the Mediterranean as far as Greece...

: the internal and foreign policy was coordinated although the rule was separate. In 1492, the Spanish monarchs completed the Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

with the incorporation of Granada to the Kingdom of Castile. That same year Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 commanded the first Spanish exploratory voyage
Voyages of Christopher Columbus
In the early modern period, the voyages of Columbus initiated European exploration and colonization of the American continents, and are thus of great significance in world history. Christopher Columbus was a navigator and an admiral for Castile, a country that later founded modern Spain...

 west across the Atlantic Ocean, leading to the Discovery of America and Europe's eventual colonial engagement in the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

. The Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 thereby became the focus of Spanish exploration and colonization
Spanish colonization of the Americas
Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian faith through indigenous conversions...

.

In the 16th century, Spain settled the Greater Antilles
Greater Antilles
The Greater Antilles are one of three island groups in the Caribbean. Comprising Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola , and Puerto Rico, the Greater Antilles constitute almost 90% of the land mass of the entire West Indies.-Greater Antilles in context :The islands of the Caribbean Sea, collectively known as...

 in the Caribbean, and took over large areas on mainland North and South America overrunning the Aztec
Aztec
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

s and Incas
Inca Empire
The Inca Empire, or Inka Empire , was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century...

. The Spanish expedition of world circumnavigation
Circumnavigation
Circumnavigation – literally, "navigation of a circumference" – refers to travelling all the way around an island, a continent, or the entire planet Earth.- Global circumnavigation :...

 started by Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer. He was born in Sabrosa, in northern Portugal, and served King Charles I of Spain in search of a westward route to the "Spice Islands" ....

 in 1519, and completed by Juan Sebastian Elcano
Juan Sebastián Elcano
Juan Sebastián Elcano was a Basque Spanish explorer who completed the first circumnavigation of the world. As Ferdinand Magellan's second in command, Elcano took over after Magellan's death in the Philippines.-Early life:Elcano was born to Domingo Sebastián Elcano I and Catalina del Puerto...

 in 1522, achieved what Columbus had longed for, a westward route to Asia and the sought-after Spice Islands
Maluku Islands
The Maluku Islands are an archipelago that is part of Indonesia, and part of the larger Maritime Southeast Asia region. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone...

. In 1565 navigator Miguel Lopez de Legazpi
Miguel López de Legazpi
Miguel López de Legazpi , also known as El Adelantado and El Viejo , was a Spanish conquistador who established one of the first European settlements in the East Indies and the Pacific Islands in 1565. He is the first Governor-General in the Philippines...

 arrived in Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

 and the Philippine Islands establishing the Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies was a term used to describe Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific which lasted for three centuries . With the seat of government in Manila, the territory encompassed the Philippine Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, and for a period of time, parts of...

. In addition to the overseas empire in America and Oceania, the Spanish Monarchy
Spanish monarchy
The Monarchy of Spain, constitutionally referred to as The Crown and commonly referred to as the Spanish monarchy or Hispanic Monarchy, is a constitutional institution and an historic office of Spain...

 controlled several European territories (the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, the greater part of Italy, and some parts of modern France and Germany), and a number of coastal strongholds in Africa. By the 17th century, Spain controlled an empire on a scale and world distribution that had never been approached by its predecessors.

Spain's European possessions were given up at the conclusion of the War of the Spanish Succession
War of the Spanish Succession
The War of the Spanish Succession was fought among several European powers, including a divided Spain, over the possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. As France and Spain were among the most powerful states of Europe, such a unification would have...

 in 1713, but Spain retained its vast overseas empire. In 1741, a massive victory over Britain at the Battle of Cartagena de Indias
Battle of Cartagena de Indias
The Battle of Cartagena de Indias was an amphibious military engagement between the forces of Britain under Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon and those of Spain under Admiral Blas de Lezo. It took place at the city of Cartagena de Indias in March 1741, in present-day Colombia...

 in modern day Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 prolonged Spain's hegemony in the Americas until the 19th century. During the late 18th century, Spanish expeditions to the Pacific Northwest reached Canada and Alaska, resulting in a settlement
Fort San Miguel
For Angola fort, see Fortaleza de São MiguelFort San Miguel was a Spanish fortification at Friendly Cove in Nootka Sound , Vancouver Island....

 on Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is a large island in British Columbia, Canada. It is one of several North American locations named after George Vancouver, the British Royal Navy officer who explored the Pacific Northwest coast of North America between 1791 and 1794...

 and the discovery of several archipelagos and glaciers.

The French occupation of Spain in 1808 under Napoleon cut off its American colonies temporarily, and a number of independence movements between 1810 and 1825 resulted in a chain of newly independent Spanish American
Hispanic America
Hispanic America or Spanish America is the region comprising the American countries inhabited by Spanish-speaking populations.These countries have significant commonalities with each other and with Spain, whose colonies they formerly were...

 republics in South and Central America. The remainder of Spain's then-four hundred year empire, namely Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, and the Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies was a term used to describe Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific which lasted for three centuries . With the seat of government in Manila, the territory encompassed the Philippine Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, and for a period of time, parts of...

, continued under Spanish control until the end of the 19th century, when most of these territories were annexed by the United States after the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

. Spain sold its remaining Pacific islands to Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 in 1899. Therefore, at the turn of the 20th century, Spain only held territories in Africa, namely Spanish Guinea
Spanish Guinea
Spanish Guinea was an African colony of Spain that became the independent nation of Equatorial Guinea.-History:The Portuguese explorer, Fernão do Pó, seeking a route to India, is credited with having discovered the island of Bioko in 1472. He called it Formosa , but it quickly took on the name of...

, Spanish Sahara
Spanish Sahara
Spanish Sahara was the name used for the modern territory of Western Sahara when it was ruled as a territory by Spain between 1884 and 1975...

 and Spanish Morocco
Spanish Morocco
The Spanish protectorate of Morocco was the area of Morocco under colonial rule by the Spanish Empire, established by the Treaty of Fez in 1912 and ending in 1956, when both France and Spain recognized Moroccan independence.-Territorial borders:...

, obtained during the Scramble for Africa
Scramble for Africa
The Scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa or Partition of Africa was a process of invasion, occupation, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers during the New Imperialism period, between 1881 and World War I in 1914...

, but they were relinquished from the mid 20th century due to the Decolonization of Africa
Decolonization of Africa
The decolonization of Africa followed World War II as colonized peoples agitated for independence and colonial powers withdrew their administrators from Africa.-Background:...

.

Definition

The land of the Iberian peninsula was commonly called Hispania
Hispania
Another theory holds that the name derives from Ezpanna, the Basque word for "border" or "edge", thus meaning the farthest area or place. Isidore of Sevilla considered Hispania derived from Hispalis....

 since Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 times and during the Visigothic Kingdom
Visigothic Kingdom
The Visigothic Kingdom was a kingdom which occupied southwestern France and the Iberian Peninsula from the 5th to 8th century AD. One of the Germanic successor states to the Western Roman Empire, it was originally created by the settlement of the Visigoths under King Wallia in the province of...

. The process of the Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

 produced the emergence of four Christian realms: Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

, Aragon
Crown of Aragon
The Crown of Aragon Corona d'Aragón Corona d'Aragó Corona Aragonum controlling a large portion of the present-day eastern Spain and southeastern France, as well as some of the major islands and mainland possessions stretching across the Mediterranean as far as Greece...

, Navarre
Kingdom of Navarre
The Kingdom of Navarre , originally the Kingdom of Pamplona, was a European kingdom which occupied lands on either side of the Pyrenees alongside the Atlantic Ocean....

 and Portugal
Kingdom of Portugal
The Kingdom of Portugal was Portugal's general designation under the monarchy. The kingdom was located in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, Europe and existed from 1139 to 1910...

.

The dynastic union between the Crown of Castile (which included the kingdom of Navarre) and the Crown of Aragon, in Catholic Monarchs
Catholic Monarchs
The Catholic Monarchs is the collective title used in history for Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. They were both from the House of Trastámara and were second cousins, being both descended from John I of Castile; they were given a papal dispensation to deal with...

's time, initiated a political system in force until the beginning of the eighteenth century labelled as Hispanic monarchy: the Spanish sovereign acted as monarch in a unitary manner over all his territories through a polisynodial system of Councils, but his power as king or lord varied from one territory to another one, since each territory retained its own particular administration and juridical configuration. The unity did not mean uniformity. According to this political configuration, independently of the denominations given to the "dynastic union
Dynastic union
A dynastic union is the combination by which two different states are governed by the same dynasty, while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct...

" between 1580–1640, the scholars argue that the Portuguese Empire kept its own administration and jurisdiction over its territory as the other kingdoms and realms ruled by the Spanish Habsburgs. Nevetheless, whereas some historians assert that at that time, Portugal was a kingdom which formed part of the Spanish Monarchy; others draw a clear distinction between the Portuguese Empire and the Spanish Empire.

The Spanish Empire includes Spain's overseas colonies in the Americas, Asia, Oceania and Africa, but some disputes exist as to which European territories are to be counted. For instance, normally the Habsburg Netherlands
Habsburg Netherlands
The Habsburg Netherlands was a geo-political entity covering the whole of the Low Countries from 1482 to 1556/1581 and solely the Southern Netherlands from 1581 to 1794...

 are included as they were part of the possessions of the King of Spain, governed by Spanish officials, and defended by Spanish troops. However, authors like the British historian Henry Kamen
Henry Kamen
Henry A. Kamen is a British historian born in Rangoon on Oct 4. 1936. He studied at the University of Oxford, earning his doctorate at St. Antony's College. He subsequently taught at the University of Warwick and various universities in Spain. In 1970, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal...

 contend that these territories were not fully integrated into a Spanish state and instead formed part of the wider Habsburg possessions. Some historians use "Habsburg" and "Spanish" almost interchangeably when referring to the dynastic inheritance of Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 or Philip II
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

.

Origins


During the 15th century, Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

 and Portugal
Kingdom of Portugal
The Kingdom of Portugal was Portugal's general designation under the monarchy. The kingdom was located in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, Europe and existed from 1139 to 1910...

 fell within territorial and commercial rivalry in the Atlantic western zone. Portugal obtained several Papal bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

s which acknowledged the Portuguese control over the discovered territories, but Castile also obtained from the Pope, the safeguard of its rights to the Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

 with the bulls Romani Pontifex dated on 6 November 1436 and Dominatur Dominus dated on 30 April 1437. The Conquest of the Canary Islands
Conquest of the Canary Islands
The conquest of the Canary Islands by the Kingdom of Castille took place between 1402 and 1496. It can be divided into two periods, the Conquista señorial, carried out by Castilian nobility in exchange for a covenant of allegiance with the crown, and the Conquista realenga, carried out by the...

, inhabited by Guanche
Guanches
Guanches is the name given to the aboriginal Berber inhabitants of the Canary Islands. It is believed that they migrated to the archipelago sometime between 1000 BCE and 100 BCE or perhaps earlier...

 people, began under the reign of Henry III of Castile
Henry III of Castile
Henry III KG , sometimes known as Henry the Sufferer or Henry the Infirm , was the son of John I and Eleanor of Aragon, and succeeded him as King of the Castilian Crown in 1390....

 in 1402, authorizing under feudal agreement to Norman
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 noblemen Jean de Béthencourt
Jean de Béthencourt
Jean de Béthencourt was a French explorer who, in 1402, led an expedition to the Canary Islands, landing first on the north side of Lanzarote...

. The conquest only finished when the armies of the Crown of Castille won, in long and bloody wars, the islands of Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is the second most populous island of the Canary Islands, with a population of 838,397 which constitutes approximately 40% of the population of the archipelago...

 (1478–1483), La Palma (1492–1493) and Tenerife
Tenerife
Tenerife is the largest and most populous island of the seven Canary Islands, it is also the most populated island of Spain, with a land area of 2,034.38 km² and 906,854 inhabitants, 43% of the total population of the Canary Islands. About five million tourists visit Tenerife each year, the...

 (1494–1496).

The proclamation of Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I was Queen of Castile and León. She and her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon brought stability to both kingdoms that became the basis for the unification of Spain. Later the two laid the foundations for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor...

 jointly with her husband Ferdinand of Aragon
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

, at that time king of Sicily, as kings of Castile drove to a war with Portugal
War of the Castilian Succession
The War of the Castilian Succession was the military conflict contested from 1475 to 1479 for the succession of the Crown of Castile fought between the supporters of Juana la Beltraneja, daughter of the late monarch Henry IV of Castile, and those of Henry's half sister, Isabella, who was ultimately...

 solved with the Treaty of Alcáçovas
Treaty of Alcaçovas
The Treaty of Alcáçovas put an end to the War of the Castilian Succession in favor of Isabella I of Castile, and confirmed Castilian control of the Canary Islands and Portuguese control of the Madeira , Azores and Cape Verde islands , all in the Atlantic Ocean The Treaty of Alcáçovas (also known...

 (4 September 1479). Portuguese gave up their claims to the Canary Islands but were secured their sovereignty over Madeira
Madeira
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago that lies between and , just under 400 km north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the north Atlantic Ocean and an outermost region of the European Union...

, Azores
Azores
The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about west from Lisbon and about east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the...

 and the Cape Verde
Cape Verde
The Republic of Cape Verde is an island country, spanning an archipelago of 10 islands located in the central Atlantic Ocean, 570 kilometres off the coast of Western Africa...

 islands, and over the trade of Guinea, from the south of the Cape Bojador
Cape Bojador
Cape Bojador or Cape Boujdour is a headland on the northern coast of Western Sahara, at 26° 07' 37"N, 14° 29' 57"W. , as well as the name of a nearby town with a population of 41,178.It is shown on nautical charts with the original Portuguese name "Cabo Bojador", but is sometimes...

, and the right to conquer the Kingdom of Fez
Kingdom of Fez
The Kingdom of Fez or Wattasid sultanate was the name given to the northern part of Morocco between 1472 and 1554 with its capital at Fez.The Wattasid are a branch of the Zenete, a Berber clan whose origins lie in what is now modern day Libya....

. This treaty was confirmed in 1481 by the Pope Sixtus IV
Pope Sixtus IV
Pope Sixtus IV , born Francesco della Rovere, was Pope from 1471 to 1484. His accomplishments as Pope included the establishment of the Sistine Chapel; the group of artists that he brought together introduced the Early Renaissance into Rome with the first masterpiece of the city's new artistic age,...

, in the papal bull Æterni regis
Aeterni regis
The Papal Bull Aeterni regis was issued on 21 June 1481 by Pope Sixtus IV, simply confirmed the substance of the Treaty of Alcáçovas, thereby reiterating that treaty's confirmation of Castile in its possession of the Canary Islands and its granting of all further acquisitions made by Christian...

 (dated on 21 June 1481).

Seven months before the treaty of Alcaçovas, the king John II of Aragon
John II of Aragon
John II the Faithless, also known as the Great was the King of Aragon from 1458 until 1479, and jure uxoris King of Navarre from 1425 until his death. He was the son of Ferdinand I and his wife Eleanor of Alburquerque...

 passed away and his son Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

 inherited the thrones of the Crown of Aragon
Crown of Aragon
The Crown of Aragon Corona d'Aragón Corona d'Aragó Corona Aragonum controlling a large portion of the present-day eastern Spain and southeastern France, as well as some of the major islands and mainland possessions stretching across the Mediterranean as far as Greece...

; therefore, it was created with Castile a personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

, each with their own administrations, but ruled by to common monarchy.

After a war of 10 years, the Granada War
Granada War
The Granada War was a series of military campaigns between 1482 and 1492, during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, against the Nasrid dynasty's Emirate of Granada...

, in 1492, the Reyes Católicos
Catholic Monarchs
The Catholic Monarchs is the collective title used in history for Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. They were both from the House of Trastámara and were second cousins, being both descended from John I of Castile; they were given a papal dispensation to deal with...

drove out the last Moorish king of Granada. After their victory, the Catholic monarchs
Catholic Monarchs
The Catholic Monarchs is the collective title used in history for Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. They were both from the House of Trastámara and were second cousins, being both descended from John I of Castile; they were given a papal dispensation to deal with...

 negotiated with Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

, a Genoese
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

 sailor attempting to reach Cipangu by sailing west. Castile was already engaged in a race of exploration with Portugal to reach the Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

 by sea when Columbus made his bold proposal to Isabella. In the Capitulations of Santa Fe
Capitulations of Santa Fe
The Capitulations of Santa Fe between Christopher Columbus and the Catholic Monarchs were signed in Santa Fe, Granada on April 17, 1492. They granted Columbus the titles of Admiral of the Ocean Sea, the Viceroy, the Governor-General and honorific Don, and also the tenth part of all riches to be...

, dated on April 17, 1492, Christopher Columbus obtained from the Catholic Monarchs the appointment as viceroy and governor in the lands already discovered and that of he might discover thenceforth; thereby, it was the first document to establish an administrative organization in the Indies. Columbus' discoveries inaugurated the Spanish colonization of the Americas
Spanish colonization of the Americas
Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian faith through indigenous conversions...

.

Spain's claim to these lands was solidified by the Inter caetera
Inter caetera
Inter caetera was a papal bull issued by Pope Alexander VI on , which granted to Spain all lands to the "west and south" of a pole-to-pole line 100 leagues west and south of any of the islands of the Azores or the Cape Verde Islands.It remains unclear to the present whether the pope was issuing a...

papal bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

 dated on 4 May 1493, and Dudum siquidem on 26 September 1493. Since the Portuguese wanted to keep the line of demarcation of Alcaçovas running east and west along the latitude south of Cape Bojador, a compromise was worked out which was incorporated by the Treaty of Tordesillas
Treaty of Tordesillas
The Treaty of Tordesillas , signed at Tordesillas , , divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between Spain and Portugal along a meridian 370 leagueswest of the Cape Verde islands...

 dated on 7 June 1494, in which the globe was divided into two hemispheres between Spanish and Portuguese claims. These actions gave Spain exclusive rights to establish colonies in all of the New World from Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 to Cape Horn
Cape Horn
Cape Horn is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island...

 (except Brazil), as well as the easternmost parts of Asia. The treaty of Tordesillas was confirmed by the Pope Julius II
Pope Julius II
Pope Julius II , nicknamed "The Fearsome Pope" and "The Warrior Pope" , born Giuliano della Rovere, was Pope from 1503 to 1513...

 in the bull Ea quae pro bono pacis on 24 January 1506. Spain's expansion and colonization was driven by economic influences, a yearning to improve national prestige, and a desire to spread Catholicism into the New World.

On the other hand, the treaty of Tordesillas and the treaty of Cintra (18 September 1509) established the limits of the Kingdom of Fez for Portugal, and outside of these limits the Castilian expansion was allowed, beginning with the conquest of Melilla
Melilla
Melilla is a autonomous city of Spain and an exclave on the north coast of Morocco. Melilla, along with the Spanish exclave Ceuta, is one of the two Spanish territories located in mainland Africa...

 in 1497.

Struggles for Italy

The Catholic Monarchs had developed a marriage politics aiming at isolating their traditional enemy: France. The Monarchs' children got married with the heirs of Portugal, England and the House of Habsburg. Following the same strategy, the Catholic Monarchs decided to support the Aragonese house of Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 against Charles VIII of France
Charles VIII of France
Charles VIII, called the Affable, , was King of France from 1483 to his death in 1498. Charles was a member of the House of Valois...

 in the Italian Wars
Italian Wars
The Italian Wars, often referred to as the Great Italian Wars or the Great Wars of Italy and sometimes as the Habsburg–Valois Wars, were a series of conflicts from 1494 to 1559 that involved, at various times, most of the city-states of Italy, the Papal States, most of the major states of Western...

 from 1494. As King of Aragon, Ferdinand had been involved in the struggle against France and Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

 for control of Italy; these conflicts became the center of Ferdinand's foreign policy as king. In these battles, which established the supremacy of the Spanish Tercios
Tercio
The tercio was a Renaissance era military formation made up of a mixed infantry formation of about 3,000 pikemen, swordsmen and arquebusiers or musketeers in a mutually supportive formation. It was also sometimes referred to as the Spanish Square...

 in the European battlefields, the forces of the kings of Spain acquired a reputation for invincibility that would last until the mid-17th century.

After the death of Queen Isabella, Ferdinand as Spain's sole monarch adopted a more aggressive policy than he had as Isabella's husband, enlarging Spain's sphere of influence in Italy and against France. Ferdinand's first investment of Spanish forces came in the War of the League of Cambrai
War of the League of Cambrai
The War of the League of Cambrai, sometimes known as the War of the Holy League and by several other names, was a major conflict in the Italian Wars...

 against Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

, where the Spanish soldiers distinguished themselves on the field alongside their French allies at the Battle of Agnadello
Battle of Agnadello
The Battle of Agnadello, also known as Vailà, was one of the more significant battles of the War of the League of Cambrai and one of the major battles of the Italian Wars....

 (1509). Only a year later, Ferdinand became part of the Holy League against France, seeing a chance at taking both Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

—to which he held a dynastic claim—and Navarre
Navarre
Navarre , officially the Chartered Community of Navarre is an autonomous community in northern Spain, bordering the Basque Country, La Rioja, and Aragon in Spain and Aquitaine in France...

. The war was less of a success than that against Venice, and in 1516, France agreed to a truce that left Milan in its control and recognized Spanish control of Upper Navarre.

First settlements in America

The Capitulations of Santa Fe granted excessive power to Columbus, and the Catholic Monarchs reacted when Colon discovered mainland in 1498. The news were learnt in May 1499, and taking advantage of a revolt against Columbus in La Española
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

, appointed to Francisco de Bobadilla
Francisco de Bobadilla
Francisco de Bobadilla was a Spanish colonial administrator. Member of the Order of Calatrava, in 1499, de Bobadilla was appointed to succeed Christopher Columbus as the second governor of the Indies, Spain's new territories in America, by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella...

 as governor of the Indies with civil and criminal jurisdiction over the lands discovered by Columbus, but he was soon replaced by Nicolás de Ovando
Nicolás de Ovando
Fray Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres was a Spanish soldier from a noble family and a Knight of the Order of Alcántara. He was Governor of the Indies from 1502 until 1509...

 in September 1501. Thenceforth the Crown could authorize to individuals voyages to discover territories in the Indies with previous license, and since 1503, the monopoly of the Crown was assured by the Casa de Contratación
Casa de Contratación
La Casa de Contratación was a government agency under the Spanish Empire, existing from the 16th to the 18th centuries, which attempted to control all Spanish exploration and colonization...

at Sevile. But the successors of Columbus litigated against the Crown until 1536 for the fulfillment of the Capitulations of Santa Fe in the pleitos colombinos
Pleitos colombinos
The Pleitos colombinos were a long series of lawsuits that the heirs of Christopher Columbus brought against the Crown of Castile and León in defense of the privileges obtained by Columbus for his discoveries in the New World...

.

Following the settlement of Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

 which was successful towards the end of the 15th century, the colonists began searching elsewhere to begin new settlements. Those from the less prosperous Hispaniola were eager to search for new success in a new settlement. From there Juan Ponce de León
Juan Ponce de León
Juan Ponce de León was a Spanish explorer. He became the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown. He led the first European expedition to Florida, which he named...

 conquered Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 and Diego Velázquez
Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar
Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar was a Spanish conquistador. He conquered and governed Cuba on behalf of Spain.-Early life:...

 took Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

.

In 1508, the Board of Navigators met in Burgos concurred the need to colonize the mainland, that which was entrusted to Alonso de Ojeda
Alonso de Ojeda
Alonso de Ojeda was a Spanish navigator, governor and conquistador. His name is sometimes spelled Alonzo and Oxeda.-Early life:...

 and Diego de Nicuesa
Diego de Nicuesa
Diego de Nicuesa was a Spanish conquistador and explorer. In 1506, he was given the job of governing Costa Rica, but ran aground off the coast of Panama. He made his way north overland, against resistance from the native population...

 as governors subordinated to the governor of Hispaniola, who was the newly appointed Diego Columbus, with the same legal authority that Ovando. The first settlement on the mainland was Darién
Santa María la Antigua del Darién
Santa María la Antigua del Darién was a Spanish colonial town founded in 1510 by Vasco Núñez de Balboa, located in present-day Colombia approximately 40 miles south of Acandí...

 in Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

, settled by Vasco Núñez de Balboa
Vasco Núñez de Balboa
Vasco Núñez de Balboa was a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador. He is best known for having crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, becoming the first European to lead an expedition to have seen or reached the Pacific from the New World.He traveled to the New World in...

 in 1512. In 1513, Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama
Isthmus of Panama
The Isthmus of Panama, also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien, is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, linking North and South America. It contains the country of Panama and the Panama Canal...

, and led the first European expedition to see the Pacific Ocean from the West coast of the New World. In an action with enduring historical import, Balboa claimed the Pacific Ocean and all the lands adjoining it for the Spanish Crown.

The judgment of Seville of May 1511 recognized the viceregal title to Diego Columbus but limited to Hispaniola and to the islands discovered by his father, Christopher Columbus, nevertheless his power was limited by royal officers and magistrates constituting a dual regime of government. Therefore, the king Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

 as regent of his daughter the queen Joanna
Joanna of Castile
Joanna , nicknamed Joanna the Mad , was the first queen regnant to reign over both the Crown of Castile and the Crown of Aragon , a union which evolved into modern Spain...

 separated the territories of mainland, designated as Castilla de Oro
Castilla de Oro
Castilla de Oro was the name given by the Spanish settlers at the beginning of the 16th century to the Central American territories from the Gulf of Urabá, near today's Colombian-Panamanian border, to the Belén River. Beyond that river, the region was known as Veragua, and was disputed by the...

, from the viceroy of Hispaniola, establishing as General Lieutenant to Pedrarias Dávila in 1513 with functions similar to those of a viceroy, remaining Balboa subordinated as governing of Panama and Coiba on the Pacific Coast, and that after his death returned to Castilla de Oro. The territory of Castilla de Oro did not include either Veragua
Veragua
Veragua or Veraguas was the name of five territorial entities in Central America, beginning in the sixteenth century during the Spanish colonial period...

 (which was comprised approximately between the river Chagres and cape Gracias a Dios), due to this territory was subject to a lawsuit between the Crown and Diego Columbus, or the region farther north, towards the Yucatán, explored by Yáñez Pinzón
Vicente Yáñez Pinzón
Vicente Yáñez Pinzón was a Spanish navigator, explorer, and conquistador, the youngest of the Pinzón brothers...

 and Solís
Juan Díaz de Solís
Juan Díaz de Solís was a Spanish navigator and explorer.Díaz de Solís was probably born in Lebrija, Seville, although some other authors argue that his birth may have actually taken place in Portugal to an Andalusian emigree family....

 in 1508-1509, due to its remoteness. The conflicts of the viceroy Columbus with the royal officers and with the Audiencia, created in 1511, caused his return to the Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 in 1515.

Campaigns in Africa

After the conquest of Melilla in 1497, the Spanish expansionist policy in North Africa was developed during the regency of Ferdinand the Catholic in Castile, stimulated by the Cisneros, once the Reconquista in the Iberian Peninsula was finished. That way, several towns and outposts in the North African coast were conquered and occupied by Castile: Mazalquivir (1505), Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera
Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera
Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera , in ancient times Badis or Bades, is a Spanish rock in North Africa off the Moroccan coast . It is part of several Peñones, or rock-fortresses on the coast of Northern Africa. Vélez de la Gomera is administered from Melilla...

 (1508), Oran
Oran
Oran is a major city on the northwestern Mediterranean coast of Algeria, and the second largest city of the country.It is the capital of the Oran Province . The city has a population of 759,645 , while the metropolitan area has a population of approximately 1,500,000, making it the second largest...

 (1509), Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

 (1510), Bugia
Béjaïa
Béjaïa, Vgaiet or Bejaya is a Mediterranean port city on the Gulf of Béjaïa in Algeria; it is the capital of Béjaïa Province, Kabylia. Under French rule, it was formerly known under various European names, such as Budschaja in German, Bugia in Italian, and Bougie...

 (1510), and Tripoli (1511). In the Atlantic coast, Spain took possession of the outpost of Santa Cruz de Mar Pequeña (1476) with support from the Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

, and it was retained until 1525 with the consent of the treaty of Cintra (1509).

The Spanish Habsburgs and the Golden Age (1516–1643)

The 16th and 17th centuries are sometimes called "the Golden Age of Spain" (in Spanish, ). As a result of the marriage politics of the , their Habsburg grandson Charles
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 inherited the Castilian empire in America, the Aragonese Empire in the Mediterranean (including a large portion of modern Italy), as well as the crown of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 and of the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, Franche-Comté
Franche-Comté
Franche-Comté the former "Free County" of Burgundy, as distinct from the neighbouring Duchy, is an administrative region and a traditional province of eastern France...

, and Austria (this one, along with the rest of hereditary Habsburg domains was almost immediately transferred to Ferdinand
Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand I was Holy Roman Emperor from 1558 and king of Bohemia and Hungary from 1526 until his death. Before his accession, he ruled the Austrian hereditary lands of the Habsburgs in the name of his elder brother, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.The key events during his reign were the contest...

, the Emperor's brother). After his defeat of the Castilian rebels (Comuneros) in the Castilian War of the Communities, Charles became the most powerful man in Europe, his rule stretching over an empire in Europe unrivalled in extent until the Napoleonic era. It was often said during this time that it was the empire on which the sun never set
The empire on which the sun never sets
The phrase, "the Empire on which the sun never sets", has been used with variations to describe certain global empires that were so extensive that there was always at least one part of their territory in daylight....

. This sprawling overseas empire of the Spanish Golden Age was controlled, not from inland Valladolid
Valladolid
Valladolid is a historic city and municipality in north-central Spain, situated at the confluence of the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers, and located within three wine-making regions: Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Cigales...

, but from Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

.

The Castilian Empire abroad was initially a disappointment. It did stimulate some trade and industry, but the trading opportunities encountered were limited. Matters began to change in the 1520s with the large scale extraction of silver from the rich deposits of Mexico's Guanajuato
Guanajuato
Guanajuato officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Guanajuato is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 46 municipalities and its capital city is Guanajuato....

 region, but it was the opening of the silver mines in Mexico's Zacatecas
Zacatecas
Zacatecas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Zacatecas is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 58 municipalities and its capital city is Zacatecas....

 and Bolivia's Potosí
Potosí
Potosí is a city and the capital of the department of Potosí in Bolivia. It is one of the highest cities in the world by elevation at a nominal . and it was the location of the Spanish colonial mint, now the National Mint of Bolivia...

 in 1546 that became legendary. During the 16th century, Spain held the equivalent of US$1.5 trillion (1990 terms) in gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 and silver received from New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

. Ultimately, however, these imports diverted investment away from other forms of industry and contributed to inflation
Price revolution
Used generally to describe a series of economic events from the second half of the 15th century to the first half of the 17th, the price revolution refers most specifically to the relatively high rate of inflation that characterized the period across Western Europe, with prices on average rising...

 in Spain in the last decades of the 16th century: "I learnt a proverb here", said a French traveler in 1603: "Everything is dear in Spain except silver". This situation was aggravated (though not as much as popular myth asserts) by the loss of much the commercial and artisan classes with the expulsions of the Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 (1492) and Moriscos (1609). The vast imports of silver ultimately made Spain overly dependent on foreign sources of raw material
Raw material
A raw material or feedstock is the basic material from which a product is manufactured or made, frequently used with an extended meaning. For example, the term is used to denote material that came from nature and is in an unprocessed or minimally processed state. Latex, iron ore, logs, and crude...

s and manufactured goods.

The wealthy preferred to invest their fortunes in public debt (juros), which were backed by these silver imports, rather than in production of manufactures and the improvement of agriculture. This helped perpetuate the medieval aristocrat
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

ic prejudice that saw manual work as dishonorable long after this attitude had started to decline in other west European countries. The silver and gold whose circulation helped facilitate the economic and social revolutions in the Low Countries, France and England and other parts of Europe helped stifle them in Spain. The problems caused by inflation were discussed by scholars at the School of Salamanca
School of Salamanca
The School of Salamanca is the renaissance of thought in diverse intellectual areas by Spanish and Portuguese theologians, rooted in the intellectual and pedagogical work of Francisco de Vitoria...

 and arbitrista
Arbitrista
Arbitristas, a Spanish word meaning "projectors." The name of a group of reformers in 17th century Spain. The arbitristas were concerned about the decline of the economy of Spain and proposed a number of measures to reverse it. From John H...

s
but they had no impact on the Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

 government.

The Habsburg dynasty spent the Castilian and American riches in wars across Europe on behalf of Habsburg interests, defaulted on their debt several times, and left Spain bankrupt several times. Tensions between the Empire and the people of Castile exploded in the popular rebellion of the Castilian War of the Communities
Castilian War of the Communities
The Revolt of the Comuneros was an uprising by citizens of Castile against the rule of Charles V and his administration between 1520 and 1521. At its height, the rebels controlled the heart of Castile, ruling the cities of Valladolid, Tordesillas, and Toledo.The revolt occurred in the wake of...

 (1520–22).

The Habsburgs' political goals were several:
  • Access to the resources of the Americas
    Americas
    The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

     (gold
    Gold
    Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

    , silver
    Silver
    Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

    , sugar
    Sugar
    Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

    ) and products of Asia (porcelain
    Porcelain
    Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

    , spice
    Spice
    A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for flavor, color, or as a preservative that kills harmful bacteria or prevents their growth. It may be used to flavour a dish or to hide other flavours...

    s, silk
    Silk
    Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

    )
  • Undermining the power of France and containing it in its eastern borders.
  • Maintaining Catholic Habsburg hegemony
    Hegemony
    Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

     in Germany, defending Catholicism
    Catholicism
    Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

     against the Protestant Reformation
    Protestant Reformation
    The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

    . Charles attempted to quell the Reformation
    Protestant Reformation
    The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

     at the Diet of Worms
    Diet of Worms
    The Diet of Worms 1521 was a diet that took place in Worms, Germany, and is most memorable for the Edict of Worms , which addressed Martin Luther and the effects of the Protestant Reformation.It was conducted from 28 January to 25 May 1521, with Emperor Charles V presiding.Other Imperial diets at...

     but Martin Luther
    Martin Luther
    Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

     refused to recant his 'heresy
    Heresy
    Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

    .' However, Charles's piety could not stop his mutinying troops from plundering the Holy See
    Holy See
    The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

     in the Sacco di Roma.
  • Defending Europe against Islam
    Islam
    Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

    , notably the Ottoman Empire
    Ottoman Empire
    The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

    .
  • To spread religion to the unconverted souls of the new world. With conflict between Catholics and Protestants raging in Europe, the new world was an ideal place for more Catholics to be recruited.

Struggles of Charles V for Italy

With the ascent of the king Charles I
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 in 1516 and his election as sovereign of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 in 1519, Francis I of France
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

 found himself surrounded by Habsburg territories, invaded the Spanish possessions in Italy in 1521, and inaugurated the second war of Franco-Spanish conflict. The war was a disaster for France, which suffered defeat at the Battle of Biccoca (1522), the Battle of Pavia
Battle of Pavia
The Battle of Pavia, fought on the morning of 24 February 1525, was the decisive engagement of the Italian War of 1521–26.A Spanish-Imperial army under the nominal command of Charles de Lannoy attacked the French army under the personal command of Francis I of France in the great hunting preserve...

 (1525, at which Francis was captured), and the Battle of Landriano
Battle of Landriano
The Battle of Landriano took place on 21 June 1529, between the French army under Francis de Bourbon, Comte de St. Pol and the Spanish army commanded by Don Antonio de Leyva, Duke of Terranova in the context of the War of the League of Cognac...

 (1529) before Francis relented and abandoned Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

 to Spain once more.
King Charles I
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 (Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor) achieved victory at the Battle of Pavia
Battle of Pavia
The Battle of Pavia, fought on the morning of 24 February 1525, was the decisive engagement of the Italian War of 1521–26.A Spanish-Imperial army under the nominal command of Charles de Lannoy attacked the French army under the personal command of Francis I of France in the great hunting preserve...

 in 1525 and surprised many Italians and Germans and elicited concerns that Charles would endeavor to gain ever greater power. Pope Clement VII
Pope Clement VII
Clement VII , born Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici, was a cardinal from 1513 to 1523 and was Pope from 1523 to 1534.-Early life:...

 switched sides and now joined forces with France and prominent Italian states against the Habsburg Emperor, in the War of the League of Cognac
War of the League of Cognac
The War of the League of Cognac was fought between the Habsburg dominions of Charles V—primarily Spain and the Holy Roman Empire—and the League of Cognac, an alliance including France, Pope Clement VII, the Republic of Venice, England, the Duchy of Milan and Republic of Florence.- Prelude :Shocked...

. In 1527, Charles grew exhausted with the pope's meddling in what he viewed as purely secular affairs, and sacked Rome
Sack of Rome (1527)
The Sack of Rome on 6 May 1527 was a military event carried out by the mutinous troops of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in Rome, then part of the Papal States...

 itself, embarrassing the papacy sufficiently enough that Clement, and succeeding popes, were considerably more circumspect in their dealings with secular authorities. In 1533, Clement's refusal to annul the first marriage of King Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 was a direct consequence of his unwillingness to offend the emperor and have his capital sacked for perhaps a second time. The Peace of Barcelona, signed between Charles V and the Pope in 1529, established a more cordial relationship between the two leaders. Spain was effectively named the protector of the Catholic cause and Charles was crowned as King of Italy
King of Italy
King of Italy is a title adopted by many rulers of the Italian peninsula after the fall of the Roman Empire...

 (Lombardy
Lombardy
Lombardy is one of the 20 regions of Italy. The capital is Milan. One-sixth of Italy's population lives in Lombardy and about one fifth of Italy's GDP is produced in this region, making it the most populous and richest region in the country and one of the richest in the whole of Europe...

) in return for Spanish intervention in overthrowing the rebellious Florentine
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 Republic.

In 1528, the great admiral Andrea Doria
Andrea Doria
Andrea Doria was an Italian condottiere and admiral from Genoa.-Early life:Doria was born at Oneglia from the ancient Genoese family, the Doria di Oneglia branch of the old Doria, de Oria or de Auria family. His parents were related: Ceva Doria, co-lord of Oneglia, and Caracosa Doria, of the...

 allied with the Emperor to oust the French and restore Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

's independence, opening the prospect for financial renewal: 1528 marks the first loan from Genoese banks to Charles.

In 1543, the king of France Francis I
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

 announced his unprecedented alliance with the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman I was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. He is known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as "The Lawgiver" , for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system...

, by occupying the Spanish-controlled city of Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

 in concert with Ottoman forces. Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

, who bore a greater grudge against France than he held against the Emperor for standing in the way of his divorce, joined Charles in his invasion of France. Although the Spanish army was defeated at the Battle of Ceresole
Battle of Ceresole
The Battle of Ceresole was an encounter between a French army and the combined forces of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire during the Italian War of 1542–46...

 in Savoy
Savoy
Savoy is a region of France. It comprises roughly the territory of the Western Alps situated between Lake Geneva in the north and Monaco and the Mediterranean coast in the south....

 the French were unable to seriously threaten Spanish controlled Milan, whilst suffering defeat in the north at the hands of Henry, thereby being forced to accept unfavourable terms. The Austrians, led by Charles's younger brother Ferdinand
Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand I was Holy Roman Emperor from 1558 and king of Bohemia and Hungary from 1526 until his death. Before his accession, he ruled the Austrian hereditary lands of the Habsburgs in the name of his elder brother, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.The key events during his reign were the contest...

, continued to fight the Ottomans in the east. Charles went to take care of an older problem: the Schmalkaldic League
Schmalkaldic League
The Schmalkaldic League was a defensive alliance of Lutheran princes within the Holy Roman Empire during the mid-16th century. Although originally started for religious motives soon after the start of the Protestant Reformation, its members eventually intended for the League to replace the Holy...

.

Religious conflicts in the Holy Empire

The Schmalkaldic League had allied itself to the French, and efforts in Germany to undermine the League had been rebuffed. Francis's defeat in 1544 led to the annulment of the alliance with the Protestants, and Charles took advantage of the opportunity. He first tried the path of negotiation at the Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

 in 1545, but the Protestant leadership, feeling betrayed by the stance taken by the Catholics at the council, went to war, led by the Saxon
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

 elector
Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

 Maurice. In response, Charles invaded Germany at the head of a mixed Dutch–Spanish army, hoping to restore the Imperial authority. The emperor personally inflicted a decisive defeat on the Protestants at the historic Battle of Mühlberg
Battle of Mühlberg
The Battle of Mühlberg was a large battle at Mühlberg in the Electorate of Saxony during the Protestant Reformation at which the Catholic princes of the Holy Roman Empire led by the Emperor Charles I of Spain and V of the Holy Roman Empire decisively defeated the Lutheran Schmalkaldic League of...

 in 1547. In 1555, Charles signed the Peace of Augsburg
Peace of Augsburg
The Peace of Augsburg, also called the Augsburg Settlement, was a treaty between Charles V and the forces of the Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of Lutheran princes, on September 25, 1555, at the imperial city of Augsburg, now in present-day Bavaria, Germany.It officially ended the religious...

 with the Protestant states and restored stability in Germany on his principle of , a position unpopular with Spanish and Italian clergymen. Charles's involvement in Germany would establish a role for Spain as protector of the Catholic, Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

 cause in the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

; the precedent would lead, seven decades later, to involvement in the war that would decisively end Spain as Europe's leading power.

Defeat of France

Charles V's only legitimate son, Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 (r. 1556–98) parted the Austrian possessions with his uncle Ferdinand
Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand I was Holy Roman Emperor from 1558 and king of Bohemia and Hungary from 1526 until his death. Before his accession, he ruled the Austrian hereditary lands of the Habsburgs in the name of his elder brother, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.The key events during his reign were the contest...

. Philip treated Castile as the foundation of his empire, but the population of Castile (that was about ⅓ of France's) was never great enough to provide the soldiers needed to support the Empire. When he married Mary Tudor
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...

, England was allied to Spain.
Spain was not yet at peace, as the aggressive Henry II of France
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

 came to the throne in 1547 and immediately renewed conflict with Spain. Charles's successor, Philip II, aggressively prosecuted the war against France, crushing a French army at the Battle of St. Quentin
Battle of St. Quentin (1557)
The Battle of Saint-Quentin of 1557 was fought during the Franco-Habsburg War . The Spanish, who had regained the support of the English, won a significant victory over the French at Saint-Quentin, in northern France.- Battle :...

 in Picardy
Picardy
This article is about the historical French province. For other uses, see Picardy .Picardy is a historical province of France, in the north of France...

 in 1558 and defeating Henry again at the Battle of Gravelines
Battle of Gravelines (1558)
The Battle of Gravelines was fought on July 13, 1558 at Gravelines, near Calais, France. It occurred during the 1547–1559 war between France and Spain....

. The Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, signed in 1559, permanently recognized Spanish claims in Italy. In the celebrations that followed the treaty, Henry was killed by a stray splinter from a lance. France was stricken for the next thirty years by chronic civil war and unrest (see French Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
The French Wars of Religion is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants . The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise...

) and removed from effectively competing with Spain and the Habsburg family in European power games. Freed from effective French opposition, Spain saw the apogee of its might and territorial reach in the period 1559–1643.

The opening for the Genoese banking consortium was the state bankruptcy of Philip II in 1557, which threw the German banking houses into chaos and ended the reign of the Fugger
Fugger
The Fugger family was a historically prominent group of European bankers, members of the fifteenth and sixteenth-century mercantile patriciate of Augsburg, international mercantile bankers, and venture capitalists like the Welser and the Höchstetter families. This banking family replaced the de'...

s as Spanish financiers. The Genoese bankers provided the unwieldy Habsburg system with fluid credit and a dependably regular income. In return the less dependable shipments of American silver were rapidly transferred from Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

 to Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

, to provide capital for further ventures.

European conflicts at the time of Philip II

The time for rejoicing in Madrid was short-lived. In 1566, Calvinist-led riots in the Netherlands prompted the Duke of Alba to march into the country to restore order. In 1568, William of Orange
William the Silent
William I, Prince of Orange , also widely known as William the Silent , or simply William of Orange , was the main leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish that set off the Eighty Years' War and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1648. He was born in the House of...

, better known as William the Silent, led a failed attempt to drive Alva from the Netherlands. These battles are generally considered to signal the start of the Eighty Years' War that ended with the independence of the United Provinces
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

. The Spanish, who derived a great deal of wealth from the Netherlands and particularly from the vital port of Antwerp, were committed to restoring order and maintaining their hold on the provinces. According to Luc-Normand Tellier, "It is estimated that the port of Antwerp was earning the Spanish crown seven times more revenues than the Americas
Spanish colonization of the Americas
Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian faith through indigenous conversions...

." In 1572, a band of rebel Dutch privateers known as the watergeuzen ("Sea Beggars") seized a number of Dutch coastal towns, proclaimed their support for William and denounced the Spanish leadership.
For Spain, the war became an endless quagmire, sometimes literally. In 1574, the Spanish army under Luis de Requeséns was repulsed from the Siege of Leiden
Siege of Leiden
The Siege of Leiden occurred during the Eighty Years' War in 1573 and 1574, when the Spanish attempted to capture the rebellious city of Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands, and ultimately failed.-Background:...

 after the Dutch broke the dykes, thus causing extensive flooding. In 1576, faced with the bills from his 80,000-man army of occupation in the Netherlands, the cost of his fleet that had won at Lepanto, together with the growing threat of piracy
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 in the open seas reducing his income from his American colonies, Philip was forced to accept bankruptcy
Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a legal status of an insolvent person or an organisation, that is, one that cannot repay the debts owed to creditors. In most jurisdictions bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor....

. The army in the Netherlands mutinied not long after, seizing Antwerp and looting the southern Netherlands, prompting several cities in the previously peaceful southern provinces to join the rebellion. The Spanish chose to negotiate, and pacified most of the southern provinces again with the Union of Arras in 1579. In response, the Netherlands created the Union of Utrecht
Union of Utrecht
The Union of Utrecht was a treaty signed on 23 January 1579 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain....

, as an alliance between the northern provinces, later that month. They officially deposed Philip in 1581 when they enacted the Act of Abjuration.

Under the Arras agreement the southern states of the Spanish Netherlands, today in Wallonia and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais (and Picardy
Picardy
This article is about the historical French province. For other uses, see Picardy .Picardy is a historical province of France, in the north of France...

) régions in France, expressed their loyalty to the Spanish king Philip II
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 and recognized his Governor-General, Don Juan of Austria. In 1580, this gave King Philip the opportunity to strengthen his position when the last member of the Portuguese royal family, Cardinal Henry of Portugal, died. Philip asserted his claim to the Portuguese throne and in June sent the Duke of Alba with an army to Lisbon to assure his succession. Though the Duke of Alba and the Spanish occupation, however, was little more popular in Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 than in Rotterdam
Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

, the combined Spanish and Portuguese empires placed into Philip's hands almost the entirety of the explored New World along with a vast trading empire in Africa and Asia. In 1582, when Philip II
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 moved his court back to Madrid from the Atlantic port of Lisbon where he had temporarily settled to pacify his new Portuguese kingdom, the pattern was sealed, in spite of what every observant commentator privately noted: "Sea power is more important to the ruler of Spain than any other prince" wrote a commentator, "for it is only by sea power that a single community can be created out of so many so far apart." A writer on tactics in 1638 observed, "The might most suited to the arms of Spain is that which is placed on the seas, but this matter of state is so well known that I should not discuss it, even if I thought it opportune to do so."
Portugal required an extensive occupation force to keep it under control, and Spain was still reeling from the 1576 bankruptcy. In 1584, William the Silent was assassinated by a half-deranged Catholic, and the death of the popular Dutch resistance leader was hoped to bring an end to the war. It did not. In 1586, Queen Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

, sent support to the Protestant causes in the Netherlands and France, and Sir Francis Drake launched attacks against Spanish merchants in the Caribbean and the Pacific, along with a particularly aggressive attack on the port of Cadiz
Cádiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

. In 1588, hoping to put a stop to Elizabeth's intervention, Philip sent the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

 to attack England. Favourable weather, more heavily armed and manœuverable English ships, and the fact that the English had been warned by their spies in the Netherlands and were ready for the attack resulted in defeat for the Armada. However the failure of the Drake–Norris Expedition
English Armada
The English Armada, also known as the Counter Armada or the Drake-Norris Expedition, was a fleet of warships sent to the Iberian Coast by Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1589, during the Anglo-Spanish War...

 to Portugal and the Azores in 1589 marked a turning point in the on-off 1585–1604 Anglo–Spanish War
Anglo-Spanish War (1585)
The Anglo–Spanish War was an intermittent conflict between the kingdoms of Spain and England that was never formally declared. The war was punctuated by widely separated battles, and began with England's military expedition in 1585 to the Netherlands under the command of the Earl of Leicester in...

. The Spanish fleets became more effective in transporting greatly increased quantities of silver and gold from the Americas, while English attacks suffered costly failures.
Spain had invested itself in the religious warfare in France after Henry II's death. In 1589, Henry III
Henry III of France
Henry III was King of France from 1574 to 1589. As Henry of Valois, he was the first elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with the dual titles of King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1573 to 1575.-Childhood:Henry was born at the Royal Château de Fontainebleau,...

, the last of the Valois
Valois Dynasty
The House of Valois was a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty, succeeding the House of Capet as kings of France from 1328 to 1589...

 lineage, died at the walls of Paris. His successor, Henry IV of Navarre
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

, the first Bourbon king of France, was a man of great ability, winning key victories against the Catholic League
Catholic League (French)
The Catholic League of France, sometimes referred to by contemporary Roman Catholics as the Holy League, a major player in the French Wars of Religion, was formed by Duke Henry of Guise in 1576...

 at Arques
Battle of Arques
This article is about the 1589 battle. For the Battle of 1303 see Battle of Arques .The Battle of Arques occurred on 15–18 September 1589 between the French royal forces of King Henry IV of France and troops of the Catholic League commanded by Charles of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne during the eighth...

 (1589) and Ivry
Battle of Ivry
The Battle of Ivry was fought on 14 March 1590, during the French Wars of Religion. The battle was a decisive victory for Henry of Navarre, the future Henry IV of France, leading Huguenot forces against the Catholic League forces led by the Duc de Mayenne...

 (1590). Committed to stopping Henry of Navarre from becoming King of France, the Spanish divided their army in the Netherlands and invaded France in 1590.

The pacification at the time of Philip III

Faced with wars against England, France and the Netherlands
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

, each led by capable leaders, the bankrupted empire found itself competing against strong adversaries. Continuing piracy
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 against its shipping in the Atlantic and the costly colonial enterprises forced Spain to renegotiate its debts in 1596. The crown attempted to reduce its exposure to the different conflicts, first signing the Treaty of Vervins with France in 1598, recognizing Henry IV
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in France....

 (since 1593 a Catholic) as king of France, and restoring many of the stipulations of the previous Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis. The Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

, suffering from a series of repulses at sea and from an endless guerrilla war
Nine Years' War (Ireland)
The Nine Years' War or Tyrone's Rebellion took place in Ireland from 1594 to 1603. It was fought between the forces of Gaelic Irish chieftains Hugh O'Neill of Tír Eoghain, Hugh Roe O'Donnell of Tír Chonaill and their allies, against English rule in Ireland. The war was fought in all parts of the...

 by Catholics in Ireland, who were supported by Spain, agreed to the Treaty of London, 1604
Treaty of London, 1604
The Treaty of London, signed on 18 August O.S. 1604, concluded the nineteen-year Anglo-Spanish War. The negotiations took place at Somerset House in London and are sometimes known as the Somerset House Conference....

, following the accession of the more tractable Stuart
House of Stuart
The House of Stuart is a European royal house. Founded by Robert II of Scotland, the Stewarts first became monarchs of the Kingdom of Scotland during the late 14th century, and subsequently held the position of the Kings of Great Britain and Ireland...

 King James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

.

Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

 provided the Spanish crown
Habsburg Spain
Habsburg Spain refers to the history of Spain over the 16th and 17th centuries , when Spain was ruled by the major branch of the Habsburg dynasty...

 with most of its revenues and its best troops. The plague
Great Plague of Seville
The Great Plague of Seville was a massive outbreak of disease in Spain that killed up to a quarter of Seville's population.Unlike the plague of 1596–1602 which claimed 600,000 to 700,000 lives, or a little under 8% of the population, and initially struck northern and central Spain and Andalusía in...

 devastated Castilian lands between 1596 and 1602, causing the deaths of some 600,000 people. A great number of Castilians went to America or died in battle. In 1609, the great majority of the Morisco
Morisco
Moriscos or Mouriscos , meaning "Moorish", were the converted Christian inhabitants of Spain and Portugal of Muslim heritage. Over time the term was used in a pejorative sense applied to those nominal Catholics who were suspected of secretly practicing Islam.-Demographics:By the beginning of the...

 population of Spain was expelled. It is estimated that Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

 lost about 25% of its population between 1600 and 1623. Such a dramatic drop in the population meant the basis for the Crown's revenues was dangerously weakened in a time when it was engaged in continuous conflict in Europe.

Peace with England and France gave Spain an opportunity to focus its energies on restoring its rule to the Dutch provinces. The Dutch, led by Maurice of Nassau, the son of William the Silent and perhaps the greatest strategist of his time, had succeeded in taking a number of border cities since 1590, including the fortress of Breda. Following the peace with England, the new Spanish commander Ambrogio Spinola, a general with the ability to match Maurice, pressed hard against the Dutch and was prevented from conquering the Netherlands only by Spain's latest bankruptcy
Insolvency
Insolvency means the inability to pay one's debts as they fall due. Usually used to refer to a business, insolvency refers to the inability of a company to pay off its debts.Business insolvency is defined in two different ways:...

 in 1607. In 1609, the Twelve Years' Truce
Twelve Years' Truce
The Twelve Years' Truce was the name given to the cessation of hostilities between the Habsburg rulers of Spain and the Southern Netherlands and the Dutch Republic as agreed in Antwerp on 9 April 1609. It was a watershed in the Eighty Years' War, marking the point from which the independence of the...

 was signed between Spain and the United Provinces
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

. At last, Spain was at peace — the .

Spain made a fair recovery during the truce, putting its finances in order and doing much to restore its prestige and stability in the run-up to the last truly great war in which she would play a leading part. Philip II's successor, Philip III
Philip III of Spain
Philip III , also known as Philip the Pious, was the King of Spain and King of Portugal and the Algarves, where he ruled as Philip II , from 1598 until his death...

, was a man of limited ability, uninterested in politics and preferring to delegate management of the empire to others. His chief minister was the capable Duke of Lerma
Francisco Goméz de Sandoval y Rojas, Duke of Lerma
Don Francisco Gómez de Sandoval, 1st Duke of Lerma , a favourite of Philip III of Spain, was the first of the validos through whom the later Habsburg monarchs ruled. He was succeeded by Don Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares.-Biography:The family of Sandoval was ancient and powerful...

.
The Duke of Lerma (and to a large extent Philip II) had been uninterested in the affairs of their ally, Austria. In 1618, the king replaced him with Don Balthasar de Zúñiga, a veteran ambassador to Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

. Don Balthasar believed that the key to restraining the resurgent French and eliminating the Dutch was a closer alliance with Habsburg Austria. In 1618, beginning with the Defenestration of Prague, Austria and the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

, Ferdinand II
Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand II , a member of the House of Habsburg, was Holy Roman Emperor , King of Bohemia , and King of Hungary . His rule coincided with the Thirty Years' War.- Life :...

, embarked on a campaign against the Protestant Union
Protestant Union
The Protestant Union or Evangelical Union was a coalition of Protestant German states that was formed in 1608 to defend the rights, lands and person of each member....

 and Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

. Don Balthasar encouraged Philip to join the Austrian Habsburgs in the war, and Spinola, the rising star of the Spanish army in the Netherlands, was sent at the head of the Army of Flanders
Army of Flanders
The Army of Flanders was a Spanish Habsburg army based in the Netherlands during the 16th to 18th centuries. It was notable for being the longest standing army of the period, being in continuous service from 1567 until its disestablishment in 1706...

 to intervene. Thus, Spain entered into the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

.

The road to Rocroi

In 1621, Philip III was succeeded by the considerably more religious Philip IV
Philip IV of Spain
Philip IV was King of Spain between 1621 and 1665, sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands, and King of Portugal until 1640...

. The following year, Don Balthasar was replaced by Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares
Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares
Don Gaspar de Guzmán y Pimentel Ribera y Velasco de Tovar, Count-Duke of Olivares and Duke of San Lúcar la Mayor , was a Spanish royal favourite of Philip IV and minister. As prime minister from 1621 to 1643, he over-exerted Spain in foreign affairs and unsuccessfully attempted domestic reform...

, a reasonably honest and able man who believed that the center of all Spain's woes rested in the Netherlands. After certain initial setbacks, the Bohemians were defeated at White Mountain
Battle of White Mountain
The Battle of White Mountain, 8 November 1620 was an early battle in the Thirty Years' War in which an army of 30,000 Bohemians and mercenaries under Christian of Anhalt were routed by 27,000 men of the combined armies of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor under Charles Bonaventure de Longueval,...

 in 1621, and again at Stadtlohn
Stadtlohn
Stadtlohn is a town in the north-west of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, part of the district Borken. The Berkel river flows through it on its way to the Netherlands.-Division of the town:Stadtlohn consists of 9 districts:* Almsick* Büren* Estern...

 in 1623. The war with the Netherlands was renewed in 1621 with Spinola taking the fortress of Breda in 1625. The intervention of Christian IV of Denmark
Christian IV of Denmark
Christian IV was the king of Denmark-Norway from 1588 until his death. With a reign of more than 59 years, he is the longest-reigning monarch of Denmark, and he is frequently remembered as one of the most popular, ambitious and proactive Danish kings, having initiated many reforms and projects...

 in the war worried some (Christian was one of Europe's few monarchs who had no worries over his finances), but the victory of the Imperial general Albert of Wallenstein over the Danes at Dessau Bridge
Battle of Dessau Bridge
The Battle of Dessau Bridge was a battle of the Thirty Years' War near Dessau on April 25, 1626. The Imperial Roman Catholic forces of Albrecht von Wallenstein defeated the Protestant forces of Ernst von Mansfeld in the battle....

 and again at Lutter
Battle of Lutter
The Battle of Lutter took place during the Thirty Years' War, on 27 August 1626, between the forces of the Protestant Christian IV of Denmark and those of the Catholic League...

 (both in 1626), eliminated that threat.

There was hope in Madrid that the Netherlands might finally be reincorporated into the Empire, and after the defeat of Denmark the Protestants in Germany seemed crushed. France was once again involved in its own instabilities (the famous Siege of La Rochelle
Siege of La Rochelle
The Siege of La Rochelle was a result of a war between the French royal forces of Louis XIII of France and the Huguenots of La Rochelle in 1627-1628...

 began in 1627), and Spain's eminence seemed clear. The Count-Duke Olivares stridently affirmed, "God is Spanish and fights for our nation these days".

Olivares was a man out of time: he realized that Spain needed to reform, and to reform it needed peace. The destruction of the United Provinces of the Netherlands was added to his list of necessities, because at the root of every anti-Habsburg coalition there was Dutch money. Dutch bankers financed the East India
East Indies
East Indies is a term used by Europeans from the 16th century onwards to identify what is now known as Indian subcontinent or South Asia, Southeastern Asia, and the islands of Oceania, including the Malay Archipelago and the Philippines...

 merchants of Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

, and everywhere in the world Dutch entrepreneurship and colonists were undermining Spanish and Portuguese hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

.

While Spinola and the Spanish army were focused on the Netherlands, the war seemed to go in Spain's favor. But 1627 saw the collapse of the Castilian economy. The Habsburgs had been debasing
Debasement
Debasement is the practice of lowering the value of currency. It is particularly used in connection with commodity money such as gold or silver coins...

 their currency to pay for the war and prices exploded
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

, just as they had in previous years in Austria. Until 1631, parts of Castile operated on a barter
Barter
Barter is a method of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money. It is usually bilateral, but may be multilateral, and usually exists parallel to monetary systems in most developed countries, though to a...

 economy owing to the currency crisis, and the government was unable to collect any meaningful taxes from the peasantry and had to depend on revenue from its colonies. The Spanish armies, like others in German territories, resorted to "paying themselves" on the land.
Olivares had backed certain taxation reforms in Spain pending the end of the war, but was blamed for another embarrassing and fruitless war in Italy
War of the Mantuan Succession
The War of the Mantuan Succession was a peripheral part of the Thirty Years' War. Its casus belli was the extinction of the direct male line of the House of Gonzaga in December 1627. Brothers Francesco IV , Ferdinando and Vincenzo II , the last three dukes of Gonzaga, had all died leaving no...

. The Dutch, who during the Twelve Years' Truce had made increasing their navy a priority, (which showed its maturing potency at the Battle of Gibraltar
Battle of Gibraltar
The naval Battle of Gibraltar took place on 25 April 1607 during the Eighty Years' War when a Dutch fleet surprised and engaged a Spanish fleet anchored at the Bay of Gibraltar. During the four hours of action, most of the Spanish fleet was destroyed....

 1607), managed to strike a great blow against Spanish maritime trade with the capture
Battle in the Bay of Matanzas
The Battle in the Bay of Matanzas was a naval battle during the Eighty Years' War in which a Dutch squadron was able to defeat and capture a Spanish treasure fleet....

 of the treasure fleet by captain Piet Hein
Piet Pieterszoon Hein
Pieter Pietersen Heyn was a Dutch naval officer and folk hero during the Eighty Years' War between the United Provinces and Spain.-Early life:...

, on which Spain had become dependent after the economic collapse.

Spanish military resources were stretched across Europe and also at sea as they sought to protect maritime trade against the greatly improved Dutch and French fleets, while still occupied with the Ottoman and associated Barbary pirate threat in the Mediterranean. In the meantime the aim of choking Dutch shipping was carried out by the Dunkirkers
Dunkirkers
During the Dutch Revolt the Dunkirkers or Dunkirk Privateers, were commerce raiders in the service of the Spanish Monarchy. They were also part of the Dunkirk fleet, which consequently was a part of the Spanish Monarchy's Flemish fleet ...

 with considerable success. In 1625 a Spanish-Portuguese fleet, under Admiral Fradique de Toledo, regained the strategically vital Brazilian city of Salvador da Bahia from the Dutch. Elsewhere, the isolated and undermanned Portuguese forts in Africa and the Asia proved vulnerable to Dutch and English raids and takeovers or simply being bypassed as important trading posts.

In 1630, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, one of history's most noted commanders, landed in Germany and relieved the port of Stralsund
Stralsund
- Main sights :* The Brick Gothic historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.* The heart of the old town is the Old Market Square , with the Gothic Town Hall . Behind the town hall stands the imposing Nikolaikirche , built in 1270-1360...

, the last continental stronghold of German forces belligerent to the Emperor. Gustavus then marched south and won notable victories at Breitenfeld
Battle of Breitenfeld (1631)
The Battle of Breitenfeld or First Battle of Breitenfeld , was fought at the crossroads villages of Breitenfeld , Podelwitz , and Seehausen , approximately five miles northwest of the walled city of Leipzig on September 17 , or September 7 The Battle of Breitenfeld or First Battle of Breitenfeld...

 and Lützen
Battle of Lützen (1632)
The Battle of Lützen was one of the most decisive battles of the Thirty Years' War. It was a Protestant victory, but cost the life of one of the most important leaders of the Protestant alliance, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, which caused the Protestant campaign to lose direction.- Prelude to the...

, attracting more Protestant support with every step he took. The situation for the Catholics improved with Gustavus's death at Lutzen in 1632, and a key victory at Nordlingen
Battle of Nördlingen (1634)
The Battle of Nördlingen was fought on 27 August or 6 September , 1634 during the Thirty Years' War. The Roman Catholic Imperial army, bolstered by 18,000 Spanish and Italian soldiers, won a crushing victory over the combined Protestant armies of Sweden and their German-Protestant allies .After...

 was won in 1634. From a position of strength, the Emperor approached the war-weary German states with a peace in 1635: many accepted, including the two most powerful, Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

 and Saxony
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

. Then France entered the equation, and diplomatic calculations were thrown in to confusion.
Cardinal Richelieu of France had been a strong supporter of the Dutch and Protestants since the beginning of the war, sending funds and equipment in an attempt to stem Habsburg strength in Europe. Richelieu decided that the recently signed Peace of Prague
Peace of Prague (1635)
The Peace of Prague of 30 May 1635 was a treaty between the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II and the Electorate of Saxony representing most of the Protestant states of the Holy Roman Empire...

 was contrary to French designs and declared war on the Holy Roman Emperor and Spain within months of the peace being signed. In the war that followed, the more experienced Spanish forces scored initial successes. Olivares ordered a lightning campaign into northern France from the Spanish Netherlands, hoping to shatter the resolve of King Louis XIII
Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1610 to 1643.Louis was only eight years old when he succeeded his father. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority...

's ministers and topple Richelieu. In the "", 1636, Spanish forces advanced as far south as Corbie
Corbie
Corbie is a commune of the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:The small town is situated up river from Amiens, in the département of Somme and is the main town of the canton of Corbie. It lies in the valley of the River Somme, at the confluence of the River Ancre. The town...

, and such was the threat to Paris that the war came close to a conclusion on Spanish terms.

After 1636, however, Olivares halted the advance, fearful of provoking another crown bankruptcy. The hesitation in pressing home the advantage proved fateful; French forces regrouped and pushed the Spanish back towards the border. The Spanish army would never again penetrate so far. At the Battle of the Downs
Battle of the Downs
The naval Battle of the Downs took place on 31 October 1639 , during the Eighty Years' War, and was a decisive defeat of the Spanish, commanded by Admiral Antonio de Oquendo, by the United Provinces, commanded by Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp.- Background :The entry of France in the Thirty...

 in 1639 a Spanish fleet carrying troops was destroyed by the Dutch navy, and the Spanish found themselves unable to supply and reinforce their forces adequately in the Netherlands. The Army of Flanders
Army of Flanders
The Army of Flanders was a Spanish Habsburg army based in the Netherlands during the 16th to 18th centuries. It was notable for being the longest standing army of the period, being in continuous service from 1567 until its disestablishment in 1706...

, which represented the finest of Spanish soldiery and leadership, faced a French assault led by Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé
Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé
Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé was a French general and the most famous representative of the Condé branch of the House of Bourbon. Prior to his father's death in 1646, he was styled the Duc d'Enghien...

 in northern France at Rocroi
Battle of Rocroi
The Battle of Rocroi was fought on 19 May 1643, late in the Thirty Years' War. It resulted in a victory of the French army under the Duc d'Enghien, against the Spanish army under General Francisco de Melo.-Prelude:...

 in 1643. The Spanish, led by Francisco de Melo
Francisco de Melo
Don Francisco de Melo was a Portuguese nobleman and general.-Biography:de Melo was born at Estremoz, in Portugal....

, were beaten by the French. This battle was not a slaughter by any means, however; it was a closely fought battle but the Spanish were forced to surrender with honorable terms. The high reputation of the Army of Flanders was broken at Rocroi, and with it, the grandeur of Spain.

Africa and the Mediterranean

By the 16th century, the Ottomans had become an existential threat to Europe. Ottoman conquests in Europe
Ottoman wars in Europe
The wars of the Ottoman Empire in Europe are also sometimes referred to as the Ottoman Wars or as Turkish Wars, particularly in older, European texts.- Rise :...

 made significant gains with a decisive victory at Mohács
Battle of Mohács
The Battle of Mohács was fought on August 29, 1526 near Mohács, Hungary. In the battle, forces of the Kingdom of Hungary led by King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia were defeated by forces of the Ottoman Empire led by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent....

. Charles had preferred to suppress the Ottomans through a considerably more maritime strategy, hampering Ottoman landings on the Venetian
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

 territories in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The coastal villages and towns of Spain, Italy and the Mediterranean islands were frequently attacked by Barbary pirates from North Africa; the Formentera
Formentera
Formentera is the smaller and more southerly island of the Pine Islands group , which belongs to the Balearic Islands autonomous community .-Geography:...

 was even temporarily left by its population and long stretches of the Spanish and Italian coasts were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants. The most famous corsair was the Turkish Barbarossa ("Redbeard"). According to Robert C. Davis, between 1 million and 1.25 million Europeans were captured by North African pirates and sold as slaves
Arab slave trade
The Arab slave trade was the practice of slavery in the Arab World, mainly Western Asia, North Africa, East Africa and certain parts of Europe during their period of domination by Arab leaders. The trade was focused on the slave markets of the Middle East and North Africa...

 in North Africa and Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 between the 16th and 19th centuries.

The reign of Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 saw a decline in the presence of Spain in the North of Africa, even if Tunis
Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

 and its port, La Goleta, were taken in 1535. One after the other, most of the Spanish possessions were lost: Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera (1522), Santa Cruz de Mar Pequeña (1524), Algiers (1529), Tripoli (1551), Bujia (1554), and La Goleta and Tunis (1569).

Only in response to Barbary pirates' raids on the eastern coast of Spain did Charles lead attacks against Tunis (1535) and Algiers
Algiers expedition (1541)
The Algiers expedition of 1541 occurred when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor attempted to lead a fleet against the Ottoman Empire stronghold of Algiers in modern Algeria...

 (1541).

In 1565, the Spanish defeated an Ottoman landing on the strategic island of Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, defended by the Knights of St. John. Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman I was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. He is known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as "The Lawgiver" , for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system...

's death the following year and his succession by his less capable son Selim the Sot emboldened Philip, and he resolved to carry the war to the sultan himself. In 1571, Spanish and Venetian
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

 warship
Warship
A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way from merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuvrable than merchant ships...

s, joined by volunteers across Europe, led by Charles's illegitimate son Don John of Austria annihilated the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Lepanto
Battle of Lepanto (1571)
The Battle of Lepanto took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic maritime states, decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire in five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Patras, off western Greece...

, in what is perhaps the most decisive battle in modern naval history. The battle ended the threat of Ottoman naval hegemony in the Mediterranean. This mission marked the height of the respectability of Spain and its sovereign abroad as Philip bore the burden of leading the Counter-Reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

.

The Ottomans recovered soon. They reconquered Tunis in 1574, and they helped to restore an ally, Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik I Saadi
Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik I Saadi
Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik I , often simply Abd al-Malik or Mulay Abdelmalek, was the Saadi Sultan of Morocco from 1576 until his death right after the Battle of Ksar El Kebir against Portugal in 1578.-Saadi Prince:...

, in the throne of Morocco, in 1576. The death of the Persian shah, Tahmasp I
Tahmasp I
Tahmasp or Tahmasb I was an influential Shah of Iran, who enjoyed the longest reign of any member of the Safavid dynasty...

 was an opportunity for the Ottoman sultan to intervene in that country, so, in 1580 was agreed a truce in the Mediterranean with Philip II.

In the first half of the 17th century, Larache
Larache
Larache is an important harbour town in the region Tanger-Tétouan in northern Morocco. It was founded in the 7th century when a group of Muslim soldiers from Arabia extended their camp at Lixus onto the south bank of the Loukkos River.In 1471, the Portuguese settlers from Asilah and Tangier drove...

 and La Mamora
La Mamora
La Mamora, La Mámora, Mehedía or San Miguel de Ultramar, was the Spanish name given to the current Moroccan city of Mehdia during the 17th century. It is located in northern Morocco, at the mouth of the Sebou River, in its West bank...

, in the Moroccan Atlantic coast, and the island of Alhucemas
Peñón de Alhucemas
Peñón de Alhucemas , or "Lavender Rock", is one of the Spanish plazas de soberanía just off the Moroccan coast in the Alboran Sea. It is also one of several Peñones, or rock-fortresses, on the coast of Northern Africa....

, in the Mediterranean, were taken, but during the second half of the 17th century, Larache and La Mamora were also lost.

Explorers and conquistadors

After Columbus, the Spanish colonization of America was led by a series of warrior-explorers called Conquistadors. The Spanish forces, in addition to significant armament and equestrian advantages, exploited the rivalries between competing Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

, tribes, and nations, some of which were willing to form alliances with the Spanish in order to defeat their more-powerful enemies, such as the Aztecs or Incas—a tactic that would be extensively used by later European colonial powers. The Spanish conquest was also facilitated by the spread of diseases (e.g. smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

), common in Europe but never present in the New World and so no immunities, which reduced the indigenous populations in America
Population history of American indigenous peoples
The population figures for Indigenous peoples in the Americas before the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus have proven difficult to establish and rely on archaeological data and written records from European settlers...

. This sometimes caused a labour shortage for plantations and public works and so the colonists informally and gradually, at first, initiated the Atlantic slave trade
Atlantic slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

. (see Population history of American indigenous peoples
Population history of American indigenous peoples
The population figures for Indigenous peoples in the Americas before the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus have proven difficult to establish and rely on archaeological data and written records from European settlers...

)
One of the most accomplished conquistadors was Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

, who leading a relatively small Spanish force but with local translators and the crucial support of thousands of native allies, achieved the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in the campaigns of 1519–1521. This territory later became the Viceroyalty of New Spain, present day Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. Of equal importance was the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire
Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire
The Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire was one of the most important campaigns in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. This historic process of military conquest was made by Spanish conquistadores and their native allies....

 by Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro González, Marquess was a Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Incan Empire, and founder of Lima, the modern-day capital of the Republic of Peru.-Early life:...

, which would become the Viceroyalty of Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

. After the conquest of Mexico, rumours of golden cities (Quivira and Cíbola
Quivira and Cíbola
Quivira is a place first mentioned by Francisco Vazquez de Coronado in 1541, who visited it during his searches for the mythical "Seven Cities of Gold". The location and identity of the "Quivirans" has been much debated over a wide area, including Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri...

 in North America and El Dorado
El Dorado
El Dorado is the name of a Muisca tribal chief who covered himself with gold dust and, as an initiation rite, dived into a highland lake.Later it became the name of a legendary "Lost City of Gold" that has fascinated – and so far eluded – explorers since the days of the Spanish Conquistadors...

 in South America) motivated several other expeditions. Many of those returned without having found their goal, or finding it much less valuable than was hoped. Indeed, the New World colonies only began to yield a substantial part of the Crown's revenues with the establishment of mines such as that of Potosí
Potosí
Potosí is a city and the capital of the department of Potosí in Bolivia. It is one of the highest cities in the world by elevation at a nominal . and it was the location of the Spanish colonial mint, now the National Mint of Bolivia...

 (Bolivia) and Zacatecas
Zacatecas
Zacatecas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Zacatecas is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 58 municipalities and its capital city is Zacatecas....

 (Mexico) both started in 1546. By the late 16th century, silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

 from the Americas accounted for of Spain's total budget. In the 16th century "perhaps 240,000 Europeans" entered American ports.

Further Spanish settlements were progressively established in the New World: New Granada in the 1530s (later in the Viceroyalty of New Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

 in 1717 and present day Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

), Lima
Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

 in 1535 as the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

, Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

 in 1536 (later in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata
Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata
The Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, , was the last and most short-lived Viceroyalty of the Spanish Empire in America.The Viceroyalty was established in 1776 out of several former Viceroyalty of Perú dependencies that mainly extended over the Río de la Plata basin, roughly the present day...

 in 1776), and Santiago
Santiago, Chile
Santiago , also known as Santiago de Chile, is the capital and largest city of Chile, and the center of its largest conurbation . It is located in the country's central valley, at an elevation of above mean sea level...

 in 1541.

Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 was colonized in 1565 by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés
Pedro Menéndez de Avilés
Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was a Spanish admiral and explorer, best remembered for founding St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. This was the first successful Spanish foothold in La Florida and remained the most significant city in the region for several hundred years. St...

 when he founded Saint Augustine and then promptly defeated an attempt led by the French Captain Jean Ribault
Jean Ribault
Jean Ribault was a French naval officer, navigator, and a colonizer of what would become the southeastern United States. He was a major figure in the French attempts to colonize Florida...

 and 150 of his countrymen to establish a French foothold in Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida refers to the Spanish territory of Florida, which formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire. Originally extending over what is now the southeastern United States, but with no defined boundaries, la Florida was a component of...

 territory. Saint Augustine quickly became a strategic defensive base for the Spanish ships full of gold and silver being sent to Spain from its New World dominions.

The Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer. He was born in Sabrosa, in northern Portugal, and served King Charles I of Spain in search of a westward route to the "Spice Islands" ....

 died while in the Philippines commanding a Castilian expedition to circumnavigate
Circumnavigation
Circumnavigation – literally, "navigation of a circumference" – refers to travelling all the way around an island, a continent, or the entire planet Earth.- Global circumnavigation :...

 the globe
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 in 1522. Juan Sebastián Elcano
Juan Sebastián Elcano
Juan Sebastián Elcano was a Basque Spanish explorer who completed the first circumnavigation of the world. As Ferdinand Magellan's second in command, Elcano took over after Magellan's death in the Philippines.-Early life:Elcano was born to Domingo Sebastián Elcano I and Catalina del Puerto...

 would lead the expedition to success. Therefore, Spain sought to enforce their rights in the Moluccan islands
Maluku Islands
The Maluku Islands are an archipelago that is part of Indonesia, and part of the larger Maritime Southeast Asia region. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone...

, which led a conflict with the Portuguese, but the issue was
resolved with the Treaty of Zaragoza (1525), settling the location of the antimeridian of Tordesillas, which would divide the world into two equal hemispheres
Sphere
A sphere is a perfectly round geometrical object in three-dimensional space, such as the shape of a round ball. Like a circle in two dimensions, a perfect sphere is completely symmetrical around its center, with all points on the surface lying the same distance r from the center point...

. Thenceforth, maritime expeditions led to the discovery of several archipelagos in the South Pacific
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

 as the Pitcairn Islands
Pitcairn Islands
The Pitcairn Islands , officially named the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, form a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. The islands are a British Overseas Territory and overseas territory of the European Union in the Pacific...

, the Marquesas
Marquesas Islands
The Marquesas Islands enana and Te Fenua `Enata , both meaning "The Land of Men") are a group of volcanic islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the southern Pacific Ocean. The Marquesas are located at 9° 00S, 139° 30W...

, Tuvalu
Tuvalu
Tuvalu , formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls...

, Vanuatu
Vanuatu
Vanuatu , officially the Republic of Vanuatu , is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some east of northern Australia, northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.Vanuatu was...

, the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

 or New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

.

On April 27, 1565, the first permanent Spanish settlement in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 was founded by Miguel López de Legazpi
Miguel López de Legazpi
Miguel López de Legazpi , also known as El Adelantado and El Viejo , was a Spanish conquistador who established one of the first European settlements in the East Indies and the Pacific Islands in 1565. He is the first Governor-General in the Philippines...

 and the service of Manila Galleon
Manila Galleon
The Manila galleons or Manila-Acapulco galleons were Spanish trading ships that sailed once or twice per year across the Pacific Ocean between Manila in the Philippines, and Acapulco, New Spain . The name changed reflecting the city that the ship was sailing from...

s was inaugurated. The Manilla Galleons shipped goods from all over Asia across the Pacific to Acapulco
Acapulco
Acapulco is a city, municipality and major sea port in the state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast of Mexico, southwest from Mexico City. Acapulco is located on a deep, semi-circular bay and has been a port since the early colonial period of Mexico’s history...

 on the coast of Mexico. From there, the goods were transshipped across Mexico to the Spanish treasure fleet
Spanish treasure fleet
The Spanish treasure fleets was a convoy system adopted by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 1790...

s, for shipment to Spain. The Spanish trading post of Manila
Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

 was established to facilitate this trade in 1572. The control of Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, Mariana Islands
Mariana Islands
The Mariana Islands are an arc-shaped archipelago made up by the summits of 15 volcanic mountains in the north-western Pacific Ocean between the 12th and 21st parallels north and along the 145th meridian east...

, Caroline Islands
Caroline Islands
The Caroline Islands are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia in the eastern part of the group, and Palau at the extreme western end...

, and Palau
Palau
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

 was later, from the end of the 17th century, and remained under Spanish control until 1898.

In 1599, the Spanish Empire suffered one of its greatest setbacks in the Americas when native Mapuches destroyed the Spanish army of Chile and killed the governor Martín García Óñez de Loyola
Martín García Óñez de Loyola
Don Martín García Óñez de Loyola was a Spanish Basque soldier and Royal Governor of Chile.-Early life:...

 in the Battle of Curalaba. This event led to a generalized rebellion that ended in the Destruction of the Seven Cities, and established the Bío-Bío River
Bío-Bío River
The Biobío River is the second largest river in Chile. It originates from Icalma and Galletué lakes in the Andes and flows 380 km to the Gulf of Arauco on the Pacific Ocean....

 as frontier. This led to the prolonged war called the War of Arauco, and southern Chile received the name of Flandés Indiano (Indian Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

) due to the resistances of the Mapuches.http://www.unrc.edu.ar/publicar/tefros/revista/v6n1i08/paquetes/gascon.pdf In a case unique for America, the Spanish established a professional army in Chile financed through the Real Situado
Real Situado
The Real Situado was an annual payment of silver from the Viceroyalty of Peru to finance the Spanish army of Chile that as result of the Arauco War. Most of the silver came from Potosí in present day Bolivia....

 by the Viceroyalty of Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

.

Organization and administration

The Laws of the Indies
Laws of the Indies
The Laws of the Indies are the entire body of laws issued by the Spanish Crown for its American and Philippine possessions of its empire. They regulated social, political and economic life in these areas...

 resulted in the Laws of Burgos, 1512–1513, which were the first codified set of laws governing the behavior of Spanish settlers in the Americas, particularly with regards to treatment of native Indians. They forbade the maltreatment of natives, and endorsed the Indian Reductions
Indian Reductions
Reductions were settlements founded by the Spanish colonizers of the New World with the purpose of assimilating indigenous populations into European culture and religion.Already since the beginning of the Spanish presence in the Americas, the Crown had been concerned...

 with attempts of conversion to Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

. Upon their failure, they were replaced by the New Laws (1542)
New Laws
The New Laws, in Spanish Leyes Nuevas, issued November 20, 1542 by King Charles V of Spain regarding the Spanish colonization of the Americas, are also known as the "New Laws of the Indies for the Good Treatment and Preservation of the Indians", and were created to prevent the exploitation of the...



Spain passed some laws for the protection of the indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 of its American colonies, the first such in 1542; the legal thought behind them was the basis of modern international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

. Taking advantage of their extreme remoteness, the European colonists revolted when they saw their power being reduced, forcing a partial revoking of these New Laws
New Laws
The New Laws, in Spanish Leyes Nuevas, issued November 20, 1542 by King Charles V of Spain regarding the Spanish colonization of the Americas, are also known as the "New Laws of the Indies for the Good Treatment and Preservation of the Indians", and were created to prevent the exploitation of the...

. Later, weaker laws were introduced to protect the indigenous peoples but records show their effect was limited. The restored increasingly used native Indian workforce.

The Last Spanish Habsburgs (1643–1700)

Traditionally, historians mark the Battle of Rocroi
Battle of Rocroi
The Battle of Rocroi was fought on 19 May 1643, late in the Thirty Years' War. It resulted in a victory of the French army under the Duc d'Enghien, against the Spanish army under General Francisco de Melo.-Prelude:...

 (1643) as the end of Spanish dominance in Europe, but the war was not finished. Supported by the French, the Catalans
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

, Neapolitans
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...

, and Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 rose up in revolt against the Spanish in the 1640s. With the Spanish Netherlands caught between the tightening grip of French and Dutch forces after the Battle of Lens
Battle of Lens
The Battle of Lens was a French victory under Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé against the Spanish army under Archduke Leopold in the Thirty Years' War . It was the last major battle of the war....

 in 1648, the Spanish made peace with the Dutch and recognized the independent United Provinces in the Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October of 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the...

 that ended both the Eighty Years' War and the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

.

War with France continued for eleven more years. Although France suffered from a civil war from 1648–1652 (see Wars of the Fronde
Fronde
The Fronde was a civil war in France, occurring in the midst of the Franco-Spanish War, which had begun in 1635. The word fronde means sling, which Parisian mobs used to smash the windows of supporters of Cardinal Mazarin....

) the Spanish economy was so exhausted that it was unable to effectively cope with war on so many fronts. Yet the decline of Spanish power in this period has often been overstated. Spain retook Naples in 1648 and Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

 in 1652, but the war came to an end at the Battle of the Dunes (1658)
Battle of the Dunes (1658)
The Battle of the Dunes, fought on 14 June , 1658, is also known as the Battle of Dunkirk. It was a victory of the French army, under Turenne, against the Spanish army, led by John of Austria the Younger and Louis II de Condé...

 where the French army under Viscount Turenne
Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne
Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne,often called simply Turenne was the most illustrious member of the La Tour d'Auvergne family. He achieved military fame and became a Marshal of France...

 defeated the remnants of the Spanish army of the Netherlands. Spain agreed to the Peace of the Pyrenees in 1659 that ceded to France Roussillon
Roussillon
Roussillon is one of the historical counties of the former Principality of Catalonia, corresponding roughly to the present-day southern French département of Pyrénées-Orientales...

 and Artois
Artois
Artois is a former province of northern France. Its territory has an area of around 4000 km² and a population of about one million. Its principal cities are Arras , Saint-Omer, Lens and Béthune.-Location:...

.

Portugal had rebelled in 1640 under the leadership of John of Braganza
House of Braganza
The Most Serene House of Braganza , an important Portuguese noble family, ruled the Kingdom of Portugal and its colonial Empire, from 1640 to 1910...

, a pretender to the throne. He had received widespread support from the Portuguese people, and Spain—which had to deal with rebellions elsewhere, along with the war against France – was unable to respond adequately. John mounted the throne as King John IV of Portugal
John IV of Portugal
|-|John IV was the King of Portugal and the Algarves from 1640 to his death. He was the grandson of Catherine, Duchess of Braganza, who had in 1580 claimed the Portuguese crown and sparked the struggle for the throne of Portugal. John was nicknamed John the Restorer...

 and the Spanish and Portuguese co-existed in a de facto state of peace from 1644–1656. When John died in 1656, the Spanish attempted to wrest Portugal from his son Alfonso VI of Portugal but were defeated at Ameixial
Battle of Ameixial
The Battle of Ameixial, was fought on June 8, 1663, near the village of Santa Vitória do Ameixial, some 10 km north-west of Estremoz, between Spanish and Portuguese as part of the Portuguese Restoration War....

 (1663) and Montes Claros
Battle of Montes Claros
The Battle of Montes Claros, was fought on June 17, 1665, near Vila Viçosa, between Spanish and Portuguese as the last battle in the Portuguese Restoration War....

 (1665), leading to Spain's recognition of Portugal's independence in 1668.

Spain still had a huge overseas empire, but France was now the superpower in Europe and the United Provinces were in the Atlantic.

The Great Plague of Seville
Great Plague of Seville
The Great Plague of Seville was a massive outbreak of disease in Spain that killed up to a quarter of Seville's population.Unlike the plague of 1596–1602 which claimed 600,000 to 700,000 lives, or a little under 8% of the population, and initially struck northern and central Spain and Andalusía in...

 (1647–1652) killed up to 25% of Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

's population. Sevilla, and indeed the economy of Andalucía, would never recover from so complete a devastation. Altogether Spain was thought to have lost 500,000 people, out of a population of slightly fewer than 10,000,000, or nearly 5% of its entire population. Historians reckon the total cost in human lives due to these plagues throughout Spain, throughout the entire 17th century, to be a minimum of nearly 1.25 million.

The regency
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 of the young Spanish king Charles II
Charles II of Spain
Charles II was the last Habsburg King of Spain and the ruler of large parts of Italy, the Spanish territories in the Southern Low Countries, and Spain's overseas Empire, stretching from the Americas to the Spanish East Indies...

 was incompetent in dealing with the War of Devolution
War of Devolution
The War of Devolution saw Louis XIV's French armies overrun the Habsburg-controlled Spanish Netherlands and the Franche-Comté, but forced to give most of it back by a Triple Alliance of England, Sweden, and the Dutch Republic in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.-Background:Louis's claims to the...

 that Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 prosecuted against the Spanish Netherlands in 1667–68, losing considerable prestige and territory, including the cities of Lille
Lille
Lille is a city in northern France . It is the principal city of the Lille Métropole, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country behind those of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium...

 and Charleroi
Charleroi
Charleroi is a city and a municipality of Wallonia, located in the province of Hainaut, Belgium. , the total population of Charleroi was 201,593. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of and had a total population of 522,522 as of 1 January 2008, ranking it as...

. In the Franco-Dutch War
Franco-Dutch War
The Franco-Dutch War, often called simply the Dutch War was a war fought by France, Sweden, the Bishopric of Münster, the Archbishopric of Cologne and England against the United Netherlands, which were later joined by the Austrian Habsburg lands, Brandenburg and Spain to form a quadruple alliance...

 of 1672–1678, Spain lost still more territory when it came to the assistance of its former Dutch enemies, most notably Franche-Comté
Franche-Comté
Franche-Comté the former "Free County" of Burgundy, as distinct from the neighbouring Duchy, is an administrative region and a traditional province of eastern France...

. In the Nine Years' War (1688–1697) Louis once again invaded the Spanish Netherlands. French forces led by the Duke of Luxembourg
François Henri de Montmorency-Bouteville, duc de Luxembourg
François Henri de Montmorency-Bouteville, duc de Piney, called de Luxembourg was a French general, marshal of France, famous as the comrade and successor of the great Condé.-Early years:...

 defeated the Spanish at Fleurus
Battle of Fleurus (1690)
The Battle of Fleurus, fought on 1 July 1690, was a major engagement of the Nine Years' War. In a bold envelopment the Duc de Luxembourg, commanding Louis XIV’s army of some 35,000 men, soundly defeated Prince Waldeck’s Allied force of approximately 38,000 men comprising mainly Dutch, German, and...

 (1690), and subsequently defeated Dutch forces under William III of Orange
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

, who fought on Spain's side. The war ended with most of the Spanish Netherlands under French occupation, including the important cities of Ghent
Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

 and Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

. The war revealed to Europe how vulnerable and backward the Spanish defenses and bureaucracy were, but the ineffective Spanish Habsburg government took no action to improve them.

The final decades of the 17th century saw utter decay and stagnation in Spain; while the rest of Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 went through exciting changes in government and society — the Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

 in England and the reign of the Sun King
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 in France — Spain remained adrift. The Spanish bureaucracy that had built up around the charismatic, industrious, and intelligent Charles I
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 and Philip II
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 demanded a strong and hardworking monarch; the weakness and lack of interest of Philip III
Philip III of Spain
Philip III , also known as Philip the Pious, was the King of Spain and King of Portugal and the Algarves, where he ruled as Philip II , from 1598 until his death...

 and Philip IV
Philip IV of Spain
Philip IV was King of Spain between 1621 and 1665, sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands, and King of Portugal until 1640...

 contributed to Spain's decay. Charles II
Charles II of Spain
Charles II was the last Habsburg King of Spain and the ruler of large parts of Italy, the Spanish territories in the Southern Low Countries, and Spain's overseas Empire, stretching from the Americas to the Spanish East Indies...

 was mentally retarded
Mental retardation
Mental retardation is a generalized disorder appearing before adulthood, characterized by significantly impaired cognitive functioning and deficits in two or more adaptive behaviors...

 and impotent
Erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sexual performance....

. He was therefore childless, and in his final will he left his throne to the Bourbon
House of Bourbon
The House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty . Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma...

 prince Philip of Anjou
Philip V of Spain
Philip V was King of Spain from 15 November 1700 to 15 January 1724, when he abdicated in favor of his son Louis, and from 6 September 1724, when he assumed the throne again upon his son's death, to his death.Before his reign, Philip occupied an exalted place in the royal family of France as a...

, rather than to a fellow Habsburg, albeit from Austria. This resulted in the War of the Spanish Succession
War of the Spanish Succession
The War of the Spanish Succession was fought among several European powers, including a divided Spain, over the possible unification of the Kingdoms of Spain and France under one Bourbon monarch. As France and Spain were among the most powerful states of Europe, such a unification would have...

.

The Bourbon Spanish Empire: reform and recovery (1700–1808)

Under the Treaties of Utrecht (April 11, 1713), the European powers decided what the fate of Spain would be, in terms of the continental balance of power. The new Bourbon king Philip V
Philip V of Spain
Philip V was King of Spain from 15 November 1700 to 15 January 1724, when he abdicated in favor of his son Louis, and from 6 September 1724, when he assumed the throne again upon his son's death, to his death.Before his reign, Philip occupied an exalted place in the royal family of France as a...

 retained the Spanish overseas empire, but ceded the Spanish Netherlands, Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...

, Milan
Duchy of Milan
The Duchy of Milan , was created on the 1st of may 1395, when Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Lord of Milan, purchased a diploma for 100,000 Florins from King Wenceslaus. It was this diploma that installed, Gian Galeazzo as Duke of Milan and Count of Pavia...

, and Sardinia
Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

 to Austria; Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 and parts of Milan to Duchy of Savoy
Duchy of Savoy
From 1416 to 1847, the House of Savoy ruled the eponymous Duchy of Savoy . The Duchy was a state in the northern part of the Italian Peninsula, with some territories that are now in France. It was a continuation of the County of Savoy...

; and Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 and Minorca
Minorca
Min Orca or Menorca is one of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to Spain. It takes its name from being smaller than the nearby island of Majorca....

 to the Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

. Moreover, Philip V granted the British the exclusive right to slave trading in Spanish America for thirty years, the so-called asiento
Asiento
The Asiento in the history of slavery refers to the permission given by the Spanish government to other countries to sell people as slaves to the Spanish colonies, between the years 1543 and 1834...

, as well as licensed voyages to ports in Spanish colonial dominions, openings, as Fernand Braudel
Fernand Braudel
Fernand Braudel was a French historian and a leader of the Annales School. His scholarship focused on three main projects, each representing several decades of intense study: The Mediterranean , Civilization and Capitalism , and the unfinished Identity of France...

 remarked, for both licit and illicit smuggling (Brudel 1984 p 418).

Spain's economic and demographic recovery had begun slowly in the last decades of the Habsburg reign, as was evident from the growth of its trading convoys and much more rapid growth of illicit trade during the period, though this growth was slower than in its northern rivals who had gained increasing illicit access to its empire's markets. Critically, this recovery was not translated into institutional improvement because of the incompetent leadership of the unfortunate last Habsburg. This legacy of neglect was reflected in the early years of Bourbon rule in which the military was ill-advisedly pitched into battle against the Quadruple Alliance
War of the Quadruple Alliance
The War of the Quadruple Alliance was a result of the ambitions of King Philip V of Spain, his wife, Elisabeth Farnese, and his chief minister Giulio Alberoni to retake territories in Italy and to claim the French throne. It saw the defeat of Spain by an alliance of Britain, France, Austria , and...

 (1718–1720).

Following the war, the new Bourbon monarchy would take a much more cautious approach to international relations, built upon a family alliance with Bourbon France, and continuing to follow a program of institutional renewal.

Bourbon Reforms

At the beginning of the Philip V's reign and due to the War of the Spanish Succession, the Spanish king Philip V initiated organizational reforms headed for a government more executive, giving priority to the direct decision of the monarch, opposite to the deliberative way of the polisynodial system of Councils.

The Spanish Bourbons' broadest intentions were to break the power of the entrenched aristocracy of the Criollos in America (locally born colonials of European descent), and, eventually, loosen the territorial control of the Society of Jesus
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 over the virtually independent theocracies
Theocracy
Theocracy is a form of organization in which the official policy is to be governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or simply pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religious sect or religion....

 of Guarani : the Jesuits were expelled
Suppression of the Jesuits
The Suppression of the Jesuits in the Portuguese Empire, France, the Two Sicilies, Parma and the Spanish Empire by 1767 was a result of a series of political moves rather than a theological controversy. By the brief Dominus ac Redemptor Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Society of Jesus...

 from Spanish America in 1767. In addition to the established of Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 and Lima
Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

, firmly in the control of local landowners, a new rival was set up at Vera Cruz
Veracruz, Veracruz
Veracruz, officially known as Heroica Veracruz, is a major port city and municipality on the Gulf of Mexico in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The city is located in the central part of the state. It is located along Federal Highway 140 from the state capital Xalapa, and is the state's most...

.

Immediately, Philip's government set up a ministry of the Navy and the Indies (1714) and created first a Honduras Company
History of Honduras
Honduras was already occupied by many indigenous peoples when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. The western-central part of Honduras was inhabited by the Lencas, the central north coast by the Tol, the area east of Trujillo by the Pech and the Miskito and Sumo...

 (1714), a Caracas company, the Guipuzcoana Company
Guipuzcoana Company
The Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas was a Spanish trading company in the 18th century, operating from 1728 to 1785, which had a monopoly on Venezuelan trade...

 (1728) and—the most successful one—a Havana Company
History of Cuba
The known history of Cuba, the largest of the Caribbean islands, predates Christopher Columbus' sighting of the island during his first voyage of discovery on 27 October 1492...

 (1740). In 1717–1718, the structures for governing the Indies, the and the that governed investments in the cumbersome escorted fleets
Spanish treasure fleet
The Spanish treasure fleets was a convoy system adopted by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 1790...

 were transferred from Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

 to Cádiz
Cádiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

, which became the one port for all Indies trading (see flota system). Individual sailings at regular intervals were slow to displace the old habit of armed convoys, but by the 1760s there were regular packet ships plying the Atlantic between Cádiz and Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

 and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, and at longer intervals to the Río de la Plata
Río de la Plata
The Río de la Plata —sometimes rendered River Plate in British English and the Commonwealth, and occasionally rendered [La] Plata River in other English-speaking countries—is the river and estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Paraná River on the border between Argentina and...

, where an additional viceroy
Viceroy
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

alty was created in 1776. The contraband trade that was the lifeblood of the Habsburg empire declined in proportion to registered shipping (a shipping registry having been established in 1735).

Two upheavals registered unease within Spanish America and at the same time demonstrated the renewed resiliency of the reformed system: the Tupac Amaru uprising
Túpac Amaru II
Túpac Amaru II was a leader of an indigenous uprising in 1780 against the Spanish in Peru...

 in Peru in 1780 and the rebellion of the comuneros
Revolt of the Comuneros (New Granada)
The Revolt of the Comuneros was an uprising by the inhabitants of the Viceroyalty of New Granada against the Spanish authorities in 1781. While underlying causes may have been economic, ideas of freedom and self-government were expressed...

 of New Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

, both in part reactions to tighter, more efficient control.

18th century prosperity

The 18th century was a century of prosperity for the overseas Spanish Empire as trade within grew steadily, particularly in the second half of the century, under the Bourbon reforms. Spain's crucial victory in the Battle of Cartagena de Indias
Battle of Cartagena de Indias
The Battle of Cartagena de Indias was an amphibious military engagement between the forces of Britain under Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon and those of Spain under Admiral Blas de Lezo. It took place at the city of Cartagena de Indias in March 1741, in present-day Colombia...

 against a British fleet, in the Caribbean port of Cartagena de Indias, one of a number of successful battles, helped it secure Spain's dominance of America until the 19th century.

With a Bourbon monarchy came a repertory of Bourbon mercantilist
Mercantilism
Mercantilism is the economic doctrine in which government control of foreign trade is of paramount importance for ensuring the prosperity and security of the state. In particular, it demands a positive balance of trade. Mercantilism dominated Western European economic policy and discourse from...

 ideas based on a centralized state, put into effect in America slowly at first but with increasing momentum during the century. Rapid shipping growth from the mid-1740s until the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 (1756–1763), reflecting in part the success of the Bourbons in bringing illicit trade under control. With the loosening of trade controls after the Seven Years War, shipping trade within the empire once again began to expand, reaching an extraordinary rate of growth in the 1780s.

The ending of Cádiz's trade monopoly with America brought about a rebirth of Spanish manufactures. Most notable was the rapidly growing textile
Textile
A textile or cloth is a flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, or other material to produce long strands...

 industry of Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

 which by the mid-1780s saw the first signs of industrialisation
Industrialisation
Industrialization is the process of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian society into an industrial one...

. This saw the emergence of a small, politically active commercial class in Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

. This isolated pocket of advanced economic development stood in stark contrast to the relative backwardness of most of the country. Most of the improvements were in and around some major coastal cities and the major islands such as Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, with its plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

s, and a renewed growth of precious metal
Precious metal
A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical element of high economic value.Chemically, the precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high lustre, are softer or more ductile, and have higher melting points than other metals...

s mining
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 in America. On the other hand most of rural Spain and its empire, where the great bulk of the population lived, lived in relatively backward conditions by 18th century West European standards, reinforced old customs and isolation. Agricultural
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 productivity remained low despite efforts to introduce new techniques to what was for the most part an uninterested, exploited peasant and labouring groups. Governments were inconsistent in their policies. Though there were substantial improvements by the late 18th century, Spain was still an economic backwater. Under the mercantile
Mercantilism
Mercantilism is the economic doctrine in which government control of foreign trade is of paramount importance for ensuring the prosperity and security of the state. In particular, it demands a positive balance of trade. Mercantilism dominated Western European economic policy and discourse from...

 trading arrangements it had difficulty in providing the goods being demanded by the strongly growing markets of its empire, and providing adequate outlets for the return trade.

Overseas expansion

The Bourbon institutional reforms were to bear some fruit militarily when Spanish forces easily retook Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...

 and Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily
The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of Italy from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of southern Italy...

 from the Austrians in 1734 (War of the Polish Succession
War of the Polish Succession
The War of the Polish Succession was a major European war for princes' possessions sparked by a Polish civil war over the succession to Augustus II, King of Poland that other European powers widened in pursuit of their own national interests...

) and thwarted British campaigns attempting to seize the strategic cities of Cartagena de Indias
Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena de Indias , is a large Caribbean beach resort city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region and capital of Bolívar Department...

 and Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 during the War of Jenkins' Ear
War of Jenkins' Ear
The War of Jenkins' Ear was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1748, with major operations largely ended by 1742. Its unusual name, coined by Thomas Carlyle in 1858, relates to Robert Jenkins, captain of a British merchant ship, who exhibited his severed ear in...

 (1739–1742). Moreover, though Spain lost territories to greatly improved and successful amphibious British forces towards the end of the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 (1756–1763), she was to recover these losses and seize the British naval base in the Bahamas during the American Revolutionary War
Naval operations in the American Revolutionary War
The naval operations of the American Revolutionary War , divide themselves naturally into two periods...

 (1775–83).

The greater part of what is the territory of today's Brazil had been claimed as Spanish when exploration began with the navigation of the length of the Amazon River
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

 in 1541–42 by Francisco de Orellana
Francisco de Orellana
Francisco de Orellana was a Spanish explorer and conquistador. He completed the first known navigation of the length of the Amazon River, which was originally named for him...

. Many Spanish expeditions explored large parts of this vast region, especially those areas close to the main areas of Spanish settlement. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Spanish soldiers, missionaries and adventurers also established pioneering communities, primarily in Paraná
Paraná (state)
Paraná is one of the states of Brazil, located in the South of the country, bordered on the north by São Paulo state, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Santa Catarina state and the Misiones Province of Argentina, and on the west by Mato Grosso do Sul and the republic of Paraguay,...

, Santa Catarina
Santa Catarina (state)
Santa Catarina is a state in southern Brazil with one of the highest standards of living in Latin America. Its capital is Florianópolis, which mostly lies on the Santa Catarina Island. Neighbouring states are Rio Grande do Sul to the south and Paraná to the north. It is bounded on the east by...

, São Paulo
São Paulo
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world's seventh largest city by population. The metropolis is anchor to the São Paulo metropolitan area, ranked as the second-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas and among...

 and forts on the northeastern coast threatened by the French and Dutch. As Portuguese-Brazilian settlement expanded, following in the trail of the Bandeirantes
Bandeirantes
The bandeirantes were composed of Indians , caboclos , and some whites who were the captains of the Bandeiras. Members of the 16th–18th century South American slave-hunting expeditions called bandeiras...

 exploits, these isolated Spanish groups were eventually integrated into Brazilian society. Only some Castilians who were displaced from the disputed areas of the Pampas of Rio Grande do Sul have left a significant influence on the formation of the gaucho, when they mixed with Indian groups, Portuguese and blacks who arrived in the region during the 18th century. The Spanish were barred by their laws from slaving of indigenous people, leaving them without a commercial interest deep in the interior of the Amazon basin. The Laws of Burgos (1512) and the New Laws (1542) had been intended to protect the interests of indigenous people. While in spirit they were often abused, as through forced exploitative labour of locals, they did prevent widespread formal enslavement of indigenous people in Spanish territories. The Protuguese-Brazilian slavers, the Bandeirantes
Bandeirantes
The bandeirantes were composed of Indians , caboclos , and some whites who were the captains of the Bandeiras. Members of the 16th–18th century South American slave-hunting expeditions called bandeiras...

, had the advantage of access from the mouth of the Amazon River, which was on the Portuguese side of the line of Tordesillas. One famous attack upon a Spanish mission in 1628 resulted in the enslavement of about 60,000 indigenous people. In time, there were in effect a self funding force of occupation. By the 18th century, much of the Spanish territory was under defacto control of Portuguese-Brazil. This reality was recognised with the legal transfer of sovereignty in 1750 of most of the Amazon basin and surrounding areas to Portugal in the Treaty of Madrid
Treaty of Madrid (1750)
The Spanish–Portuguese treaty of 1750 or Treaty of Madrid was a document signed by Ferdinand VI of Spain and John V of Portugal on January 13, 1750, concerning their empires and status of their territories in what is now Brazil....

. This settlement sowed the seeds of the Guarani War
Guarani War
The Guarani War of 1756, also called the War of the Seven Reductions, took place between the Guaraní tribes of seven Jesuit Reductions and joint Spanish-Portuguese forces...

 in 1756.

The California mission planning was begun in 1769. The Nootka Crisis
Nootka Crisis
The Nootka Crisis was an international incident and political dispute between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Spain, triggered by a series of events that took place during the summer of 1789 at Nootka Sound...

 (1789–1791) involved a dispute between Spain and Great Britain about the British settlement in Oregon
Oregon Country
The Oregon Country was a predominantly American term referring to a disputed ownership region of the Pacific Northwest of North America. The region was occupied by British and French Canadian fur traders from before 1810, and American settlers from the mid-1830s, with its coastal areas north from...

 to British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

. In 1791, the king of Spain gave Alessandro Malaspina
Alessandro Malaspina
Alessandro Malaspina was an Italian nobleman who spent most of his life as a Spanish naval officer and explorer...

 an order to search for a Northwest Passage
Northwest Passage
The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways amidst the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans...

.

The Spanish empire had still not returned to first rate power status, but it had recovered considerably from the dark days at the beginning of the 18th century when it was, and particularly in continental matters, at the mercy of other powers' political deals. The relatively more peaceful century under the new monarchy had allowed it to rebuild and start the long process of modernizing its institutions and economy. The demographic decline of the 17th century had been reversed. It was a middle ranking power with great power pretensions that could not be ignored. But time was to be against it. The growth of trade and wealth in the colonies caused increasing political tensions as frustration grew with the improving but still restrictive trade with Spain. Malaspina's recommendation to turn the empire into a looser confederation
Confederation
A confederation in modern political terms is a permanent union of political units for common action in relation to other units. Usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution, confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues such as defense, foreign...

 to help improve governance and trade so as to quell the growing political tensions between the élites of the empire's periphery and centre was suppressed by a monarchy afraid of losing control. All was to be swept away by the tumult that was to overtake Europe at the turn of the 19th century with the French Revolutionary
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts, from 1792 until 1802, fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states...

 and Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

.

Twilight Of The Global Empire (1800–1899)

The first major territory Spain was to lose in the 19th century was the vast and wild Louisiana Territory
Louisiana (New Spain)
Louisiana was the name of an administrative district of the Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1764 to 1803 that represented territory west of the Mississippi River basin, plus New Orleans...

, which stretched north to Canada and was ceded by France in 1763 under the terms of the Treaty of Fontainebleau
Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762)
The Treaty of Fontainebleau was a secret agreement in which France ceded Louisiana to Spain. The treaty followed the last battle in the French and Indian War, the Battle of Signal Hill in September 1762, which confirmed British control of Canada. However, the associated Seven Years War continued...

. The French, under Napoleon, took back possession as part of the Treaty of San Ildefonso
Third Treaty of San Ildefonso
The Third Treaty of San Ildefonso was a secretly negotiated treaty between France and Spain in which Spain returned the colonial territory of...

 in 1800 and sold it to the United States (Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

, 1803).

The destruction of the main Spanish fleet, under French command, at the Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

 (1805) undermined Spain's ability to defend and hold on to its empire. The later intrusion of Napoleonic forces into Spain in 1808 (see Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

) cut off effective connection with the empire. But it was internal tensions that ultimately ended the empire in the Americas.

Napoleon's sale in 1803 of the Louisiana Territory
Louisiana (New France)
Louisiana or French Louisiana was an administrative district of New France. Under French control from 1682–1763 and 1800–03, the area was named in honor of Louis XIV, by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle...

 to the United States caused border disputes between the United States and Spain that, with rebellions in West Florida
West Florida
West Florida was a region on the north shore of the Gulf of Mexico, which underwent several boundary and sovereignty changes during its history. West Florida was first established in 1763 by the British government; as its name suggests it largely consisted of the western portion of the region...

 (1810) and in the remainder of Louisiana at the mouth of the Mississippi
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

, led to their eventual cession to the United States, along with the sale of all of Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, in the Adams–Onís Treaty
Adams-Onís Treaty
The Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819, also known as the Transcontinental Treaty or the Purchase of Florida, was a treaty between the United States and Spain in 1819 that gave Florida to the U.S. and set out a boundary between the U.S. and New Spain . It settled a standing border dispute between the two...

 (1819). In 1806 Baron Nikolai Rezanov
Nikolai Rezanov
Nikolay Petrovich Rezanov was a Russian nobleman and statesman who promoted the project of Russian colonization of Alaska and California. One of the ten barons of Russia, he was the first Russian ambassador to Japan , and participated in the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe ,...

 attempted to negotiate a treaty between the Russian-American Company
Russian-American Company
The Russian-American Company was a state-sponsored chartered company formed largely on the basis of the so-called Shelekhov-Golikov Company of Grigory Shelekhov and Ivan Larionovich Golikov The Russian-American Company (officially: Under His Imperial Majesty's Highest Protection (patronage)...

 and Viceroyalty of New Spain but his premature death in 1807 ended any treaty hopes.
In 1808, Napoleon forced the abdication of the Spanish monarchy and placed his brother on the throne, however his unpopularity provoked an uprising from the Spanish people and the grinding guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

, which Napoleon dubbed his "ulcer", the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

, (famously depicted by the painter Goya) ensued, followed by a power vacuum lasting up to a decade and turmoil for several decades, civil wars on succession disputes, a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, and finally a liberal democracy
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

. Spain lost all the colonial possessions in the first third of the century, except for Cuba, Puerto Rico and, isolated on the far side of the globe, the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

 and nearby Pacific islands, as well as Ceuta
Ceuta
Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish...

 and Melilla
Melilla
Melilla is a autonomous city of Spain and an exclave on the north coast of Morocco. Melilla, along with the Spanish exclave Ceuta, is one of the two Spanish territories located in mainland Africa...

, and some islands that later would be part of the Spanish Guinea
Spanish Guinea
Spanish Guinea was an African colony of Spain that became the independent nation of Equatorial Guinea.-History:The Portuguese explorer, Fernão do Pó, seeking a route to India, is credited with having discovered the island of Bioko in 1472. He called it Formosa , but it quickly took on the name of...

.

The wars of independence in Spanish America were triggered by a British attempt
British invasions of the Río de la Plata
The British invasions of the Río de la Plata were a series of unsuccessful British attempts to seize control of the Spanish colonies located around the La Plata Basin in South America . The invasions took place between 1806 and 1807, as part of the Napoleonic Wars, when Spain was an ally of...

 to seize the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata
Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata
The Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, , was the last and most short-lived Viceroyalty of the Spanish Empire in America.The Viceroyalty was established in 1776 out of several former Viceroyalty of Perú dependencies that mainly extended over the Río de la Plata basin, roughly the present day...

 in 1806. The viceroy
Viceroy
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

 retreated hastily to the hills when defeated by a small British force. However when the Criollos militias and colonial army defeated the now reinforced British force in 1807, and with the example of the North American revolutionaries very much in their minds, they quickly set about the business of winning their own independence and inspiring independence movements elsewhere in America. A long period of wars began which led to the independence of Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

 (1811) and Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

 (1815 but subsequently ruled by Brazil until 1828). José de San Martín
José de San Martín
José Francisco de San Martín, known simply as Don José de San Martín , was an Argentine general and the prime leader of the southern part of South America's successful struggle for independence from Spain.Born in Yapeyú, Corrientes , he left his mother country at the...

 campaigned for freedom in Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 (1816), Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 (1818) and Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 (1821). Further north Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

 led forces that won independence for the area that is currently Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 (then Nueva Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

), Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, and Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

 (then Alto Perú) by 1825. In 1810, a free thinking priest, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, declared Mexican independence, which was won by 1821. Central America declared its independence in 1821 and was joined to Mexico for a brief time (1822–23). Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 declared independence in 1821 and joined Nueva Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

, Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 and Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 to form the Republic of Gran Colombia (from 1821–1903). Santo Domingo
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

 likewise declared independence in 1821 and began negotiating for inclusion in Bolivar's Republic of Gran Colombia, but was quickly occupied by Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, which ruled it until an 1844 revolution. Then after 17 years of independence, in 1861, Santo Domingo was again made a colony due to Haitian aggressions, yet by 1865 Santo Domingo again declared independence, making it the only territory to be recolonized by Spain. Thus only Cuba and Puerto Rico remained in Spanish hands in the New World after 1865.
In devastated Spain, the post-Napoleonic era created a political vacuum, broke apart any traditional consensus on sovereignty, fragmented the country politically and regionally and unleashed wars and disputes between progressives, liberals and conservatives. The instability inhibited Spain's development, which had started fitfully gathering pace in the previous century. A brief period of improvement occurred in the 1870s when the capable Alfonso XII of Spain
Alfonso XII of Spain
Alfonso XII was king of Spain, reigning from 1874 to 1885, after a coup d'état restored the monarchy and ended the ephemeral First Spanish Republic.-Early life and paternity:Alfonso was the son of Queen Isabella II of Spain, and...

 and his thoughtful ministers succeeded in restoring some vigour to Spanish politics and prestige, but this was cut short by Alfonso's early death.
An increasing level of nationalist
Spanish nationalism
Spanish nationalism is the social, political and ideological movement which has shaped Spain's national identity since the 19th century.Spanish nationalism is not an irredentist nationalism per se, the only territorial revindication identified as actually being "national" as such having been...

, anti-colonial uprisings in various colonies culminated with the Spanish–American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

 of 1898, fought primarily over Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

. Military defeat was followed by the independence of Cuba and the cession, for US$20 million, of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, and Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

 to the United States. On June 2, 1899, the last Spanish garrison in the Philippines, located in Baler, Aurora
Baler, Aurora
Baler is a 4th class municipality in the province of Aurora, Philippines. It is the provincial capital of Aurora. According to the latest census, it has a population of 34,492 people and 5.955 members per household....

, was pulled out
Siege of Baler
The Siege of Baler, from July 1, 1898 to June 2, 1899, was a battle of the Philippine Revolution and concurrently the Spanish-American War. Filipino revolutionaries laid siege to a fortified church manned by colonial Spanish troops in the town of Baler, Philippines for 11 months.The battle is...

, effectively ending around 300 years of Spanish hegemony in this archipelago. Its American and Asian presence ended, Spain then sold its remaining Pacific Ocean possessions to Germany in 1899, retaining only its African territories.

Territories in Africa (1885–1975)

By the end of the 17th century, only Melilla, Alhucemas, Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera (which had been taken again in 1564), Ceuta
Ceuta
Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish...

 (part of the Portuguese Empire
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

 since 1415, has chosen to retain its links to Spain once the Iberian Union
Iberian Union
The Iberian union was a political unit that governed all of the Iberian Peninsula south of the Pyrenees from 1580–1640, through a dynastic union between the monarchies of Portugal and Spain after the War of the Portuguese Succession...

 ended; the formal allegiance of Ceuta to Spain was recognized by the Treaty of Lisbon in 1668), Oran and Mazalquivir remained as Spanish territory in Africa. The latter cities were lost in 1708, reconquered in 1732 and sold by Charles IV
Charles IV of Spain
Charles IV was King of Spain from 14 December 1788 until his abdication on 19 March 1808.-Early life:...

 in 1792.

In 1778, Fernando Poo Island (now Bioko
Bioko
Bioko is an island 32 km off the west coast of Africa, specifically Cameroon, in the Gulf of Guinea. It is the northernmost part of Equatorial Guinea with a population of 124,000 and an area of . It is volcanic with its highest peak the Pico Basile at .-Geography:Bioko has a total area of...

), adjacent islets, and commercial rights to the mainland between the Niger
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

 and Ogooué Rivers were ceded to Spain by the Portuguese in exchange for territory in South America (Treaty of El Pardo
Treaty of El Pardo (1778)
The Treaty of El Pardo was signed on March 11, 1778 between Queen Maria I of Portugal and King Charles III of Spain. The treaty aimed at resolving long-standing territorial disputes arising from non-observance of the terms of the Treaty of Tordesillas and subsequent treaties to resolve the matter...

). In the 19th century, some Spanish explorers and missionaries would cross this zone, among them Manuel de Iradier.

In 1848, Spanish troops conquered the Islas Chafarinas
Islas Chafarinas
The Chafarinas Islands , also spelled Zafarin, Djaferin, Zafarani, is a Spanish archipelago. A group of three small islets located in the Alboran Sea off the coast of Morocco with an aggregate area of 0.525 km², 45 km to the east of Melilla and 3.3 km off the Moroccan town of Ra'su l-Ma'...

.

In 1860, after the Tetuan War
Spanish-Moroccan War (1859)
The Hispano-Moroccan War, also known as the Spanish–Moroccan War, the First Moroccan War, the Tetuán War, or, in Spain, as the African War , was fought from Spain's declaration of war on Morocco on 22 October 1859 until the Treaty of Wad-Ras on 26 April 1860...

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 ceded Sidi Ifni
Sidi Ifni
Sidi Ifni is a city located in southwest Morocco, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of 20,000 people. The economic base of the city is fishing. It belongs to the Sous-Massa-Draa economic region and to the Sidi Ifni province. Its inhabitants are mainly Chleuhs from the Ait...

 to Spain as a part of the Treaty of Tangiers
Treaty of Tangiers
The Treaty of Tangiers was signed on September 10, 1844 whereby Morocco officially recognized Algeria as part of the French Empire. The advent of the treaty came after the defeat of Morocco in the First Franco-Moroccan War . A second treaty in 1860 forced Morocco to cede Sidi Ifni to the Spanish...

, on the basis of the old outpost of Santa Cruz de la Mar Pequeña, thought to be Sidi Ifni. The following decades of Franco-Spanish collaboration resulted in the establishment and extension of Spanish protectorates south of the city, and Spanish influence obtained international recognition in the Berlin Conference
Berlin Conference
The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 regulated European colonization and trade in Africa during the New Imperialism period, and coincided with Germany's sudden emergence as an imperial power...

 of 1884: Spain administered Sidi Ifni and Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

 jointly. Spain claimed a protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

 over the coast of Guinea from Cape Bojador
Cape Bojador
Cape Bojador or Cape Boujdour is a headland on the northern coast of Western Sahara, at 26° 07' 37"N, 14° 29' 57"W. , as well as the name of a nearby town with a population of 41,178.It is shown on nautical charts with the original Portuguese name "Cabo Bojador", but is sometimes...

 to Cap Blanc
Ras Nouadhibou
Ras Nouadhibou is a 40-mile peninsula or headland in the African coast of the Atlantic Ocean by the Tropic of Cancer. It is internationally known as Cap Blanc in French or Cabo Blanco in Spanish .- History :...

, too. Río Muni
Río Muni
Río Muni is the Continental Region of Equatorial Guinea, and comprises the mainland geographical region, covering 26,017 km².-History:Río Muni was ceded by Portugal to Spain in 1778 in the Treaty of El Pardo...

 became a protectorate in 1885 and a colony in 1900. Conflicting claims to the Guinea mainland were settled in 1900 by the Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1900)
The Treaty of Paris was signed on June 27, 1900 between representatives of the Spanish Empire and the French Republic. Based on the terms of the treaty, Río Muni was relieved of all conflicting claims. Moreover, the treaty granted the French the right to pre-emptively seize all territories if Spain...

.

Following a brief war
Rif War (1893)
The First Melillan campaign, also called the Melilla War or the Margallo War in Spain, was a conflict between Spain and 39 of the Rif tribes of northern Morocco, and later the Sultan of Morocco, that began in October 1893, was openly declared November 9, 1893,...

 in 1893, Spain expanded its influence south from Melilla.
In 1911, Morocco was divided between the French and Spanish. The Rif
Rif
The Rif or Riff is a mainly mountainous region of northern Morocco, with some fertile plains, stretching from Cape Spartel and Tangier in the west to Ras Kebdana and the Melwiyya River in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the river of Wergha in the south.It is part of the...

 Berbers
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

 rebelled, led by Abdelkrim, a former officer for the Spanish administration. The Battle of Annual (1921) was a sudden, grave, and almost fatal, military defeat suffered by the Spanish army against Moroccan insurgents. A leading Spanish politician emphatically declared: "We are at the most acute period of Spanish decadence". The statement reflected the mood of the country. The rebellion exposed the utter corruption and incompetence of the military and destabilised the Spanish government, leading to dictatorship. A campaign in conjunction with the French suppressed the Rif rebels by 1925 but at a terrible cost to both sides. In 1923, Tangier
Tangier
Tangier, also Tangiers is a city in northern Morocco with a population of about 700,000 . It lies on the North African coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel...

 was declared an international city under French, Spanish, British, and later Italian joint administration
Condominium (international law)
In international law, a condominium is a political territory in or over which two or more sovereign powers formally agree to share equally dominium and exercise their rights jointly, without dividing it up into 'national' zones.Although a condominium has always been...

. The African army, led by a veteran of the Moroccan campaign, Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

, started the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 (1936–39). Between 1926 and 1959, Bioko and Rio Muni were united as the colony of Spanish Guinea
Spanish Guinea
Spanish Guinea was an African colony of Spain that became the independent nation of Equatorial Guinea.-History:The Portuguese explorer, Fernão do Pó, seeking a route to India, is credited with having discovered the island of Bioko in 1472. He called it Formosa , but it quickly took on the name of...

. During the Second World War the Vichy French presence in Tangier was overcome by that of Francoist Spain.

Spain lacked the wealth and the interest to develop an extensive economic infrastructure in its African colonies during the first half of the 20th century. However, through a paternalistic
Paternalism
Paternalism refers to attitudes or states of affairs that exemplify a traditional relationship between father and child. Two conditions of paternalism are usually identified: interference with liberty and a beneficent intention towards those whose liberty is interfered with...

 system, particularly on Bioko Island, Spain developed large cocoa plantations for which thousands of Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

n workers were imported as laborers. The Spanish also helped Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea where the capital Malabo is situated.Annobón is the southernmost island of Equatorial Guinea and is situated just south of the equator. Bioko island is the northernmost point of Equatorial Guinea. Between the two islands and to the...

 achieve one of the continent's highest literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 rates and developed a good network of health care facilities.

In 1956, when French Morocco
French Morocco
French Protectorate of Morocco was a French protectorate in Morocco, established by the Treaty of Fez. French Morocco did not include the north of the country, which was a Spanish protectorate...

 became independent, Spain surrendered Spanish Morocco
Spanish Morocco
The Spanish protectorate of Morocco was the area of Morocco under colonial rule by the Spanish Empire, established by the Treaty of Fez in 1912 and ending in 1956, when both France and Spain recognized Moroccan independence.-Territorial borders:...

 to the new nation, but retained control of Sidi Ifni, the Tarfaya
Tarfaya
- References :CitationsBibliography* Didier Daurat, , France: Édition Dynamo, 1954....

 region and Spanish Sahara
Spanish Sahara
Spanish Sahara was the name used for the modern territory of Western Sahara when it was ruled as a territory by Spain between 1884 and 1975...

. Moroccan Sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 (later King) Mohammed V
Mohammed V of Morocco
Mohammed V was Sultan of Morocco from 1927–53, exiled from 1953–55, where he was again recognized as Sultan upon his return, and King from 1957 to 1961. His full name was Sidi Mohammed ben Yusef, or Son of Yusef, upon whose death he succeeded to the throne...

 was interested in these territories and invaded Spanish Sahara in 1957 (The Ifni War
Ifni War
The Ifni War, sometimes called the Forgotten War in Spain , was a series of armed incursions into Spanish West Africa by Moroccan insurgents and Sahrawi rebels that began in October 1957 and culminated with the abortive siege of Sidi Ifni.The war, which may be seen as part of the general movement...

, or, in Spain, the Forgotten War, ). In 1958, Spain ceded Tarfaya to Mohammed V and joined the previously separate districts of Saguia el-Hamra
Saguia el-Hamra
Saguia el-Hamra, in Arabic الساقية الحمراء, al-Saqiyah al-Hamra'a , is, with Río de Oro, one of the two territories that formed the Spanish province of Spanish Sahara after 1969. Its name comes from a waterway that goes through the capital....

 (in the north) and Río de Oro
Río de Oro
Río de Oro , is, with Saguia el-Hamra, one of the two territories that formed the Spanish province of Spanish Sahara after 1969; it was originally taken as a Spanish colonial possession in the late 19th century...

 (in the south) to form the province of Spanish Sahara
Spanish Sahara
Spanish Sahara was the name used for the modern territory of Western Sahara when it was ruled as a territory by Spain between 1884 and 1975...

.

In 1959, the Spanish territory on the Gulf of Guinea
Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea is the northeasternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean between Cape Lopez in Gabon, north and west to Cape Palmas in Liberia. The intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian is in the gulf....

 was established with a status similar to the provinces of metropolitan Spain. As the Spanish Equatorial Region, it was ruled by a governor general exercising military and civilian powers. The first local elections were held in 1959, and the first Equatoguinean representatives were seated in the Spanish parliament
Cortes Generales
The Cortes Generales is the legislature of Spain. It is a bicameral parliament, composed of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate . The Cortes has power to enact any law and to amend the constitution...

. Under the Basic Law of December 1963, limited autonomy was authorized under a joint legislative body for the territory's two provinces. The name of the country was changed to Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea where the capital Malabo is situated.Annobón is the southernmost island of Equatorial Guinea and is situated just south of the equator. Bioko island is the northernmost point of Equatorial Guinea. Between the two islands and to the...

.

In March 1968, under pressure from Equatoguinean nationalists and the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, Spain announced that it would grant the country independence. At independence, Equatorial Guinea had one of the highest per capita incomes in Africa. In 1969, under international pressure, Spain returned Sidi Ifni to Morocco. Spanish control of Spanish Sahara endured until the 1975 Green March
Green March
The Green March was a strategic mass demonstration in November 1975, coordinated by the Moroccan government, to force Spain to hand over the disputed, autonomous semi-metropolitan Spanish Province of Sahara to Morocco.-Background:...

 prompted a withdrawal, under Moroccan military presion. The future of this former Spanish colony remains uncertain.

The Canary Islands
Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...

 and Spanish cities in the African mainland are considered an equal part of Spain and the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 but have a different tax system without Value Added Tax
Value added tax
A value added tax or value-added tax is a form of consumption tax. From the perspective of the buyer, it is a tax on the purchase price. From that of the seller, it is a tax only on the "value added" to a product, material or service, from an accounting point of view, by this stage of its...

.

Morocco still claims Ceuta, Melilla, and even though they are internationally recognized as administrative divisions of Spain (despite Plazas de Soberania which is a territory of Spain). Isla Perejil
Isla Perejil
For the armed conflict, see Perejil Island crisisThe Perejil Island is a small, uninhabited rocky islet located in the South shore of the Strait of Gibraltar very close to Morocco. Its sovereignty is disputed between Spain and Morocco...

 ( ("night")) was occupied on July 11, 2002 by Moroccan Gendarmerie and troops, who were evicted peacefully by Spanish naval
Spanish Navy
The Spanish Navy is the maritime branch of the Spanish Armed Forces, one of the oldest active naval forces in the world. The Armada is responsible for notable achievements in world history such as the discovery of Americas, the first world circumnavigation, and the discovery of a maritime path...

 forces.

Legacy

The Spanish language
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 (now the second most widely spoken language in the world) and the Roman Catholic faith were brought to America, parts of Africa and the Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies
Spanish East Indies was a term used to describe Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific which lasted for three centuries . With the seat of government in Manila, the territory encompassed the Philippine Islands, Guam and the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, and for a period of time, parts of...

, by Spanish colonization which began in the 15th century. It also played a crucial part in sustaining the Catholic Church as the leading Christian denomination in Europe when it was under extreme pressure.

The long colonial period in Spanish America
Hispanic America
Hispanic America or Spanish America is the region comprising the American countries inhabited by Spanish-speaking populations.These countries have significant commonalities with each other and with Spain, whose colonies they formerly were...

 resulted in a mixing of peoples. Most Hispanics in America have mixed American Indian and European ancestry, while a substantial proportion also have African ancestry. The only exceptions are Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 and Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

 which experienced heavy European immigration in the post colonial period.

In concert with the Portuguese Empire
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

, the Spanish Empire laid the foundations of a truly global trade by opening up the great trans-oceanic trade routes. The Spanish Dollar
Spanish dollar
The Spanish dollar is a silver coin, of approximately 38 mm diameter, worth eight reales, that was minted in the Spanish Empire after a Spanish currency reform in 1497. Its purpose was to correspond to the German thaler...

 became the world's first global currency.

One of the features of this trade was the exchange of a great array of domesticated plants and animals between the Old World and the New and vice versa. Some that were introduced to America included wheat, barley, apples, cattle, sheep, pigs, horses, donkeys, among many others. The Old World received from America such things as maize, potatoes, chili peppers, tomatoes and tobacco, to name just a few examples. The result of these exchanges was to significantly improve the agricultural potential of not only in America, but also that of Europe and Asia.

There were also cultural influences, which can be seen in everything from architecture to food, music, art and law, from Southern Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 and Chile to the Southwest United States. The complex origins and contacts of different peoples resulted in cultural influences coming together in the varied forms so evident today in the former colonial areas.

See also

  • History of Spain
    History of Spain
    The history of Spain involves all the other peoples and nations within the Iberian peninsula formerly known as Hispania, and includes still today the nations of Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain...

  • List of Spanish wars
  • Panhispanism
    Panhispanism
    Panhispanism is a political trend aimed to achieve social, economic, and political cooperation of the Spanish speaking countries, principally those of Latin America, due to the distance between Spain or Equatorial Guinea and the Americas. It focuses principally on the former Spanish Empire's...

  • Spanish Guinea
    Spanish Guinea
    Spanish Guinea was an African colony of Spain that became the independent nation of Equatorial Guinea.-History:The Portuguese explorer, Fernão do Pó, seeking a route to India, is credited with having discovered the island of Bioko in 1472. He called it Formosa , but it quickly took on the name of...

  • Imperator totius Hispaniae
    Imperator totius Hispaniae
    Imperator totius Hispaniae is a Latin title meaning "Emperor of all Spain". In Spain in the Middle Ages, the title "emperor" was used under a variety of circumstances from the ninth century onwards, but its usage peaked, as a formal and practical title, between 1086 and 1157...

  • List of largest empires

Further reading

  • Armstrong, Edward (1902). The emperor Charles V. New York: The Macmillan Company
  • 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, trans. Siân Reynolds. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-090566-2
  • Fernand Braudel, The Perspective of the World (part iii of Civilization and Capitalism) 1979, translated 1985.
  • 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.
  • Kamen, Henry (1998). Philip of Spain. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07800-5
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