Spain gains Kings, Queens and Empire

In 1469, the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, united the two major Christian kingdoms. They took Granada, the last stronghold of the Arabs in Spain, in 1492.

The same historic year, 1492, the ships sent by the Crown of Castile under the command of Christopher Columbus discovered America. The Canary Islands became part of Spanish territory (1495), Spain took contro of of the Kingdom of Naples, and Navarre was incorporated into the Spanish Kingdom.

Isabel and Ferdinand had united the whole country under their crown, however their effort to Christianise Spain was marred by their creation of the Spanish Inquisition, when thousands of Jews and Moors who didn't want to convert to Christianity were expelled or killed.

The discovery of America in 1492 resulted in the creation of an American Empire and with tons of gold and silver being brought in from the new continent. Spain became one of the most powerful nations on earth in this, their Golden Age.

On Isabel's died in 1504, her daughter Joan who was married with the German emperor's son Philip succeeded to the throne. Charles I., who was at the same time Austrian king and German emperor united in 1517 one of the largest empires in history. But by 1556 the empire was split between the Spanish and the Austrian lines of the Habsburg family.

Spain was prospered under the Habsburg crown thanks to the trade with its American colonies, but had incurred serious debts in wars with France, the Netherlands and England. The "Invincible Armada" was defeated in 1588 on its way to invade England..

1702-13. War of Spanish Succession. King Carlos II died childless and eventually the Bourbon dynasty accedes to Spanish throne following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 which settled the throne on the Bourbon, Philippe IV King of Spain

1704 an Anglo-Dutch fleet captured Gibraltar during the War of the Spanish Succession. Spain ceded the Rock to Britain in 1713, but didn't end military attempts to regain it until the failure of the Great Siege of 1779-83.

As a consequence of the French Revolution, Spain declared war on the new French Republic but was defeated. Napoleon took the power in France and invaded Spain in 1808. He put his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne, but this resulted in the Spaniards fighting a 5-year Independence War against the French. After Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815, Ferdinand VII. was restored to the Spanish throne and reigned as an absolute monarch..

He changed the law of succession to the throne to enable his daughter Isabel to become queen. His brother Charles rebelled against this and the War of Seven Years broke out.

Economical recession and political instability were the consequences, Spain lost its colonies with the exceptions of Puerto Rico, Cuba and Philippines. The revolution of 1868 forced Isabel II. to renounce to the throne, and the First Republic was proclaimed.

However the republic lasted for just one year. After a coup d'état Isabel's son, Alphonse XII., restored the kingdom. He was succeeded in 1886 by his son Alfonso XIII, although his mother Queen Maria Cristina of Habsburg acted as regent until 1902, when he was crowned king. The rebellion of Cuba in 1895 resulted in a war against United States, with disastrous results for Spain, the loss of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, in 1898.

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