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Isabel and Ferdinand succeeded in uniting the whole country under their crown, and their effort to "re-christianize" Spain resulted in the , when thousands of Jews and Moors who didn't want to convert to Christianism were expelled or killed.

After the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492 tons of gold and silver were brought in from the new continent, and Spain became one of the most powerful nations of this epoch called the .

Spain and Portugal , 718 AD-Present

A Brief History of Spain - The 20th Century
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A Gangster Place in the Sun: How Spain’s Fight Against …

Habsburg Spain was a superpower and the center of the first global empire in the 16th century. It had a cultural golden age in the 17th century. With the Peace of Utrecht (1713), Spain, stripped of its territories in Italy and the Low Countries, lost most of its power, and became a second rate nation in Continental politics. However, Spain maintained its vast overseas empire until, beginning with declarations of independence in Venezuela and Paraguay (1811), successive revolutions split away its territories on the mainland of the Americas. Nevertheless, Spain held onto significant fragments of its empire in Asia, America and Oceania until the Spanish-American War of 1898, and in Africa until 1975.

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After Isabel died in 1504, her daughter Joan who was married with the German emperor's son Philip succeeded to the throne. Charles I., at the same time Austrian king and German emperor united in 1517 one of the largest empires in history. Anyhow after his retirement in 1556 it was split between the Spanish and the Austrian line of Habsburg family.

Spain was prospering economically under the Habsburg crown thanks to the trade with its American colonies, but on the hand involved in wars with France, the Netherlands and England, culminating in the disastrous defeat of the in 1588.

When the last Habsburg King Charles II. died without descendant, the nephew of French King Louis XIV., Philip of Borbon, successed to the throne. As a consequence of the , Spain declared war on the new republic but was defeated. Napoleon took the power in France and sent his troops against Spain in 1808. He established his brother Joseph as Spanish king, but Spaniards fought a 5-year against the French. After Napoleon's definite defeat at in 1815, Ferdinand VII. was restored to the Spanish throne and reigned with rigid absolutism. When he changed the law of succession to the throne and his daughter Isabel was established as queen, his brother Charles rebelled against it and the broke out. Economical recession and political instability were the consequences, Spain lost its colonies with the exceptions of Puerto Rico, Cuba and Philippines. The revolution of 1868 forced Isabel II. to renounce to the throne, and the was proclaimed. Anyhow, it lasted for just about one year. After a Isabel's son, Alphonse XII., restored the kingdom. The rebellion of Cuba in 1895 resulted in a war against United States, with disastrous results for Spain. It lost its last overseas possessions.

Civil War, Despotism and Democracy - a brief history of Spain during the 20th Century
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How did Spain lose control of New Spain?

Faced with wars against England, France, and the Netherlands, each led by extraordinarily capable leaders, already-bankrupted Spain was outmatched. Faced with continuing piracy against its shipping in the Atlantic and the disruption of its vital gold shipments from the New World, Spain was forced to admit bankruptcy again in 1596. The Spanish attempted to extricate themselves from the several conflicts they were involved in, first signing the Treaty of Vervins with France in 1598, recognizing Henry IV (since 1593 a Catholic) as king of France, and restoring many of the stipulations of the previous Peace of Chateau-Cambrésis. A treaty with England was agreed upon in 1604, following the accession of the more tractable Stuart King James I.

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Spain was not yet at peace, as the aggressive Henry II of France came to the throne in 1547 and immediately renewed conflict with Spain. Charles' successor, Philip II, aggressively prosecuted the war against France, crushing a French army at the Battle of St. Quentin in Picardy in 1558 and defeating Henry again at the Battle of Gravelines. The Peace of Chateau-Cambrésis, signed in 1559, permanently recognized Spanish claims in Italy. In the celebrations that followed the treaty, Henry was killed by a stray splinter from a lance. France was stricken for the next thirty years by chronic civil war and unrest (see French Wars of Religion) and removed from effectively competing with Spain and the Habsburg family in European power games. Freed from effective French opposition, Spain saw the apogee of its might and territorial reach in the period 1559-1643 .

Italy and the Low Countries, lost most of its power, ..