terça-feira, 31 de maio de 2016


1.     Introduction: the golden Age.
2.     Charles I of Spain.
a.     Spain: the rebellion of the Comunidades.
b.     The external policies: Europe.
c.      The American conquest.
d.     The culture: the Renaissance.
3.     Felipe II.
a.     Spain. The religious problem.
b.     Europe: rise and fall of the Spanish power. Last years.

1.       The Golden Age
The XVI and XVII centuries belongs to the period in the Modern Age where Spain was ruled by the “Austrias” or Habsburgo royal family. Generally speaking this is called “el Siglo de Oro” for very different reasons, mainly political and cultural. Historians however make a division in two periods:
a.    The XVI century, the “Austrias mayores” period, that belongs to the reigns of Charles I and Felipe II. It is a stage of political and military expansion in Europe, coincident with the rise of the Spanish empire in America, and Spain reached his highest peak of power over the whole continent. It is the Renaissance and the Counter Reform period, and the starting of the “Golden Age” (el Siglo de Oro) in cultural and literature terms.
b.    The XVII century, or the “Austrias menores” period (Felipe III, Felipe IV and Carlos II). It is a time of economical crisis, and the fall of the Spanish hegemony in Europe after many wars. Spain starts to be very isolated from Europe in cultural and scientific terms, but literature and arts still will flourish, so the Siglo de Oro continues during the most part of the century.  We could use this outline to understand this period as a whole and make a comparison between both centuries:

XVI century
XVII century
Austrias Mayores
European expansion
American Empire
Austrias menores
Defeats in Europe.
Fall of our influence
Economy and society
Expansion at the beginning
Crisis and stagnation started at the end of the period.
Demographical and social crisis, diseases.
Bankruptcy, stagnation.
Renaissance, Humanism and
After 1550, counter Reformation.
Beginning of Golden Age in
Baroque style.
Scientific isolation from Europe.
Maximum peak of the Golden Age in cultural terms.

Charles I of Spain and V of Germany (1519-1556)
Charles I was the grandson of the Catholic Monarchs, and the son of Juana la Loca. Because of a mental disease, Juana was uncapable to reign, so the kingdom passed to his son. But
Charles was not only the king of Spain. His father, Felipe el Hermoso, was the king of Austria and Flandes (Belgium). So in a few years he became not only the king of Spain (1519), but the Emperor of Germany, after his election in 1521.
His reign was a mixture of problems and conflicts inherited as well as his huge domains: Spain, Flandes, Italy, Germany and the American Empire. Such vast territories were difficult to rule, and most of the times he was overwhelmed by the conflicts. His main goal during all his life was only one: the preservation of the Catholic faith in Europe, and his role being an emperor, as defender of the church.

a)        The rebellion of the Comunidades.
Charles I was not welcomed in Spain: he was seen as a foreigner. He was born in Gante (Holland) and had never been to Spain before his proclamation as king. When he left Spain in 1520 to be crowned as emperor in Germany, the cities of Castilla openly rebelled against his rule, in the name of freedom and independence. They were called comuneros, and demanded a new Spanish king and lower taxes. They were mainly supported by the bourgeoisie and the low nobility. However, the army and most of the nobles remained loyal to the King Charles, and the comuneros were easily defeated at Villalar in 1521. After the uprising, Charles I was aware that he had to stay in Spain for a long time, to regain the support of the country. In a few years, Castilla and Aragon accepted the authority of his new king, and all opposition ended. 

b)       The external policies: Europe.
After he recovered all his authority in Spain, Charles I was ready to start his European policy, with three main objectives: the fight against France and the war against the Muslims first and the Protestants later.
Ø  France. France was the traditional enemy of Aragon in the struggle for Italy. After the great victory of Pavía against the French (1525), Charles I had all Italy under his control. However there were more indecisive wars during all his reign and peace was never signed permanently.
Ø  Muslims. After the Reconquista, Spain kept a permanent war against the Muslims in order to prevent any attacks. There were important sieges and battles in Tunez and Argel to destroy the pirates that still were attacking the Mediterranean coast. The Turks, on the other hand, were attacking in East Europe, and Charles I made great efforts to expel them from Austria (1529).
Ø  Protestants. With the Reformation supported by Lutero, another battlefront was opened in Germany. After the imperial diets of Spira and Worms, Charles I condemned Lutero, but most part of the German princes and nobles were Lutherans. After some years, there was a civil war and the Protestants were defeated at Mühlberg. However, Charles I was compelled to tolerate some kind of religious freedom in Germany, at least for the princes (Ausburg declaration, 1548).
In a nutshell, we could say that Charles I won most of the battles, but he lost all the wars. His goals were overwhelming for only one person, even the most powerful king of Europe since the Roman Empire. In fact, these wars were so expensive that even with all the money from America, the taxes from their domains, and the loans from bankers like the Fugger, he condemned the royal treasure to bankruptcy (quiebra) after his death.
c)      The Rise of the American Empire (1519-1550)
In America, the first years of discovery were now followed by the conquest of vast territories. Migration to America from Castille started very early under the promise of new lands and wealth. In 1519 Hernan Cortés began the conquest of the Aztecan Empire in México. A few years later, in 1535, Francisco Pizarro finished the conquest of the Incan Empire in Peru. During all this period, continuous expeditions helped to discover the entire American continent and created an Empire from California to Chile. After 1540, the American Empire started to have a strong economical impact in Spain with the affluence of silver and the rise of trade between both continents.

Bartolomé de las Casas is regarded as one the first defenders of human rights in all history.

2.     The reign of Felipe II (1556-1598)
Under Felipe II, son of Charles I and Isabel de Portugal, Spain reached its peak of political power, and also the first signs of weakness and decadence. Unlike Charles I, he was a king concerned only with the Spanish kingdom and his empire. His rule was more authoritarian and like his father, extremely worried with the preservation of Catholicism in all his kingdom.
Ø  The Spanish policies.
The defense of Catholicism lead to more intransigence against all kind of heretics, converses (old jews converted to Catholicism). The Inquisition won power and started a broad censorship against books and ideas coming from Europe. As a result of this intransigence, there was a revolt of the moriscos from Alpujarras (Muslims who lived in Granada mountains) and after their defeat, they were forced to leave the region and reject their Muslim culture.
During his reign, all the Iberian Peninsula was united: Portugal became part of the Spanish kingdom after 1580, when his king died in battle without descendants, and Felipe II took advantage of the situation, claiming the crown (he was the son of a Portuguese princess, Isabel de Portugal). After some resistance, the Portuguese nobility accepted Felipe II as his king.

b)     Europe policies.
Felipe II applied the same politics in Europe as in Spain. He became a defender of Catholicism against the two main enemies of this faith: the heretics (Protestants), and the Muslims. This lead to some wars that ended in huge costs for the Monarchy, more taxes (specially in Castilla) and finally the bankruptcy. We could say that until 1580, the power of Felipe II in Europe was absolute:
·           France: the French were defeated in San Quintin (1557), and a peace treaty was signed that would last till the end of the reign.
·           Turkish Empire. Felipe II formed an alliance with Geneva, Venetia and the Pope to create a war fleet to defeat the Turks in the Mediterranean. In Lepanto (1570) the Turks suffered a severe defeat and they were not any longer a threat on the Mediterranean coasts.
·           The Portuguese Empire: after 1580, the Portuguese trade and possessions in Asia became part of the Spanish Empire, as a consequence of the union between both countries.
However, after 1580, two unsolved conflicts will erode the power of Spain.
·           Holland rebellion. After tax rises and social unrest, motivated by religious conflicts, an open rebellion broke out in Holland in 1579.  Successive viceroys (regents of the country in the name of the king) failed in the attempt to calm down the country.  The Duke of Alba started a hard repression that led to an expensive and cruel war.
·           Conflicts with England. Felipe II wanted to restore Catholicism in England and to stop the attacks against the Atlantic trade committed by pirates who where under protection of the English Queen Elizabeth. In 1588, Felipe II sent a powerful fleet and army to invade England, la “armada Invencible”, that was destroyed by storms and the efficient English navy. After that date, the control of Spain over the Atlantic trade began to decline.

c) Last years of Felipe II
 At the end of the reign, as a result of these expensive wars, the royal treasure bankrupted again and wasn´t able to pay all its debts. Even worse, the Spanish hegemony started to be questioned again by the new emerging powers (Holland, England and France). The economy and demography started a slow decadence that would worsen in the next century. The inflation, the rising taxes and forced conscription started to impoverish the society as a whole. In contrast with the stagnation of the old castillian towns, Sevilla and Madrid became the most important cities of the whole country as the American trade centre (Sevilla)  and as the capital of the kingdom (Madrid).

The 17th century: Crisis and decadence.

1. The 17th century in Europe.
The 17th century is a difficult age in Europe: wars, diseases, fall of population and agriculture spread through almost all the continent. However, the crisis will deeper in some countries, emporishing them, and it will a moment of economic and social change in others, like Holland, England and France.  In a nutshell, the 17th century is the period characterized by:
a) Politics: ABSOLUTE MONARCHY (monarchs have all the power, like France),
b) Economy: THE RISE OF CAPITALISM, and the destruction of the last remains of feudalism and Middle Age.
But these changes won't have the same strenght in Spain, and Spain will be isolated from most of these social, cultural and economical changes.
2. The crisis in Spain.
In the last years of Felipe II, Spain and Castilla are suffering economic stagnation and decadence. This will worsen in the 17th century by different reasons:
- There is a fall in agriculture, and consequently, there is a fall in the population and trade. People had less food and suffered more diseases and plagues.
- There is a fall in the American trade: the silver mines are exhausted, and trade is increasingly in the hands of Dutch and English merchants.
- Political problems: bankruptcy happened too often in this period, because of wars expences. As a result, the government has no money to pay the debts, and has to increase taxes to peasants and towns, creates inflation (prices rise) and social unrest.   
- Social biases (prejuicios): Spanish society didn't see well hand working. Therefore, rich people (nobility and church) never invested in industry or trading. We started to get used to pay to other countries for our commodities.   
This crisis won't be the same everywhere. It will be more severe in the old towns of Castilla. Cataluña, Basque country or Galicia will recover earlier after 1660.

3. The kings: the Austrias menores.
This period is ruled by weak kings from the Habsburg family: Felipe III, Felipe IV and Carlos II. They are called Austrias menores because of their weakness and their lack of efforts or inspiration to solve the problems of the country.

Felipe III (1598-1621). Lazy king, he has no concerns on government, so he gives all his power to the validos or Prime ministers like Uceda or Lerma, who are corrupted and inept. In 1609 Muslims are expelled from all Spain, creating a bad crisis for agriculture and silk in Aragon.  The foreign policy is based on peace and truces with Holland and France. 

Felipe IV (1621-1665). He is more concerned with government, but wants to recover the hegemony and prestige in Europe. Therefore, Spain started wars against France and the protestants. This meant more taxes and bankruptcy. His prime minister, the Conde Duque de Olivares, tried to created new taxes in Aragon, Cataluña and Portugal (Unión de Armas), and the consequence was a general uprising and rebellions in 1640. Portugal regain its independence and Cataluña had its first nationalist uprising against the Spanish monarchy. On the other hand, European wars ended with a total defeat of the Spanish armies after Rocroi. The Westfalia and Pirineos peace (1648-1659) meant the end of the hegemony in Europe.

 Charles II (1665-1700): He was called "cursed" or "el hechizado", because he seemed quite stupid. Being king at the age of two years old, he was unable to do anything politically relevant and died in a few years. After that, an European war started (guerra de sucesión española, and Austria and France fought to gain the Spanish throne.  This ended with the Treaty of Utretch and the Borbones will reign in Spain the next centuries.

4. Culture: The Golden Age.
The 16th and 17th is a very remarkable period in the Spanish culture and arts. However, not all that glitters is gold, and there are dark shadows in some aspects:
Ø Arts and literature. These two centuries (specially 1550-1680) had remarkable writers (Cervantes, Calderón or Quevedo), outstanding painters (Greco and Velazquez). Renaissance and Baroque will be the two styles that dominated in our country, with works such El Escorial (herreriano style, last step of the Renaissance, with no decoration) or La Clerecía and the main square in Salamanca (Baroque art, very decorated). Arts will be deeply religious, especially in architecture or sculpture.
Ø Religion. After the council of Trento (1560), Spain became increasingly intolerant to religion matters. Persecution and censorship are widespread and the inquisition regains new powers. Catholicism is the main characteristic of the society and politics and the church will obtain solid economical privileges. People like Santa Teresa de Jesús and San Juan de la Cruz or fray Luis de Leon, (místicos) will have problems with the Inquisition because of his deep way to understand religion.

Ø Sciences and philosophy. As a consequence of this religious intolerance, there is a persecution against all the new ideas coming from fields such as sciences and philosophy. If Charles V period was opened to European ideas, like the humanism, Felipe II declared in 1559 the cultural isolation from Europe: from that moment, students were not allowed to visit European universities and foreign books were forbidden. This had terrible consequences in our history: sciences, technology and innovation were aspects that Spanish society was no longer concerned, and Europeans started to see us as ignorant, fanatical, and conservative. 


 1. El siglo XVII en Europa.

El siglo XVII es una época difícil en Europa: guerras, enfermedades, caída de la población y de la producción agrícola se extiende por todo el continente. Sin embargo, la crisis será más profunda en unas zonas, empobreciéndolas, y en otras provocarán cambios económicos y sociales, como Inglaterra, Francia u Holanda. De forma breve, es un periodo caracterizado por:
- Política: monarquía absoluta, los monarcas tienen todo el poder, como en Francia.
- Economía: el alza del capitalismo, y la destrucción de los últimos residuos del feudalismo medieval.
- Cultura: Europa vive la revolución científica y el barroco. La ciencia comienza a imponerse frente a la tradición religiosa, con figuras como Newton, Galileo o Kepler.
Pero estos cambios no tendrán un efecto igual en España, y nuestro país quedará aislado de buena parte de estos cambios socioeconómicos y culturales.

2. Economía y sociedad: La crisis en España. 

En los últimos años de Felipe II, España y Castilla están sufriendo estancamiento y decadencia económica. Esto empeorará en el siglo XVII por diferentes razones:
- Hay una caída en la producción agrícola, y consecuentemente una caída en el comercio y la población. La gente sufre hambrunas, y padece más enfermedades y plagas. Las guerras traerán más problemas con alistamientos obligatorios para el ejército.
- Problemas políticos: la bancarrota se hará común por gastos de guerra y falta de ingresos. Como resultado, el gobierno no tiene dinero para pagar las deudas, y tendrá que incrementar los impuestos, produciendo mayor malestar social, inflación e inestabilidad.
- Prejuicios sociales: La sociedad española ve con malos ojos el trabajo manual. Por lo tanto, los ricos (la nobleza y la iglesia) nunca invertirán en el comercio o la industria. Nos acostumbramos a pagar con materias primas los bienes manufacturados. La burguesía desaparecerá: dedicarse al comercio es muy arriesgado, y los burgueses preferirán comprar un título nobiliario y dejar de trabajar en otras ocupaciones.
Por otro lado, la crisis no será igual en todas partes: en unas zonas será más profunda (Castilla), y en otras, la recuperación será más rápida (Cataluña, País Vasco, Galicia…).

3. La política: Los Austrias Menores.

Este periodo es gobernado por reyes débiles pertenecientes a la dinastía de los Habsburgo: Felipe III, Felipe IV y Carlos II. Son llamados Austrias menores debido a su debilidad y su falta de inspiración para resolver los problemas del país.
Felipe III (1598-1621): fue un rey bastante perezoso desinteresado en los asuntos de gobierno, y por ello dio todo su poder a los "validos" o primeros ministros, como Uceda o Lerma, nobles corruptos y poco aptos para el gobierno. En 1609 los musulmanes son expulsados de España por miedo a una invasión desde el norte de África, con consecuencias pésimas para la agricultura y la seda de la corona de Aragón. La política exterior estuvo basada en treguas con Holanda y Francia.
Felipe IV (1621-1665): Estuvo más preocupado por los asuntos de gobierno, y deseaba sobre todo restablecer el poder español sobre Europa. Por ello, España se embarcó en guerras contra los protestantes y Francia. Esto implicó subidas de impuestos para pagar los gastos bélicos y finalmente la bancarrota. Su primer ministro, el conde duque de Olivares intentó imponer nuevos impuestos a Aragón, Cataluña y Portugal (la Unión de Armas), y la consecuencia fue una rebelión colectiva en 1640. Portugal recobró su independencia y Cataluña vivió su primer levantamiento contra la monarquía hispana (germen del actual nacionalismo).Por otro lado, las guerras europeas terminaron en un desastre para el ejército español, tras la derrota de Rocroi (1642). La paz de Westfalia y los Pirineos significó el fin de su hegemonía en Europa.   

Carlos II (1665-1700): Fue llamado "el hechizado", debido a su debilidad congénita. Hecho rey a la edad de dos años, fue incapaz de tomar cualquier decisión políticamente relevante, y murió en relativamente poco tiempo. Tras su muerte, los países europeos volvieron a la guerra para hacerse con el control del trono español (Guerra de sucesión española). Esto acabó con lo que se conoció como la paz de Utretch (1713) y el establecimiento de los Borbones como reyes de España, hasta el día de hoy.

4. La cultura: El siglo de oro.

El siglo XVI y XVII constituyen un importantísimo periodo en la historia cultural de España, en relación con el arte y la literatura. Sin embargo, no todos los campos de la cultura brillan igual, y hay sombras que perdurarán en nuestra historia.
Arte y literatura: Estos dos siglos (especialmente entre 1550 y 1680) tienen importantes escritores (Cervantes, Calderón o Quevedo, por poner solo algunos ejemplos), magníficos pintores de talla mundial (como el Greco o Velazquez). El Renacimiento y el barroco serán los dos estilos que dominen en nuestro país, con obras como el Escorial (hecho en estilo herreriano, al final del Renacimiento, con un estilo muy sobrio) o los edificios de La Clerecía y la plaza mayor de Salamanca, en estilo barroco, muy decorado. El arte será profundamente religioso, especialmente en el campo de la escultura.   
Religión: Después del Concilio de Trento (1560), España se vuelve todavía más intransigente e intolerante en asuntos religiosos. Las persecuciones y la censura están extendidas y la Inquisición obtiene mayores poderes. El catolicismo se convierte así en el espíritu de la sociedad y la política española, y la iglesia obtendrá enormes privilegios económicos. Personalidades literarias como Santa Teresa de Jesús, fray Luis de León o San Juan de la Cruz sufrirán problemas con la inquisición por su forma particular y profunda de comprender la religión.   
Pensamiento y ciencia: Como consecuencia de esta intolerancia religiosa, hay una fuerte persecución hacia todas las ideas novedosas que provienen desde Europa de campos como la ciencia y la filosofía. Si durante la época de Carlos V España estaba abierta a las ideas de Europa, como el humanismo, Felipe II decretó a partir de 1559 el aislamiento cultural respecto a Europa: desde ese momento, los estudiantes españoles no tenían permitido estudiar en universidades europeas, y los libros extranjeros quedaron fuertemente restringidos. Esto tuvo consecuencias nefastas en nuestra historia: la ciencia, la tecnología y la innovación se convirtieron en aspectos que la sociedad española dejó de considerar importantes, y los países europeos empezaron a vernos como ignorantes, fanáticos y conservadores.