Spain, before the rule of Isabella and Ferdinand, was divided with Castile “in the north-central part of the [Iberian] peninsula,”l Aragon in the northeastern part, and the Muslim state of Granada in the south. In 1469 the unification of Spain began with the marriage between Isabella of Castile and Prince Ferdinand of Aragon, followed by the conquest and military campaigns against Granada. Accomplishments during their forty-seven year reign triggered future trends throughout Europe.
These trends include the incorporation of marital politics or strategies to inherit territories hroughout Europe, the birth of “Italian-style embassies” in city-states as “islands of foreign sovereignty’ to serve “the interests of one particular government”, and the establishment of policies regarding expansion, invasion and conquest to increase the amount of government-owned land. 2 This discovery of marital strategy didn’t bankrupt the monarchy, formed allies, and influenced “inherited family status” at the local levels.
Leading by example, Isabella and Ferdinand married off their own children to numerous countries throughout Europe as well as their children’s children creating a legacy. Although wars with Spain certainly existed, this method displaced the need for military interference because “it was far cheaper to gain land by inheritance than by war. “3 For example, Philip II “was bankrupt by the time of his death in 1598” because “wars sucked the royal treasury nearly dry of all gold and silver pouring in from the Americas. 4 The royal couple’s eldest daughter, Isabella was married to King Afonso of Portugal, eldest son John was married to Margaret of Habsburg (Austria), daughter Joanna was married to Philip I of Habsburg, daughter Maria married Afonso’s oldest brother Manuel of Portugal, and youngest daughter Catherine was married to Henry VIII of England. Each marriage was sensibly chosen by Isabella and Ferdinand to gain the support of ally nations. Each nation was intentionally chosen for the assistance “against their most powerful neighbor, France. 5 But marital strategy influenced French local levels Just as much as Spain’s local levels. The reputation of “inherited family status” provided clergy, nobles, and wealthy townsfolk with an “important source of power. “6 With “inherited family status,” they were able to participate in “political decisions through representative institutions. 7 These local levels also consisted of city-states. The creation of Italian-style embassies created a balance of power among the numerous city-states because permanent representatives were appointed, alliances always shifted, and they were treated as “islands of foreign sovereignty. 8 Merchants and bankers who traveled and lived in other cities were relied on to pass information. This changed to appointing permanent representatives whose functions “were to send back a constant stream of foreign news and win the loyalty of important people. “9 These representatives were often Italian diplomats who lliances always shifted, information about those who were enemies or allies was crucial. This system helped representatives determine who was an enemy and who was an ally.
Once multiple permanent embassies were established, extensive records needed to be kept and both open and secret alliances were made. Italian-style embassies were then able to be understood as “islands of foreign sovereignty’ that were stabilizing their balance of power. 10 Ferdinand was the first monarch to invent these Italian-style embassies “in Burgundy, England and the papal court in Rome” which influenced other Western European monarchs to produce embassies within heir Italian city-states or German imperial cities. 1 Isabella and Ferdinand influenced expansion during their sovereignty by the restoration of Spain as solely Catholic, utilization of military aid to conquer territories on the continent of Europe, and support of expeditions to far-off lands. After forming the marriages for their children, Isabella and Ferdinand prioritized the effort to reclaim Granada, the final Muslim settlement on the peninsula. This reclamation occurred in 1492, named the Reconquista, which was “the centuries-long push to conquer Muslim holdings. 12 Due to Isabella’s devotion to Catholicism, she and Ferdinand, for Castile in 1480 and Aragon in 1481, were granted “papal permission from Sixtus IV to establish an Inquistion to distinguish real from false converts” to Christianity. 13 Then in 1526 officials of the Inquisition investigated, tried, and executed “conversos or New Christians. “14 This act of anti-Semitism could have influenced future wipe-outs of religions.
While military assistance was employed during the Reconquista and Inquisition the true military victories were the seizures of territory in what is now southern Italy, southern France, northern Africa, and the Canary Islands. 5 A decade after France claimed Naples, Italy; Spanish armies reclaimed Naples and eventually pushing out French troops with the aid of German armies. 16 In 1521, the French invaded the kingdom of Navarre and again Italy in 1522 which were responded with the advancement of Spanish imperial forces eventually sacking the city of Rome in 1527. 7 Although many countries were expanding, the rate of expansion for Spain and its territories was a potential contributor to the conquests of other nations. Another influential factor of expansion on Europe was the many voyages by sea to far-off lands supported under Isabella and Ferdinand’s rule. This was influential, in the beginning, for expansion because no other competing country in Europe had voyaged across the Atlantic Ocean to discover what existed.
The explorer, Christopher Columbus was granted multiple voyages across the Atlantic and whatever would be discovered by Columbus would be claimed by Spain. Once the New World was discovered Columbus sent letters of his finding to Spain which were soon published in different languages and by the end of 1492, educated people across Europe were amazed and intrigued by the first impression of a “New World. “18 This influenced expeditions by many, but specifically the Portuguese, who ourneyed to what is now Brazil.
When the Spanish and Portuguese voyaged to what is now the Philippines, what was supposed to be Portuguese territory by the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) was occupied by Spain. 19 Isabella and Ferdinand can now be considered as a contributor to the processes of expansion, invasion, and conquest. In conclusion, Isabella and Ferdinand’s impact on Spain was historical. But the century. Works Cited Wiesner-Hanks, Merry E. “Early Modern Europe” In Cambridge History of Europe. 25, 89, 97-99, 103, 110-111, 113, 218, 229 (Cambridge: cambrtdge university press). 2006