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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote Prestige of the nobility


The aggrandizement of Aragon in Italy and the conquest of Navarre.]

In 1508 Ferdinand joined an alliance of the pope, the emperor, and Louis XII of France against Venice, whereby he rounded out his Neapolitan possessions. Seeing that the French were gaining more than he desired he formed a new alliance, in 1511, with the pope, the emperor, Venice, and Henry VIII of England against France. The French were defeated and thrown out of Italy. Meanwhile, Ferdinand had taken advantage of the French sympathies of the ruler of Navarre and the excommunication of that king by the pope to overrun Navarre in 1512. The pope sanctioned the conquest of that part of the kingdom lying south of the Pyrenees, and it was definitely added to the Spanish domain. The French became dangerous anew with the accession of the glory-loving, ambitious Francis I in 1515. Ferdinand hastened to concert a league against him, into which entered the pope, the emperor, Milan, Florence, the Swiss states, and England, but war had hardly broken out when in 1516 Ferdinand died. For good or evil he had brought Spain into a leading place in European affairs. If his methods were questionable they were in keeping with the practices of his age; he was only worse than his rivals in that he was more successful.

[Sidenote: The accession of Charles I.]

Juana was still alive, but was utterly incompetent to act as head of the

state. The logic of events and the will of Ferdinand pointed to her eldest son, Charles of Ghent, as the one to rule Aragon and Navarre and to act as regent of Castile (during his mother's life), although he had not attained to his twentieth year, a condition which had been exacted by the will of Isabella. Until such time as he could reach Spain, for he was then in the Low Countries, Cardinal Xim?nez served as regent. With two acts of doubtful propriety Charles I, the later Charles V of the Empire, began his reign in the peninsula. He sent word to Xim?nez, demanding that he be proclaimed king of Castile, despite the fact that the queen, his mother, was living. Notwithstanding the opposition of the _Cortes_ and his own unwillingness Xim?nez did as Charles had required. In 1517 Charles reached Spain, surrounded by a horde of Flemish courtiers. Foreseeing the difficulties likely to result from this invasion of foreign favorites Xim?nez wrote to Charles, giving him advice in the matter, and hastening to meet him asked for an interview. Instead of granting this request Charles sent him a note, thanking him for his services, and giving him leave to retire to his diocese "to rest and await the reward of Heaven for his merits."



[Sidenote: Leading elements in the social history of the era.]

The most important events in Spain of a social character during the period of the Catholic Kings were the expulsion of the Jews and the conversion of the Castilian Mud?jares, with the relations of the new Inquisition to both of these elements of Spanish society. Other events of more than ordinary note were the deprivation of the nobility of some of their former prestige, the settlement of the dispute between the serfs and lords of Catalonia, the purification of the Castilian clergy, and the definitive triumph of the Roman principles in private law. Greater than all of these were the problems which were to arise through the Spanish subjection of new races in the colonies overseas.

[Sidenote: Prestige of the nobility, despite their reverses.]

Though with diminished prestige the nobility continued to be the leading

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