the decline of spain in the seventeenth century

They not only united “Spain” by bringing together, very loosely, these disparate territories, but they also conquered the last Islamic realm (Granddad) In Iberia, supported Columbus’ Atlantic voyages, and extended Spanish dominion in north Africa and Italy. In 1516, this inheritance passed to their grandson, the Hapsburg Charles I of Spain (1 516-56), the future Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Forty years later, Spain, Spanish Italy (Naples, Sicily, Sardinia and Milan the Spanish Low Countries (Flanders.

Luxembourg and France Coma©) and an expanding Spanish America (“the Indies”) from which resigned were excluded and which was yielding growing revenues, passed to Charlie’s son, Philip II (1556-98), under whom Spanish power and influence reached new heights, Phillip secured Portugal and Its empire In 1580-1 and In 1588 launched an attempt to conquer England – the Spanish Armada – which almost succeeded.

Nevertheless, the Armada’s failure is widely regarded as a turning point, the beginning of a decline which became pronounced in the seventeenth century. Spanish forces continued to win victories In the asses and asses, In the Thirty Years War, but In 1639 another Spanish fleet, convoying troops to Flanders was destroyed if the English coast; a few years later, in 1643, Spain’s Army of Flanders suffered defeat in France at Rococo. For many historians, this finally extinguished Spanish military power. Imperial retreat followed.

In 1648, after a near eighty-year struggle to suppress the Dutch Revolt in the Low Countries, Philip IV (1621?65) acknowledged the independence at last of the Dutch Republic; in 1655, the English admiral Blake seized the island of Jamaica; while further losses were sustained inside and outside Europe in the following decades. The rise and apparent decline of Spain can be pursued In he State Papers (mainly In series SP 94), drawing above all on the dispatches of successive English diplomats resident (often for long periods) at the Spanish Court. Unfortunately, these records do not cover the whole of the period, reflecting the fact that for years at a time diplomatic relations were broken off; most obviously in wartime. It also has to be said that some of those diplomats, for example, Alexander Stanhope In the asses, had a largely jaundiced view of Spain, Its government and people, such that what they write about monarch, ministers and subjects cannot always be taken at face value; some others, however, were more sympathetic.

Whatever their personal opinions, successive diplomats were expected to provide their own Court with the ‘correct’ Intelligence regarding Spain and Its material resources which would enable monarch and ministers at home to formulate an those reports – and those of the many English consuls resident in Spanish ports, and in those of other parts of the Spanish monarchy, notably Naples and Sicily (SP 93) – offer an invaluable and hitherto largely untapped insight into Spain’s difficult seventeenth century. [l] The setbacks suffered by Spain from c. 90 (above) owed something to some serious domestic problems. Whereas the sixteenth century had been a period of remarkable population growth, the seventeenth was one of demographic decline. Serious outbreaks of plague around 1600, which returned with less intensity at various times between 1600 and 1700, and the expulsion of the morocco’s, Christianizes Moors, between 1609 and 1614 contributed to a fall in numbers which struck foreign observers. [2] The declining population helped depress Spain’s economy.

Once prosperous industrial towns (Granddad, Segovia, rolled) decayed as their key industries fell into difficulty. For its part, Seville, which had prospered greatly in the sixteenth century as the hub of the Indies trade, suffered from the silting up of the river Quadrangular – the trade re-locating to Cadis later in the seventeenth century?and from a depression in the Indies trade from about 1620. One consequence of that recession was that less bullion was being remitted to Spain for the king, or for the merchants trading with the Indies. Spanish agriculture, too, was in growing difficulty.

The government in Spain, short of revenue for its expensive imperial projects, increased the fiscal burden and manipulated the nonage, triggering inflation and further damaging the Spanish economy. The picture Nas less gloomy in some parts of Spain than in others – the coastal periphery suffered less than the interior, Old and New Castle – but a sense that things were not right in Spain stimulated a Nave of commentators, the so-called arbitrates who sought, often in print, to diagnose and propose solutions to Spain’s (or rather Castle’s) travails.

The existence of this group was among the most distinctive cultural or intellectual consequences of recession in Spain, although it is possible that historians have been too influenced by he somber picture painted by these arbitrates. These difficulties exacerbated, and Newer in turn sharpened by political difficulties within the Spanish monarchy.

As early as the asses, the kings favorite, the count duke of Olivares, recognizing that a depopulated and recession-hit Castle could no longer bear unaided the great burden of empire, devised the so-called “Union of Arms”, to spread that load more Model. Unfortunately for Olivares and king Philip ‘V, this blueprint for greater Imperial unity threatened the near autonomy enjoyed by most of the non-Castling alms ever since the essentially dynastic and personal “unification” of Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella (above).

Especially problematic was the response of the principality of Catalonia (whose ability to contribute was over-estimated by Olivares), Inch in 1640 revolted and eventually accepted the sovereignty of the king of France, Louis XIII. For similar reasons, the kingdom of Portugal also resented the failure of the Court of Madrid to protect its overseas empire (in the East Indies but above all Brazil) against Dutch encroachment and the intrusion of Spaniards into office in Portugal in reach of the terms of Philip Sis’s accession to the throne in 1580-1.

In December 1640, the duke of Brazen, Portugal senior aristocrat, took advantage of Philip Avis Spanish king was fighting to restore his authority in Portugal, in a conflict which caused devastation in those parts of Spain bordering Portugal (Galatia, Castle, Extramural and Andalusia), until in 1668 the Court of Madrid finally recognized Portugal independence. In the meantime, the loss of, and war in, Catalonia and Portugal increased the pressure on the other territories of the Spanish monarchy, romping further (short-lived) revolts in Naples and Sicily (1647-48) and even some disturbance in the Indies.

In the later asses it looked to many outside observers as if the Spanish monarchy was disintegrating,[3] its difficulties compounded by the fact that its elite appeared to have lost the martial qualities which had underpinned Spanish success the previous century. [4] In fact the monarchy survived. Remarkably, and rather curiously, Castle, still bearing the main burden, was relatively quiet. Naples and Sicily were both recovered within a reasonably short period of time, and n 1652, the Catalane decided that they preferred the lighter touch of the Hapsburg to the heavier hand of the French monarchy.

Nevertheless, the Court of Madrid had to abandon its plans to exact more from Catalonia. Historians have identified what has been called a “neo-formal” regime in operation for the rest of the century, one in Inch Madrid accepted that it must respect the ferrous, or customary laws, practices and privileges, and De facto autonomy and fiscal exemption, of the Crown of Argon. Irish shift in the balance between centre and periphery, which also meant greater autonomy for Spanish America, may have weakened Madras’s ability to assert itself in Europe. But other factors were also at work.

Seventeenth-century Spain was the age of the “lesser Hapsburg” – Philip Ill (1598-1621), Philip ‘V, and Charles II (1665-1700) – who are widely thought to have been less able and less energetic than Ferdinand and Isabella, Charles V and Philip II. Philip Ill was the first to rely on a new feature of the Spanish political scene, the royal favorite or valid, the first being the duke of Alarm. [5] Philip Avis valid from c. 1620 was Olivares until the latter’s fall in 1643. Philip sought to rule without a valid thereafter. However, new problems arose in the reign of Phillips son and successor, Charles II.

For one thing, Charles succeeded as a four year old child. As with royal minorities everywhere, it encouraged a struggle for power. Unfortunately, the Regent, Charles’ mother, Marina of Austria, sought aid in government from two favorites. The first, the Austrian Jesuit, Nitrate was effectively expelled from Spain (1669) following the machinations of another new and disturbing element in Spanish politics, Philip Avis bastard son, Don Juan of Austria, who had been emitted by his father from the Regency and who resented his exclusion.

To achieve power, Don Juan exploited the contemporaneous Spanish defeat at the hands of Louis XIV in the so-called War of Devolution, 1667-8. Following Nitrate’s fall, Marina continued to exclude Don Juan from power and favored instead the relatively obscure Fernando Valuable. Valueless rise to the position of chief minister and grandee status again provoked Don Juan and his supporters who exploited resentment at renewed defeat at French hands in Louis Xiv so-called “Dutch Near” (1672-78).

In a palace coup (1676), Don Juan ousted Valuable and became briefly (dying in 1679) chief minister of his half-brother. These were remarkable events, the monarch a helpless observer of a power struggle transformation of Spain’s domestic and international position since c. 1580. Charlie’s achievement of his majority in 1675 did not much improve matters. He enjoys a very poor historical reputation. Besides being dismissed as not very intelligent – some even dismiss him as an imbecile or idiot – he was unable to provide Spanish government with the energetic direction which it needed in difficult circumstances. ] His weakness encouraged factionalism among the nobility, which seemed to be the real power in Spain. [7] In addition, his inability to father a child by either of his two wives, Anne-Marie of France (d. 1689) and Marina of Newbury – prompting some to suggest that he was bewitched, (hence the name by which Charles is widely known in Spain, el Highroad) and triggering a bizarre meeting between the king and an Italian exorcist – encouraged further factionalism as his Court divided between the rival foreign claimants, Austrian Hapsburg and French Bourbons, for the Spanish

Succession; a problem which focused international attention on Spain in the years preceding Charles’ death in 1700. The Spanish monarchy, once the arbiter of international affairs, was now the passive, impotent object of international diplomacy. 18] For some Spaniards setbacks of this sort, combined with those at home, may have suggested that a God who had favored the rise of Spain earlier had now turned against it.

But the decline of Spain, like that of all dominant powers, was in some respects relative, simply the other side of the coin of the emergence, or re-emergence f other powers whose previous weakness had enabled Spain to take a lead and to rise in the first place. In the great age of Spanish success, the later sixteenth (and the early seventeenth century), for example, France had been river by religious civil war, as it was later by the domestic upheaval we know as the Fronded (1648-53).

However, the reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715) saw a remarkable recovery of France, which subsequently replaced the Spanish monarchy as the dominant power in Europe. Spain, however, was frequently on the receiving end of this remarkable French evil: in 1667-68 when it seemed that only the intervention of England, the Dutch and Sweden prevented the collapse of Spanish Flanders; in 1672-78 when France Coma© was lost to Louis as well as more of Flanders; and again in 1683-84 when Louis seized Luxembourg.

Louis Xiv vigorous government and personality contrasted remarkably with that of Charles II, while French culture replaced that of Spain which had been so influential c. 1600. Also relevant in this context was the emergence of England, briefly in the asses (the Commonwealth), and later, and more permanently, following the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Having said that, historians have been far too ready to write off seventeenth-century Spain, in part influenced by strengthener’s writers wishing to praise the new Bourbon dynasty for its supposed transformation of Spain.

It is increasingly clear that the multi-faceted domestic demographic and economic recession referred to earlier was not century long: it had largely bottomed out by the asses, after which a slow recovery began. In addition, one of the reasons other powers came to the rescue of Spain in 1667-8 and on later occasions was a concern that Spain should throw its still enormous sources into the struggle to restrain Louis XIV, who had replaced the king of Spain as the main threat to the European balance.

Those resources included substantial remittances of bullion from the Indies; indeed bullion imports in every decade after now, and long had been, the major beneficiaries of that trade despite their formal exclusion from it. Some foreign diplomats found it irksome that Spanish ministers continued to speak as if Spain was still the force it had been in the sixteenth century En in fact Spain clearly was not as powerful as before. 9] However, such language fleeted a real determination on the part of many in Spain to preserve reputation and empire. That attitude, which was also reflected in a distinctive, formal and slow- moving style of government which exasperated foreign commentators,[10] was an important factor in the remarkable resilience of the Spanish monarchy in this period, and helps explain why on Charles Sis’s death the global Spanish monarchy was still largely intact and a prize well worth fighting for in the War of the Spanish Succession.

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