Chapter 19 - Chapter Nineteen: Political and Social Change...

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Chapter Nineteen: Political and Social Change in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries How did the power of the state grow in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries? How did monarchs seek to redistribute power to their own advantage? Which newly empowered classes contended for a share in the growing might and resources of the states? During this period European states solidified their independence and exerted greater control over their inhabitants. However when the King of Spain was elected Emperor Charles V in 1519 it seemed as if it might be possible to reunite Europe politically. Through inheritance he was already king of the Netherlands, Austria and much of central Europe. He was unable to reunite Europe and abdicated in 1556. During the sixteenth century, rulers consolidated their power over both their rivals and their citizens. And 1648 most of the country signed the Treaty of Westphalia, ending the religious wars in central Europe. By elevating new families to noble status rulers further secured their position. Finally Spain, a great military power, was unable to exert control over the rest of Europe. Why was Spain such an unlikely superpower in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries? What were the sources of its strength? Why did it eventually lose its preeminent position in Europe? During this period Spain, a country with a relatively small population and few resources compared to the rest of Europe, was able to become a superpower because they had the greatest military and navy in Europe as well as the best educated population. Colonization and trade Enabled Spain to build great wealth and power because their rivals were in disarray. France was engaged in a series of civil wars, England was crippled by low taxes and religious dissent, and Germany was not even really a country. Poland, although a huge country, had border problems and the nobility crippled royal power, While Italy was not yet strongly united. The wealth of silver coming from Mexico and Peru gave the Spanish kings a high credit rating allowing them to get loans. Furthermore, the strongest and most loyal state within Spain was Castile which was exceptionally rich providing a wealth in taxation. Additionally, unlike much of the rest of Europe, Spain was united in religion and the minorities were forcibly converted. However, Spain was unable to maintain its supremacy. In 1588 Spain began a naval campaign against England which failed due to severe weather. And although their land advances seemed likely to be successful, support for Phillip II in his subordinate kingdoms waned and revenues dropped, the population declined and by the time of his death in 1598 Spanish policy had changed to one of peace with its neighbors. That peace started to break down in the 1620s while their naval might begin to decline at the same time. In 1640 Portugal recovered its independence. How did the way westerners think about politics change in this period?
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course UGC 112 taught by Professor Barry during the Spring '08 term at SUNY Buffalo.

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Chapter 19 - Chapter Nineteen: Political and Social Change...

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