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Ferdinand and Isabella, 1474-1516

5. Spain as European and World Power

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the development of Spain as a European and then a world power, focusing in particular on the Spanish role at the Council of Constance in 1415, Spain's political interests in Italy and her emergent rivalry with France, Ferdinand and Isabella's mastery of diplomacy by marriage, and the extension of the Spanish sphere first into the Atlantic with the Canary Islands and then into the West Indies and the Americas.


In this course, Dr John Edwards (University of Oxford) explores the reigns of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, jointly known as the Catholic Monarchs, or simply 'Ferdinand and Isabella'. We begin by providing a broad overview of Spanish history from the Roman period to the mid-15th century. In the second module, we think about Isabella's accession to the throne in 1474, her defeat of Juana la Beltraneja in 1475-79, and the consolidation of her rule from the 1480s onwards, before turning in the third module to the Granada War (1482-92) and the completion of the Christian reconquest of Spain. In the fourth module, we think about the religious character of Ferdinand and Isabella's rule, particularly with regards to the relationship between Christians, Muslims and Jews, before moving on in the fifth module to explore the emergence of Spain first as a European and then as a world power in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Finally, in the six module, we provide a broader assessment of Ferdinand and Isabella's reign: should we see the Catholic Monarchs as laying the foundations for the Spanish Golden Age or a period of violence, warfare, and religious persecution?


Dr John Edwards is Senior Research Fellow in Spanish at the University of Oxford. He specialises in the history and culture of Spain in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, with particular emphasis on religion and the European context. His recent publications include Mary I: England’s Catholic Queen (2011) and Ferdinand and Isabella (2004).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Edwards, J. (2018, August 15). Ferdinand and Isabella, 1474-1516 - Spain as European and World Power [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Edwards, J. "Ferdinand and Isabella, 1474-1516 – Spain as European and World Power." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,