Spain and the Mediterranean Since 1898

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  1. Spanish-American War
  2. Planning and Propaganda
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Their most important colony was Carthago Nova Latin name of modern-day Cartagena. The peoples whom the Romans met at the time of their invasion in what is now known as Spain were the Iberians, inhabiting an area stretching from the northeast part of the Iberian Peninsula through the southeast. The Celts mostly inhabited the inner and north-west part of the peninsula. In the inner part of the peninsula, where both groups were in contact, a mixed culture arose, the Celtiberians. The populations of the peninsula were gradually culturally Romanized , [7] and local leaders were admitted into the Roman aristocratic class.

Hispania supplied Rome with food, olive oil, wine and metal. Hispanic bishops held the Council of Elvira around After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, parts of Hispania came under the control of the Germanic tribes of Vandals , Suebi , and Visigoths.

The collapse of the Western Roman Empire did not lead to the same wholesale destruction of Western classical society as happened in areas like Roman Britain , Gaul and Germania Inferior during the Early Middle Ages , although the institutions and infrastructure did decline. Spain's present languages, its religion, and the basis of its laws originate from this period.

The centuries of uninterrupted Roman rule and settlement left a deep and enduring imprint upon the culture of Spain. The Romanized Visigoths entered Hispania in After the conversion of their monarchy to Roman Catholicism and after conquering the disordered Suebic territories in the northwest and Byzantine territories in the southeast, the Visigothic Kingdom eventually encompassed a great part of the Iberian Peninsula. As the Roman Empire declined, Germanic tribes invaded the former empire.

Some were foederati , tribes enlisted to serve in Roman armies, and given land within the empire as payment, while others, such as the Vandals , took advantage of the empire's weakening defenses to seek plunder within its borders. Those tribes that survived took over existing Roman institutions, and created successor-kingdoms to the Romans in various parts of Europe.

Iberia was taken over by the Visigoths after At the same time, there was a process of "Romanization" of the Germanic and Hunnic tribes settled on both sides of the limes the fortified frontier of the Empire along the Rhine and Danube rivers. The Visigoths, for example, were converted to Arian Christianity around , even before they were pushed into imperial territory by the expansion of the Huns.

In the winter of , taking advantage of the frozen Rhine, refugees from Germanic Vandals and Sueves , and the Sarmatian Alans , fleeing the advancing Huns, invaded the empire in force. Three years later they crossed the Pyrenees into Iberia and divided the Western parts, roughly corresponding to modern Portugal and western Spain as far as Madrid , between them. The Visigoths, having sacked Rome two years earlier, arrived in the region in , founding the Visigothic kingdom of Toulouse in the south of modern France and gradually expanded their influence into the Iberian peninsula at the expense of the Vandals and Alans, who moved on into North Africa without leaving much permanent mark on Hispanic culture.

The Visigothic Kingdom shifted its capital to Toledo and reached a high point during the reign of Leovigild. The Visigothic Kingdom conquered all of Hispania and ruled it until the early 8th century, when the peninsula fell to the Muslim conquests. The Muslim state in Iberia came to be known as Al-Andalus. After a period of Muslim dominance, the medieval history of Spain is dominated by the long Christian Reconquista or "reconquest" of the Iberian Peninsula from Muslim rule. The Reconquista gathered momentum during the 12th century, leading to the establishment of the Christian kingdoms of Portugal , Aragon , Castile and Navarre and by , had reduced Muslim control to the Emirate of Granada in the south-east of the peninsula.

Muslim rule in Granada survived until , when it fell to the Catholic Monarchs. Importantly, Spain never saw a decline in interest in classical culture to the degree observable in Britain, Gaul, Lombardy and Germany. The Visigoths, having assimilated Roman culture during their tenure as foederati , tended to maintain more of the old Roman institutions, and they had a unique respect for legal codes that resulted in continuous frameworks and historical records for most of the period between , when Visigothic rule in Spain began, and , when it is traditionally said to end.

However, during the Visigothic dominion the cultural efforts made by the Franks and other Germanic tribes were not felt in the peninsula, nor achieved in the lesser kingdoms that emerged after the Muslim conquest. The proximity of the Visigothic kingdoms to the Mediterranean and the continuity of western Mediterranean trade, though in reduced quantity, supported Visigothic culture. Arian Visigothic nobility kept apart from the local Catholic population. Spanish Catholic religion also coalesced during this time. The period of rule by the Visigothic Kingdom saw the spread of Arianism briefly in Spain.

In , the Visigothic king at Toledo, Reccared , converted to Catholicism and launched a movement in Spain to unify the various religious doctrines that existed in the land. This put an end to dissension on the question of Arianism. For additional information about this period, see the History of Roman Catholicism in Spain. The Visigoths inherited from Late Antiquity a sort of feudal system in Spain, based in the south on the Roman villa system and in the north drawing on their vassals to supply troops in exchange for protection.

The bulk of the Visigothic army was composed of slaves, raised from the countryside. The loose council of nobles that advised Spain's Visigothic kings and legitimized their rule was responsible for raising the army, and only upon its consent was the king able to summon soldiers. The impact of Visigothic rule was not widely felt on society at large, and certainly not compared to the vast bureaucracy of the Roman Empire; they tended to rule as barbarians of a mild sort, uninterested in the events of the nation and economy, working for personal benefit, and little literature remains to us from the period.

The most visible effect was the depopulation of the cities as they moved to the countryside. Even while the country enjoyed a degree of prosperity when compared to the famines of France and Germany in this period, the Visigoths felt little reason to contribute to the welfare, permanency, and infrastructure of their people and state.

This contributed to their downfall, as they could not count on the loyalty of their subjects when the Moors arrived in the 8th century. In an Islamic Berber conquering party, led by Tariq ibn Ziyad , was sent to Iberia to intervene in a civil war in the Visigothic Kingdom. Tariq's army contained about 7, Berber horsemen, and Musa bin Nusayr is said to have sent an additional 5, reinforcements after the conquest. Tariq's commander, Musa, quickly crossed with Arab reinforcements, and by the Muslims were in control of nearly the whole Iberian Peninsula.

A decisive victory for the Christians took place at Covadonga, in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, in the summer of In a minor battle known as the Battle of Covadonga , a Muslim force sent to put down the Christian rebels in the northern mountains was defeated by Pelagius of Asturias , who established the monarchy of the Christian Kingdom of Asturias. In , a rebellion in Galicia, assisted by the Asturians, drove out Muslim forces and it joined the Asturian kingdom. The Kingdom of Asturias became the main base for Christian resistance to Islamic rule in the Iberian Peninsula for several centuries.

Caliph Al-Walid I had paid great attention to the expansion of an organized military, building the strongest navy in the Umayyad Caliphate era the second major Arab dynasty after Mohammad and the first Arab dynasty of Al-Andalus. It was this tactic that supported the ultimate expansion to Spain. Once arrived, he declared al-Andalus independent. It is not clear if Abd al-Rahman considered himself to be a rival caliph, perpetuating the Umayyad Caliphate, or merely an independent Emir.

Moorish Spain & La Reconquista

The state founded by him is known as the Emirate of Cordoba. Al-Andalus was rife with internal conflict between the Islamic Umayyad rulers and people and the Christian Visigoth-Roman leaders and people. The Caliphate was mostly concerned with maintaining its power base in North Africa, but these possessions eventually dwindled to the Ceuta province. In , pagan Magyars raided northern Spain. Even so, Al-Andalus remained vastly superior to all the northern kingdoms combined in population, economy and military might; and internal conflict between the Christian kingdoms contributed to keep them relatively harmless.

Al-Andalus coincided with La Convivencia , an era of relative religious tolerance, and with the Golden age of Jewish culture in the Iberian Peninsula. Muslim interest in the peninsula returned in force around the year when Al-Mansur also known as Almanzor sacked Barcelona in Under his son, other Christian cities were subjected to numerous raids.

The Taifa kings competed against each other not only in war but also in the protection of the arts, and culture enjoyed a brief upswing. The Almohads, who had taken control of the Almoravids' Maghribi and al-Andalus territories by , surpassed the Almoravides in fundamentalist Islamic outlook, and they treated the non-believer dhimmis harshly. Faced with the choice of death, conversion, or emigration, many Jews and Christians left. By the midth century, the Emirate of Granada was the only independent Muslim realm in Spain, which survived until by becoming a vassal state to Castile, to which it paid tribute.

Considered by most to have been the first mercenary company in Western Europe, the Catalan Company proceeded to occupy the Frankish Duchy of Athens , which they placed under the protection of a prince of the House of Aragon and ruled until Medieval Spain was the scene of almost constant warfare between Muslims and Christians. The Taifa kingdoms lost ground to the Christian realms in the north. After the loss of Toledo in , the Muslim rulers reluctantly invited the Almoravides , who invaded Al-Andalus from North Africa and established an empire. In the 12th century the Almoravid empire broke up again, only to be taken over by the Almohad invasion, who were defeated by an alliance of the Christian kingdoms in the decisive Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in By , nearly all of Iberia was back under Christian rule with the exception of the Muslim kingdom of Granada.

In the 13th century, many languages were spoken in the Christian kingdoms of Iberia. Throughout the century, Castilian what is also known today as Spanish gained a growing prominence in the Kingdom of Castile as the language of culture and communication, at the expense of Leonese and of other close dialects. One example of this is the oldest preserved Castilian epic poem, Cantar de Mio Cid , written about the military leader El Cid. In the last years of the reign of Ferdinand III of Castile , Castilian began to be used for certain types of documents, and it was during the reign of Alfonso X that it became the official language.

Henceforth all public documents were written in Castilian; likewise all translations were made into Castilian instead of Latin. At the same time, Catalan and Galician became the standard languages in their respective territories, developing important literary traditions and being the normal languages in which public and private documents were issued: Galician from the 13th to the 16th century in Galicia and nearby regions of Asturias and Leon, [27] and Catalan from the 12th to the 18th century in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencia, where it was known as Valencian.

Both languages were later substituted in its official status by Castilian Spanish, till the 20th century. Some, such as the Leonese Salamanca and the Castilian Palencia, were among the earliest universities in Europe. In the 15th century, the most important among all of the separate Christian kingdoms that made up the old Hispania were the Kingdom of Castile occupying northern and central portions of the Iberian Peninsula , the Kingdom of Aragon occupying northeastern portions of the peninsula , and the Kingdom of Portugal occupying the far western Iberian Peninsula.

The rulers of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon were allied with dynastic families in Portugal, France, and other neighboring kingdoms. Isabella retained the throne and ruled jointly with her husband, King Ferdinand II. Isabella and Ferdinand had married in [28] in Valladolid. Their marriage united both crowns and set the stage for the creation of the Kingdom of Spain, at the dawn of the modern era. That union, however, was a union in title only, as each region retained its own political and judicial structure.

Pursuant to an agreement signed by Isabella and Ferdinand on January 15, , [29] Isabella held more authority over the newly unified Spain than her husband, although their rule was shared. The monarchs oversaw the final stages of the Reconquista of Iberian territory from the Moors with the conquest of Granada , conquered the Canary Islands , and expelled the Jews from Spain under the Alhambra Decree. Over the next century, half of the estimated 80, Spanish Jews converted to Christianity becoming " conversos ". Depending on different sources, the number of Jews actually expelled, traditionally estimated at , people, is now believed to have numbered about 40, Over the following decades, Muslims faced the same fate; and about 60 years after the Jews, they were also compelled to convert " Moriscos " or be expelled.

Jews and Muslims were not the only people to be persecuted during this time period. All Roma Gitano, Gypsy males between the ages of 18 and 26 were forced to serve in galleys — which was equivalent to a death sentence — but the majority managed to hide and avoid arrest [ citation needed ]. Isabella ensured long-term political stability in Spain by arranging strategic marriages for each of her five children. Her firstborn, a daughter named Isabella , married Afonso of Portugal , forging important ties between these two neighboring countries and hopefully ensuring future alliance, but Isabella soon died before giving birth to an heir.

This ensured an alliance with the Habsburgs and the Holy Roman Empire , a powerful, far-reaching territory that assured Spain's future political security. Isabella's only son, Juan , married Margaret of Austria , further strengthening ties with the Habsburg dynasty. Isabella's fourth child, Maria , married Manuel I of Portugal , strengthening the link forged by her older sister's marriage.

The Castilian conquest of the Canary Islands , inhabited by Guanche people, took place between with the conquest of Lanzarote and with the conquest of Tenerife. Two periods can be distinguished in this process: the noble conquest, carried out by the nobility in exchange for a pact of vassalage, and the royal conquest, carried out directly by the Crown, during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs. Isabella and Ferdinand authorized the expedition of Christopher Columbus , who became the first known European to reach the New World since Leif Ericson.

This and subsequent expeditions led to an influx of wealth into Spain, supplementing income from within Castile for the state that would prove to be a dominant power of Europe for the next two centuries. Melilla was occupied in , Oran in , Larache in , and Ceuta was annexed from the Portuguese in The Spanish Empire was the first global empire.

It was also one of the largest empires in world history. In the 16th century, Spain and Portugal were in the vanguard of European global exploration and colonial expansion. The two kingdoms on the conquest and Iberian Peninsula competed with each other in opening of trade routes across the oceans.

Spanish imperial conquest and colonization began with the Canary Islands in and In the 15th and 16th centuries, trade flourished across the Atlantic between Spain and the Americas and across the Pacific between East Asia and Mexico via the Philippines. Spanish Conquistadors , operating privately, deposed the Aztec , Inca and Maya governments with extensive help from local factions and took control of vast stretches of land.

This New World empire was at first a disappointment, as the natives had little to trade. Diseases such as smallpox and measles that arrived with the colonizers devastated the native populations, especially in the densely populated regions of the Aztec, Maya and Inca civilizations, and this reduced the economic potential of conquered areas. Estimates of the pre-Columbian population of the Americas vary but possibly stood at million—one fifth of humanity in Between and the population of the Americas was halved.

In Mexico alone, it has been estimated that the pre-conquest population of around 25 million people was reduced within 80 years to about 1. These silver shipments re-oriented the Spanish economy, leading to the importation of luxuries and grain. The resource-rich colonies of Spain thus caused large cash inflows for the country. Spain enjoyed a cultural golden age in the 16th and 17th centuries.

For a time, the Spanish Empire dominated the oceans with its experienced navy and ruled the European battlefield with its fearsome and well trained infantry, the famous tercios. The financial burden within the peninsula was on the backs of the peasant class while the nobility enjoyed an increasingly lavish lifestyle.

From the time beginning with the incorporation of the Portuguese Empire in lost in until the loss of its American colonies in the 19th century, Spain maintained one of the largest empires in the world even though it suffered military and economic misfortunes from the s. Religion played a very strong role in the spread of the Spanish empire. The thought that Spain could bring Christianity to the New World and protect Catholicism in Europe certainly played a strong role in the expansion of Spain's empire. Spain's world empire reached its greatest territorial extent in the late 18th century but it was under the Habsburg dynasty in the 16th and 17th centuries it reached the peak of its power and declined.

The Iberian Union with Portugal meant that the monarch of Castile was also the monarch of Portugal, but they were ruled as separate entities both on the peninsula and in Spanish America and Brazil. In , the House of Braganza revolted against Spanish rule and reasserted Portugal's independence. Philip treated Castile as the foundation of his empire, but the population of Castile about a third of France's was never large enough to provide the soldiers needed to support the Empire. His marriage to Mary Tudor allied England with Spain. In the s, plans to consolidate control of the Netherlands led to unrest, which gradually led to the Calvinist leadership of the revolt and the Eighty Years' War.

The Dutch armies waged a war of maneuver and siege , successfully avoiding set piece battles. This conflict consumed much Spanish expenditure during the later 16th century. Other extremely expensive failures included an attempt to invade Protestant England in that produced the worst military disaster in Spanish history when the Spanish Armada —costing 10 million ducats—was scattered by a freak storm. Over 8, English sailors died from diseases such as dysentery and typhus while the Spanish Armada was at sea.

Economic and administrative problems multiplied in Castile , and the weakness of the native economy became evident in the following century. Rising inflation , financially draining wars in Europe, the ongoing aftermath of the expulsion of the Jews and Moors from Spain, and Spain's growing dependency on the silver imports, combined to cause several bankruptcies that caused economic crisis in the country, especially in heavily burdened Castile. Altogether more than 1,, deaths resulted from the extreme incidence of plague in 17th-century Spain.

Arts during the Golden Age flourished despite the decline of the empire in the 17th century. The Habsburgs , both in Spain and Austria, were great patrons of art in their countries. El Escorial , the great royal monastery built by King Philip II , invited the attention of some of Europe's greatest architects and painters.

El Greco , a respected Greek artist from the period, settled in Spain, and infused Spanish art with the styles of the Italian renaissance and helped create a uniquely Spanish style of painting.

Spanish NGO rescues migrants in Mediterranean

Some of Spain's greatest music is regarded as having been written in the period. Spanish literature blossomed as well, most famously demonstrated in the work of Miguel de Cervantes , the author of Don Quixote de la Mancha. Spain's most prolific playwright, Lope de Vega , wrote possibly as many as one thousand plays over his lifetime, over four hundred of which survive to the present day.

Spain had experienced severe financial difficulties in the later 16th century, that had caused the Spanish Crown to declare bankruptcy four times in the late s , , , However, the constant financial strain did not prevent the rise of Spanish power throughout the 16th century. Many different factors—excessive warfare, inefficient taxation, a succession of weak kings in the 17th century, power struggles in the Spanish court—contributed to the decline of the Habsburg Spain in the second half of the 17th century.

In his reign — a ten-year truce with the Dutch was overshadowed in by Spain's involvement in the European-wide Thirty Years' War. Government policy was dominated by favorites, but it was also the period in which the geniuses of Cervantes and El Greco flourished.

Much of the policy was conducted by the Count-Duke of Olivares. The Count-Duke of Olivares was the inept prime minister from to He over-exerted Spain in foreign affairs and unsuccessfully attempted domestic reform. His attempts to centralise power and increase wartime taxation led to revolts in Catalonia and in Portugal, which brought about his downfall. During the Thirty Years' War, in which various Protestant forces battled Imperial armies, France provided subsidies to Habsburg enemies, especially Sweden.

The open war with Spain started with a promising victory for the French at Les Avins in The following year Spanish forces based in the Southern Netherlands hit back with devastating lightning campaigns in northern France that left French forces reeling and the economy of the region in tatters. After , however, Olivares, fearful of provoking another disastrous bankruptcy, stopped the advance. In , both Portugal and Catalonia rebelled. Portugal was lost to the crown for good; in northern Italy and most of Catalonia, French forces were expelled and Catalonia's independence was suppressed.

In , the French defeated one of Spain's best armies at Rocroi , northern France. During the long regency for Charles II , the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, favouritism milked Spain's treasury, and Spain's government operated principally as a dispenser of patronage. Plague, famine, floods, drought, and renewed war with France wasted the country. The Peace of the Pyrenees had ended fifty years of warfare with France, whose king, Louis XIV , found the temptation to exploit a weakened Spain too great.

Spanish-American War

Louis instigated the War of Devolution —68 to acquire the Spanish Netherlands. By the 17th century, the Catholic Church and Spain had showcased a close bond to one another, attesting to the fact that Spain was virtually free of Protestantism during the 16th century. The Spanish bureaucracy in this period was highly centralized, and totally reliant on the king for its efficient functioning.

Under Charles II, the councils became the sinecures of wealthy aristocrats despite various attempt at reform. Political commentators in Spain, known as arbitristas , proposed a number of measures to reverse the decline of the Spanish economy, with limited success. In rural areas of Spain, heavy taxation of peasants reduced agricultural output as peasants in the countryside migrated to the cities. The influx of silver from the Americas has been cited as the cause of inflation, although only one fifth of the precious metal, i. A prominent internal factor was the Spanish economy's dependence on the export of luxurious Merino wool , which had its markets in northern Europe reduced by war and growing competition from cheaper textiles.

The once proud Spanish army was falling far behind its foes.

It did badly at Bergen op Zoom in , and finance was not to blame. The Dutch won very easily at Hertogenbosch and Wesel in In the Dutch captured the strategic fortress town of Maastricht , repulsing three relief armies and dooming the Spanish to defeat. While Spain built a rich American Empire that exported a silver treasure fleet every year, it was unable to focus its financial, military, and diplomatic power on building up its Spanish base. The Crown's dedication to destroying Protestantism through almost constant warfare created a cultural ethos among Spanish leaders that undermined the opportunity for economic modernization or industrialization.

When Philip II died in , his treasury spent most of its income on funding the huge deficit, which continued to grow. In peninsular Spain, the productive forces were undermined by steady inflation, heavy taxation, immigration of ambitious youth to the colonies, and by depopulation.

Planning and Propaganda

Industry went into reverse — Seville in operated looms, where it had 16, a century before. Religiosity led by saints and mystics, missionaries and crusaders, theologians and friars dominated Spanish culture, with the psychology of a reward in the next world. Palmer and Colton argue:. Elliott cites the achievements of Castille in many areas, especially high culture. He finds: [47]. The Habsburg dynasty became extinct in Spain with Charles II's death in , and the War of the Spanish Succession ensued in which the other European powers tried to assume control of the Spanish monarchy.

They allowed the crown of Spain to pass to the Bourbon dynasty , provided Spain and France would never be merged. Charles II , having no direct heir, was succeeded by his great-nephew Philippe d'Anjou , a French prince, in Concern among other European powers that Spain and France united under a single Bourbon monarch would upset the balance of power led to the War of the Spanish Succession between and However, Philip was compelled to renounce for himself and his descendants any right to the French throne, despite some doubts as to the lawfulness of such an act.

Spain's Italian territories were apportioned. Philip V signed the Decreto de Nueva Planta in This new law revoked most of the historical rights and privileges of the different kingdoms that formed the Spanish Crown, especially the Crown of Aragon , unifying them under the laws of Castile, where the Castilian Cortes Generales had been more receptive to the royal wish.

Lynch says Philip V advanced the government only marginally over that of his predecessors and was more of a liability than the incapacitated Charles II; when a conflict came up between the interests of Spain and France, he usually favored France. Philip made reforms in government, and strengthened the central authorities relative to the provinces. Merit became more important, although most senior positions still went to the landed aristocracy.

Below the elite level, inefficiency and corruption was as widespread as ever. Israel says, "Only a few ministers and officials were seriously committed to enlightened aims. Most were first and foremost absolutists and their objective was always to reinforce monarchy, empire, aristocracy The economy, on the whole, improved over the depressed — era, with greater productivity and fewer famines and epidemics.

Elisabeth of Parma , Philip V's wife, exerted great influence on Spain's foreign policy. Her principal aim was to have Spain's lost territories in Italy restored. Spanish troops then invaded Sicily. The aggression prompted the Holy Roman Empire to form a new pact with the members of the Triple Alliance , resulting in the Quadruple Alliance of All members demanded Spanish retreat from Sardinia and Sicily, resulting in war by December The war lasted two years and resulted in a rout of the Spanish.

Hostilities ceased with the Treaty of The Hague in February In this settlement, Philip V abandoned all claims on Italy. Fearing that Britain's victory over France in the Seven Years' War —63 threatened the European balance of power , Spain allied itself to France and invaded Portugal , a British ally, but suffered a series of military defeats and ended up having to cede Florida to the British at the Treaty of Paris while gaining Louisiana from France.

Spain regained Florida with the Treaty of Paris , which ended the American Revolutionary War —83 , and gained an improved international standing. However, there were no reforming impulses in the reign of Charles IV to abdication in , seen by some as mentally handicapped. After briefly opposing Revolutionary France early in the French Revolutionary Wars , Spain was cajoled into an uneasy alliance with its northern neighbor, only to be blockaded by the British. Charles IV's vacillation, culminating in his failure to honour the alliance by neglecting to enforce the Continental System , led to the invasion of Spain in under Napoleon I , Emperor of the French, thereby triggering the Peninsular War , with enormous human and property losses, and loss of control over most of the overseas empire.

During most of the 18th century Spain had arrested its relative decline of the latter part of the 17th century. But despite the progress, it continued to lag in the political and mercantile developments then transforming other parts of Europe, most notably in Great Britain, the Low Countries, and France. The chaos unleashed by the Peninsular War caused this gap to widen greatly and Spain would not have an Industrial Revolution.

The Age of Enlightenment reached Spain in attenuated form about Attention focused on medicine and physics, with some philosophy. French and Italian visitors were influential but there was little challenge to Catholicism or the Church such as characterized the French philosophes. He was a successful popularizer noted for encouraging scientific and empirical thought in an effort to debunk myths and superstitions.

By the s the conservatives had launched a counterattack and used censorship and the Inquisition to suppress Enlightenment ideas. At the top of the social structure of Spain in the s stood the nobility and the church. A few hundred families dominated the aristocracy, with another , holding noble status. There were , church men and women, half of them in heavily endowed monasteries that controlled much of the land not owned by the nobles.

Most people were on farms, either as landless peons or as holders of small properties. The small urban middle class was growing, but was distrusted by the landowners and peasants alike. In the late 18th century, Bourbon-ruled Spain had an alliance with Bourbon-ruled France, and therefore did not have to fear a land war. Its only serious enemy was Britain, which had a powerful navy; Spain therefore concentrated its resources on its navy. When the French Revolution overthrew the Bourbons, a land war with France became a threat which the king tried to avoid.

The Spanish army was ill-prepared. The officer corps was selected primarily on the basis of royal patronage, rather than merit. About a third of the junior officers had been promoted from the ranks, and while they did have talent they had few opportunities for promotion or leadership. The rank-and-file were poorly trained peasants. Elite units included foreign regiments of Irishmen, Italians, Swiss, and Walloons , in addition to elite artillery and engineering units.

Equipment was old-fashioned and in disrepair. The army lacked its own horses, oxen and mules for transportation, so these auxiliaries were operated by civilians, who might run away if conditions looked bad. In combat, small units fought well, but their old-fashioned tactics were hardly of use against the Napoleonic forces, despite repeated desperate efforts at last-minute reform. Leading generals were assassinated, and the army proved incompetent to handle command-and-control. Junior officers from peasant families deserted and went over to the insurgents; many units disintegrated.

Spain was unable to mobilize its artillery or cavalry. Conditions steadily worsened, as the insurgents increasingly took control of Spain's battle against Napoleon. Napoleon ridiculed the army as "the worst in Europe"; the British who had to work with it agreed. The morale of the army had reached a nadir, and reformers stripped the aristocratic officers of most of their legal privileges.

Spain initially sided against France in the Napoleonic Wars , but the defeat of her army early in the war led to Charles IV 's pragmatic decision to align with the revolutionary French. A major Franco-Spanish fleet was lost at the Battle of Trafalgar in , prompting the vacillating king of Spain to reconsider his difficult alliance with Napoleon. Spain temporarily broke off from the Continental System , and Napoleon — irritated with the Bourbon kings of Spain — invaded Spain in and deposed Ferdinand VII , who had been on the throne only forty-eight days after his father's abdication in March On July 20, , Joseph Bonaparte , eldest brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, entered Madrid and established a government by which he became King of Spain, serving as a surrogate for Napoleon.

The former Spanish king was dethroned by Napoleon, who put his own brother on the throne. Spaniards revolted. Thompson says the Spanish revolt was, "a reaction against new institutions and ideas, a movement for loyalty to the old order: to the hereditary crown of the Most Catholic kings, which Napoleon, an excommunicated enemy of the Pope, had put on the head of a Frenchman; to the Catholic Church persecuted by republicans who had desecrated churches, murdered priests, and enforced a "loi des cultes"; and to local and provincial rights and privileges threatened by an efficiently centralized government.

On September 26, , a Central Junta was formed in the town of Aranjuez to coordinate the nationwide struggle against the French. On February 22 and 23, , a popular insurrection against the French occupation broke out all over Spain. The peninsular campaign was a disaster for France. Napoleon did well when he was in direct command, but that followed severe losses, and when he left in conditions grew worse for France. Vicious reprisals, famously portrayed by Goya in " The Disasters of War ", only made the Spanish guerrillas angrier and more active; the war in Spain proved to be a major, long-term drain on French money, manpower and prestige.

This constitution provided for a separation of the powers of the executive and the legislative branches of government. The Cortes was to be elected by universal suffrage, albeit by an indirect method. Each member of the Cortes was to represent 70, people. Members of the Cortes were to meet in annual sessions. The King was prevented from either convening or proroguing the Cortes. Members of the Cortes were to serve single two-year terms. They could not serve consecutive terms; a member could serve a second term only by allowing someone else to serve a single intervening term in office.

This attempt at the development of a modern constitutional government lasted from until Born in , Floridablanca was eighty years of age at the time of the revolutionary outbreak in He had served as Prime Minister under King Charles III of Spain from until ; However, he tended to be suspicious of the popular spontaneity and resisted a revolution. A writer and follower of the philosophers of the Enlightenment tradition of the previous century, Jovellanos had served as Minister of Justice from to and now commanded a substantial and influential group within the Central Junta.

However, Jovellanos had been imprisoned by Manuel de Godoy, Duke of Alcudia , who had served as the prime minister, virtually running the country as a dictator from until and from until Accordingly, even Jovellanos tended to be somewhat overly cautious in his approach to the revolutionary upsurge that was sweeping Spain in Napoleon took personal charge and with fresh forces reconquered Spain in a matter of months, defeating the Spanish and British armies in a brilliant campaign of encirclement. After this the Spanish armies lost every battle they fought against the French imperial forces but were never annihilated; after battles they would retreat into the mountains to regroup and launch new attacks and raids.

Guerrilla forces sprang up all over the country and, with the army, tied down huge numbers of Napoleon's troops, making it difficult to sustain concentrated attacks on enemy forces. The attacks and raids of the Spanish army and guerrillas became a massive drain on Napoleon's military and economic resources. The brutal war was one of the first guerrilla wars in modern Western history.

French supply lines stretching across Spain were mauled repeatedly by the Spanish armies and guerrilla forces; thereafter, Napoleon's armies were never able to control much of the country. The war fluctuated, with Wellington spending several years behind his fortresses in Portugal while launching occasional campaigns into Spain. After Napoleon's disastrous campaign in Russia, Napoleon began to recall his forces for the defence of France against the advancing Russian and other coalition forces, leaving his forces in Spain increasingly undermanned and on the defensive against the advancing Spanish, British and Portuguese armies.

Spain lost all of its North and South American colonies, except Cuba and Puerto Rico, in a complex series of revolts — Trade was handled by American and Dutch traders. The colonies thus had achieved economic independence from Spain, and set up temporary governments or juntas which were generally out of touch with the mother country. After , as Napoleon was defeated and Ferdinand VII was back on the throne, the king sent armies to regain control and reimpose autocratic rule. In the next phase —16, Spain defeated all the uprising. A second round —25 was successful and drove the Spanish out of all of its mainland holdings.

Spain had no help from European powers. Indeed, Britain and the United States worked against it. When they were cut off from Spain, the colonies saw a struggle for power between Spaniards who were born in Spain called "peninsulares" and those of Spanish descent born in New Spain called "creoles". The creoles were the activists for independence. Multiple revolutions enabled the colonies to break free of the mother country. After that Spain played a minor role in international affairs.

Business and trade in the ex-colonies were under British control. The Napoleonic wars had severe negative effects on Spain's long-term economic development.


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The Peninsular war ravaged towns and countryside alike, and the demographic impact was the worst of any Spanish war, with a sharp decline in population in many areas caused by casualties, outmigration, and disruption of family life. The marauding armies seized farmers' crops, and more importantly, farmers lost much of their livestock, their main capital asset. Severe poverty became widespread, reducing market demand, while the disruption of local and international trade, and the shortages of critical inputs, seriously hurt industry and services.

The loss of a vast colonial empire reduced Spain's overall wealth, and by it had become one of Europe's poorest and least-developed societies; three-fourths of the people were illiterate. There was little industry beyond the production of textiles in Catalonia. Natural resources, such as coal and iron, were available for exploitation, but the transportation system was rudimentary, with few canals or navigable rivers, and road travel was slow and expensive. British railroad builders were pessimistic about the potential for freight and passenger traffic and did not invest.

Eventually a small railway system was built, radiating from Madrid and bypassing the natural resources. The government relied on high tariffs, especially on grain, which further slowed economic development. For example, eastern Spain was unable to import inexpensive Italian wheat, and had to rely on expensive homegrown products carted in over poor roads.

The export market collapsed apart from some agricultural products. Catalonia had some industry, but Castile remained the political and cultural center, and was not interested in promoting industry. Although the juntas , that had forced the French to leave Spain, had sworn by the liberal Constitution of , Ferdinand VII had the support of conservatives and he rejected it.

The government, nearly bankrupt, was unable to pay her soldiers. There were few settlers or soldiers in Florida, so it was sold to the United States for 5 million dollars. In , an expedition intended for the colonies revolted in Cadiz. When armies throughout Spain pronounced themselves in sympathy with the revolters, led by Rafael del Riego , Ferdinand relented and was forced to accept the liberal Constitution of This was the start of the second bourgeois revolution in Spain, the trienio liberal which would last from to The tumultuous three years of liberal rule that followed —23 were marked by various absolutist conspiracies.

The liberal government, which reminded European statesmen entirely too much of the governments of the French Revolution, was viewed with hostility by the Congress of Verona in , and France was authorized to intervene. France crushed the liberal government with massive force in the so-called " Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis " expedition, and Ferdinand was restored as absolute monarch in In Spain proper, this marked the end of the second Spanish bourgeois revolution.

In Spain, the failure of the second bourgeois revolution was followed by a period of uneasy peace for the next decade. Having borne only a female heir presumptive, it appeared that Ferdinand would be succeeded by his brother, Infante Carlos of Spain. While Ferdinand aligned with the conservatives, fearing another national insurrection, he did not view Carlos's reactionary policies as a viable option.

Ferdinand — resisting the wishes of his brother — decreed the Pragmatic Sanction of , enabling his daughter Isabella to become Queen. Carlos, who made known his intent to resist the sanction, fled to Portugal. Isabella was only three years old at the time so her mother, Maria Cristina of Bourbon-Two Sicilies , was named regent until her daughter came of age. Carlos invaded the Basque country in the north of Spain and attracted support from absolutist reactionaries and conservatives; these forces were known as the "Carlist" forces.

The supporters of reform and of limitations on the absolutist rule of the Spanish throne rallied behind Isabella and the regent, Maria Christina; these reformists were called "Cristinos. The Cristinos found a capable general in Baldomero Espartero. His victory at the Battle of Luchana turned the tide of the war, and in , the Convention of Vergara put an end to the first Carlist insurrection.

The progressive General Espartero , exploiting his popularity as a war hero and his sobriquet "Pacifier of Spain", demanded liberal reforms from Maria Cristina. The Queen Regent, who resisted any such idea, preferred to resign and let Espartero become regent instead in Espartero's liberal reforms were then opposed by moderates, and the former general's heavy-handedness caused a series of sporadic uprisings throughout the country from various quarters, all of which were bloodily suppressed.

Another Carlist uprising, the Matiners' War , was launched in in Catalonia , but it was poorly organized and suppressed by Isabella II of Spain took a more active role in government after coming of age, but she was immensely unpopular throughout her reign — She was viewed as beholden to whoever was closest to her at court, and the people of Spain believed that she cared little for them.

As the result of the popular insurrection, the Partido Progresista Progressive Party obtained widespread support in Spain and came to power in the government in Isabella's plan failed and cost Isabella more prestige and favor with the people. In , Isabella launched a successful war against Morocco , waged by generals O'Donnell and Juan Prim that stabilized her popularity in Spain.


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Alongside the French, Spain intervened elsewhere in Cochinchina —63 and Mexico — And both are Latin, Mediterranean and used to taking siestas. But now Spain and Italy are converging in a new way. For much of the past decade Spain's economy has been growing at around twice the EU average. If you account for the black economy Italy does, Spain does not , Spaniards might be richer already. Yes, such claims should be treated with scepticism: in the mids, Italy boasted loudly and prematurely of overtaking Britain.

But Spain's economy is already as big as Canada's which is, like Italy, a G8 member. Spain's new prosperity is the product of long preparation. Compared with other big European countries, Spain has a less generous welfare state. Unlike Italy, it has marginalised its Communist party, which has no base in the trade unions. Trade unions are moderate: they have accepted flexible short-term labour contracts, which French unions resist fiercely. But when compared with Italy, two features stand out.

One is the Spanish preference for single-coloured, enduring governments, despite a proportional voting system that favours regional parties. The second is a deep-seated respect for fiscal orthodoxy. Budget discipline was built into the post-Franco settlement of The two features are closely related. Spain tends to have longer-lived, solid governments; Italy has shaky coalitions.

The Socialists can play minor parties, mostly regional ones which a share the state religion of good housekeeping and b want more regional power, off against each other. If it needs to, the ruling party can drum up regional support by offering devolution that does not compromise fiscal austerity. The contrast is especially sharp right at this moment. Both Spain and Italy are in the process of pushing their annual budgets through parliament. In Italy the government agreed a spending plan unanimously at cabinet level. But when it went to parliament, there were 7, amendments, of which no fewer than 3, came from the ruling coalition.

In Italy party and budget discipline alike seem unknown. In Spain they reinforce each other. Of course, not everything is rosy in the garden of Spain.

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The fiscal situation is worse than it looks because two-thirds of public debt, attributable to regional governments, is not accounted for. Compared with Italy, Spain has few internationally competitive small firms. Like Italy, Spain is stuck with high-cost, low-productivity businesses that are vulnerable to Chinese competition; poor schools; and low spending on research and development.

Moreover, the political deal by which regional parties support economic stability may be limited. Spain has the most devolved political system in Europe outside Belgium; at some point the Madrid government, especially the finance ministry, will conclude that it has gone far enough and is costing enough. Overall, however, economic success has produced a change in the public temperament of a country comparable only with that of Germany after the second world war, says Pedro Schwartz, a professor at the San Pablo CEU University in Madrid.

Italy was the model of a modernising Mediterranean state. Now Spain has self-confidence on steroids. Spanish companies are on acquisition sprees, first in Latin America, now in Europe. Two of Europe's top ten business schools are in Spain; Zara, one of the world's fastest-growing retailers, is based in Galicia.