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The New Monarchy Notes

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The Emergence of a Great Power? Spain 1492-1556 Section One - The New Monarchy, 1492-c1500 Topic One - a Perfect Partnership

Personal Authority

The Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella (F + I) have been seen by many historians as a 'fresh start' for Spain.

Sometimes defined as 'the new monarchy' = were they concentrated more on authority in the hands of monarchy, finding new ways to raise money and controlling ambitious Lynch considers that regarding the new Woodward argues that on the new monarchy, nobles

monarchy, the changes made were simply refining old methods

Elliott comments that, 'Castilian society was being transformed and invigorated by the economic changes which the wool trade was bringing'

their achievements were exaggerated, EG, aristocracy were not 'tamed'

Elliott comments 'The monarchs established strong Personal rule, combining this with effective administration and a degree of Centralisation.

W.H.Prescott, declared that their reign was 'The most glorious epoch in the annals of Spain'

Hunt comments that 'In Aragon, the main aim was to restore royal authority' his main target was the nobility.

Kamen's view is that 'Old Habits had to be altered and far reaching changes were required in Political, economic and social life'

F + I had brought together the states of Aragon and Castile.

To contemporaries, this union was seen as strength as it was a possibility to rid Spain from the Turkish Moors. Armesto talks about a 'Millenial fever' (as the next generation grew closer) in which Ferdinand, in particular was seen as the man to defeat Islam.

Most Historians do conclude that F + I left Spain a stronger country then they had found it.

They often use the term 'Absolute' rulers implying the monarchs had no restraints on their personal authority.

 Councillors and ministers for example could be ignored,
 Parliaments never summoned
 Question on succession, war and peace, were at sole command of the monarchs.

Kamen doubts this and suggest that F + I were supporters of string authority, but were not able to exercise it as 'They had no capital, no standing army, no bureaucracy, no reliable income and certainly no absolutism'

Nevertheless, there is some evidence supporting the view of a strong centralised government in Castile
 Isabella used the phrase 'Absolute power' seven times in her testament.
 Use of decrees (Pragmaticas) rather than statue law
 After 1480 = 20 year gap before Cortes was summoned
 Even when summoned not always representative
 Increase in the number of officials appointed by crown to keep peace such as the Corregidores

Relationship between rulers and subjects in Aragon differed from that in Castile. Eg.
 Ferdinand had to swear to uphold the laws of the kingdoms three times, once in each of the three Cortes of Aragon. (Kingdoms: Catalonia, Aragon, Valencia)
 There were different laws in Aragonese territories
 Government-generals were appointed to each territory
 Ferdinand used his illegitimate son, Alfonso, to stand in for him in Aragon for most of his reign

Despite their marriage, F + I are usually perceived as ruling their own territories independently through different institutions, although often following the same policies.

 Custom barriers remained
 They never called themselves the monarchs of Spain, but monarchs of their own territory.
 Any authority hey held in each other's kingdom was exercised with the agreement of their partner

By 1492, Ferdinand agreed to joint rule by appointing Isabella 'Co-Regent' of the Crown of Aragon in its presence and absence alike. = This suggests some kind of political unification or centralisation.

Although little evidence that any action was taken without consultation, by Isabella alone, in Aragon.

However when Isabella died in 1504, a Regency Council was created and Ferdinand did not become King.

Armesto also argues that the government in Castile was similarly joint and that each of them took different roles.

The Royal Progress was a process where F + I travelled around their territory.
 In this way they exercised very personal, authoritative and traditional style of monarchy
 Clearly demonstrating their authority to their subjects and support for solidarity with nobles, Clergy and landowners.
 The country was large, nobles were ambitious so needed to be held in check, taxes had to be collected, religious deviation has to be suppressed and laws of land had to be kept = so direct intervention by the monarchy was necessary

In positive terms:
 The system worked well
 Seeing their King and Queen in flesh was a clear reminder to their subjects where the power lay

 Itinerant nature was very demanding as they were constantly travelling
 They did not manage to visit all parts of their realm; where they did visit they did not linger

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