Thursday, September 11, 2008

Spain is The Great Power in The 16th Century

Spain is The Great Power in The 16th Century
By middle of the sixteenth century Spain was the greatest power in Europe. The dominions of Philip II (1556 – 98) of Spain stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific: his continental territories included the Netherlands in the North and Milan and Naples in Italy.

In 1580 Philip II became king of Portugal, uniting all the states of the Iberian Peninsula. With the addition of Portugal’s Atlantic ports and its sizeable fleet, Spanish maritime power now was unsurpassed. Spain was also a great cultural and intellectual center. The fashions and tastes of its golden age dominated all the courts of Europe. The expansion of Spanish domination and the increase of Spain’s wealth and prestige was reflected in a self conscious spirit of national pride that could be seen in the story of Don Quixote, the knight who tilted at windmills in search of greatness in the novel published by Miguel de Cervantes between 1605 and 1615.

In Mediterranean Spain alone stood out against the expansion of Ottoman power. The sultan’s navy continually threatened to turn the Mediterranean into a Turkish lake, while his armies attempted to capture and hold Italian soil. All Europe shuddered at the news each Ottoman advance. Pope called for holy wars against the Turks but only Philip heeded the cry. From nearly moment that he inherited the Spanish crown he took up the challenge of defending European Christianity.

For over a decade Philip maintained costly coastal garrison in North Africa and Italy and assembled large fleets and larger army to discourage or repel Turkish invasions. This sparring could not go on indefinitely, and in 1571 both sides prepared for a decisive battle. A combined Spanish and Italian force of over three hundred ships and eighty thousand men meet an even larger ottoman flotilla off the coasts of Greece. The Spanish naval victory of Lepanto was considered one of the great events of the sixteenth century, celebrated in story and songs for the next three hundred years, though the Turks continued to menace the Mediterranean islands, Lepanto marked the end of Ottoman advanced.
Spain is The Great Power in The 16th Century

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