History - The Hapsburgs


by Chris Chaplow

The rulers of Spain during this period were the Hapsburgs: Carlos I (the Monarchs' grandson) was the first Holy Roman Emperor -his rule encompassed Flanders, the Netherlands, American colonies, and parts of France, with his empire's capital in Seville.

Charles V and I    1516 - 1556

Charles V and I (24 February 1500 - 21 September 1558) was ruler of both the Spanish Empire as Charles I from 1516 and in 1519 when his grandfather died the Pope awarded him the title Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Of his 42 year reign only 16 years were spent in Spain, the remainder fighting to try and keep the empire together including a protestant front lead by Martin Luther in the north.

The empire's capital was in Seville where in 1526 he married Princess Isabel of Portugal. They honeymooned in Granada where he commissioned the first renaissance palace outside Italy called Carlos Quinto palace constructed inside the Moorish Alhambra palace. He also had to defend the east from Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire, and the south especial after Suleiman linked up with Barbarossa leader of the Barbary Pirates. Many of the watch-towers we see on the Andalucia coast today were built at this time. Who was Carlos Quinto?.

Juanna la Loca, who had technically been Queen of Castile died in 1555. Nine months later Carlos I, Holy Roman Emperor for 42 year and King of Castile for just 9 months, inexplicably abdicated and retired to monastery of Yuste in Extramadura.

Fernando's son Filipe II became King of Castile and brother Ferdinand I became Holy Roman Emperor.

Philip II  1556 - 1598

Philip II (Spanish: Felipe II; 21 May 1527 – 13 September 1598), called "the Prudent" (el Prudente), was King of Spain (1556–98), King of Portugal (1581–98, as Philip I, Filipe I), King of Naples and Sicily (both from 1554), and jure uxoris King of England and Ireland (during his marriage to Queen Mary I from 1554–58).He was also Duke of Milan. From 1555, he was lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands. Known in Spain as "Felipe el Prudente" ('"Philip the Prudent'"), his empire included territories on every continent then known to Europeans, including his namesake the Philippines. During his reign, Spain reached the height of its influence and power. This is sometimes called the Golden Age. The expression, "the empire on which the sun never sets," was coined during Philip's time to reflect the extent of his dominion.

Filipe II main project was the Palace of Escorial outside Madrid completed in a remarkable 22 years. His other project was the encirclement of France. He married Mary Tudor at Winchester cathedral in 1554.  He was thought of as King of England everywhere except England where he was royal consort. Catholic Queen Mary suddenly died childless and Philip was unsuccessful in wooing Protestant Elizabeth I. Philip turned Spanish foreign policy around by marrying 14 year old Elizabeth Valois daughter of the King of France.

During Filipe II reign the Spanish Inquisition was at its height. Its original mission was to root our suspected false converts to the Catholic faith and with the reformation it had much work to do.  Filipe moved Spain's capital from Toledo to a village called Madrid so that he could remodel it to his liking.

His only son Carlos became unstable and had to be locked up died a few months later in 1568. It was a bad year, his French wife also died suddenly. Filipe went on to marry niece Anna of Austria in a vein attempt to sire an heir.

Moorish Rebellion

Also in 1568 there was a  Morisco Rebellion in the Alpujarras. There had been a previous smaller rebellion against Christian rule in in Granada city in 1499, followed by the mountain villages and this rebellion was suppressed by 1501. The Muslims under Christian rule (until then known as Mudejares) were then obliged to convert to Christianity, becoming a nominally Catholic population known as "Moriscos".

The Morisco Revolt or rebellion of the Alpujarras of 1568 to 71, sometimes called the War of the Alpujarras, was the second revolts against the Castilian Crown in the Alpujarra region. The rebels were Moriscos, led by Aben Humeya, starting in December 1568 and lasting till March 1571. This violent conflict took place mainly in the mountainous Alpujarra region.

Most of the Morisco population was then expelled from the Kingdom of Granada and was dispersed throughout the Kingdom of Castille. As this left many smaller settlements in Granada almost empty, Catholic settlers were brought in from other parts of the country to repopulate them.


The sea battle of Lapanto took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, (coalition of European Catholic states)  defeated the fleet of the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras, (modern day Greece). f the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras.

New World

Spain was still relying on the new world to fund these actions, the crown was increasingly getting into debt  and loan repayments were often suspended. Seville was still a boomtown. Heading to it came everyone from thieves to impoverished gentry en route to a new start in the Americas.  The receipts of new world gold had now reduced. It was replaced by silver from Potosi in Bolivia and tobacco and other products. Everything that arrived safely (5% was lost to English pirates and storms at sea) passed by Torre de Oro and was recorded in Archivo de Indias. Many foreign merchants lived in Sevilla and profited from the trade. The Spanish spent the wealth on building churches, palaces and monasteries (turning gold and silver into stone quipped the foreign merchants) With a lack of government planning the agriculture in the south of Spain was in a very poor state.

Naturally Filipe II had never the same control of the low countries as his father Charles of Ghent. The countries were very different. The Dutch whilst still catholic were pleasure loving businessmen. Lutherans and Calvinists were making much headway in the north. Soon a state of open rebellion existed and Spain was fighting protestants in the north. The rebels were aided by Elizabeth I of England and Filipe had a secret plan to support Mary Queen for the Scots. William of Orange the Dutch leader capitalized on 'Black legend' stories that Filipe had poisoned his son Carlos. The United Provinces (Dutch republic) declared independence in 1581, three years later William of Orange was assassinated by a fanatical catholic.

When news that the catholic hope, Mary Queen of the Scots had been executed in 1587 Filipe charged the Duke of Medina Sidonia to lead a great Armada against England in 1588.

During Philip's reign there were separate state bankruptcies in 1557, 1560, 1569, 1575, and 1596.

Filipe had five children to Anna of Austria but only one survived beyond the age of eight. This was the weak Filipe III who was twenty in 1598 when his father died and he became King. 


1600's - Golden Age

The 1600s were the Golden Age, with great painters such as Velazquez and Murillo achieving fame and status, and Cervantes spending time in Seville before he published Don Quixote. A century after the Moorish uprising in 1502, all remaining Moors were expelled from Spain by Filipe III in 1609. Together with the exodus of the Jews a labour and professional gap was created.    The succeeding monarchs used wealth from the colonies to fund various European wars against Protestants - losing their properties in northern Europe - and the Ottoman Turks in the Mediterranean. But as the flow of riches from the New World decreased, Spain and Andalucia sank into economic decline. Many Andalucians emigrated to the colonies to seek their fortune.


Philip III  1598 - 1621 

Philip III (Spanish: Felipe; 14 April 1578 - 31 March 1621) was King of Spain. He was also, as Philip II, King of Portugal, Naples, Sicily and Sardinia and Duke of Milan.  A member of the House of Habsburg, Philip III was born in Madrid to King Philip II of Spain and his fourth wife and niece Anna, the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II and Maria of Spain. Philip III later married his cousin Margaret of Austria, sister of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor.   Although also known in Spain as Philip the Pious, Philip's political reputation abroad has been largely negative - an 'undistinguished and insignificant man,' a 'miserable monarch,' whose 'only virtue appeared to reside in a total absence of vice,' to quote historians C. V. Wedgwood, R. Stradling and J. H. Elliott. In particular, Philip's reliance on his corrupt chief minister, the Duke of Lerma, drew much criticism at the time and afterwards. For many, the decline of Spain can be dated to the economic difficulties that set in during the early years of his reign. Nonetheless, as the ruler of the Spanish Empire at its height and as the king who achieved a temporary peace with the Dutch (1609-1621) and brought Spain into the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) through an (initially) extremely successful campaign, Philip's reign remains a critical period in Spanish history. | Wikipedia CC-BY-SA

Philip IV  1621 - 1665 

Philip IV of Spain (Spanish: Felipe IV; 8 April 1605 – 17 September 1665) was King of Spain (as Philip IV in Castille and Philip III in Aragon) and Portugal as Philip III (Portuguese: Filipe III). He ascended the thrones in 1621 and reigned in Spain until his death and in Portugal until 1640. Philip is remembered for his patronage of the arts, including such artists as Diego Velázquez, and his rule over Spain during the challenging period of the Thirty Years' War. On the eve of his death in 1665, the Spanish Empire had reached approximately 12.2 million square kilometers (4.7 million square miles) in area but in other respects was in decline, a process to which Philip contributed with his inability to achieve successful domestic and military reform. | Wikipedia CC-BY-SA

Charles II 1665 - 1700 

Charles II of Spain (Spanish: Carlos II; 6 November 1661 – 1 November 1700) was the last Habsburg ruler of Spain. His realm included Southern Netherlands, Italian territories, several cities in north Africa and Spain's overseas empire, stretching from the Americas to the Spanish East Indies. Known as "the Bewitched" (Spanish: el Hechizado), he is noted for his extensive physical, intellectual, and emotional disabilities and his consequent ineffectual rule. He died childless in 1700, with all potential Habsburg successors having predeceased him. In his will, Charles named as his successor the 16-year-old Philip, grandson of the reigning French king Louis XIV and his first wife, Charles's half-sister Maria Theresa. Because the other European powers viewed the prospective dynastic relationship between France and Spain as disturbing the balance of power in Europe, the War of the Spanish Succession ensued shortly after his death. | Wikipedia CC-BY-SA

HMS Sussex

In the late 17th century, as British monarchs William and Mary were fighting the French King, Louis XIV. HMS Sussex was an 80-gun, 500-crew, English warship lost in a severe storm off Gibraltar in 1694. The story of her mission and place in the unfolding events of the late 17th and early 18th centuries presents a fascinating scenario to (marine) archaeologists, historians, and those with a general interest in European and international affairs. HMS Sussex shipwreck.




Important buildings from this period include Mudejar, Gothic and Renaissance masterpieces: