The shaping of the Iberian polities in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries

Authored by: Xavier Gil

The Iberian World

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138921016
eBook ISBN: 9780429283697
Adobe ISBN:


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Over the last third of the fifteenth century and the early years of the sixteenth, the kingdoms of the Iberian peninsula experienced major internal transformations, while at the same time emerging to take on a central role on the international stage and as pioneering powers in the age of discovery. Assertive and determined rulers entered into dynastic marriages that resulted in new, composite monarchies; royal authority was consolidated, bringing domestic peace in the wake of major noble uprisings, civil wars, and wars between the kingdoms; territorial consolidation in the peninsula and overseas expansion, which extended the limits of Iberian, Christian, and European presence as far as the Indian Ocean and the subcontinent, the Caribbean, and Brazil; active engagement in regions hitherto outside the sphere of interest of Iberian diplomacy, such as the Holy Roman Empire and Flanders; socioeconomic dynamism and the more visible preoccupation with social and cultural issues related to ethnic and religious minorities, both familiar (Jews and judeoconversos) and new (Moriscos and enslaved blacks). Some of these developments were not unique to Iberia, and were a feature common to Renaissance monarchies, while others were owing to particular circumstances and contexts, such as the completion of the so-called Reconquest with the capture of Granada, the last remaining Islamic kingdom in the southeast of the peninsula. In sum, there is no doubting the significance of the contribution made by the Iberian world to the opening of a new phase in world history.

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