BECK index

Castile, Aragon, Granada, and Portugal 1400-1517

by Sanderson Beck

Castile 1400-74
Castile of Isabel and Fernando 1474-92
Castile of Isabel and Fernando 1492-1504
Aragon 1400-79
Aragon of Fernando II 1479-1504
Spain of Fernando 1504-17
Granada 1400-1502
Portugal of Joao I and Afonso V 1400-81
Portugal of Joao II and Manuel 1481-1517

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Castile 1400-74

Castile, Aragon, Granada, and Portugal 1250-1400

African pirates were raiding the coast of Andalusia, and in 1400 Castile’s Enrique III (r. 1390-1406) sent a naval expedition against Tetuan that destroyed the pirates’ home city of Martin. In 1402 his navy led by Rubin de Bracamonte and Jean de Béthencourt captured and colonized the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The Cortes passed little legislation except against the Jews in 1405 when they revived the 1348 law that required Jews to wear a badge. During the riots of 1391 the chief rabbi of Burgos, Solomon ha-Levi, had converted and became known as Paul of Burgos. In July 1403 Pope Benedict XIII appointed him bishop of Cartagena in Murcia, and in 1406 Enrique made Paul major chancellor and tutor of his son Juan.

Enrique III’s only son Juan was born on March 6, 1405, and after a long illness the King died on December 25, 1406. Granada’s Muhammad VII had attacked Castile in 1405 and quickly broke the truce made on October 6, 1406. Enrique’s brother Fernando presided over the Cortes, and he demanded the Cortes vote 45,000,000 maravedis for the war against Granada. Enrique’s will designated Fernando and Queen Catalina (Catherine of Lancaster) as regents with separate tutors for Juan. Catalina retained northern Castile; but the 26-year-old Fernando gained control over most of Castile, and he betrothed his oldest son Alfonso to Enrique’s oldest daughter Maria. In 1407 the Moroccan fleet bringing 800 horses, money, and provisions was destroyed, and Granada could not get aid from Aragon either; but Fernando’s campaign was not well planned, and a two-year truce was made.

In 1408 Queen Catalina promulgated anti-Jewish and anti-Mudejar laws, but Fernando blocked them in his provinces. Vincent Ferrer persuaded her to impose the Valladolid laws of 1412 that were designed to humiliate and impoverish Jews by subjecting them to the loss of all their possessions and to corporal punishment. All Jews and Muslims caught leaving the kingdom could lose all they had with them and become the King’s slaves. Jews were required to wear a red badge, and men who cut their hair or shaved their beards could get one hundred lashes. About 20,000 Jews were intimidated into being baptized. From February 1413 to November 1414 at Tortosa a debate in 68 meetings was held between Christians and Jews on whether the Messiah had come and on the differences in the religions. The Christians were led by a disciple of Paul of Burgos—Joshua ha-Lorki, who had converted to become Jeronimo de Santa Fe. On May 11, 1415 Benedict’s papal bull forbade Jews to study the Talmud, and all copies of it were to be confiscated. Jews were forbidden to practice handicrafts or even medicine.

Fernando made his son Sancho master of the military order Alcantara in 1408 and his son Enrique master of Santiago the next year. In 1410 Fernando besieged Antequera for five months and then captured it with large siege-engines. That year Queen Catalina and Castile supported the candidacy of Fernando for the succession in Aragon. Fernando ruled Aragon as king 1412-16 while maintaining his regency in Castile. His son Alfonso succeeded him as king of Aragon, and his son Juan married the heiress of Navarre. Fernando’s daughter Maria became queen of Castile, and his daughter Eleanor became queen of Portugal.

Juan II reigned 1406-54 and began ruling in 1419, but he relied on the noble Alvaro de Luna to manage the government as Constable of Castile. He controlled not only the King’s offices and grants but the ecclesiastical dignities and benefices as well. Alvaro was often banished from the court and then recalled. Castile was involved in a long war against Hanseatic ports from 1419 to 1443. In July 1420 Fernando’s son Enrique tried to take power by breaking into the palace at Tordesillas and capturing King Juan, who managed to escape in November. In 1422 Alvaro ordered Enrique arrested for treason and communicating with the King of Granada. Constable Alvaro commanded all military forces and confiscated his estates and distributed them to his supporters. Alfonso V of Aragon denounced Alvaro for usurping the administration and for not allowing the King to rule or know his subjects. Alfonso demanded that Enrique be released, and he threatened to invade Castile.

Alfonso V’s brother Juan became king of Navarre in 1425; but he went back to Castile and in September 1427 persuaded King Juan II to dismiss the powerful Alvaro. However, Juan II was a weak ruler, and he did not trust Juan of Navarre, whom he thought should be in his own kingdom. Juan II recalled Alvaro in February 1428. Juan of Navarre left Castile, but he appealed to his brother Alfonso V of Aragon. Both sides prepared for war, but Maria, Alfonso’s queen and Juan II’s sister, placed her tent between the two armies and persuaded them to withdraw. Juan II occupied lands of Enrique, who fled to Aragon, but Alfonso V avoided a battle.

The Cortes of Castile provided military funds, but Alvaro de Luna lost his possessions in Castile in the spring of 1430. In July the kings of Castile and Aragon agreed on an armistice for five years, and Juan II decided to intervene in Granada. Aragon’s infantes Enrique and Pedro withdrew from Castile. When Muhammad IX refused to pay tribute to Castile, Juan II and Alvaro backed Yusuf IV in Granada, and in 1430 a treaty obligated Granada to pay Castile an annual tribute of about 225 pounds of gold. On July 1, 1431 Castile defeated the Muslims at La Higueruela near the capital of Granada. That year the Castilian clergy were taxed to pay for these crusades. Castile’s army enabled Yusuf to enter the city of Granada in January 1432, but he was unpopular in the country and was assassinated three months later. In 1432 King Juan’s treasurer, Rabbi Abraham Benveniste, initiated new laws that prohibited Jews from summoning another Jew to a secular or ecclesiastical court nor could Jews get tax exemptions anymore. The Church gave indulgences for money in 1433 and preached another crusade four years later.

After the truce began in 1430 Alvaro de Luna acquired more land and riches while governing Castile as he wished. After being captured in Naples, Juan and his brother Enrique eventually returned to Castile. Pedro Carrillo de Huete also led disaffected nobles against Alvaro in 1438, urging King Juan II to govern himself. In 1439 a league formed against Alvaro led by Prince Enrique of Aragon and King Juan of Navarre. The Cortes met and advised both sides to disarm, but they did not. Juan II dismissed Alvaro in October for six months. The King also tried to avoid Juan of Navarre’s advice by moving from town to town.

In 1440 Castile’s heir Enrique, Prince of Asturias, married Blanche (Blanca), daughter of Juan of Navarre, but after thirteen years of marriage she charged that he had not fulfilled his conjugal duty. When Alvaro returned to court, the infantes of Aragon accused him of usurping royal power. In July 1441 Alvaro was ordered to retire for six years. However, Enrique of Asturias was influenced by the ambitious Marquis Juan Pacheco of Villena, and they joined with Alvaro and proclaimed themselves champions of monarchy. In 1442 Pope Eugenius IV issued a bull against Christians associating with Jews, but on April 6, 1443 Alvaro de Luna issued a decree objecting to the Pope’s restriction of Jewish rights. That year the rebels held Juan II captive in his own palace. His son Enrique called on good men to help free the King. The conspirators were routed and fled to Aragon and Navarre.

After going back to Navarre, Juan joined with his brother Enrique and Castilian nobles to challenge the King, the Prince, and the Constable. On June 16, 1444 King Juan II escaped from the influence of Juan of Navarre, and on July 13 Juan II instructed the councils of the principal cities to administer justice without any discrimination against conversos (Jews who had converted to Christianity). Five days later the Castilian army attacked the castle of Peñafiel, which surrendered on August 16. This military campaign was intended to conquer all the fortresses held by the Infantes on the Duero River in the north. The royal army defeated the aristocratic rebels in the battle at Olmedo on May 19, 1445. That year Queen Maria died.

Alvaro arranged for Juan II to marry Isabel of Portugal on July 22, 1447, but she favored a faction that opposed Alvaro. On June 5, 1449 Governor Pedro Sarmiento of Toledo proclaimed in the town hall a new law that denied converts the right to hold any office or ecclesiastical benefice, and they were denied the right to testify in any court. Those rebelling against King Juan attacked converts in Toledo and around the kingdom. In Ciudad Real alone 22 converts were killed in July, and many more were maimed and wounded. On November 20, 1451 Pope Nicholas V instructed the Bishop of Osma and the Vicar of Salamanca to appoint inquisitors to punish converts suspected of Judaizing.

After Queen Isabel gave birth to Isabel at Madrigal on April 22, 1451, she persuaded Juan to get Alfonso Perez de Vivero to remove Alvaro de Luna, who discovered this and murdered Perez. The King had Alvaro arrested, and he was executed for sorcery on June 2, 1453. On May 11 Bishop Luis Vazquez de Acuña of Segovia annulled the marriage of Enrique and Blanche, blaming his impotence on sorcery. Juan II’s son Alfonso was born on November 15, and the King died on July 20, 1454.

By the middle of the 15th century only the following seventeen towns were represented in the Cortes of Castile: Burgos, Leon, Seville, Toledo, Cordoba, Murcia, Jaen, Zamora, Toro, Salamanca, Segovia, Avila, Valladolid, Soria, Cuenca, Madrid, and Guadalajara. Large regions were completely unrepresented, such as Galicia, Asturias, Santander, Extremadura, La Mancha, and the Basque country.

Enrique IV (r. 1454-74) succeeded his father Juan II and was a peaceful king. In 1455 he began sending out corregidores to correct abuses in Castile, though they were criticized and occasionally rejected. He also organized campaigns against Granada in the next three years. In 1456 Enrique initiated the Santa Hermandad while he was campaigning in Granada. In 1462 the Castilians captured Archidoma and Gibraltar. In 1464 some ambitious aristocrats accused him of being impotent, sexually perverted, and pro-Muslim, and they claimed his daughter Juana was fathered by Beltran de la Cueva. They proposed his half-brother Alfonso as heir to the throne, but he died. Enrique set up an arbitration commission, and on January 16, 1465 their report proposed many reforms favoring Pacheco’s league. Pacheco’s uncle Archbishop Alonso Carrillo of Toledo persuaded the King to reject them. On June 5 Pacheco and the rebels gathered outside Avila and deposed an effigy of Enrique and then crowned 11-year-old Prince Alfonso.

On September 12, 1465 King Afonso V of Portugal agreed to marry Isabel of Castile and to help Enrique against the rebels, but the Princess avoided this marriage. Also in 1465 Enrique sent the Hermandad constabulary to protect the peasants in Galicia from the aristocrats. The Irmandades formed groups of a hundred in districts, and they had 50,000 followers of their social and economic reforms. Laws were so relaxed that robbers pillaged the towns until citizens formed confederations to protect themselves and their property. Instead of one royal mint there were 150 authorized mints that often debased the currency. In April 1466 Juan Pacheco’s brother Pedro Giron wanted to marry Isabel and offered Enrique 3,000 cavalry and 60,000 gold doblas, but on his way to Madrid Pedro died suddenly of a throat infection. Finally in 1467 Enrique’s army met the rebels near Olmedo, and both armies went away claiming victory. That year converts in Toledo who supported Enrique had their property looted and burned. The Book of the Alboraique was written that year and satirized the conversos as Alboraiques (animals). Alonso Hernandez de Palencia studied in Italy, and in 1468 he became the King’s secretary for Latin letters and the royal chronicler.

Prince Alfonso became ill and died on July 5, 1468. Some believed that the Marquis de Villena had him poisoned. Juan II’s daughter Isabel became heir to the throne. The rebels wanted to put her on the throne, but she refused. In September she met with her half-brother Enrique IV; she submitted to him, and he recognized her as his heir in the treaty of Toros de Guisando. He put her over the important town of Medina del Campo and the principate of Asturias. However, the King still wanted her to marry Afonso V of Portugal and threatened to imprison her if she did not. She went to Madrigal and conferred with Archbishop Carrillo.

On January 7, 1469 Juan II of Aragon and his son Fernando signed an agreement that the latter would marry Isabel. On March 5 she and Fernando agreed to marry, and he promised he would not take political or military action in Castile without her consent nor would he give offices there to Aragonese or Catalans. He gave her 20,000 gold florins and a ruby necklace and promised her another 100,000 florins within four months after the wedding. Yet on April 30 Enrique agreed with Afonso V that Isabel would marry him, or she and her supporters would be proclaimed outlaws. Antonio Veneris, the papal legate to Spain, forged a bull claiming to be from Pope Pius II, allowing Fernando to marry a woman within three degrees of relationship as Isabel was. In May she went to Valladolid protected by Archbishop Carrillo’s troops. Juan II of Aragon confirmed the betrothal by sending her a pearl necklace and 20,000 florins. On September 8 Isabel sent a letter to Enrique explaining her position and asserting her independence. Fernando and Isabel were married on October 19, 1469.

On October 2, 1470 Isabel gave birth to her daughter Isabel. That month Enrique proclaimed that his sister Isabel had forfeited her claims by marrying without his approval. Riots against converted Jews also broke out in Valladolid in 1470 and in Cordoba in 1472. On March 1, 1471 Isabel issued a document arguing that Enrique’s and Juana’s daughter Juana was not legitimate because their marriage was not canonical. In May the counts of Treviño and Haro defeated Enrique’s forces in the Basque region. After Pope Paul II death in July the Franciscan Francesco della Rovere was elected Pope Sixtus IV on August 9, and he appointed Rodrigo Borgia to be legate to Spain. In Segovia some Jews were convicted of ritually murdering a child, and about a dozen men were executed. Isabel and Fernando formed an alliance with Charles the Bold of Burgundy in November. Late in 1472 Isabel and Fernando gained the support of the poet and first Marquis of Santillana, Iñigo Lopez de Mendoza and his three sons —the Count of Tendilla, the Bishop of Siguenza, and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, the second Marquis of Santillana. On May 16, 1474 armed bands in Segovia broke into houses and killed all the Jewish converts they could find.

Castile of Isabel and Fernando 1474-92

When Enrique died on December 11, 1474, a succession struggle began between Isabel and Enrique’s daughter Juana la Beltraneja. At Segovia Isabel was proclaimed queen of Castile with Fernando as her legitimate husband. On December 16 they sent out decrees to all the cities represented in the Cortes ordering their delegates to come to Segovia and swear allegiance to Queen Isabel. Most of northern Castile supported Isabel while southern Castile supported Juana. While trying to avoid war with Portugal, Fernando sent the Count of Cabra to arrange a truce with Emir Abu’l Hasan Ali of Granada, and after long negotiations it was signed on November 17, 1475. Isabel and Fernando issued a general pardon to all nobles and knights who had been disloyal to them, and those who had been banished or fled to Portugal were encouraged to return.

On April 10, 1475 Afonso V of Portugal invaded Extremadura, but he returned to Portugal after two days to proclaim the Portuguese succession. That month Queen Isabel agreed to let Fernando organize the defense of Castile and Aragon. Afonso had about 5,000 cavalry and between 10,000 and 15,000 infantry. On April 15 Isabel and Fernando affirmed their place on the high court and appointed Palencia’s Bishop Diego Hurtado de Mendoza president of the tribunal. She went to Tordesillas but could not persuade the Bishop of Toledo to support her. On May 25 Isabel declared war on Portugal and condemned their supporters as traitors. Princess Juana la Beltraneja traveled from Madrid to Plasencia and married King Afonso V there on May 29. The next day they sent out letters to bishops, nobles and large towns in Castile arguing for their claim to the throne. On May 31 Isabel had a miscarriage at Cebreros. Fernando helped recruit an army of 2,000 armed men plus 6,000 cavalry and 20,000 infantry from seigneurial and municipal forces. Zamora and Toro were captured by Afonso’s forces. Isabel and Fernando lacked money and called a council at Medina del Campo on July 27, and they asked the Church for a loan of thirty million maravedis.

Enrique IV’s Queen Juana died in Madrid on December 12, 1475. Isabel and Fernando established their headquarters at Tordesillas for the next two years. Pacheco had died in November 1474, and in January 1476 military action broke up the Villena marquisate to punish his rebellion. Isabel persuaded the thirteen electors and knights to choose Fernando to be master of the Orders of Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcantara. Afonso V of Portugal claimed to be king of Castile and Leon while Fernando and Isabel claimed Portugal. In a major battle on March 1 at Peleagonzalo near Toro they captured about 2,000 Portuguese prisoners as Afonso retreated to Castronuño, which Fernando besieged for eleven months and then destroyed. On March 5 Isabel joined him at Zamora, which surrendered, and on March 22 they announced general celebrations. Afonso went back to Portugal with his bride to reclaim his throne from his son Joao, but then he went to France in September 1476 before retiring in Normandy. After the death of his father Rodrigo in 1476 Jorge Manrique wrote his famous poem, Stanzas on His Father’s Death.

The national Cortes of Madrigal established the new Santa Hermandad (Holy Brotherhood) for three years with a council presided over by the Bishop of Cartagena. Starting in June 1476 Isabel and Fernando required towns to recruit one cavalry soldier for every hundred families and one armed man per 150 households. The eight organized provinces were Burgos, Palencia, Segovia, Avila, Valladolid, Zamora, Leon, and Salamanca. In late July a general committee (junta) met in Dueñas and established a national Hermandad for the local police armed with crossbows, and on August 13 the monarchs sanctioned their jurisdiction over robbery, murder, housebreaking, rape, and acts of rebellion. A theft of from 500 to 5,000 maravedis could be punished by loss of a leg, but most crimes had the death penalty. The troops were used in the war of the succession against the Portuguese and their supporters. After the Cortes of Madrigal rejected the corregidor Diego de Madrid because of the expense, Isabel ruled that corregidores would only be appointed for one year and had to be approved by local authorities. The rebellious Irmandiños, who had been undermining law since 1467, were finally put down before Isabel’s victory in 1479.

In 1477 and 1478 Isabel and Fernando consolidated their authority in Extremadura and Andalusia. She went to Seville in July 1477 as 4,000 rebels fearing punishment fled. By September the Duke of Medina Sidonia had surrendered, and corregidors were sent to Seville and Cordoba. The Marquis Rodrigo Ponce de Leon of Cadiz submitted to Fernando, and Andalusian resistance ended in the winter of 1477-78. Castile made peace with France’s Louis XI on October 9, 1478 while maintaining trading relations with England and Burgundy.

Joao II was crowned king of Portugal on November 15, 1478, and five days later Afonso V left on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He never got there and in early 1479 invaded Castile again without the support of his son Joao. One battle was fought near Albuera on February 28 before hostilities stopped for the negotiations. Isabel and Fernando in December had persuaded Pope Sixtus IV to reverse the dispensation granted by Pope Pius II for Afonso’s marriage. After seven months of negotiation Castile and Portugal made the Treaty of Alcaçovas on September 4 in which Juana renounced her claim to Castile and agreed to enter a convent of Clares in Portugal. Castile renounced its claims to overseas territories but retained the Canary Islands. Isabel promised to marry her daughter Isabel to Joao’s 4-year-old son Afonso. On July 26, 1480 Castile and Portugal made a trade treaty.

Queen Isabel (r. 1474-1504) shared her throne with her husband, Fernando II of Aragon, but only she could receive direct homage, disburse funds, and make royal appointments. The University of Siguenza was founded in 1477. At the Cortes of Toledo which met from October 1479 to May 1480 Isabel and Fernando reorganized the Castilian royal council with eight or nine lawyers, three nobles, and Bishop Iñigo Manique de Lara of Coria as president. The Act of Resumption transferred half the revenues of the nobles to the Crown, giving the monarchs an annual income of 30,000,000 maravedis and doubling royal revenues from 1477 to 1482. The 1474 revenue of 900,000 reales rose to 26,000,000 in 1504. After this the Cortes had little influence, and they were not summoned again until 1497. The Crown legislated with ordinances and by administrative measures.

A committee in Madrid asked the monarchs to recruit a force of 200 soldiers for Castile. In 1480 Isabel and Fernando suppressed the rebels in Galicia, demolished 46 castles, collected taxes, and restored property seized from churches and monasteries. By 1481 the Santa Hermandad had been extended to all of Galicia and restored order in Castile, but the Crown disbanded them in 1498. In 1485 the royal Audiencia moved to Valladolid, and four regional audiencias were also established. The increasing royal revenues of Castile financed the conquest of Granada and overseas colonization. Pietro Martire d’Anghiera (Peter Martyr) came from Italy to Zaragoza in 1487 and taught at the University of Salamanca, which had 7,000 students, before becoming the chaplain at the royal court where he educated young nobles. He wrote a history of New World exploration in his Decades de Orbe Novo.

On November 1, 1478 Pope Sixtus IV issued the Exigit sincere devotionis bull appointing two or three priests as inquisitors in Seville. The inquisitors arrived in 1480, and in the first eight years they condemned about seven hundred Conversos and burned them. Many more were given lesser punishments. Their property was confiscated as soon as they were arrested, financing the tribunals. Professional defense lawyers were appointed by the inquisitors. A majority of the tribunal had to vote that the person was probably guilty before torture could be applied to get a confession. Contradictory witnesses might be tortured to try to determine who was being truthful. Those who repented of their “sins,” were reconciled to the Church but might only be killed by a sword rather than burned alive. Those released who relapsed into heresy were burned. The first six men and one woman convicted of heresy were burned on February 6, 1481, and seventeen more converts were burned on March 26 and even more in April. By November in the city of Seville 298 people had been killed at the stake, and 79 had been sentenced to life in prison.

On February 11, 1482 Pope Sixtus IV appointed seven more inquisitors for Castile, but on April 18 he issued a bull saying that the Inquisition was motivated by “lust for wealth” and that

persons without any legitimate proof
have been thrust into secular prisons,
tortured and condemned as relapsed heretics,
deprived of their goods and property
and handed over to the secular arm to be executed.1

He ordered that the accused should have counsel and be given the names and testimony of accusers. King Fernando wrote to Sixtus on May 13 that he would not let any concessions made by the Pope take effect. In October the Pope gave in and announced he had suspended his bull.

On the first day of 1483 the inquisitors of Seville and Cordoba ordered all the Jews expelled from their dioceses and from Cadiz and Jaen, and about 10,000 people left. On August 2, 1483 Pope Sixtus issued another bull authorizing an inquisition in all of Spain, and he urged the conversion of Jews and conquest of the Muslim kingdom of Granada. Pope Sixtus appointed Tomas de Torquemada Inquisitor-general on October 17, 1483. During his fifteen years in office about 2,000 Conversos were burned for heresy, and 15,000 others were punished. In 1484 Pope Sixtus began quashing convictions and canceling sentences of the inquisitors in Seville, and he urged Christians to practice mercy and kindness. In February and July of 1485 Pope Innocent VIII asked for greater mercy and leniency and more use of secret reconciliation. Fernando and Isabel got so much money from the Conversos that in 1484 they built a royal palace at Guadalupe that cost 2,732,333 maravedis.

In Toledo in 1486 the Inquisition sentenced 750 people on February 12, 900 on April 2, and 750 on May 2. In two years about 5,200 people out of less than 20,000 in Toledo were punished for Judaizing. Toledo held 25 autos-da-fé from 1486 to 1492, and 467 people were burned. Castile had a population of almost 7,000,000 with about 150,000 unconverted Jews and nearly as many Conversos. In 1499 the inquisitor of Cordoba was convicted of fraud and extortion, and he was replaced. Before he died in 1498 Torquemada approved the burning of 8,800 people. He was succeeded by Archbishop Diego Deza of Seville (1498-1507) and Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros (1507-17).

During her struggle for the throne of Castile Queen Isabel put off the conflict with Granada by agreeing to a one-year truce in 1475 and a five-year truce the next year. She and Fernando signed a new three-year truce with Abu‘l-Hasan in 1478, and they waived the annual Nasrid tribute. However, in November 1479 Pope Sixtus IV issued a bull calling for a crusade against Granada. In 1480 the established Castilian monarchs sent Diego de Merlo, who had subdued Cordoba and Seville in 1476-78, to attack the Muslims in Ronda. On December 27, 1481 Muslims retaliated and took the fortress of Zahara by surprise. Abu‘l-Hasan recaptured Cardela and lost Montecorto but regained it from the Marquis of Cadiz.

In February 1482 Isabel called upon all knights with royal subsidies to fight the Muslims. Rodrigo Ponce de Leon gathered 2,500 cavalry and 3,000 infantry, and on February 28 Ortega de Prado led the attack on the key citadel at Alhama. The next day Abu‘l-Hasan arrived with several thousand cavalry and more than 50,000 infantry and besieged Alhama. Fernando brought reinforcements and supplies on 40,000 mules from Cordoba in May. After Christians relieved the siege, Abu‘l-Hasan went to defend Loja. Fernando’s force of 5,000 armed men and 8,000 infantry was chased away by the Emir’s cavalry and 80,000 infantry.

On August 10, 1482 Pope Sixtus issued a bull calling upon Christians in Spain and other nations to contribute troops to the Granada crusade, and some Swiss soldiers came in 1483. In March of that year the Christians were ambushed in the Ajarquia; nearly 400 were killed while 1,500 men including 400 nobles were captured. Muhammad XII was known to the Spaniards as Boabdil. He led an attack on Lucena on April 20, 1483 and was captured with many Muslims. Fernando with 10,000 horsemen, 20,000 infantry, and 30,000 others went back to the usual tactic of destroying property and crops, including olive and fruit trees as well as grain. He and Isabel decided to release Boabdil, and he agreed to pay an annual tribute of 12,000 gold doubloons and return 700 Christian captives. In March 1484 the Count of Tendilla was given permission to pardon all criminals who served in Alhama for eight months. Fernando’s army captured Alora in June. Francisco Ramirez of Madrid developed the best artillery in Europe, and during the 1480s Fernando increased the use of artillery to destroy Granadan fortifications.

On May 8, 1485 the Marquis of Cadiz with 11,000 cavalry and 25,000 foot-soldiers began besieging Ronda, which surrendered two weeks later, and most of its people were forced to leave. Leaders swore to be vassals of Castile, and Fernando let their judges continue to use shari’a law. After Abu‘l-Hasan died, Boabdil occupied the Alhambra. In December 1485 the Hermandad began supplying combat forces. Fernando went against Loja, which surrendered on May 29, 1486. The next April an army set out from Cordoba to attack Vélez-Malaga. Vélez surrendered on the 27th, and the Christians let the inhabitants take their goods and weapons with them. Fernando began the siege of Malaga on May 6, and Isabel joined him two weeks later. Starving Malaga capitulated on August 18, 1487. The 12,000 survivors were condemned to slavery, but the wealthy could ransom themselves with their possessions. All of the Ajarquia surrendered and became Mudéjar subjects. Pope Innocent VIII gave Castile the right of ecclesiastical patronage in Granada.

For a few years Boabdil was in conflict with Eugenius but then he went back to fighting the Christians. In 1488 Fernando’s army besieged Baza, and Isabel visited the camp and pawned her jewels to support the siege. Al-Zagal retreated to Guadix, submitted, and emigrated to Tlemcén. In the spring of 1491 Fernando had 50,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry besiege Granada, and Boabdil finally surrendered and signed a treaty on November 25. He was given 30,000 gold Castilians and kept La Alpujarra. On January 2, 1492 he handed the keys to the city of Granada to King Fernando who passed them to Isabel, and she gave them to the new military governor, the Count of Tendilla. Hernando de Talavera became archbishop of Granada and founded the Collegio de San Cecilio as a seminary for priests.

In November 1476 Isabel and Fernando ordered an investigation into rights of conquest in the Canary Islands, and in the spring of 1478 they sent Juan Rejon with sixty soldiers and thirty cavalry to the Grand Canary, where the natives retreated inland. The 1479 treaty with Portugal recognized Castile’s right to the Canaries. Forces led by Pedro de Vera suppressed a rebellion on Grand Canary that ended on April 29, 1483 with a capitulation. Vera was accused of atrocities on other Canary islands and after an investigation was eventually taken back to Spain in chains in December 1489.

Diego de San Pedro published the sentimental romance novels Tratado de Amores de Arnalte y Lucenda (Story of the Loves of Arnalte and Lucenda) in 1491 and Carcel de Amor (Prison of Love) in 1492. These describe amorous adventures and courtly romances with Diego’s psychological insights. About 1485 he also wrote a burlesque Sermon that gives a code of behavior for lovers.

Castile of Isabel and Fernando 1492-1504

Castile collected special tributes from Jews for the war in Granada, and the last assessment was made in October 1491. On March 31, 1492 a royal decree ordered all Jews in Castile and Aragon to convert to Christianity or emigrate. This was not proclaimed until the end of April, and they had to leave by the end of July. On May 14 a royal decree permitted Jews to sell their lands, but in Aragon they had to pay their royal taxes first. All debts owed to Jews had to be paid so that they could pay their debts. About 50,000 converted, and about 170,000 left the Spanish kingdoms. Isaac Abrabanel wrote that 300,000 departed, and some said as many as 800,000. Many went to Portugal. Abrabanel had advised King Alfonso V, had taught in Toledo, and advised Isabel and Fernando on finances for eight years; he led about 10,000 Jews to Naples. About 12,000 Jews moved to Navarre; but Fernando pressured that state to decree that Jews must convert or leave. In July 1494 Isabel and Fernando argued that Jews had taken prohibited goods with them, and they ordered all their outstanding debts collected and put in the royal treasury.

Queen Isabel could have pawned jewels to pay for the three ships Christopher Columbus used to sail west into the Atlantic Ocean, but the converso Luis de Santangel loaned her more than ten million maravedis for that purpose. On April 17, 1492 Isabel and Fernando signed a contract with Columbus written by Friar Juan Perez making him Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Viceroy and Governor-general of all lands he would discover with ten percent of the treasure and the right to trade without paying duties. He was also sent for “the service of God and the expansion of the Catholic Faith.” On August 3 he sailed with ninety men on three ships from Palos. They departed from the Canaries on September 8 and reached the Bahamas on October 12. Columbus discovered Cuba on October 28, and he saw people smoking tobacco through the nose. After finding Puerto Rico on November 16, he went to the island of Haiti that he named Española. In March 1493 Isabel and Fernando learned that Columbus had discovered the Indies, left a settlement, and lost one ship. On April 21 they received him at their court in Barcelona. Pope Alexander VI’s bull arrived in May confirming the Spanish conquest of the Indies and urging them to fulfill their promise of sending missionaries. Isabel did not want Indians used for mining, but they were to be made Christian and royal subjects.

On May 29, 1493 instructions for his second voyage provided Columbus with seventeen ships and 1,200 men for the purposes of strengthening the Spanish claim in the islands, bringing back gold, and contacting the Asian mainland. The monarchs also sent Aragonese noble Pere Margarit and the Catalan friar Bernardo Boyl who destroyed “idols” in the new town of La Isabela on Española. The fleet led by Columbus sailed from Cadiz on September 25, but Isabel did not hear back from him for six months. Fernando sent a letter on April 13, 1494 and dispatched the Admiral’s brother Bartoloméo. The next month Margarit and Boyl brought back reports criticizing the paucity of gold, the hunger and syphilis at La Isabela, and the Admiral’s jailing of his controller. Antonio Torres was sent to Española asking Columbus to return to help with the negotiations with Portugal. On June 7, 1494 the sovereigns of Portugal and Castile signed a treaty at Tordesillas dividing claims 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands. Frustrated by the lack of gold, in February 1495 Columbus brought 1,500 Tainos to La Isabela and sent the best 500 to Bishop Fonseca for the Crown. Columbus returned to Spain in the spring of 1496, leaving his brother Bartoloméo to govern.

Alfonso Fernandez de Lugo after twenty months conquered the Canary island of La Palma in May 1493. Then with 1,000 infantry and 120 cavalry he set out to conquer the island of Tenerife. Benchomo led the resistance that killed six hundred Spaniards in an ambush and wounded so many they only survived by Benchomo’s mercy. Lugo came back with a large force in November 1494 and the next month defeated Benchomo in a pitched battle. Guerrilla fighting continued until September 1496. The seven islands of the Canaries had become part of Castile, and the Inquisition came there in 1504.

The influential Archbishop Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza of Toledo died on January 17, 1495, and he was succeeded by Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros. In 1495 and 1496 Diego Cabrera led a royal expedition from Gran Canary to the coast of Africa. To defend the papacy Spain joined the Holy League with Portugal, England, Venice, Milan, Emperor Maximilian, and Pope Alexander VI. Isabel and Fernando supported the war against France by sending troops to Italy. In 1495 Isabel and Fernando ordered all subjects to arm themselves according to their means, and in 1496 at Valladolid they announced that whenever needed the realm could call one man out of twelve between the ages of 20 and 45 to serve in the royal armies.

The third voyage led by Columbus left from Seville on May 30, 1498 with eight ships and three hundred settlers including thirty women. Columbus named an island Trinidad and discovered the mouth of the Orinoco River in South America. A year later Alonso de Ojeda, pilot Juan de la Cosa, and the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci sailed to the Orinoco. Ojeda named Venezuela after Venice, and Amerigo published a map naming the new continent America. Isabel received many complaints from the colonists in Española. The Chief Justice Francisco Roldan was in rebellion against the Columbus brothers. The Queen sent Francisco de Bobadilla to be the chief magistrate and to investigate. In May 1499 Isabel learned that Columbus had sent back three hundred settlers with as many native slaves. Angrily she ordered all the slaves returned to their home, and some went back with Bobadilla in June. The latter quickly had Columbus and Bartoloméo arrested and shipped back to Spain in chains.

As soon as they heard of this, the monarchs had them freed, but in December 1500 they provided Columbus with only 2,000 ducats and ordered him to explore but stay away from Española. They appointed Nicolas de Ovando to govern there, and he arrived in April 1502. Columbus sailed with four ships the next month, but he spent a year shipwrecked on the island of Jamaica. The new Governor Ovando reduced the Crown’s share of the gold gradually from one-half to one-fifth to promote mining. He started the growing of sugar cane and introduced the encomienda system in 1505 that authorized encomenderos to hold people and use their labor, replacing the repartimiento system of slavery. In October 1503 Isabel allowed slavery for those who had been involved in crimes, cannibalism, or fighting against the Spaniards.

In January 1500 Queen Isabel assured her envoys to Ronda that the Granada treaties still prevented mass conversions; but later that month Fernando announced that it was the will of both monarchs that everyone in Granada must convert, and he offered amnesty to anyone who did so by February 25. About 50,000 Muslims converted. Early in 1501 an insurrection broke out in Ronda that was put down. On February 12, 1502 Isabel and Fernando decreed that all unbaptized Moors (males over 14 years old and females over 12) would have to leave Castile by the end of April. Those who did not could be put to death and lose their property.

In July 1500 Isabel and Fernando issued rules at Seville in regard to corregidores. Their salaries were limited, and local officials were suspended during their term of office. The corregidores were not to have financial interests in the district. They had to visit the entire district within sixty days and report annually to the Crown. They could change local laws but only with the approval of the local regidores. In 1502 Isabel decreed that licenses were required for the printing of books, and they could only be granted by the high courts of Valladolid and Granada or by the prelates of Toledo, Seville, Granada, Burgos, or Salamanca. That year the University of Seville was founded, and the next year the Crown gave the Casa de Contratacion at the port of Seville a monopoly on American trade.

When Isabel died in 1504, she was succeeded by her daughter Juana, who was married to Philippe of Burgundy. After his death, she went insane and was replaced by Fernando’s regency until their son Carlos succeeded him in 1516. (See below.) Castile was still dominated by less than three percent of the people who owned 97% of the land. The Tragicomedy of Calixto and Melibea, which is better known as La Celestina, was first published in 1499 in sixteen acts with the later acts probably written by Fernando de Rojas. The bawdy go-between Celestina arranges for love-smitten Calixto to meet Melibea; but when she refuses to share the gift he gave her, his servants resent it. In this realistic play with comic elements the desires for sex and money are portrayed in the different social classes, and tragedy results. Celestina says, “He who loves must be much troubled with the sweet, superexcellent delight which was ordained by God for the perpetuating of mankind.”2 Economic motives are also strong. Celestina also says, “Every rich man hath a dozen of sons or nephews which desire nothing more than to see him undergroud.”3

Aragon 1400-79

Aragon 1250-1336
Aragon’s Pedro IV

Marti, who had been ruling Sicily, became king of Aragon in 1396. At this time the kingdom of Aragon had about 200,000 Mudejars (Muslims) who were mostly peasants and artisans. In 1401 a pogrom against Jews in Barcelona forced many to convert to Christianity. That year Barcelona claimed to have the first bank of exchange and deposit in Europe. Pestilence delayed Marti’s entry to Valencia until April 1402. He made peace with Tunis in 1403. With the papal schism still continuing in April 1403 Castile’s Enrique III resumed his allegiance to Pope Benedict XIII, and the French did so a month later. The Catalans did not meet until 1405, and a brilliant assembly convened at Perpignan on January 26, 1406. Marti sought to constrain the power of the aristocrats and to restore the fiscal stability of the kingdom. In 1409 his son Marti led an expedition from Sicily that defeated the Sardinian rebels at Sanduri on June 30; but he died a month later. King Marti moved his court to Barcelona and married Margarita de Prades in September. Marti was ailing, and he died without a surviving son on May 31, 1410. Marti was considered a good king and was called “the Humane.”

Jaume II of Urgell was the great-grandson of Alfonso IV, and he acted as Governor-general in Aragon; but he refused to accept the crown. In the spring of 1411 his Aragonese allies murdered Archbishop Garcia Fernandez de Heredia, who had supported the Angevins. Fernando Antequera was the son of Juan I of Castile and the grandson of Pedro IV of Aragon. He was thirty years old and was acclaimed for his conquest of the Moors at Antequera in 1410. Pope Benedict XIII suggested a representative commission, and three electors chosen from each of the parliaments of Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia met at Caspe in the spring of 1412 and elected Fernando. Jaume tried to rebel, but he was captured in November 1413 and deprived of his lands. King Fernando I (r. 1412-16) convoked a Cortes at Zaragoza and in September 1412 swore to uphold Aragonese privileges. He secured the investiture of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica from Pope Benedict in 1412, and he sent his second son Juan to govern Sicily as Viceroy. In 1413 it was decided that the fourth estate would not be admitted into the assemblies. Fernando was crowned at Zaragoza in February 1414, and he named his oldest son Alfonso heir and the Duke of Gerona. In January 1416 Fernando withdrew his obedience from Benedict XIII, and he died on April 2.

Fernando’s son Alfonso had married his cousin Maria of Castile at Valencia in 1415, and he succeeded his father as Alfonso V (r. 1416-58). His first Cortes in Catalonia refused to grant him a subsidy in 1416. His brother Juan governed Sicily; but when the Sicilians tried to become independent by making Juan their king, Alfonso recalled him. Alfonso went to Sardinia to subdue an uprising in 1420, though the Genoese forced him to withdraw. That year much of Corsica was reconquered. In July 1421 he went to Naples, where the childless Queen Giovanna adopted him as her son and heir. He sent an Aragonese fleet of ten galleys commanded by Romeu de Corbera of Montesa to aid the Milanese army against Genoa, and on October 22 they defeated the Genoese, sinking five of their seven galleys. In May 1423 Alfonso had Giovanna’s lover Giovanni Caracciolo arrested, but Giovanna escaped and repudiated her adoption of Alfonso, naming Louis III of Anjou heir with Pope Martin V’s blessing. In June 1423 Giovanni Caracciolo and Sforza de Tennebello took over the city of Naples for Louis. Alfonso with a Catalan fleet blockaded Naples against the Genoese and attacked Marseilles. His fleet was battered by storms and returned to Barcelona in December.

Alfonso’s brother Juan had married Blanche of Navarre in 1420. Their other brother Enrique tried to take power in Castile by breaking into the palace at Tordesillas and capturing King Juan II, who managed to escape in November. He and Alvaro de Luna then imprisoned Infante Enrique, and the Prince’s party found refuge in Valencia, appealing to Alfonso, who had returned to Aragon. When Carlos III (r. 1387-1425) the Noble died, Blanche became queen regnant of Navarre (r. 1425-41) with Juan as king consort. A treaty with Juan II in 1425 released Enrique. Alfonso V blamed Alvaro for controlling Juan II and threatened to invade Castile. At this time members of the Trastamara dynasty were the kings of Castile, Aragon, and Navarre.

Barcelona suffered a second and worse financial crash in 1427 that lasted five years. Alfonso V favored a wider franchise, and election reforms spread from Jativa in 1427 to other towns in Valencia. In 1429 Alfonso’s Queen Maria persuaded him and her brother Juan II of Castile to avoid war. The people were tired of war, and in July 1430 they agreed to a truce for five years. In 1432 Alfonso wanted to return to Italy, and he planned to turn Aragon over to Juan, who was King of Navarre; but the Catalan Cortes asked him to make Queen Maria regent, and he did so. He said goodbye to his wife in the Barcelona palace on May 26 and never saw her again, and she governed Aragon until his death in 1458. Alfonso had built a large fleet and spent most of the next three years in Sicily. Juan and Maria managed to negotiate a peace treaty with Castile that was finally signed on September 22, 1436; both sides restored territories taken during the war. Juan gave up his Castilian lands, and his daughter Blanca was betrothed to Enrique of Asturias, heir to the throne of Castile.

Queen Giovanna died in February 1435, and she bequeathed Naples to René of Anjou, brother of Louis III. However, René was being held prisoner by Duke Philippe of Burgundy. In May 1435 Alfonso sailed to besiege Gaeta and began his advance toward Naples; but Milan’s Duke Filippo Maria Visconti sent 25 Genoese ships, and on August 5 they defeated the Aragonese forces, capturing Alfonso and his brothers Juan and Enrique with other distinguished barons. Alfonso was taken to Genoa and then to Milan, where he persuaded Visconti to recognize him as king of Naples to keep out the French. On October 8 they agreed to divide Italy between them. After the Cortes of Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia sent a ransom of 30,000 ducats in February 1436, Alfonso returned to find that his brother Pedro had secured Gaeta. Alfonso gave up Corsica and sent his brother Juan to govern Aragon. He promoted maritime trade and initiated consulates at Modo in the Morea in 1416, at Candia in 1433, and at Ragusa in 1443.

Alfonso V began besieging Naples in 1438, but his brother Pedro was killed by a cannonball on October 17. In 1439 the Council of Basel deposed Pope Eugenius IV and elected Felix V. Then they authorized Visconti and Alfonso to conquer the Papal States. Alfonso captured the towns of Puzzuoli and Torre del Greco in December 1441. He learned of water tunnels, and they were used by two hundred men to get into Naples on June 1, 1442. Alfonso’s forces won the battle on June 28, and René fled to Florence. Alfonso made his triumphant entry into Naples in February 1443. On June 14 he pledged his loyalty to Pope Eugenius, and he broke off relations with the Council of Basel. Eugenius invested him with Naples on July 15. Alfonso pacified his enemies, and his illegitimate son Ferrante (Ferdinando) was proclaimed his heir in Italy and Duke of Calabria. Not content with ruling southern Italy, the aggressive Alfonso invaded Tuscany in 1448; but he only captured a few castles, and Pope Nicholas V mediated a peace in 1450. Alfonso had to put down a peasant revolt on Mayorca in the early 1450s. He also protected the Knights of St. John at Rhodes. Alfonso spent the rest of his life in Italy. He tightened the siege on his rival Genoa before he died on June 27, 1458.

In 1443 King Juan of Navarre came into conflict with his sister Maria, Queen of Castile, and his son-in-law Enrique, and in September 1444 Juan and his brother Enrique were driven out of Castile. Messages were sent to Alfonso, but he decided to stay in Naples. On May 19, 1445 Juan and Enrique suffered a disastrous defeat in the battle of Olmedo in which Enrique was mortally wounded. Juan was unable to get much support from Navarre or Aragon for fighting Castile. The terrorism of Catalan ships was a major factor in the economic decline of Catalonia in the 15th century. The slave trade in Barcelona reached its height in the early 1440s, but it began its decline in 1450. A peasant rebellion began in Majorca in 1450 that lasted four years.

Alfonso V left no sons and was succeeded in Aragon by his 60-year-old younger brother Juan II (r. 1458-79). Juan had married Blanche of Navarre and had been King of Navarre since 1425. After Blanche died, he married the influential Juana de Enriquez, daughter of Castile’s Admiral. Catalonia was undergoing political turmoil after the King had granted remences (serfs) the right to form local syndicates in 1448. Within a year 25,000 peasant families had joined. Alfonso founded the University of Barcelona in November 1450. As Viceroy for his brother, Juan had favored the people since 1455, causing the upper classes to oppose him. Prince Carlos of Viana, his son by Blanche, had fought his father in a Navarre civil war. He was arrested at Lerida on December 2, 1460 for opposing his father again, and Catalan aristocrats refused to accept Fernando, Juan’s second son by Juana, as his heir. Catalonians forced Juan to free Carlos in March 1461, but he died of illness on September 23 at Barcelona. Between 1462 and 1466 Juan II had to suppress peasant rebellions in the Balearic Islands of Mayorca and Minorca.

In 1462 the Council of the Generalitat raised an army to suppress the remences, and they purged their opponents in Barcelona. The conflict became a civil war that lasted ten years. Juan turned to France’s Louis XI who seized Rossello. His opposition allied with Castile’s Enrique IV who was proclaimed king of Aragon to no effect. Next they backed Portugal’s Constable Dom Pedro, but he was defeated in 1465 and soon died. The province gave the crown to René of Provence to get French support for their revolt, but he died too. For two years Barcelona was governed like an Italian republic. Juan II became close to Castile by marrying his son Fernando to Princess Isabel in 1469. Fernando already had two illegitimate children, Juan who would become archbishop of Zaragoza and Juana who would marry Bernardino Fernandez de Velasco, Constable of Castile.

On November 1, 1471 Aragon formed a triple alliance with Ferrante of Naples and Charles the Bold of Burgundy against Louis XI of France. Juan’s coalition also included England and Brittany, and in September 1472 Galeazzo Maria Sforza kept the Genoese fleet from supplying Barcelona when it was under siege by Aragonese forces. Juan entered the capital on October 17 and confirmed all their privileges. In February 1473 he went to Perpignan, and two months later they resisted a siege by the French army. France signed a peace agreement there on September 17. Louis XI sent another army that conquered Perpignan on March 10, 1475. In 1476 Fernando sent forces into Navarre to stop civil strife and keep out the French. Finally on October 9, 1478 a peace agreement generously restored the Catalan constitution, but France kept Rossello. Juan II died on January 19, 1479 at the age of 81 and was succeeded by his son Fernando II except that his dominions in Navarre went to his daughter Eleanor, wife of Gaston de Foix.

Aragon of Fernando II 1479-1504

King Fernando II of Aragon (r. 1479-1516) spent most of his time in the much larger Castile of his wife, Queen Isabel, and he enjoyed kingly status and governmental prerogatives there. He ruled the kingdoms of Aragon and Valencia, the counties of Barcelona (Catalonia) and the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, and Sicily. During his reign he spent three years in Aragon and three more in Catalonia but only six months in Valencia. The Cortes of Aragon was summoned only six times in his 37-year reign. During his visit to Catalonia in 1479 Fernando restored the alienated goods of former rebels, and in 1481 he affirmed Catalan rights in his constitucio de l’observança. His cousin Enrique served as corregidor there until 1493. Landlords had too much power; the remences rose up in 1484, but they were put down in 1485.

In December 1481 Fernando and Isabel appointed inquisitors for Aragon. Pope Sixtus IV denied their request in January, but in April he reluctantly approved with a warning that inquisitors were torturing and condemning Christians to get their wealth. In October 1482 the Pope suspended the inquisition in Aragon. In May 1484 Inquisitor-general Torquemada appointed Gaspar Juglar and Pedro Arbués de Epila the first two inquisitors in Aragon. In October the Inquisition decreed that all public office holders in Teruel were removed, and the offices were confiscated by the Crown. They appealed to the King to enforce this, and in February 1485 Fernando ordered all officials in Aragon to raise forces to support the inquisitors. The people in Teruel and Valencia rose up against the Inquisition, but they were suppressed by force.

On September 15, 1485 the inquisitor Arbués was murdered in Zaragoza Cathedral, and in May 1486 Fernando expelled the Jews from the dioceses of Zaragoza and Albarracin. Aragon had about 30,000 Jews and 40,000 conversos. In 1486 the King’s Sentencia de Guadalupe established juridical freedom for all the peasants and banned the abuses. To reduce oligarchic domination Fernando suspended the elections of the Generalitat deputies and judges in 1488 and appointed them himself. The new Inquisition was extended to Catalonia and Sicily in 1487 and to Sardinia in 1492. From 1488 to 1505 only eight of the 1,199 people tried by the Inquisition in Aragon were not conversos.

Fernando II was the first to be called the King of Spain (Espanya). In 1491 he expanded the privileges of the University of Barcelona. At Barcelona on December 7, 1492 Fernando was attacked by the Catalan peasant Joan de Canyamas who stabbed him in the back of the neck, but a heavy gold necklace helped save the King’s life. The assassin confessed he was influenced by a diabolic spirit, and he was executed by mutilation.

On January 19, 1493 France in the treaty of Narbonne returned the provinces of Rosellon and Cerdaña to Aragon. After Charles VIII led French forces into Italy in 1494, King Fernando II in early 1495 sent envoys Juan Albion and Antonio de Fonseca to warn the French not to invade Naples. Fernando sent Lorenzo Suarez de Figueroa to Venice proposing they join with the Pope, the new Emperor Maximilian, the Duke of Milan, and the Spanish against Charles VIII, and their league was signed at Venice on March 31. Fernando sent 2,100 men under Captain Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba to aid young Ferrante II regain his kingdom of Naples. Charles VIII left 10,000 men to defend Naples and returned to France. Despite a defeat by the French, Ferrante managed to enter Naples, and Gonzalo advanced from Calabria. They both besieged Atella, which capitulated on July 20, 1496. Ferrante died on October 7 and was succeeded by his uncle Federico. On October 20 the Infanta Juana married the Hapsburg Archduke Philippe at Lille, and on April 3, 1497 the Archduchess Margaret became the wife of the Infante Juan of Burgos, joining the Spanish royal family with the powerful Hapsburgs. The Infanta Caterina also married Arthur, Prince of Wales. Also in April the truce in Naples was extended for seven months.

In 1498 Gonzalo drove the French out of Calabria and captured Ostia. On July 31 Fernando II made a treaty with France’s Louis XII. The University of Valencia was founded in 1500. After Federico made an alliance with the Turks, Louis and Fernando divided Naples in the treaty of Granada on November 11. The French had more than 12,000 troops there, and in July 1501 they easily defeated and captured Federico. Gonzalo led the attack that took Taranto on March 1, 1502 from Federico’s son, the Duke of Calabria. The French and the Spaniards came into conflict, and eleven knights from each side fought before 10,000 spectators the next winter. Gonzalo led the Spaniards who took over Naples from the French on May 14, 1503. In December the Spaniards drove the French back to Gaeta, which surrendered on January 1, 1504. Two months later in a treaty the French recognized the Spanish possession of Naples.

Spain of Fernando 1504-17

When Queen Isabel of Castile died in 1504, the national debt was 127,000,000 maravedis; but in 1509 it reached 180,000,000. In September 1505 Cardinal Cisneros sent Diego Fernandez de Cordova with 10,000 men in ships to attack the Bay of Mers-el-Kabir in Algeria. They took over the garrison and were supplied with grain from Barcelona.

In October 1505 King Fernando II of Aragon made the treaty of Blois with Louis XII, agreeing to marry his niece, Germaine de Foix, and he maintained friendship with France until 1511. Philippe the Handsome and his wife Juana arrived at La Coruña on April 28, 1506. The Cortes of Valladolid recognized Juana as queen of Castile with Philippe as her consort. He took over the government and appointed Flemings, but he died of typhoid fever on September 25. Juana was mentally unstable, and Fernando was chosen to be regent of Castile as Fernando V. In 1508 while Venice was fighting the French and Emperor Maximilian, Fernando reclaimed the kingdom of Naples.

In 1508 Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros, frustrated by the conservatives at Salamanca, founded the University of Alcala to emphasize the philosophy of Duns Scotus. Nebrija critically examined the ancient manuscripts of the Bible and was removed from his chair at Salamanca in 1512, but Jiménez gave him the chair at Alcala. In 1517 the scholars at Alcala completed the Biblia Polyglotta Compluti; but Pope Leo X did not license it for publication until 1520, and it was printed in 1522 in six volumes including the original Hebrew and the Septuagint Greek version of the Old Testament, the original Greek of the New Testament, and the Latin Vulgate by Jerome of the entire Bible.

On July 28, 1508 Pope Julius II gave King Fernando patronage in America. Governor Ovando in the Indies appointed Juan Ponce de Leon to govern San Juan Bautista in 1509, and on July 10 Diego Columbus replaced Ovando on Española and inherited his father’s title as Viceroy. Ojeda founded a colony at Darien in Panama. On September 18, 1509 Portugal recognized Castile’s possession of Torre de Santa Cruz in West Africa. In 1509 the Spaniards took over Oran in North Africa with an invading army of about 15,000, followed by Bugia in 1510 and Tripoli in 1511. Santo Domingo became the largest town on Española, and in 1511 Fray Antonio de Montesino preached a scathing sermon against the ill treatment of the natives.

In October 1511 Fernando entered the Holy League of Pope Julius II with Venice that was later joined by England and Maximilian. On July 21, 1512 the Spanish army led by the Duke of Alba entered Navarre to defend it against the French, and in 1514 Fernando completed the submission of Navarre. He announced the annexation of Navarre to the Cortes of Burgos on July 7, 1515.

On December 27, 1512 Fernando’s commission published the Laws of Burgos that recognized the rights of Indians. Ponce de Leon discovered and named Florida on April 2, 1513. Nuñez de Balboa in September led 190 men across the mountains and saw the Southern Ocean (Pacific). On February 12, 1515 Pope Leo X formed another league with Maximilian, the Duke of Milan, the Medicis, the Swiss, Henry VIII, and Fernando. That year Fernando reversed Isabel’s prohibition of repartimientos using slaves, and he gave thousands of Indian slaves to his friends. Bartoloméo de las Casas, the reformer of colonial practices, made an appeal before the ailing King on December 23, 1515, but Fernando II died on January 23, 1516. That month the Portuguese explorer Juan Diaz de Solis was killed by natives after discovering the Rio de la Plata south of Brazil for Spain. Fernando had arranged for his illegitimate son Alonso de Aragon to be regent of Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia with Cardinal Cisneros governing Castile. Fernando’s Hapsburg grandson Carlos was in the Netherlands and arrived at Tordesillas on November 4, 1517. Cisneros was very ill and died four days later at nearby Roa. In ten years he had 2,536 people burned alive. Carlos became the first king of Spain and then in 1519 the Holy Roman Emperor Carlos V.

Juan del Encina wrote poetic dialogs based on the New Testament that were played before the court between 1492 and 1514. Antonio de Nebrija (1444-1522) studied in Italy for ten years and brought the first printing press back to Spain in 1473. He published the first Castilian grammar in 1492, telling Isabel, “Language is the perfect instrument of empire.”4 He wrote a history of the reigns of Isabel and Fernando up to 1485 in his Decades.

Imperial Spain and Portugal 1517-88

Granada 1400-1502

Granada 1250-1400

Muhammad VII (r. 1391-1408) was trying to negotiate peace with Aragon from 1404 to 1408 while Enrique III tried to get Aragon into an anti-Granada alliance until his death in late 1406. Castile’s regents Fernando and Catalina (Catherine of Lancaster) were given money for a campaign by the Cortes, and by then they had developed the use of cannons with gunpowder using crews of two hundred men for the various tasks. After Fernando failed at Setenil, he returned to Seville. A truce was negotiated in April 1408 but only for seven months. Muhammad VII died in May, and his brother, who had been a prisoner at Salobreña for so long, became Yusuf III.

Yusuf III (r. 1408-17) began his reign by negotiating another short truce. Four days after it expired in April 1410, the Granadans attacked Zahara, killing 140 men and taking 61 women and 122 children captive. That month Fernando began the siege of Antequera for which he became famous. Granada had not been paying tribute for more than thirty years and would not agree to do so. A scaling ladder enabled the Castilians to take Antequera on September 16, and they captured 895 men, 770 women, and 863 children. Fifty died waiting for transportation, and more died on the way. This was followed by another period of peace as Juan II’s regent Enrique negotiated a truce from 1412 to 1415, and Catalina renewed it in 1417, the year Yusuf III died.

As Muhammad VIII was only eight years old in 1417, Yusuf’s chief minister ‘Ali al-Amin continued to govern. In 1419 the Banu Sarraj from Guadix and Illora removed young Muhammad VIII and killed ‘Ali al-Amin, making left-handed Muhammad IX emir. Alonso de Guzman and Rodrigo Narvaez led raids into Granada in 1420, but Muhammad IX let frontier judges resolve the disputes. When he could not renew a truce in 1427, the city of Granada revolted against paying more tribute. They removed the Banu Sarraj government and restored Muhammad VIII on the throne while Muhammad IX took refuge in Almeria. Muhammad VIII was willing to be a vassal to Juan II, but Muhammad IX held out for independence. In late 1429 Muhammad VIII surrendered; he and his brother were sent to Salobreña, where they were put to death in March 1431.

Muhammad IX’s second reign lasted only two years. In April 1430 he sent Ibrahim ‘Abd al-Barr to Juan II, offering Castile help against Aragon. When Muhammad IX refused to pay tribute or return prisoners, Juan ordered a military offensive. Muhammad VIII’s former minister Ridwan Venegas went to Cordoba and asked Juan to make Muhammad VI’s grandson Ibn al-Mawl Yusuf IV, who swore fealty to Juan. In 1431 Alvaro de Luna led an attack on Granada, won the battle of La Higueruela (Andaraxemel), and installed their vassal Yusuf IV in the city of Granada. The rest of the country was against him, and he was soon killed.

Muhammad IX’s third reign was from 1432 to 1445. In the summer of 1432 Castile launched a crusade against Granada, destroying its agriculture and taking over castles and villages one at a time over a period of years. Chopping down orchards caused more lasting damage. Eventually in 1439 divisions within Castile caused Juan II to send Iñigo Lopez de Mendoza to negotiate a truce for three years. During this peace two rivals challenged Muhammad IX, and in 1445 the Governor of Almeria drove out the Banu Sarraj government and proclaimed himself Muhammad X. Once again the Castilians installed their puppet ruler as Yusuf V within a year; but he too was quickly thrown out as Muhammad X came back for two years. In 1447 a Granadan offensive pushed back the frontier almost to where it had been in 1410, and Navarre became Granada’s ally in 1449. Muhammad IX’s fourth reign lasted from 1448 until his death in 1453.

The Castilians called Abu Nasr Sa‘d “Cariza.” He was the brother of Yusuf III and was 55 years old when he became king of Granada in 1453. He sent nobles with an escort of 150 men to do homage to King Henrique IV, and the prince Abu‘l-Hasan ‘Ali remained as a hostage. Muhammad XI in the Alhambra still claimed to be king of Granada also, but he was unpopular and fled in 1455. Sa‘d refused to be a vassal of Castile, pay tribute, free captives, or cede territory. Abu‘l-Hasan ‘Ali was released and captured the escaping Muhammad XI, killing him and all his heirs. In the spring of 1456 Henrique had crops destroyed around Malaga and then around Granada in the fall. Sa‘d was given a five-month truce in October for which he paid 12,000 doblas and returned 600 prisoners. Sa‘d got another truce from 1457 to 1461. After two Muslim victories against Rodrigo Ponce de Leon in April and Miguel Lucas de Iranzo in July, the Castilians captured Gibraltar in August 1461. Also that year Sa‘d had his Banu Saraj supporters assassinated at a banquet in the Alhambra. Sa‘d ruled there until his son Abu‘l-Hasan ‘Ali overthrew him in 1464. In the summer of 1462 the Castilians occupied Gibraltar, breaking the connection between al-Andalus and North Africa.

Late in 1477 Rodrigo Ponce de Leon led an attack that captured Carciago and killed 350 inhabitants. King Abu‘l-Hasan ‘Ali made a truce with Castile in 1478. He and his army suffered losses from a thunder storm and floods in April 1478 that caused financial problems and higher taxes. In 1481-82 the Muslims captured Zahara castle by scaling the walls. On February 28, 1482 Rodrigo led an attack on Alhama, killing a thousand men and imprisoning about four thousand women and children. The next day Abu‘l-Hasan besieged the Castilians until they were relieved by the Duke of Medina Sidonia and others.

Also in 1482 Abu‘l-Hasan ‘Ali rebelled against his father Sa‘d bin Muhammad bin Yusuf and the Banu Saraj, abandoning his wife, the daughter of Muhammad IX, and taking the captured Christian slave-girl Thurayya as his mistress. In 1483 the Castilians invaded the Ajarquia to divide the Granada kingdom in two. However, Rodrigo Ponce de Leon was caught in a trap, and more than a thousand Christians were captured. The next month Boabdil (Abu ‘abd-Allah Muhammad XII) raided Lucena, but he was captured as several thousand Muslim soldiers were killed or captured. Boabdil was held by the royal council at the Porcuna castle. Eventually he was released as part of a two-year truce. Abu‘l-Hasan ‘Ali became seriously ill and was replaced by his brother Muhammad XIII. Also in 1483 King Fernando sent 10,000 cavalry and 20,000 infantry to destroy crops. Fernando came within ten kilometers of Granada and was given a tribute of 12,000 doblas, sixty prisoners a year for five years, and took ten noble youths hostage. Boabdil returned, but this deal was not well received by the Muslims.

In 1484 the Christians won a victory at Alora and continued raiding and burning. Fernando besieged Setenil in September. In early 1485 Abu‘l-Hasan ‘Ali’s brother al-Zagal drove Boabdil’s men out of Almeria. Granada had been cut in half, and in 1485 Fernando attacked Ronda and the coast as far as Malaga. Muslims in the region surrendered, and the Christian King promised to allow Islamic law there, giving people Mudejar status. The Castilians captured Marbella, Moclin, and other border fortresses. In 1486 they took over Loja and captured Boabdil again. The Castilians invaded Vélez-Malaga in 1487 and besieged Malaga. Ibrahim al-Jarbi let himself be captured and tried to kill King Fernando, but he assaulted the treasury official Ruy Lopez de Toledo by mistake and was killed. The inhabitants of Malaga were starved into accepting Mudejar subjection, and Castile took over the Andalusian port. In 1489 Granada remained with only Guadix, Baza, and Almeria which were held by al-Zagal’s men. Some Muslims promised to become Christians and were allowed to keep privileges. Almeria surrendered on December 22, and eight days later Guadix was traded for an estate in Alpujaras. Al-Zagal sold it and went to North Africa with his followers. Only the city of Granada itself remained Muslim.

In 1491 King Fernando returned to besiege Granada, and by the end of August the starving city was ready to surrender. No Muslims were coming from North Africa to rescue Granada, and the capitulation was made between Fernando and Boabdil on November 25. Those who wished to leave could take their possessions except firearms, and for three years free passage on ships was provided. Remaining Muslims were allowed to practice their religion, and no Christian could enter a mosque without permission. Lawsuits between Moors were to be decided by shari‘a law. No Moor was to be forced to be a Christian against his or her will. No Muslims would be conscripted into military service. On January 2, 1492 Boabdil handed the keys to the city of Granada to King Fernando, and Boabdil’s son held hostage was returned. The last Muslim stronghold on the Iberian peninsula had fallen under Christian rule. Christopher Columbus was in Granada and noted the event in his logbook. On March 31 the Jews in Spain were ordered to convert to Christianity or leave the country. Boabdil went to North Africa in the fall.

Christians came to Granada, and in 1498 the city was divided into Christian and Muslim halves. Archbishop Hernando de Talavera respected Muslim beliefs and led by his Christian example, but Francisco Jiménez Cisneros was a militant Christian and criticized Talavera. The policies of Cisneros drove some Muslims to insurrection. He ordered all Arabic books collected, and with the exception of some medical books all 5,000 volumes were burned on a bonfire. In November 1499 the zealous Cardinal Cisneros arrived and began breaking the agreements, provoking a revolt in the Albaicin quarter that was crushed. Mudejar compacts were no longer respected, and Islam ceased to be a public religion. Another revolt broke out in Almeria in October 1500, but the Muslim insurgents were defeated in early 1501 near Ronda. On February 12, 1502 all Moors were ordered to convert to Christianity or leave Castile by the end of April.

Portugal of Joao I and Afonso V 1400-81

Portugal 1250-1400

A series of truces that began in 1387 were interrupted occasionally by border raids, and a formal peace between Castile and Portugal was finally signed on October 31, 1411. Portugal’s Joao I (r. 1385-1433) preferred educated advisors, and many lawyers and merchants replaced the landed magnates who had supported Leonor. Joao studied English history, and the titles were based on the English system. Joao Afonso de Azambuja, the Archbishop of Lisbon, proposed a campaign to capture vulnerable Ceuta on the African side of the Straits of Gibraltar. In July 1415 during a plague that killed Queen Philippa, the Portuguese led by King Joao and Prince Henrique captured Ceuta from the Muslims. The King’s sons Pedro and Henrique were made the dukes of Coimbra and Viseu. The organizations of master craftsmen had helped Joao to the throne, and he gave them privileges and favors. Joao did not call a Cortes between 1418 and 1427. He frequently depreciated the coins, and a mark of silver went from 18 libras in the time of Fernando (Ferdinand) to 29,000 in his reign.

Prince Henrique “the Navigator” established an office for navigation and cosmography near Cape St. Vincent on the southwest tip of Portugal from where he patronized voyages of exploration. He encouraged his captains to make peace with the natives in Africa. Portugal also annexed the uninhabited islands of Madeira, the Azores, and Cape Verde. Joao Gaonçalves Zarco and Tristao Vaz Teixeira went to Porto Santo in the Madeira Islands in 1418. Two years later Bartolomeu Perestrelo and others began colonizing them. The Portuguese tried to conquer the Canary Islands from Castile in 1425. The Jewish mapmaker Jafuda Cresques came from Majorca with much knowledge. About 1431 Gonçalo Velho Cabral explored the Azores, and the next year he stocked the large island of Santa Maria with cattle.

King Joao I died in 1433, and the Cortes lost its fight to be summoned every year. His son Duarte (Edward) became king of Portugal, and he supported Henrique’s explorations. Duarte wrote the ethical Loyal Counselor and initiated the process of compiling Portuguese royal law, which was named after his son who completed the Ordenaçoes Afonsinas. The mastership of the military orders of Santiago, Avis, and Christ had been taken over by the princes by 1434. That year Gil Eanes went beyond the feared Cape Bojador in West Africa, looking for a river of gold. The Africans were not trading much at Ceuta, and the idea of attacking Tangier persuaded Duarte to convene a Cortes, which funded the expedition. In 1437 a crusade was proclaimed in Portugal, and in August the princes Henrique and Fernando led the Portuguese army from Ceuta to Tangier. Salah ibn Salah, the former Governor of Ceuta, defended Tangier with help from Granada, which was at peace with Castile. The larger Moroccan army surrounded the Portuguese and forced them to surrender. Ceuta had to be abandoned, and Fernando was left as a hostage. He was taken to Fez and died in June 1443.

Duarte felt bad about not ransoming his brother Fernando and died of illness on September 9, 1438. His son Afonso V was only six years old, and Duarte had appointed Queen Leonor his tutor and regent. However, the Cortes elected Duarte’s brother Pedro regent in 1440, though he was opposed by Leonor and the nobles led by his half-brother Count Afonso of Barcelos. A mission from Castile demanded the restoration of Queen Leonor, and she went to Crato; but Pedro forced her to leave there for Castile by the end of the year. Barcelos submitted, and Pedro pardoned him. In January 1442 an Aragonese party obtained a subsidy from the Cortes for a war against Portugal, and Portuguese forces supported Castile’s constable Alvaro in the victory at Olmedo on May 19, 1444. Pedro’s son Pedro led the Portuguese troops as constable. Matteo Pisano came to Portugal and wrote his History of the Conquest of Ceuta in Latin.

Exploration resumed in 1441, and the new caravela ships were better at sailing away from the coast. Antao Gonçalves and Nuno Tristao brought back seal oil and skins with ten African captives from North Mauritania. Learning they were Muslims, Henrique asked Pope Eugenius IV to declare a crusade, and he offered rewards to those who would fight the “infidels.” In the next seven years more than a thousand slaves were taken to Portugal. Pedro gave his brother Henrique a monopoly on all voyages south of Cape Bojador. In 1442 the Portuguese began trading wheat to Africans for gold.

In 1443 the Crown began taking one-fifth of the profits from the African trade which included Morocco. That year Henrique was given a monopoly on trade with the African coast south of Cape Bojador. Another fleet in 1444 brought back several hundred slaves, and the next year Dinis Dias discovered Cape Verde in the Senegal region. The African slaves were curiosities in Portugal, and those converted were often taught trades and married Portuguese. In 1446 an expedition with 51 caravels ended the friendly policy of Henrique as profit-seeking adventurers used more violence. In retaliation Nuno Tristao and most of his crew were killed by poison arrows. During Pedro’s regency (1441-47) the Portuguese sent twenty expeditions to the Atlantic coast of Africa and no military campaigns to Morocco. They discovered 198 leagues of coastline in those six years but only 94 leagues in the next twelve years as the Portuguese established trading posts along the African coast.

In 1446 Afonso V gave Prince Henrique exclusive rights to navigate to the Canary Islands, and the next year Diego Garcia de Herrera conquered Gomera. In 1448 Henrique bought the rights to Lanzarote from Maciot de Bettencourt, and he sent Alvaro Dornelas and Antao Gonçalves to the islands in two caravels. In 1451 Henrique’s armada captured two Spanish caravels commanded by Juan Iñigues de Atabe with Bishop Don Juan Cid of the Canaries, but in 1454 the Castilians expelled Gonçalves from Lanzarote.

Regent Pedro arranged for his daughter Isabel to marry King Afonso V; but after the wedding in 1447 the Barcelos faction persuaded the King to terminate the regency. Pedro reluctantly retired to Coimbra. His son Pedro and his friend Alvaro Vaz de la Almada, governor of the Lisbon castle, were also dismissed. The Duke of Bragança and his son, the Count of Ourém, governed for the King and turned him against Pedro. When Afonso ordered Pedro to let Bragança’s men pass through his territory, Pedro gathered a small army. King Afonso declared Pedro a rebel and raised an army. Henrique’s efforts to resolve the conflict failed. When Afonso V came to Lisbon in October 1448, Pedro refused to surrender his arms. Pedro arrested a royal messenger to gain information, and his estates were ordered confiscated. The two armies met by the Alfarrobeira River, and on May 20, 1449 Pedro was killed by an arrow in his heart.

In the 1450s an average of 750 slaves a year were brought to the Algarve and Lisbon. On January 8, 1455 the Romanus Pontifex bull of Pope Nicholas V gave Portugal a monopoly on discovery and conquest in Africa south from Bojador. In February 1456 Pope Calixtus III granted Afonso V the tithe from all ecclesiastical revenues so that he could raise money to fight the Turks, and on March 13 his bull Inter Caetera gave the Order of the Christ complete dominion over Portugal’s regions. That year Alvise de Cadamosto and Antoniotto Usodimare discovered the uninhabited Cape Verde Islands and then explored the Gambia River.

In 1457 King Afonso V minted the first gold cruzado, and on January 4, 1458 he granted a 5% tax on slaves, gold, fish, and other merchandise for the Order of Christ. That year the crusade effort faded after the death of Pope Calixto, but Afonso commanded an expedition with 220 ships and 25,000 soldiers that captured Al-Kasr al-Saghir in Morocco on October 23. Prince Henrique let three captains govern Madeira, and before dying on November 13, 1460 he persuaded Afonso to transfer the islands to the King’s brother Fernando, who became the master of the Order of Santiago and the Order of the Christ. On December 3 Afonso transferred the Azores, Madeiras, and Canaries to Fernando.

Expeditions to Morocco in 1460 and 1463-64 failed; but in 1471 they took over Asila, killing 2,000 and taking 5,000 prisoners, and frightened people left Tangiers. On June 12, 1466 Fernando received a charter for settlements on the Cape Verde Islands and in Guinea. On the African coast the Europeans traded cotton cloth, beads, dyes, soap, horses, burros, metals, and salt for slaves, ivory, malagueta pepper, wax, hides, and a little gold. Christians justified their slave trade because they were taking some away from Muslims. In November 1468 Fernao Gomes rented the trade monopoly in North Africa in exchange for discovering 320 miles of coastline each year in the Gulf of Guinea for five years. Fernando died in 1470. In January 1471 the gold trade began at Shama Bay, later named the Gold Coast.

Burgh-charters were generally revised in 1472. The next year the first national budget showed 47 million reais in royal revenues and 37.6 million reais for public expenditures, but this did not include revenues from overseas. Most of the public revenues went to the royal family, 81% in 1478. That year the 60 million reais spent on defense was more than all the public revenues. When Afonso V became king in 1438 Portugal had only two dukes and six counts, but by his death in 1481 there were four dukes, three marquises, 25 counts, one viscount, and one baron, and these families owned most of the land. The King’s favorite, Jorge da Costa, was archbishop of Lisbon and Braga. Most monasteries had declining revenues, but Alcobaça and Santa Cruz de Coimbra retained their wealth and influence.

Afonso V’s sister Joana had married Enrique IV of Castile in 1455, but after Enrique’s death in December 1474 Isabel was proclaimed queen. In May 1475 Afonso invaded Castile to claim the throne, and in Placencia he married Enrique’s daughter Juana (called “de Beltraneja” by her opponents). The army of King Afonso and Prince Joao fought those led by Fernando of Aragon at Toro in March 1476. Both sides claimed victory, but the Portuguese withdrew from Castile. That year transfer taxes were enacted. Afonso went to ask for aid from Louis XI in France, and Joao began to govern Portugal in 1477. The Treaty of Alcaçovas signed by ambassadors on September 4, 1479 was ratified by Portugal and Castile in 1480. Portugal kept the Azores, Madeiras, and Cape Verde Islands and other islands between Castile’s Canary Islands and Guinea. Afonso V died on August 28, 1481 and was succeeded by his son Joao II.

Portugal of Joao II and Manuel 1481-1517

Joao II had begun supervising Atlantic expeditions at the age of 19 in 1474. That year Joao Vaz Corte Real and Alvaro Martins Homem may have reached Greenland or Newfoundland, and they called it Codfish Land. In 1475 Portugal began its royal monopoly on the gold from the Guinea coast. That year King Afonso V entered Castile and occupied most of Leon, but the Portuguese were stopped in 1476 at Toro and came home. In 1477 the elderly Afonso began letting Joao rule Portugal. Joao II was crowned on November 15, 1478, and five days later Afonso V began a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The Portuguese Crown adopted a policy of secrecy on their explorations. They began producing sugar at Madeira, and by 1495 they had exported so much into Europe that the price had fallen 60%.

Joao II strengthened royal law and administration. The Duke of Bragança had a private army and controlled more than fifty towns, but Joao curtailed his power and beheaded him, crushing the Bragança family and his cousin Diogo. In 1482 the fortress Sao Jorge da Mina was established on an island off the Guinea coast for trading gold, slaves, pepper, and ivory. That year Diogo Gao went down the coast of Africa south of the equator and began exploring the Congo River. He went south as far as Cape Santa Maria which he named Santo Agostinho, and he returned to Lisbon in 1484. Columbus first petitioned the Portuguese for an expedition west in 1484, but their experts believed he was greatly underestimating the distance he would have to travel to reach the Orient. By 1485 the Portuguese had learned how to chart positions by longitude and latitude. The Duke of Viseu was a cousin and brother-in-law of King Joao who stabbed him to death in 1484 for having led a conspiracy. Others were executed or fled to Castile. Joao wanted a fort at the Senegal River, and in 1486 during a civil war among the Wolof King Bemoin asked for Portuguese help. Joao agreed, and Bemoin and his subjects became Christians. On December 3, 1489 Bemoin was baptized Joao.

On May 7, 1487 Afonso de Paiva and Pero de Covilha left Santarém traveling by way of Barcelona, Naples, Rhodes, and Cairo to Aden in the summer of 1488. Paiva died going to Ethiopia while Covilha made it to Cannanore, Calicut, and Goa in India. From Cairo in 1491 Covilha sent a letter back to Joao with the Jewish José de Lamego. Covilha spent 25 honored years in Ethiopia but died there because the emperors would not let him leave. Meanwhile Bartolomeu Dias had surpassed Diogo Cao by seeing Walvis Bay and reaching Hottentot Bay on December 23, 1487. Dias went around the southern tip of Africa, but his crew made him go home. He named the Cape of Good Hope and returned to Lisbon in December 1488. The Flemish mariner Van Olmen who went northwest from the Azores was never heard of again. Diogo Cao led a mission to the Congo in 1490, and in 1491 King Nzinga was baptized as a Christian, also taking the name Joao. In the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 Pope Alexander VI divided the world of exploration 370 leagues (1,184 miles) west of the Cape Verde Islands, giving Portugal the east side and Castile the west.

Professional assemblies represented craftsmen, and in 1487 King Joao II required each craft to have two deputies for judging professional issues. In 1489 the first regulation for shoemakers and tanners in Lisbon established rules for labor conditions and prices. Lisbon opened a large hospital in 1492 based on Florentine and Sienese models. Manuel tried to regulate the University of Lisbon, but students and professors ignored his orders. None of the earliest books printed in Portugal around 1470 survive, but from 1487 to 1495 several books were printed in Hebrew on religion. The debasement of silver coins was stopped with the new vintém in 1489. After his son Afonso died in 1491, Joao named the Queen’s brother Manuel heir to the throne. In 1492 about 60,000 Jews expelled from Castile found refuge in Portugal, increasing its Jewish population to about 5%. Joao let them in for payment of eight cruzados each but only for eight months. Most of them left, but about 600 families purchased permanent residency.

Joao II died at the age of forty without any surviving sons, and he was succeeded by his cousin Manuel (r. 1495-1521). He restored the privileges of the Braganças and other banished families. To marry Isabel of Asturias, widow of his late brother, Manuel had to promise to expel all the Jews and Muslims refusing to convert, and he proclaimed this in December 1496 before their marriage in 1497. On March 19 he ordered all Jewish children between the ages of 4 and 14 to be seized and converted. Those refusing to convert were to be separated from their parents. On May 30 Manuel granted amnesty to all Jews who had been baptized by force. About 80,000 Jews left Portugal. In 1498 the brotherhood called Our Lady of Mercy was founded to organize charity and hospitals throughout Portugal. Queen Isabel died in 1498 during childbirth, and her son died in 1500. Riots against the New Christians began in 1504, and in 1506 two Dominicans led a mob that killed at least 2,000 in Lisbon. The next year Manuel abolished legal discrimination against Jews in Portugal. Royal power became stronger when the council of Lisbon subdued representatives of guilds after anti-Jewish crimes. The Cortes met only four times during the 26 years of Manuel’s reign.

In July 1497 Vasco da Gama sailed with four ships around Africa, going ninety days away from land before reaching St. Helena Bay. After going around the Cape of Good Hope they named Natal on Christmas Day, saw the Zambezi River, reached Mozambique Island on March 2, and went up the coast to Melinde. Da Gama reached the Malabar coast in southwest India on May 18, 1498. He lost a third of his crews before returning in the summer of 1499 but made a sixfold profit from small supplies of cloves, cinnamon, and gems. The merchant Sernigi sent the news by letter to Italy. That year King Manuel established copper patterns for all weights and measures.

On March 9, 1500 Pero Alvares Cabral set out for India with thirteen ships, but he sailed so far west on his southern route that on April 22 he saw land in South America; he was still in the region given to Portugal, and he reached India on September 13. Starting in 1506 brazilwood was imported at a profit, and the name of the colony was changed to Brazil. Manuel exempted from the tithe all grain imported into Lisbon and Setubal from 1502 until the end of his reign.

In 1502 Portugal spent 20 million reais on fortifications in North Africa. They launched several campaigns into North Africa, taking Santa Cruz de Cabo de Gue in 1505, Mogador in 1506, Safim in 1508, Azamor in 1513, and Mazagao in 1514, but they were forced out of Mogador in 1510.

Vasco da Gama went to India again 1502-04 with fourteen armed vessels carrying soldiers. They won sea battles against Arabs and penetrated the spice trade. Calicut’s Samorin offered to turn over the twelve Muslims who had conspired against Cabral’s commercial agent (feidoria) but would not expel all Muslims. Da Gama ordered his cannons fired against the city, and they slaughtered several hundred fishermen they trapped at sea. The Venetians were fighting their second Turkish War, and in the spring of 1502 the Sultan withdrew their ambassador from Portugal. In 1503 Afonso de Albuquerque led three ships going to India. After da Gama left, Samorin attacked Cochin and the Portuguese there. A small force led by Duarte Pacheco Pereira, who wrote Esmeraldo de situ orbis, fought to defend Cochin for five months. Also in 1503 the Portuguese established the Casa da India to maintain the monopoly on pepper, cloves, and cinnamon, and a tax of 30% was levied on such trade. In 1498 trade had only a 5% customs duty, but in 1504 the Crown controlled all trade with the East and declared its monopoly two years later. By 1510 Portugal was receiving a million cruzados annually from the spice trade.

In 1504 thirteen ships led by Lopo Soares de Albergaria sailed for India. After loading up with spices his fleet went to aid Pereira and destroyed a fleet of Arab merchants trying to leave. On March 25, 1505 King Manuel appointed Francisco de Almeida Viceroy for three years over the Portuguese colonies in the Indian Ocean, and he sailed with 22 ships and 2,500 men. Almeida built fortresses in Kilwa, Sofala, and Mozambique on the east coast of Africa, in Angediva, Cannamore, and Cochin on the west coast of India, and on Socotra east of the African horn and south of Arabia.

King Manuel particularly wanted a fort inside the mouth of the Red Sea to control spices going to Egypt. In March 1506 Samorin’s fleet of more than two hundred ships fought a Portuguese squadron of four ships led by Almeida’s brother Lourenço and suffered losses, but Samorin increased his navy that year. The Portuguese lost an ally when the King of Cannanore died, and his successor fought with Samorin against them. Calicut paid a fleet from Goa to attack Angediva, and Almeida abandoned that fortress. A fleet led by Afonso d’Albuquerque and Tristao da Cunha captured the main port of Suq on the island of Socotra to control the Red Sea.

In 1508 an Egyptian fleet led by Amir Hussain attacked Lourenço de Almeida in the harbor of Chaul. On the second day of the battle a fleet led by Malik Ayaz reinforced Hussain, and Lourenço was killed. Other ships escaped to tell Viceroy Almeida. He wanted revenge and refused to yield his office to Albuquerque, who attacked Ormuz with 500 men on seven ships. He wrecked their navy and forced Governor Khwaja Atar to become a vassal of Portugal. Almeida took 1,200 men on 19 ships and attacked Amir Hussain at Diu in February 1509, winning a decisive victory over Samorin’s armada as well that gave Portugal control over the Indian Ocean. The Portuguese lost more than a hundred men but destroyed the Egyptian and Gujarati fleets. Fernando Coutinho came to Cochin and in November forced Almeida to yield the viceroyalty to Albuquerque.

Viceroy Afonso d’Albuquerque (1509-15) began by occupying the island of Ormuz (Hormuz) at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Coutinho commanded 1,500 men on 15 ships, but they were attacked while looting Calicut. Albuquerque gathered a fleet of 23 ships with 1,200 men and even got help from the Indian pirate Timoja for a successful attack on the island city of Goa. He established a capital and repaired its defenses before Ismail Adil Shah assaulted them with 50,000 men in May 1510 while Muslims in the city rose up. Albuquerque abandoned Goa in August, and Adil Shah left only 10,000 men to guard the city.

Diogo Lopes de Sequeira discovered Malacca in 1510, but Sultan Muhammad turned against them and attacked Sequeira’s ships which fled. Diogo Mendes was bound for Malacca but joined with Albuquerque, and they conquered Goa again on November 25 and strengthened its defenses. The Viceroy commandeered four ships of Mendez and banished him after he objected. With 1,200 men on 17 ships Albuquerque attacked Malacca that had a garrison of 20,000 men. The Portuguese wounded leading elephants with pikes, and the elephants turned and trampled the army behind them. After fortifying Malacca, the Viceroy loaded his ship with valuable spoils that struck a reef on the Sumatra coast and sank.

Albuquerque recaptured Goa once more in September 1512. The Viceroy took his navy to the Red Sea and besieged Aden but left it and went back to India in August 1513. In March 1515 Albuquerque used 3,000 men on 27 ships to reconquer Ormuz in the Persian Gulf. He became ill and died on December 16, 1515. He already had been replaced by Lopo Soares de Albergaria (r. 1515-18) who allowed more private trading.

In 1512 a more modern law code called the Ordenaçoes Manuelinas was first published. In 1514 Pope Leo X authorized a bishop of Funchal with jurisdiction over maritime territories. In 1515 Portugal’s spice trade passed one million cruzados and equaled all its ecclesiastical revenues. Precious metals brought in 475,000 cruzados, cane sugar 250,000, brazilwood 50,000, slaves 30,000, and dyes 10,000. All this trading greatly increased Manuel’s royal revenues without adding new taxes.

Imperial Spain and Portugal 1517-88


1. A History of the Inquisition of Spain, Volume 1 by Henry Charles Lea, p. 587.
2. La Celestina by Fernando de Rojas in The Classic Theatre, Volume III: Six Spanish Plays, p. 16.
3. Ibid., p. 32.
4. Quoted in Aristotle and the American Indians by Lewis Hanke, p. 8.

Copyright © 2009=10 by Sanderson Beck

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EUROPE & Reform 1517-1588

Milan and Venice 1400-1517
Florence, the Medici and Machiavelli
Rome, Popes, and Naples 1400-1517
Italy and Humanism
Eastern Europe 1400-1517
German Empire 1400-1517
Scandinavia 1400-1517
Castile, Aragon, Granada, and Portugal 1400-1517
France’s Long War 1400-1453
France in the Renaissance 1453-1517
England of Henry IV, V, and VI 1399-1461
England 1461-1517
Scotland and Ireland 1400-1517
Erasmus and Spreading Humanism
Summary and Evaluation Europe 1400-1517

Chronology of Europe 1400-1588
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