The Spanish Empire Under Charles V and Philip II

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The Reign of Charles V (1516-1556)

Inheritance and Early Rule

Charles V inherited a vast empire. On his mother's side, he received the Crowns of Aragon and Castile, along with territories in America, Italy, and Africa. From his father's side, he inherited lands as a member of the Habsburg dynasty, including territories in Germany, the Low Countries, Luxembourg, and eastern France.

The Revolt of the Comuneros (1520-1521)

In 1520, the Revolt of the Comuneros erupted in Castilian cities. The uprising was sparked by opposition to Charles V's policies, particularly his high taxes and his focus on foreign affairs. The royal army ultimately defeated the comuneros at the Battle of Villalar in 1521, and their leaders were executed.

Financial Challenges

Charles V's numerous wars proved to be very expensive. To finance his military campaigns, he was forced to raise taxes throughout his vast empire.

The Reign of Philip II (1556-1598)

Consolidation of Power

Philip II, Charles V's son, made Madrid his capital and constructed a monastery and royal residence at El Escorial. Under his rule, the monarchy established by the Catholic Monarchs became even more authoritarian.

Defense of Catholicism

Philip II was a staunch supporter of the Counter-Reformation and was determined to keep his territories free of Protestant influence. He utilized the Inquisition to censor books and arrest individuals suspected of spreading Protestantism. The concept of"purity of bloo" reflected the prevailing religious intolerance of the time.

The Revolt of the Moriscos (1568)

In 1568, the Revolt of the Moriscos broke out in the Alpujarras region. This uprising was triggered by Philip II's decrees forbidding the use of Arabic and traditional clothing by the Moriscos, who were Muslims forcibly converted to Christianity.

Unrest in Aragon

Philip II's efforts to strengthen his monarchy came at the expense of the rights of individual kingdoms within his realm, leading to unrest in regions like Aragon.

Spanish Expansion in the Americas

The Conquest of Mexico (1519-1521)

The conquest of Mexico was achieved by a small expedition led by Hernán Cortés, who landed on the coast of Mexico in 1519. Cortés and his men, aided by indigenous allies, conquered the Aztec Empire, capturing its emperor, Moctezuma II.

The Conquest of Peru (1532-1533)

An expedition led by Francisco Pizarro conquered the Inca Empire in the Andes. Pizarro's forces captured the Inca emperor, Atahualpa, and ultimately brought down the Inca civilization.

Administration of the American Colonies


. The Viceroys who governed these regions reported directly to the King. Beneath the Viceroys, Governors were in charge of provinces. City councils or cabildos, administered municipalities. Alcaldes mayores had authority at a local level, while corregidores were in charge in larger cities. An Audiencia had judicial authority over a large region. The council of the Indies was the highest authority on American administration and law. A trade authority was founded in Sevilla. This body regulated trade with America and imposed taxes on goods entering Spain. It also controlled emigration.

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