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Analyse the Strengths and Weaknesses of Spain by 1516

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Introduction

Analyse the Strengths and Weaknesses of Spain by 1516 There were considerable differences between the Hispanic kingdoms within the Iberian peninsula. It was divided by language and religion, governed by different political institutions and ruled by monarchs with conflicting foreign interests. Both Aragon and Castile had very little in common. The economies varied in strength in different parts of Spain, for example Catalonia was in decline whilst Valencia was in the recovery stage. The marriage of Isabella and Ferdinand in 1469 dramatically changed the course of Spain. The Queen was a determined and quick-witted woman, with a 'street-fighter's instinct for survival'. She guaranteed privileges to nobles and town authorities, promised to restore law and order and was the only claimant with an undisputed right to the throne. Ferdinand played a role in leading Isabella's troops against the Portuguese and French invasions and recaptured rebellious towns, all helping to stabilise the crown. His brother also aided Isabella by commanding the Hermandad meaning that although his father died, no Aragonese nobles contested the crown. ...read more.

Middle

Their authority varied, some governed entire regions, and others had a limited impact. However, overtime they became more corrupt lowering the standards of local administration. The civil war left deep scars and required close supervision to work effectively. Both Isabella and Ferdinand dispersed justice personally. The Hermandad was unpopular and it demanded taxation on local people for its maintenance. It was officially dissolved in 1498 as nobles increasingly disliked it (didn't want too much crown influence). The crowns political strength lay into relationship with the nobility. Ferdinand and Isabella however, due to incompatible promises in the 1470's, were in a different situation as some families expected rewards for their role in the civil war. This often contradicted what Isabella had said about protecting the rights of the towns. Isabella decided to harness the power of the nobility and tried to regain land given out by Henry IV. Isabella and Ferdinand on a smaller scale in Aragon gave the nobles rights to collect sales tax and confirmed their exemption from direct tax. This guaranteed their social and economic position. ...read more.

Conclusion

Overseas trade was strengthened with Venice as a base, and the financial status and prosperity of Barcelona recovered from the effects of the civil war in the 1460s. However the Spanish economy had a number of weaknesses, poor communications (bad roads, mountainous), a network of internal customs duties and inland tolls and resistance to state intervention in effecting changes in agriculture, guilds and industry. Regionalism was a very powerful force and applied to the economy. There was no significant attempt to integrate the two economies, for example, trade with Americas was a Castilian monopoly (intensified hostility between two kingdoms, threat of inflation and decline in currency). The only measure that was taken was the standardisation of the currency in 1497. The Spanish Crown failed to protect and promote its native industries and focused too much on exportation of wool than developing its textile industry. Also, the persecution of the Conversos and Jews (many of them were skilled craftsmen) damaged wool trade, while the silk trade was damaged with war in Granada (mudejars were main producers of silk, many were killed while others emigrated). Spanish wealth and commercial gains from the New World could potentially fall through due to its lack of incorporation. ...read more.

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