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Thread: Reason for the decline of the Spanish Empire

  1. #21
    A Man's a Man for A' That Nasrallah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleepyhead View Post
    Of course the political institutions were pretty bad all across Europe at the time of the Spanish Empire, but the UK had for example way better economical institutions with the Magna Charta etc.
    I wouldn't say that.

    It was only with the catastrophic failure of England's political institutions in the civil war that the country managed to become more than a second rank power.
    I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under; and I am confident that when I have heard the reasons against it, something will be said to answer those reasons, in so much that I should doubt whether he was an Englishman or no that should doubt of these things.
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  2. #22
    Field Marshal Avernite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nasrallah View Post
    I wouldn't say that.

    It was only with the catastrophic failure of England's political institutions in the civil war that the country managed to become more than a second rank power.
    Well, that depends on where you start... Plantagenet England wasn't second rank, nor was the England that enforced the treaty of Troyes on France, if only for a short while. Even at the end of the civil war already, they were contending for 'premier naval power' even if not necessarily winning.


    I think an important element is how far-flung the Empire was. Aragon revolted, and was crushed (several times), while the Netherlands and Italy were so far away that the locals eventually got out from under the Spanish thumb (either directly, as the Dutch republic, or indirectly as the Spanish Netherlands weren't big contributors to the state). Had Spain inherited Toulouse/Aquitania/Provence 50 years early instead of Naples/Burgundy/the Netherlands when it did such revolts might've resulted more in something like the French wars of religion (lots of chaos, a terribly weakened state, but when the dust settles the country has mostly the same size).
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  3. #23
    A Man's a Man for A' That Nasrallah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avernite View Post
    Well, that depends on where you start... Plantagenet England wasn't second rank, nor was the England that enforced the treaty of Troyes on France
    Okay, but that was centuries before the Spanish Empire.

    Quote Originally Posted by Avernite View Post
    Even at the end of the civil war already, they were contending for 'premier naval power' even if not necessarily winning.
    But that's what I meant. It was only when the Stuart political settlement collapsed and Parliament overhauled taxation and the military that England had any significant foreign policy successes. For pretty much all of the Elizabethan and early Stuart eras England was politically anaemic.
    I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under; and I am confident that when I have heard the reasons against it, something will be said to answer those reasons, in so much that I should doubt whether he was an Englishman or no that should doubt of these things.
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  4. #24
    Field Marshal Andrelvis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avernite View Post
    Well, that depends on where you start... Plantagenet England wasn't second rank, nor was the England that enforced the treaty of Troyes on France, if only for a short while. Even at the end of the civil war already, they were contending for 'premier naval power' even if not necessarily winning.
    That England was as much "England" as it was "France", since a large portion of it's power derived from it's French territories.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrelvis View Post
    That England was as much "England" as it was "France", since a large portion of it's power derived from it's French territories.
    Yep. The loss of Aquitaine and Calais is the reason why the English culture existed. Otherwise, if Henry V prevailed and conquered France, everyone in England would've been speaking French.

  6. #26
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    According to what I have read it was a question of attitude and economy. The Spanish people valued the Church in an extreme way. (Perhaps all the years of fighting against the Muslim invaders contributed to that?) Manual labor was considered work for Moors and Jews - Spanish people (at least the large amount of poor noblemen) would rather work for the church or conquer territory - and the Spanish kings were using the wealth to fight expensive wars in Italy. A bit simplified, but that is my impression according to what I have read.

    (The Spanish explorations is one thing that I find very fascinating, how they left the known world and went to places such as the Pacific coast of North America or Cape Horn or the middle of the North American continent. Not to mention Magellan's voyage! They did this at a time when mankind was very backwards and superstitious, they didn't even know that the Earth orbits the sun. There must have been some special spirit in those people!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Yasko View Post
    Didnt expelling muslims&jews from the Iberian peninsula made their economy even weaker in the long turn?
    That is what I have read too. The people who were expelled were beneficial for the Spanish economy and the Spaniards themselves would rather work for the church than doing manual labor.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by d98mp View Post
    According to what I have read it was a question of attitude and economy. The Spanish people valued the Church in an extreme way. (Perhaps all the years of fighting against the Muslim invaders contributed to that?) Manual labor was considered work for Moors and Jews - Spanish people (at least the large amount of poor noblemen) would rather work for the church or conquer territory - and the Spanish kings were using the wealth to fight expensive wars in Italy. A bit simplified, but that is my impression according to what I have read.
    Yes, though I wouldn't want to overemphasize it, I've gathered that the attitudes of the upper classes and those trying to enter into them were very self defeating. The pursuits valued were those of martial nobility and clerical roles, leading the capable in those directions, while trade and labor were denigrated and neglected. You might say the pillars of society were out of balance with those two undermining the others, leading to extraordinary conquests, explorations, military dominance, beautiful art, music, and social cohesion but all without the foundations to sustain and make full use of them.

    Of course a lot of that perspective may be the influence of bourgeois historiography, that likes to emphasize the indispensability of the mercantile and professional classes.
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