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HIS244H1 (80)
Lecture 3

Lecture 3 - 15 January - The Problem of Spanish Decline

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David Stiles

Lecture 3 Imperial Spain was the dominant European power during the 16th century, and into the 17th century. Began to decline, however, and was replaced by France as the dominant hegemon. 16th century Spanish foreign policy was hostile to France, recognizing the threat they posed to Spain's dominance. General strategy of Spanish monarchs, especially Philip II, was to encircle France. Logistically, attacking England to bring it under Spanish control would have flanked France in the north - was already flanked by the Spanish Netherlands in the northeast. Spanish wealth, emboldened by precious metals from the Americas, created a sentiment that Spain would easily be able to take over France. Spanish hegemony was largely accidental. Charles V inherited substantial domains from each of his four grandparents: Paternal grandmother: Mary of Burgundy. Sections of the modern day Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Switzerland. Paternal grandfather: Maximilian of Austria. Sections of modern day Austria, Poland. Maternal grandmother: Isabella of Castile. Much of Spain. Maternal grandfather: Ferdinand of Aragon. Sections of modern day lower Italy, Sicily, Sardinia. and Eastern Spain. During the Dutch Revolt, 1568 - 1648, (Eighty Years War) we see the imposition of a counter-reformation on a largely Calvinist population. Duke of Alba became known for brutalities committed - he transformed the discontent into a revolt, and committed atrocities. Dutch Resistance: William of Orange, 1533 - 1584. 1572, resistance becomes revolt. 1581, northern provinces declare independence from Spain. Failure of the Spanish Armada was a massive loss for Philip II. Crisis of the 1590s: Economic stagnation - imposed heavy taxes, and borrowed to alleviate the situation. Damaged domestic economy. Military adventurism Demographic decline Failure of the merchant class - merchant class rose to noble classes to avoid taxation. 1598, Philip II went bankrupt. Failed to roll back Protestantism's spread, and bankrupted the empire. His son, Philip III, reduced costs by ending war with England in 1604, and with the Dutch in 1609. Philip III. 1578 - 1621, reigned from 1598 - 1621. Duke of Lerma, royal favourite from 1598 - 1618, lived 1553 - 1625. Lerma essentially ruled Spain in Philip's name. Called a privado or valid
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