Essay on Spanish Social and Political Structure

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Spanish Social and Political Structure

Hispanic Literature

The Spain that was intact during the explorations to the New World (specifically that of Christopher Columbus in 1492) was a Spain vastly different from what it had been a mere couple of decades pre-exploration. This "new" Spain is actualized by the union of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469.

Before the marriage of the two major kingdoms of Spain (Aragon and Castile), Spain was in near anarchy. Weak kings and small local communities of feudal rule (medieval systems of local government, a feudal lord ruled over the small population of his lands) and city laws made for a divided and powerless country. The common person was in constant fear of his/her
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Portuguese war of 1476).

There were still a lot of royal families and feudal lords with power over much of the (ever-growing) population of Spain. In order to maintain unity in rule Isabella and Ferdinand placed corregidores, royal agents (loyal to the crown), in all towns and cities in 1480. Basically Isabella and Ferdinand were gathering up the country into the arms of the crown and ensuring real unity for the future of Spain.

Under the King and Queen there was a Royal Counsel which Isabella and Ferdinand sat with six days a week for discussion and it had an extensive jurisdiction. Its duties were judicial, all matters of the state, and matters of alliances, embassies and foreign relations. The most power they held, however was as that of a sort of supreme court. The cases it judged were binding to all regardless of birth and could not be appealed or annulled.

There was also a Council of State, Council of Finance, and with Isabella and Ferdinand, four new ones: Hermandad (as I mentioned before), the Inquisition, military orders, and of the Indies (trying to establish a new route and compete with Portugal and a sea power and claims made in new lands).

High positions of government were given to church officials and both Isabella and Ferdinand were dedicated to the reforming of the church. Thus they were coined "The Catholic Sovereigns". This religious fervor did not, although, interfere with the crown's rights and privileges (as is demonstrated will
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