Historic Spanish Wars


The long running saga of the ReconquestaHistory_TR_Fights_in_Spanish_American_War_HD_still_624x352

Spain was invaded by Islamic armies in the 8th century AD, and for a short time these armies even threatened to invade France. It would take over seven hundred years for the various Spanish kingdoms to finally defeat and expel the last Moores from the country. For the Christians it was a long drawn out process to reconquer all of Iberia, though Portugal was liberated relatively earlier. The Spanish tended to make small gains, then build and garrison castles to secure those gains. The victories of El Cid instilled more confidence into the Christian kingdoms yet did not particularly hasten the successful conclusion of the Reconsquesta.

The Reconquesta did much to ensure that Spain had highly trained soldiers, and some of the most effective in Europe. During its course Aragon and Castile had become the most powerful Spanish kingdoms, that were jointly ruled by Ferdinand and Isabella. In 1492 the Catholic Monarchs as they were called ordered the final successful assault on the last Moore stronghold of Granada. The fall of Granada marked the end of the Reconquesta. Of course 1492 was significant for Spain due to Columbus discovering the New World. The combination of New World bullion and the Habsburgs ruling in Spain would lead the country into its Golden Age and some of its most historic wars.

Spain’s Golden AgeĀ spain_summary_1828581f

Spain entered its Golden Age at the beginning of the 16th century, and would spent most of it being involved in wars. Ferdinand and Isabella had formed alliances with the Habsburgs and with England via dynastic marriages. This alliance system was mainly aimed against France. In 1498 the French invaded Italy, and that started the Italian Wars, which did not end until 1559 (with short truces in between). The Habsburgs and the Spanish kept defeating the French, who kept trying after each defeat.

Charles V was already Holy Roman Emperor and the ruler of the Netherlands when he succeeded Ferdinand and became Charles I of Spain. It was mostly Spanish money and troops that Charles relied on in the conflicts across his vast empires. The Spanish continued their significant part in the Italian Wars, especially the stunning victory at Pavia in 1525. No Spanish troops were involved in the sack of Rome two years later that demonstrated Charles had complete control of Italy. For a while the alliance with England lapsed due to the latter breaking away from Rome.

The Reformation would get the Spanish involved in more wars, and make the political situation across Western Europe more complex. As fine as the Spanish infantry was, the commitments of Charles put a strain on Spanish forces, and even the vast treasures from the New World could not pay for all the wars. When Charles abdicated in 1555, he left Spain and its empire to his son Phillip II, and the Holy Roman Empire to his brother, Ferdinand II.

Phillip II did manage to bring the Italian Wars to an end yet that did not put an end to the fighting. Phillip had to contend with Ottoman Turk advances, although naval victory at Lepanto, and the failure of the Ottomans to take Malta meant the status quo remained intact.

The Netherlands would be the scene of a conflict that did much to dent Spanish power. Spain got involved in attempting to keep hold of all of the Netherlands as the 80 Years War began. The heavy handed handling of the revolt backfired badly on the Spanish. Phillip also got involved in the French Wars of Religion as he tried to prevent Henry IV gaining the French throne. This led to the war with England and the disaster of the Spanish Armada.

From decline to the Spanish Civil War


Spain was still a major power when the the 80 Years War finished in 1648 yet it would decline, particularly in relation to England, France, and the United Provinces (the part of the Netherlands it had lost). The English navy made Spain bankrupt went it sank the entire treasure fleet in 1657, which meant thee Spanish had to accept peace terms. In the rest of the 17th century and 18th century Spain tended to only fight wars if allied to the French. The extinction of the Spanish Habsburgs led to the War of the Spanish Succession. In the end a Bourbon did become King of Spain, but the French and Spanish branches of the Bourbons were not allowed to take control of the other country.

Spain was allied to the French in the Napoleonic Wars until its people revolted, and were helped by the British. After losing its Latin American colonies and then Cuba was a country in decline.

Unfortunately the war Spain is best known for was the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939 when the military managed to overthrow the Republican government.

Influential Spanish Rulers of the 18th Century


Influential Rulers of 18th Century Spain220px-Cantigas_battle

The 18th century began in a tumult for Spain as Charles II was succeeded by Philippe d’Anjour of France in the year 1700. The Bourbon monarchy under Philippe presented a combined force of Spanish and French military. Philip V did not always look after the best interests of Spain, particularly when it came to conflicts with France as he had a tendency to acquiesce to their demands. In 1715 he signed the Decreto de Nueva Planta which made Spain a country which leaned towards the political and cultural adherences of France. His reign was marked with elitist favoritism and political corruption extending into the lower levels of government. The age of Enlightenment was largely ignored as French absolutist philosophies and goals supported the strength of the monarchy with an elevated aristocracy and strong church control over the social constructs of education. The one thing Philip accomplished in favor of Spain was to bolster the economy. During his reign, the country saw fewer outbreaks of disease and famine.

Ferdinand VI (1746 to 1759)Columbus_Taking_Possession

Ferdinand was a continuance of the Bourbon rule and his reign was marked by the beginning of the Seven Years’ War in 1756. During this reign Spain became allied with France in order to avoid the loss of territories. After a series of losses in battle, Charless III succeeded Ferdinand VI and ruled from 1759-1788. Spain saw economic advancement during the reign of Charles III, but the war continued until 1763, losing the territory of Florida to the British, but acquiring Louisiana from the country of France. In 1783, Spain once again acquired Florida through the Treaty of Paris at the same time that the American Revolutionary War ended. Spain became more internationally accepted under Charles III. This ruler, however; declined the potential for advancement of the sciences brought about by Enlightenment philosophies which were beginning to surface. The ruling powers of Spain quickly arrested the progressive notions of Enlightenment thinking through the use of inquisitions and public censorship.

Charles IV250px-Emperor_charles_v

Charles IV began took the throne of Spain in 1788, but abdicated in 1808 because of presumed mental deficiencies. Scandal within his house resulted as the lover of his wife, Manuel de Godoy led Charles into making policies which were unacceptable to the Spanish government. Many of these policies were overturned.

Power distribution in 18th century Spain

The Catholic Church was a powerful and controlling force within 18th century Spain. This was also true of the aristocracy which made generous contributions to the church with regularity. This gave them a stronger voice and more authority in determining how the lower classes would be managed. The Nobles of 18th century Spain were a part of the ruling class, although to a lesser degree than the monarchy or the church.

Culmination of 18th century leadership220px-AltamiraBison

The 1700s marked a time in which hard battles were lost, opportunities for advancement were missed and aristocrats with personal agendas were allowed to prosper. Scandal within the monarchy forced abdication and rulers with preferences for other countries over Spain took control. Not all was dark during this period as the economy and overall health of the population saw improvements and Spain gained more solid footing in the international community. The end of this era helped to set the stage for the drastic changes which would be seen in the coming century.

Women of Ancient Spain


The treatment of women in ancient Spain


The social and political climate in ancient Spain was one of male dominance and female submissiveness. The Catholic Church played a major role in the formation of social expectations of women in their roles as wives, mothers and keepers of the home. Spiritual women who committed their lives to the church as nuns were subjected to total male authority and expected to be submissive and obedient. These were considered to be the traits of femininity.

Famous women in the history of Spain


Teresa Avila was born in 1515 and died in 1582. She was a highly religious woman whose literary texts helped to influence the relationship between the church and women of the sixteenth century. Teresa negotiated for a broader view on the place of women within the church and her works detail the struggles that she encountered in the process. She maintained her femininity and submission to authority without allowing prevailing mysogenistic attitudes to cause her to veer from her course. Her independent attitude caused generations of women in monastic endeavors and servitude to the church to rethink the need for female submission to strict male clerical authority.

Olivia Sabuco born in 1592 recorded texts about medical science topics of childbirth and maternity. It was formerly believed that her father authored the texts, but recent investigation into her works pinpoint her as the author. This gives us a greater glimpse of the abilities of women who were not allowed to publicly share their interests in male dominated fields.

Isabel I reigned from 1474 to 1504 as Queen of Spain. Although maintaining her femininity, she asserted more dominance as a female. She gained more power through her affiliations with Ferdinand, but did not rely upon his male assistance for all of the situations she encountered. Upon her death, she was maligned as being unfeminine by Ferdinand in order to prevent her heir Juana from assuming the throne. He asserted that a female was not fit to rule a country.

Pushing the limits of femininity

In addition to the assertiveness of Isabel I, many religious women in ancient Spain experienced mystical events because of their deep spiritual beliefs. Those who reported and recorded raptures, visions and other spiritual incidents were treading in uncharted waters. Writing had previously been reserved for male clerics and the women who dared to record their experiences and thoughts in text created a controversy with church authority figures, locals in the community and with family members. This was a difficult time for many of the women of Spain as their need for independence created social turmoil and unrest. Those who felt a true and deep commitment to the church faced internal struggles that caused moral conflicts within themselves. Those who had a message to share were stymied by the social constructs of the age.

Consequences of female independence

Women of ancient Spain who dared to bring a challenge before the ruling gender were subject to intense interrogations, often resulting in physical and emotional pain. The Inquisition offered these pioneering ladies as subjects cast before tribunals in attempts to silence their voices and force them to retreat into a more submissive role of silence and obedience. Not all of these women, however, could be silenced.

Autonomy for Spanish women

It was not until after Spain’s Golden Age that the suppression of women authors was lifted. The texts that were previously generated were not as likely to be destroyed. The most predominant texts were those of religious women. Reform within the convents could be seen when the women within their confines were allowed a greater degree of autonomy, making more independent decisions and sharing their opinions and beliefs more freely. Outside interactions with the world became more accepted as reformation of the Catholic Church elevated the status of women to new highs within society. Both religious and other women found new freedoms emerging. With this also came the caveat that women from other cultural backgrounds and faiths who did not properly teach their children about the proscribed religious beliefs, rituals and behaviors (Christianity) could be found guilty of heresy. This was an effective hobble, levied by the church to maintain a degree of feminine submission and social control.

Sex and Gender issues post reformation

The women of ancient Spain were known to challenge male authority regularly. Chastity and submission to male authority were identified by the church as traits of women of virtue as a means of social control. So far as the entire population goes, there were many Spanish women who refused to submit to the authority of the church. Sex outside of marriage occurred as well as prostitution, extra marital affairs and homosexuality. Although the Catholic Church retained its original position, there was less threat of retribution during this era of early modern Spain. Women of ancient Spain did not enjoy autonomy and the ability to act as free agents without the approval of male authority. It was not until the reformation of the Catholic Church that social constructs began to waver in the favor of the ladies.