1B Spain in the Age of Discovery, 1469–1598

Please note that Summer 2021 will be the final assessment of this component for AS History.

This option allows students to study in breadth issues of change, continuity, cause and consequence in this period through the following key questions:

  • What were the political issues and how well did rulers handle them?
  • Where did opposition come from and how was it dealt with?
  • How and to what extent did the economy and society develop and change?
  • How important were religious and other new ideas in Spain's development?
  • To what extent did Spain become a ‘Great Power’?
  • How important was the role of key individuals and groups and how were they affected by developments?

Part one: the establishment of a 'New Monarchy', 1469–1556

The forging of a new state, 1469–1516

  • The political, economic, social and religious condition of the Iberian Peninsula in 1469
  • The restoration of royal authority; royal government; unity and confederation; relations with other European powers
  • Social issues and policies: the nobility, the peasantry, urban communities and the Church
  • Muslims/Moriscos; the Reconquista; Jews/conversos and anti-Semitism
  • Economic stagnation and change: trade and exploration in Europe and North Africa; discovery and first settlements in the New World
  • The degree of political unity and social and economic change by 1516

The drive to 'Great Power' status, 1516–1556

  • Charles' inheritance; opposition and consolidation; revolts of the Communeros and Germania
  • The workings of Empire: ideas and image; conciliar government; individuals and domestic policy
  • Foreign relations within Europe; campaigns against the Turks
  • Religious policies and the Church in Spain
  • The expansion of Empire: the conquistadores; economic and social impact of the New World on Spain
  • The political, economic, social and religious condition of Spain in 1556

Part two: Philip II's Spain, 1556–1598 (A-level only)

The 'Golden Age', 1556–1598 (A-level only)

  • Philip II as ruler: character; inheritance; change and continuity in government; administration and policy
  • Opposition of individuals and groups: faction and curbing internal rebellions
  • Religion and society; the Jesuits, Inquisition and relations with the Papacy
  • Economic developments; royal finances, policies and impact of overseas empire
  • Social and cultural developments of the ‘Golden Age’; impact of new ideas and intellectual movements
  • The condition of Spain in 1598: political, economic and social strengths and weaknesses

Spain: The 'Great Power', 1556–1598 (A-level only)

  • Philip’s inheritance and ambitions; ideas and pressures; the Spanish army and navy
  • The eclipsing of French power: Italy; war and interference in France
  • Control of the Mediterranean: challenging the Turks; the conquest of and relationship with Portugal
  • Revolt in the Netherlands; relations with England: conflict in Europe and the Caribbean
  • Spain in the New World: expansion, settlement and trade; the impact of empire
  • Spain’s international position by 1598: the extent of Spain's power; illusion or reality