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How far do the sources support the view that, during the period 1474 - 1598, Religious Interests were more important for the Spanish Monarchy than were Political Interests?

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Introduction

How far do the sources support the view that, during the period 1474 - 1598, Religious Interests were more important for the Spanish Monarchy than were Political Interests? The period of 1474 - 1598 was very important in terms of religion in Europe, as Luther's Reformation of 1517 brought religion to the forefront of the political agenda. Yet, it is questionable whether it took precedence over issues such as war and the economy for the Catholic Monarchs. The sources agree that religion was an important concern in the private lives of the Catholic Monarchs, but disagree over whether they allowed personal faith to become the most prominent motive behind their decisions as rulers. Sources, 1,3 and 6, all written contemporaneously by the monarchs, or their advisors, emphasise the strong role played by religion in the monarch's lives, and consequently their behaviour as rulers. Del Purgar, writing in the 1480s, during the Granada war, explicitly states that Isabella's monarchical ambition was to root out and destroy heretics, and that she imposed these views on Ferdinand. ...read more.

Middle

Source 5 also shows implicitly that warfare was a higher priority than religion, as the increasing persecution described does not seem to take place until after 1567, when the threat from the Turks in the Mediterranean was diminishing. There is debate within the sources over whether the economy took a more central role than religion in the Catholic Monarchs policies. Del Purgar firstly emphatically denies this, writing that religious cleansing was the 'essential thing,' and therefore 'little importance was placed on the decline of her revenue.' He then contradicts himself, in that he thinks the inquisition was motivated as much by the desire to confiscate Morisco property as by religious zeal. This view seems to be supported, not by modern historians, but by the Papacy. Both sources 2 and 3 show that the heads of the Catholic Church believed that the inquisition and the invasion of Granada, were 'motivated more by greed than faith.' ...read more.

Conclusion

Modern historian Trevor Davies in source 7, concurs that Philip wished to 'increase royal power,' and did this with the 'destruction of all Protestant and Islamic movements.' Davies also takes the view that not only did Philip dishonour religion by using it as a uniting device; he actually venerated political unity high above it despite the strength of his personal faith. Davies explicitly states that, 'whenever political interest and religious zeal clashed religion almost invariably gave way.' However, the author does concede at the beginning of the extract that his view is not widely held by many historians, therefore shedding doubt on its accuracy. To conclude, the Catholic Monarchs allowed religious interests to take precedence over some areas of politics, and were always willing to sue religion as an excuse for a controversial action. The lack of sources concerning Charles makes it difficult to form a judgement, but it is probably fair to say that individually religion was more important that any political interests. However, in areas where the two could be combined, e.g. Granada, it was deemed more important. 802 words ...read more.

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