Assess the significance of Spanish rulers’ desire for Religious uniformity in the expansion of their power 1474-1598
The Spanish expansion of power during the era of 1474-1598 can be clearly categorised into three separate periods, with each different ruler of Spain bringing with them a diverse train of thought in regard to expansion than their predecessor.
Firstly, with Ferdinand and Isabella came the union of Iberia under one household, and in 1492 they succeeded in conquering Granada which is seen the first physical expansion of power during their reign, and this period. Granada was of key significance to the monarchs as, for Isabella, it provided a stronghold of Moorish tradition ...view middle of the document...
Showing that Ferdinand and Isabella’s motives at this time were not entirely religious and more a territorial gain enforcing the expulsion of the Moors from Iberian land.
The acquisition of the Pyrenees (Navarre, Roussillon and Cerdagne) is also another expansion of Spanish power during the period 1474-1598 completely unmotivated by religious uniformity. Ferdinand took the Pyrenees in 1512 after the king of Navarre, King Jean d'Albret, refused to join a holy league against France, so Ferdinand then seized his opportunity to invade, claiming it as his duty to do so. This is again another example of secular motives driving Ferdinand into the French territory as he sought not for religious uniformity but to recapture previously lost land from the French. It can be said that Ferdinand was simply interested in supporting the interests of his Aragonese people in his attempts to reclaim the land lost by John II, Ferdinand’s father, as Ferdinand and Isabella's kingdom still remained largely divided. The geographical location of Navarre, Roussillon and Cerdagne all support this as they all border Aragon, and therefore posed a threat to Ferdinand at all times during his reign. So to capture Navarre, Roussillon and Cerdagne and make them his own not only expands the power of the united Iberia, but it also strengthens Ferdinand's home nation too.
When the Spanish inquisition began in 1478 the questions about its expansion of power are somewhat flawed. It would be advised to view the inquisition as not only a tool of the monarchy to clear out many ethnic and religious minorities from Iberia but to also limit the power and population of any opposition the catholic monarchs may have had.
During the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella it is notable that their religious policy and certainly uniformity was extremely inconsistent and in many cases their actions in expanding Spanish power undoubtedly had motives other than religion. As Woodward states “few states in Europe exercised as much control over their church” but when talking of expanding power it was very much the case that either personal or secular reasons depicted their actions. The inquisition is the only real stamp of religion over the Iberian states, and although was carried on for many years, still did not enforce uniformity over Spain’s people as it was merely a selection process. This was, as many of the religious changes during the time, Isabella’s idea and she was the driving force behind the movement. And it can be said that Ferdinand was always more interested in the physical act of taking land and the politics that ensue, rather than seeking to bind his people under one religion, Catholicism. In fact the most notable action of Ferdinand’s intentions during this era is when he refused to employ the inquisition within Aragon, even when Isabella had done so in Castile, showing his reluctance to enforce such a scheme and therefore the lack of religious uniformity. It is Kamen who best...