Modern Spain.According to Agooddir, the era of Ferdinand and Isabella was the golden age of Spanish history: the fall of Granada (1492) and the reconquest thus ended, the war against the Muslims was brought to the North African coast (capture of Oran and Bejaia, 1509; di Tripoli, 1511; subjugation of Algiers and Tunis). Ferdinand of Aragon intervened in the great European contest for dominance in Italy, conquering the South (1504); in 1512 the Spanish Navarre was annexed and thus completed the unity also on the side of the Pyrenees. The Catholic Kings also identified religious unification, pursued at the expense of the Jewish and Muslim communities, as a further tool to promote national cohesion and to this end, at the end of the 15th century, the Inquisition was gradually instituted.Spanish. In the same years, the discoveries of C. Colombo offered the Spain new and immense dominions: the rise of the colonial empire in America also strengthened the European position of the country. This position seemed to become one of absolute hegemony under the reign of Charles V (1516-56) due to the joining of Castile and Aragon with the empire and with the hereditary domains of the Habsburgs; even when, with the abdication of Charles V and the advent of Philip II (1556), it returned to being a distinct political individuality, the Spain could still be at the head of European politics for a few decades, achieving the absolute peninsular unity (1581, conquest of Portugal) and, modeling himself on the type of the Catholic confessional state, associating his hegemonic interests with the religious movement of the Counter-Reformation. But in this splendor there were hidden reasons of profound and rapid decline: under Charles V, the association with states with a totally different structure forced the Spain to feed, with the riches of the New world, conflicts that distracted it from its immediate interests (wars with France, collapse of dominion in Africa, where the dominance of the Barbary states began, struggle against Lutheran religious movements). Under Philip II, state centralization, religious intolerance (1566, revolt of the Moriscos), the worsening of the economic crisis, common to all of Europe and caused by the excessive flow of American precious metals, ended up hitting the Spanish power to death. The policy of Philip II, therefore, failed in France (advent of Henry IV, a former Calvinist, and Peace of Vervins in 1598), in the Netherlands, which had rebelled for thirty years, and in England (1588, destruction of the Invencible Armada). The successors Philip III (1598-1621) and Philip IV (1621-65) were forced to recognize the independence of the Netherlands, that of Portugal (1640) and in vain, after the Treaty of Westphalia (➔ Westphalia, Paci di) of 1648, they tried to continue the Thirty Years War on their own: with the Peace of the Pyrenees (1659) they were forced to abandon Artois, Luxembourg, some strongholds in Flanders, Roussillon and Cerdaña to France. And this while the internal crisis was increasing (1609, expulsion of the Moriscos with serious damage to agriculture; colonial trade increasingly threatened by the Dutch, French and English; very serious deficit ; government of the great favorites or privados). This situation worsened further during the reign of Charles II (1665-1700), who had to cede other strongholds in Flanders and Franche-Comté to France, and on his death – which took place without male heirs – the War of Succession of St. the country, a century before the dominant power in Europe, had fallen into a simple “object” of international politics.
The Spanish colonial empire in America. It was organized in its general lines by the middle of the 16th century, according to the centralized model that was affirming itself in the motherland. The Consejo de Indias was the highest legislative, administrative and judicial body of the colonial government; established in 1524, it was mainly composed of jurists and had its headquarters in Spain. Respectively in 1535 and 1542 the vicerooms of New Spain and Peru were established, at the head of which were placed the viceroys, officials appointed (by the Consejo de Indias with the consent of the king) for a determined and revocable period, to whom the supreme civil and military authority was conferred. Subordinated to the viceroys, but in fact significantly autonomous from them, the general captains exercised the same prerogatives on more restricted territorial entities (capitanías generales), included in the viceroyalty. Viceroy and general captains were assisted by the Audiencias, collegial bodies with judicial and consultative powers; the Audiencias not directly chaired by a viceroy or a Captain General were guided by a magistrate (President) and exercised the power of smaller territorial units (presidencias). The provincial administration was organized in corregimientos or alcaldías mayores, governed by a corregidor or an alcalde ; at the municipal level, the cabildo (or ayuntamiento), a sort of city council, was transferred to the New World, the only colonial institution in which the Creoles (Spaniards born in America) could belong, as the main political, military and ecclesiastical offices were reserved for the Spaniards. In the 18th century, after the advent of the Bourbon dynasty, the vicerooms of Nueva Granada and Río de la Plata were established, new Audiencias were created(at the end of the colonial period there were 14) and the system of stewardship was introduced, which replaced the old provincial divisions. After 1756, the monopoly of Cadiz and Seville, the only ports authorized for trade with Hispanic America, was also abolished and intercolonial trade, previously prohibited, was finally authorized.