Useful Notes: The Kingdom Of Spain

"For God, Spain and to make us rich!"
Quotes attributed to the Conquistadores.

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    The Spanish Empire 

The Spanish Empire, often refered to as the Spanish Colonial Empire, was the first of the European empires that began to apear in the course of the Modern Age, it being one of the most important players of Europe for the remainder of the XVI, XVII, XVIII and partially the XIX century.

A common misconception is that of the very adjective of Colonial, something that was spoken by the English, Dutch and French about the Empire in its overseas possessions and became internalized for the next centuries. The proper term of colony (which had changed its meaning frOM a neutral term to the derogative and negative conception of now) was never given to the territory in America, instead they were refered to as kingdoms, hence the need of Viceroys to administrate the territory.

Often an enemy of France until the rise of the Bourbons, but its longest and most regarded archnemesis was The British Empire, which in its beginnings was also meant to actively dry the Spanish of the gold they got from America.

The House of Trastamara

Isabel and Fernando, The Catholic Monarchs (1470s-1500s)

Unified the Peninsula (minus Portugal), undermined the power of aristocrats, renewed the army and put an end to both the Reconquista and the spanish Middle Ages. Also, they funded a certain Christopher Columbus for an extravagant new route to the Indias.


Why were the Spanish and Portuguese the ones to first sail to the New World? Why not France, England, The Ottoman Empire, or even beyond that, Ming China or the Mughals?

The reasons behind that are what is called amongst historians the Iberian Privilege: in the XIV century, a short coldening of the European climate affected all of northern Europe, producing shortages of food and famine across those regions and overpopulation of the cities; then came the Black Death, which went from northern Italy across all of the trade network of Europe.

You can guess what happened to the people of the North when plague came with famine.

But the Iberian Peninsula, being in the Mediterranian and at the end of the land roads of trade, didn't suffered that much from the population crisis, instead, as the Reconquista continued, the Iberian kingdoms found themselves richer and with more land. With an undented population, their growth was secured. What's more, their position meant they were in permanent touch with the Mediterranean and Northern nautic techniques.

Then came the XV century, this century was marked with the infamous Hundred Years War between the French and English that started the last century, the inner conflicts that had compained the Holy Roman Empire, the rise of the Ottomans at the east and the beginning of the isolisation policy of China.

By the latter half of the fifthteen century, the then Queen Isabel chose to marry King Fernando, which was reported to be a love match between the two, and with it, the crowns of the kingdom of Castille, largest in Hispania; and the kingdom of Aragon, joint with the kingdom of Napoles, became a prime power that not only was strong in military, but in economy.

This union, while it had a rebellion, was able to finish the Reconquista once and for all, annexing the territory of Granada, today sourthern Spain. A major notority is that, due to their crushing of the opposition and their coordination, the Catholic Kings were able to have a high power in practice.

The kings then decided to choose a well marriage for their children, deciding to marry their daughter, Juana, to Felipe "the Handsome", a noble of the House of Habsburg whose heritage included the territories once held by the kingdom of Burgundy (from which the Spanish used their flags) and the Habsburg possesions.

After the fall of Constantinople, the Catholic Kings financed the expedition of Christopher Columbus, who was rejected by the Portuguese, to find land that would become a part of the crown and that which he would become a direct Viceroy.

Juana I, "The Mad Queen" (1504-1516)

Her short reign saw the roots of an ill-fated alliance with England and the HRE, but is best remembered for her going apeshit crazy and getting imprisoned in a tower afterwards by her late husband, who is...

Felipe I, "The Handsome" (1506)

Brief as he was, and never getting to reign alone, is just remembered for being a jerkass and totally disregard the queen in his endless affairs, thus, starting a long tradition.

Once both Juana and Felipe were offed for different reasons, Fernando took again the crown he shared with the now deceased Isabel and, before dying, left the kingdom of Aragon and Napoles as inheritance to the kingdom of Castille, thereby joining the two countries to a single power under a single person.

That person was Charles I of Spain and V of Austria. Last Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire to be crowned by the Pope himself. At the moment of his ascention, the Spanish Conquistadores began to enter into the territories held by the Aztec Empire and the Inca Empire, who took advantage of the fragmentary state of the two states and managed, by turning the very native population against their overlords, conquer most of modern México and Perú.

The House of Habsburgh

Carlos I, "The Kaiser" (1516-1556)

Arrived to Spain without a grasp of culture, society or language, for that matter and faced quite a few rebellions for it, wich he crushed promptly. Protestants were tougher, though, when Martin Luther nailed his theses under his nose. Cue the endless religious wars funded with the extense spanish empire resources.

Also, when he understood he couldn't win he resigned to his son and retired into a monastery.

Felipe II, "the Cautious" (1556-1598)

As the religious wars escalated into political wars he attempted an alliance with England that ended very bad. Also remembered for annexing Portugal. And for allegedly building the Escorial Palace to seal a hellgate, filling it with catholic art and relics. Incidentally, al kings of Spain after him are buried there.

Felipe III, "the Pious" (1598-1621)

Best remembered for expelling all non-catholics from Spain, namely muslims. And gypsies.

Felipe IV, "the Great" (1621-1665)

Tried under advise of his Ambiguously Evil Chancellor, the Count Duke of Olivares, to extend the war effor from Castile to the whole realm, wich prompted rebellions in Portugal and Catalonia that led to the former's independence and the latter annexation to France. Catalonia was re-taken, albeit cut to a size, Portugal didn't.

Carlos II, "the Bewitched" (1665-1699)

Born with serious deformities both physically and psychologically (He was deemed as "retarded"), he was not very able to reign, and was also sterile. And, apparently, he was aware of how much of a failure he was regarded as. His death meant war.

The House of Bourbon

Felipe V, "the Animous" (1700-1746)

The Crown cost him Gibraltar and Minorca, of which only the latter was re-taken in a later war. Also, he famously supressed medieval rights as a punishment for supporting the other guy in Aragon (Namely, Catalonia and Valencia), wich started a long tradition of animosity between the Bourbons and those regions.

Luis I, "The Beloved" (1724)

You would be hard-pressed to find any reference to him in general history books, as he didn't last a year as a king. After his death, his father took the crown again.

Fernando VI, "The Fair" (1746-1759)

Not very often remembered, if at all. Didn't waged wars, nor alliances, nor anything. His reign was mostly domestic and peaceful, which, apart for being unusual for an european country of the time, doesn't grant many pages in history books.

Carlos III, "The Mayor of Madrid" (1759-1788)

Best remembered for his somewhat unusual interest in urbanism, he reformed most of Madrid into the neo-classic style for which it is known.

Carlos IV, "The Hunter" (1788-1808)

He was more interested in clocks than politics, too bad The French Revolution and, later, a certain Napoleon Bonaparte were knocking into the door as his own scheming son wanted his head on a spear.

The House of Bonaparte

José I, "Pepe Bottles" (1808-1813)

Imposed by his brother, Napoleon, he was disliked by near everyone from the Spanish America (wich declared independence so they hadn't to have him as king, mind you) to peninsular society, making 0% Approval Rating a Deconstructed Trope in Real Life, as it kickstarted an insurgence war that bleed french resources as, by the time the Russian campaign kick off, led directly to the downfall of the first French Empire.

The First Restoration of the House of Bourbon

Fernando VII, "the Desired" (1813-1833)

Crushed the spanish liberals, abolished the constitution his spanish supporters approved on his absence, empowered american independentists by denying the colonies the seats on the parliament the aforementioned constitution granted them on the envisioned constitutional monarchy, re-implanted The Spanish Inquisition, abolished by said liberals, granted independence to the american colonies by upsetting the military intended to fight the revolutionaires and getting them to revolt against him, swore the previously abolished constitution when they managed to corner him and secretly schemed with foreign autoritharian powers to crush them once and for all. Which he did. After that, followed ten years known as the "ominous ten years". In his deathbed, he changed his last will so his daughter could reign (a very liberal standpoint, for a king that fiercely clinged to authoritarian, medieval-like monarchy) instead of his even-more-authoritarian brother.
    The Kingdom of Spain 

Isabel II, "That of the sad fate" (1833-1868)

Crowned as a child, married to a gay man. Known as the Nymphomaniac Queen. His reign is a sucession of civil wars against the supporters of his father's brother, wich forced her mother, and then herself, to rely on the liberals her father so fiercely hated to stand on the throne as sleazy politicians turned into the office -And, allegedly, her bed-.

It is commonly regarded that she started as an Spoiled Brat who didn't had quite a grasp on how to rule a country and relied -Quite effectively- on the military as chancellors and advisors, as well as, well, military leaders against her enemies. As she grew, she was stuck in a loveless marriage and got fat and was taken advantage of by said sleazy politicians who saw her need for affectiveness, sometimes through sex, as an opportunity to gain power and influence, wich gathered a general mockery from the pops has her popularity decreased through -rightfully- perceived institutional corruption until he was finally kicked out of the throne by 1868.

The House of Saboya

Amadeo I, "The Elected" (1870-1873)

After Isabel II was deposed, debate about who the king of Spain might be started a controversy wich even bleed into the international sphere with a war between France and Prussia. The Parliament eventually decided Amadeo, from the family that successfully had united Italy, would be a nice king. This option was strongly supported by prestigious militar Juan Prim.

Sadly, Juan Prim was murdered shortly before Amadeo arrived to Spain, and the new king was received with utter contempt. The mocked him endlessly, openly and in front of him (what with celebrating a parade for the new king and fill the front rows with the ugliest, oldest prostitutes they could find) when not blatantly ignoring him, belittle him as not-a-man-enough or just plain bullying him.

He understandably resigned and left the country. Chaos ensued

The Second Restauration of House Bourbon

Alfonso XII, "the Peacemaker" (1874-1885)

Once Spain had rendered into utter chaos, he arrived with a hign popularity to boot. His new regime was engineered by Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, who was a well known anglophile and designed a parlamentary system akin to that of the United Kingdom with the exception that Cánovas expected little from the spanish pops and he was doubtful they could be civilized enough to implement a full democracy without civil unrest arising. So he arranged with local hicks known as caciques the falsification of election results so "elected governments" can be stable and predictable. Hence, a two party system took turns exactly every fourth years, one of them -The Conservative Party- lead by himself and the other one -The Liberal Party- led by Práxedes Mateo Sagasta while keeping undesirable factions (Namely, PSOE, the Socialist Party) out of the system.

Alfonso XIII (1885-1931)

By the time the Spanish-American War kick off, Cánovas had been murdered the year before the conflict started and Sagasta took off every responsability for the humiliating defeat, dying in 1903. Alfonso XII died prematurely and the young king was actually too young to rule over the crisis.

Sadly for him, the two-party system was steadily falling apart once their masterminds had passed on and their successors lacked both charisma and political skills to keep it. The impact the defeat against the United States had on the population further eroded the establishment. And it got worse.

At request of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, Spain held an international summit between France, Germany, the United Kingdom and others in Algeciras, Andalusia in 1906 wich actually prevented World War I for the next 9 years. After that, Spain got interested in the colonisation of Northern and Southern Morocco wich was implemented with extreme prejudice, and resulted in an unprecedented bloodshed. Crime skyrocketed and benefits from commerce due to Spain's neutrality in World War I didn't translate into a better living conditions for workers, wich led to a bloodbath in Catalonia. The governments lasted days and the situation was so desperate that the King relied to the military in 1923, wich led to a dictatorship that year under General Miguel Primo de Rivera, the same year a certain Benito Mussolini seized power in Italy.

Primo de Rivera accomplished most of it goals by cutting crime, striking seriously Abd-el-Krim rebels in the moroccan campaign and patching social welfare issues, but in the way he made enemies of the PSOE (Socialist Party), the PCE (Communist Party) and the whole of the elites in both Catalonia and the Basque Country, who turned to nationalism. And then, in 1929, The Great Depression finished him.

The King promptly fired him, but his reputation had bleed into the crown, and in 1931, an election held gave majority to left-leaning and republican parties, and he chose to leave the country in order to prevent a civil war for breaking in. It didn't worked. The Spanish Republic was established, but it didn't last.

Also, Alfonso XIII commisioned and directed the first spanish porn film. No, really.

The Third Restoration of House Bourbon

Juan Carlos I (1975-2014)

King Felipe VI (214-)