The Influence of Monarchs: Steps in a New Science of History

By Frederick Adams Woods | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
SPAIN

No chapter of history opens more gloriously than that of united Spain. Every one knows something of the reign of the famous Ferdinand of Aragon and the still more celebrated Isabella of Castile, -- the conquest of Granada which meant the final expulsion of the Mohammedans from western Europe, the entrance of Spain among the powers, the beginnings of that growth in commerce and increase in wealth which followed the discovery of the new world. This era has been a favourite topic for historical research, but time has not diminished, in the perspective of the ages, the eminence of los Reyes Catolicos, who still dominate the panorama from every point of view. Ferdinand, whatever his failings may have been, was one of the cleverest statesmen of his age, and Isabella still stands among the great women of all time.

The death of Isabella was followed by a brief period, about a year and a half in duration, which, though not important in the totality of Spanish history, is suggestive nevertheless of what is probably a constantly recurring factor of some importance in ancient, mediæval, and to a less extent in modern, history. It is reasonable to suppose that, generally speaking, the death of a strong sovereign is in itself an event predisposing towards disorganization and retrogression, even when this ruler is immediately followed by another of equal ability. It gives occasion and hope to the malcontents. One must believe, from all the facts, that the duration of such a condition has been determined chiefly by the qualities of

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