Spain has seen numerous events that shape the contemporary history of our day and in which the Spanish Empire plays a key role. Part of the population still remembers the lands that the country conquered in its heyday.
For this reason, the Spanish Empire is known as the place where monarchy and expansionism prevailed To annex territories that were subject to royalty through marriage alliances and Atlantean conquests.
The dream of creating a global and catholic empire He was integrated into a society that lived in hierarchies and whose socioeconomic status depended on his ethnic origin. Meanwhile, the Church played an important role in evangelizing the territories annexed after the conquests.
Fernando de Aragón and Isabel de Castilla, the Catholic Monarchs, in an anonymous 15th-century painting
The fight against Protestantism in European areas was central to politics for those who founded the Catholic Church. In this sense, the empire was sustained thanks to agricultural activity and the exploitation of resources denied to the colonies. In addition, these were used to finance the military conflicts in which Spain was involved in order to expand the empire.
Meanwhile, in Europe at that time, Gold and silver revolutionized the economy. An enrichment that Spain did not notice since it committed the funds received to the maintenance of the Court. Do you remember the time when the Spanish Empire began? These were the territories administered by the Spanish Crown.
When did the Spanish Empire begin?
The Spanish Empire covers the 16th and 19th centuries, when the empire reached its zenith during the reigns of Philip II and Philip IV of Habsburg. Undoubtedly, Spain was annexing colonial territories at this time with the same hierarchy as the rest of the places on the peninsula.
As we have already mentioned, the expansionist policy of the Catholic Monarchs Isabel de Castilla and Fernando de Aragon formed a great union of territories possessing the monarchy that began with the union of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon and continued in both the House of Habsburg and the Bourbons.
With the arrival of the Bourbon dynasty in the Spanish monarchy, these areas were called “colonies”. The 18th century was in the hands of Felipe V (1700–1724 and 1724–1746), Luis I (1724), Fernando VI (1746–1759), Carlos III (1759–1788), and Carlos IV (1788–1808), with the goal that Spain would have a prominent place among the rest of the European powers.
In the 18th century, Spain began looking for trade alliances to be incorporated into its kingdom. The Catholic Monarchs began to explore the Atlantic and with the arrival of , a new era began in the country Christoph Columbus 1492 to America.
(The Marriage of the Catholic Monarchs: The cornerstone of Spain was laid in Valladolid.)
Thus, Spain colonized and subdued indigenous peoples while making extensive use of natural resources. In 1580, the empire reached its greatest extent during the reign of Philip II, after the dynastic union of the crowns of Spain and Portugal.
The Kingdom of Spain was powerful. With the Bourbons, he founded colonies in Europe, Africa, Asia, and America in 1810, with 68 million inhabitants, which made up 12.3% of the world’s population.
When did the Spanish Empire end?
Due to various territorial conflicts, the Spanish Empire lost its colonies in the 17th century. Actually, The Thirty-Year War included the loss of Portugal in 1640 and the United Provinces of the Netherlands in 1648.
England, France, Holland and Portugal They advanced to conquer areas of America. An action that the Bourbon monarchy could not avoid, despite the new measures it imposed.
‘View of the City of Seville’, a late 16th-century painting attributed to Alonso Sánchez Coello Prado Museum
Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Spanish territories in the 19th century led to several colonies in America becoming independent. Thus, in 1824, the Spanish Empire no longer had American territories but only the port of Callao (Peru), Cuba, and Puerto Rico, which Spain also lost.
1898 is considered to be the year in which the Spanish Empire ended. On July 3, 1898, after the Spanish defeat by the United States, Cuba declared its independence. A fact that led to Puerto Rico becoming part of the United States, as well as the Philippines and Guam being designated protectorates of the United States.
The territories conquered by the Spanish Empire
At the end of the 18th century, the Spanish Empire covered 20 million square kilometers. Areas of America were annexed by expeditions outside the continent. These are the areas of present-day Mexico and part of the United States; areas of present-day Peru; Colombia; Argentina; Ecuador; Panama; Chile; Bolivia; Paraguay; Uruguay; the Galapagos Islands; and parts of Brazil and Venezuela.
In addition, it controlled colonies in what is now Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, the Galapagos Islands, northern Brazil, and western Guyana. It also owned territories in Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay, and part of Brazil, as well as island territories in the United States Caribbean Sea.
Colonial expansion achieved the Philippines, as well as northern Taiwan and Indonesia, and the Muscat (Oman) and Qeshm (Iran) regions. Likewise, the Spanish Empire took over Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Somalia, Guinea-Bissau, Tetuan, Casablanca, Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Juby, Melilla, Limacos Island, Alborán Island, Alhucemas Islands, Chafarinas Islands, Ceuta, Morocco, including the Sahara, Tangier, Cazaza, La Mamora, and the Azores.
In Europe, he was in control of the current peninsula: the Balearic Islands, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, Malta, parts of Tuscany, or Milan. In addition to parts of Italy, France also lost the territories of Roussillon, Charolais, the French Basque Country, Nice, Livia, and Gibraltar (now the United Kingdom). Eventually, from Oceania, the Spanish Empire added Easter Island, the Mariana Islands, the Caroline Islands, the Santa Cruz Islands (Solomon Islands), Vanuatu, Tahiti, and New Guinea.