The Crown of Castile
, as a historic entity, is
usually considered to have begun in 1230 with the third and almost
definitive union of the monarchies of kingdoms Castile
in one hand, and the kingdoms of
in other hand, and with the union
of their parliaments
a few decades later.
In 1217, Ferdinand III
crowned King of Castile
, and 13 years after (1230),
he usurped the crown of Leon
to their heirs (Sancha
and Dulce); however, to reduce his titulation, he is most known as
Ferdinand III of Castile
and sometimes of "Castile and Leon".
Two kingdoms: León and Castile
The Kingdom of León arose out of the Kingdom of Asturias
. The Kingdom of
Castile appeared initially as a county of the Kingdom of León. From
the second half of the 10th century to the first half of the 11th
century it changed hands between Leon and the Kingdom of Navarre.
In the 11th century it became a kingdom in its own right.
and united twice previously:
- From 1037 until 1065 under Ferdinand I of León. Upon his death
his kingdoms passed to his sons, León to Alfonso VI, Castile to Sancho II, and Galicia to García.
- From 1072 until 1157 under Alfonso VI (died 1109), Urraca (died 1126), and Alfonso VII. From 1111 until 1126
Galicia was separate from the union under Alfonso VII. In 1157 the
kingdoms were divided between Alfonso's sons, with Ferdinand II receiving León and
Sancho III Castile.
Ferdinand III received the Kingdom of Castile from his mother
Berenguela of Castile
and the Kingdom of León from his father (Alfonse IX of León) in
1230. From then on the two kingdoms were united under the name of
the Kingdom of León and Castile, or simply as the Crown of Castile.
Ferdinand III later conquered the Guadalquivir Valley, while his
son Alfonso X conquered the Kingdom of Murcia from Al-Andalus,
further extending the area of the Crown of Castile. Given this, the
kings of the Crown of Castile traditionally styled themselves "King
of Castile, Leon, Toledo, Galicia, Murcia, Jaén, Cordoba, Seville,
and Lord of Biscay and Molina," among other possessions they later
gained. The heir to the throne has been titled Prince of Asturias
since the 14th century.
Union of the Cortes and the legal code
Almost immediately after the union of the two kingdoms under
Ferdinand III, the parliaments of Castile and León were united.
divided into three estates, which corresponded with the nobility,
the church and the cities, and included representation from
Castile, León, Galicia,
Toledo, Navarre and the Basque
Initially the number of cities represented
in the Cortes varied over the next century, until John I
permanently set those that would be
allowed to send representatives (procuradores
Toledo, León, Sevilla, Córdoba, Murcia, Jaén, Zamora, Segovia,
Ávila, Salamanca, Cuenca, Toro, Valladolid, Soria, Madrid and
Guadalajara (with Granada added after its conquest in 1492).
Under Alfonso X
, most sessions
of the Cortes of both kingdoms were held jointly. The Cortes of
1258 in Valladolid comprised representatives of Castile,
Extremadura and León ("de Castiella e de Estremadura e de
tierra de León
") and those of Seville in 1261 of Castile, León
and all other kingdoms ("de Castiella e de León e de todos los
otros nuestros Regnos
"). Subsequent Cortes were celebrated
separately, for example in 1301 that of Castile in Burgos and that
of León in Zamora, but the representatives demanded that the
parliaments be reunited from then on.
Although the individual kingdoms and cities initially retained
their individual historical rights—including the Old Fuero
of Castile (Viejo Fuero de Castilla) and the
of the municipal councils of Castile,
León, Extremadura and Andalucía—a unified legal code for entire new
kingdom was created in the Siete
(c. 1265), the Ordenamiento de Alcalá
and the Leyes de Toro (1505). These laws continued to be in force
until 1889, when a new Spanish civil code (the Código Civil
Español) was enacted.
Spanish language and universities
Map of Castilian and Aragonese
In the 13th century there were many languages spoken in the
Kingdoms of León and Castile among them Castilian
. But throughout the century
Castilian gained more and more prominence as the language of
culture and communication. One example of this is the 'Cantar de Mio Cid
last years of the reign of Ferdinand III Castilian began to be
used to certain types of documents, such as the Visigothic Code, then the basis of the legal
code for Christians living in Muslim Cordova, but it was during the reign of Alfonso X that it became the official
Henceforth all public documents were written in
Castilian, likewise all translations of Arabic
legal and government documents were made into
Castilian instead of Latin.
Some people think that the substitution of Castilian for Latin was
due to the strength of the new language, whereas others consider
that it was due to the influence of Hebrew-speaking intellectuals
who were hostile towards Latin, the language of the Christian
Furthermore, in the 13th century many
Universities were founded like the Leonese Salamanca and the Castilian Estudio General of Palencia were
the among the first universities in Europe.
In 1492, under the Catholic
, the first edition of the Grammar of the Castilian
by Antonio de
Castilian was eventually carried to the Americas
and, outside of Latin America
, is usually called Spanish
. In the Spanish-speaking countries,
Castilian refers to the dialect of Spain, analogously to British English in the United States.
14th–15th centuries: Reign of the Trastámaras
Ascension of the Trastámara dynasty
On the death of Alfonso XI
dynastic conflict started between his sons, the Infantes
, Count of Trastámara, which became
entangled in the Hundred Years'
. Alfonso XI had married Maria
with whom he had his heir, the Infante
Pedro. However, the King also had many illegitimate children with
Eleanor of Guzman
, among them the
above-mentioned Henry, who disputed Pedro's right to the throne
once the latter became king.
In the resulting struggle, in which both brothers claimed to be
king, Pedro allied himself with Edward, the Prince of Wales
Black Prince." In 1367 the Black Prince defeated Henry II's allies
at the Battle of Nájera
restoring Pedro's control of the kingdom. The Black Prince, seeing
that the king would not reimburse his expenses, left Castile.
Henry, who had fled to France, took advantage of the opportunity
and recommenced the fight. Henry finally was victorious in 1369 in
the Battle of Montiel
, in which he
In 1371 the brother of the Black Prince, John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of
, married Constance
, Pedro's daughter. In
1388 he claimed the Crown of Castile in the name of his wife, the
legitimate heir according to the Cortes de Seville of 1361.
Coruña with an army and took the city. He then moved on to
occupy Santiago de
Compostela, Pontevedra and Vigo.
asked John I
, Henry II's son, to
give up the throne in favor of Constance.
John declined but proposed that his son, the Infante
, marry John of Gaunt's
proposal was accepted, and the title Prince of Asturias
was created for Henry
and Catherine. This brought an end to the dynastic conflict,
strengthened the House of
Trastámara's position and created peace between England and
Relations with the Crown of Aragon
Castile and its surrounding states in
During the reign of Henry III
royal power was restored, overshadowing the much powerful Castilian
nobility. In his later years Henry delegated some of his power to
this brother Ferdinand of
, who would be regent, along with his wife Catherine of Lancaster
, during the
childhood of this son Prince John
. After the Compromise of Caspe
in 1412, Ferdinand
left Castile to become king of Aragon
Upon the death of his mother John II, at the age of 14, took to the
throne and married his cousin Maria of
. The young king entrusted his government to Álvaro de Luna
, the most influential
person in court and allied with the lesser nobility, the cities,
the clergy and the Jews. This brought together the mutual dislikes
of the king shared by the greater Castilian nobility and the
, sons of Ferdinand of Antequera, who
sought to control the Castilian crown. This eventually led to war
in 1429 and 1430 between the two kingdoms. Álvaro de Luna won the
war and expelled the Aragonese Infantes
Second Conflict of Succession
unsuccessfully tried to
re-establish the peace with the nobility that his father had
shattered. When his second wife, Joan
, gave birth to Princess Joanna
, it was claimed that
she was the result of an affair of the Queen with Beltrán de la Cueva
, one of the
King's chief ministers.
The King, besieged by riots and the demands of the nobles, had to
sign a treaty in which he named as his successor his half-brother
leaving Joanna out of the line of succession. After the death of
Alfonso in an accident, Henry signed the Treaty of the Bulls of
with his half-sister Isabella
in which he named her heiress
in return for her marrying a prince chosen by him.
The Catholic Monarchs: Union with the Crown of Aragon
1469 Isabella and Ferdinand, heir to the throne of
Aragon, married in secret in the Palacio de los Vivero in
Valladolid. The consequence was a dynastic union of the
Crown of Castile and Crown of Aragon in 1479 when Ferdinand ascended to the Aragonese
The Recapture of Granada (F.
This union however was not effective until the reign
of his grandson Charles
. Ferdinand and Isabella were related and had married without
papal approval. Although Isabella wanted to marry Ferdinand, she
refused to proceed with the marriage until she received a papal
dispensation. Consequently, Ferdinand's father forged a papal
dispensation for the two to marry. Isabella believed that the
dispensation was authentic and the marriage went ahead. A genuine
papal dispensation arrived afterwards. Later Pope Alexander VI
bestowed upon them the
title of the Catholic
, half brother of
Isabella, considered the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella as
breaking the treaty of Tratado de los Toros de Guisando
under which Isabella would ascend to the Castilian throne on his
death only if her suitor was approved by him. Henry wanted to ally
Castile with Portugal or France rather than Aragon. He therefore
decided to name his daughter Joanna
as heiress to the throne rather
than Isabella. When he did in 1474 the War of the Castilian
broke out over who would ascend to the throne. It
lasted until 1479 when Isabella and her supporters came out
Columbus and the Catholic Kings (The
return of Columbus)
After Isabella's victory in the civil war and Ferdinand's ascension
to the Aragonese throne the two crowns were united under the same
monarchs. However, this was only a personal union and both kingdoms
remained administratively separate, each maintaining its own
identity and laws; both parliaments remained separate, the only
common institution would be the Inquisition
. Despite their titles of
"Monarchs of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Sicily" Ferdinand and
Isabella reigned over their respective territories, although they
also took decisions together. Its central position, larger
territorial area (three times greater than that of Aragon) and
larger population (4.3million as opposed to the 1 million in
Aragon) led to Castile becoming the dominating partner in the
As a result of the Reconquest
Castilian aristocracy had become very powerful. The monarchs needed
to assert their authority over the nobility and the clergy. With
this end in mind they founded a law enforcement body, the
Consejo de la Hermandad
, more commonly known as the
Brotherhood), which was staffed and funded by the municipalities.
They also took further measures against the nobility, destroying
feudal castles, prohibiting private wars and reducing the power of
military office in areas recently conquered). The monarchy
incorporated military orders under the Consejo de las
in 1495, reinforced royal judicial power over the
feudal one and transformed the Audiencias
into the supreme judicial
bodies. The crown also sought to better control the cities, and so
in 1480 in the Cortes of Toledo it created the
, representatives of the crown, which
supervised the city councils. In religion, they reformed religious
orders and sought unity of the various sections of the church. They
pressured Jews to convert to Catholicism, in some cases persecuted
by the Inquisition. Finally in 1492 the monarchs decided that those
who would not convert would be expelled. It is estimated that
between 50,000 and 70,000 people were expelled from Castile. From
1502 onwards they began to convert the Muslim population.
1478 and 1497 the monarchs conquered the Canary Islands of Gran
Palma and Tenerife. On the 2nd January 1492 the monarchs entered
Granada's Alhambra marking the end of the Reconquest.
1492 Christopher Columbus
discovered the West Indies and in
1497 Castile conquered Melilla. After Castile's conquest of the Kingdom of
Granada, its politics turned towards the Mediterranean, and Castile
militarily helped Aragon in its problems with France, culminating
in the reconquest of Naples for the
Crown of Aragon in 1504.
Later that same year, Isabella
16th–17th centuries: from empire to crisis
Period of regency
Isabella had excluded her husband from Castile's line of
succession, which passed to their daughter Joanna
(married to Philip of Austria
, nicknamed the
Handsome). But Isabella knew of her daughter's illness (for which
she was known as Joanna the Mad) and named Ferdinand as regent in
the case that Joanna didn't want to or couldn't fulfil her
. In the Salamanca Agreement of 1505 it was decided that
the government would be shared by Phillip, Ferdinand and Joanna.
However, poor relations between Phillip (supported by the Castilian
nobility) and Ferdinand resulted in Ferdinand renouncing his powers
in Castile in order to avoid an armed conflict. Through the
Concordia de Villafáfila
(1506), Ferdinand returned to
Aragon and Phillip was crowned king of Castile. In 1507 Phillip
died and Ferdinand returned once again to be regent.
Emperor Charles V
received the Crown of
Castile, Aragon and the Empire through a combination of dynastic
marriages and premature deaths:
Charles I was not well-received in Castile. Part of this was
because he was a foreign-born King (born in Ghent), and even
before his arrival in Castile he had granted important positions to
Flemish citizens and had used Castilian money to fund his
The Castilian nobility and the cities were on the
verge of an uprising to defend their rights. Many Castilians
favoured the King's younger brother Ferdinand
, who grew up in
Castile, and in fact the Council of
opposed the idea of Charles as King of Castile.
the Castilian parliament in Valladolid named a Waloon (Jean de Sauvage) as its
This caused angry protests in the parliament,
which rejected the presence of foreigners in its deliberations.
Despite threats, the parliament (lead by Juan de Zumel,
representative of Burgos) resisted and forced the King to respect
the laws of Castile, remove all foreigners from important
governmental posts, and learn to speak Castilian. After taking his
oath Charles received a subsidy of 600,000 ducats.
Charles was conscious of the fact that he had many options to be
emperor and needed to impose his authority over Castile in order to
gain access to its riches for his imperial dream. Castile was one
of the more dynamic, rich and advanced territories in Europe in the
16th century and started to realise that it could become immersed
within an empire. This, added to the broken promise of Charles,
only increased hostility towards the King. In 1520 in Toledo Parliament rejected a further subsidy for the
King. Parliament in Santiago de
Compostela reached the same decision. Finally, when
Parliament was held in La Coruña, many members were bribed and others denied entry,
with the result that the subsidy was approved.
who voted in favour were attacked by the Castilian people and their
houses were burned. Parliament was not the only opposition which
Charles would come up against. When he left Castile in 1520 the
Castilian War of the
broke out. Los comuneros
were defeated one
year later (1521). After their defeat, Parliament was reduced to a
mere consultative body.
Imperial policies of Philip II
Philip II continued the politics of
Charles I, but unlike his father he made Castile the centre of his
empire, centralising all administration in Madrid.
other states within the peninsula maintained their autonomy, being
governed by a Viceroy
Since the reign of Charles I the financial burden of the empire had
fallen mainly on Castile. Under Philip II the cost quadrupled.
During his reign, as well as increasing existing taxes he created
some new ones, among them the excusado
in 1567. That same
year Philip ordered the proclamation of the La Pragmática
an act whereby all Moriscos had to abandon all Moorish traditions
and become true Catholics. This edict limited religious, linguistic
and cultural freedom of the Morisco population and provoked the
(1568-1571), which was
put down by John of Austria
Castile entered a phase of recession in 1575, which provoked the
suspension of wages (the third of his reign). In 1590 the
approved the millones
; a new tax on food.
This ruined Castilian cities and eliminated their weak attempts at
industrialisation. In 1596 pay was once again suspended.
Kingdom of the "Austrias Menores"
In the previous kingdoms positions in national institutions were
filled by educated gentlemen. Philip II's administrators would normally
come from either the University of Alcalá or the University of Salamanca.
the nobility once again asserted their right to govern the
country. In order to show that there was a new order ruling there
was a cleansing of the blood of Spain. Religious persecution lead
Philip to declare the expulsion of the Moriscos in 1609.
Faced with the collapse of the Exchequer, in order to maintain the
hegemony of Philip IV's Spanish Empire, the Count-Duke
, the king's favourite
(valido) from 1621 to 1643, tried to introduce a series of reforms.
Among these was the Unión de Armas
, the creation of a new
army of 140,000 reservists. Every territory within the kingdom
contributed citizens proportionally in order to maintain the force.
His aims of union did not work and the Spanish Crown continued as a
confederation of kingdoms.
Luis Méndez de Haro took over from Olivares as favourite Philip IV
between 1659 and 1665. This was in order to alleviate interior
conflicts sparked off by his predecessor (revolts in Portugal, Catalonia and
Andalusia) and achieve peace in Europe.
Upon the death of Philip IV in 1665, and with the incapacity of
to govern, Spain
suffered an economic slowdown and battles for power between the
different 'favourites'. The death of Charles II in 1700 without
descendants provoked the War of the Spanish
Spanish territorial divisions within the Crown of Castile