Hilary 2016, weeks 1-8. Tuesdays 11:00 - 12:00

Lecture Theatre, History Faculty, University of Oxford


I. Medieval Spain: from fragmentation to “unity” (1230 - 1492)

  • The end of the Reconquista and the downfall of al-Andalus

  • The unification of the peninsular Christian kingdoms

  • The preamble of the discoveries: the exploration of the African coast and the conquest of the Canary Islands


II. The Discovery of America: the Encounter between two Worlds (1492 - 1522)

  • Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the New World

  •  The colonization of the Antilles and the firsts expeditions to the Continent

  •  Magellan-Elcano’s epic voyage: the first circumnavigation of the world 



III. Charles I: Emperor of Europe (1516 - 1556)

  • How an empire was constructed

  •  The wars of France and the fight against the Turks

  • Catholicism versus Protestantism




IV. The Conquest of Mexico (1518 - 1549)

  • Hernán Cortés and the Conquistador archetype

  • The fall of the Aztec Empire

  • The creation of New Spain




V. The Conquest of Peru (1531 - 1555)

  • Francisco Pizarro: the pig farmer who defeated a god

  • The fall of the Inca Empire

  • The creation of the Viceroyalty of Peru




VI. Philip II: the Empire on which the Sun never sets (1556 - 1598)

  • The victory over France and the Turks and the consolidation of Spanish hegemony in Europe

  • The accession of Portugal and Brazil

  • The beginning of the decline: The Dutch War of Independence, the war against England and the defeat of the Spanish Armada



VII. The Construction of a Global Empire (1573 - 1621)

  • The end of the Conquest and the beginning of the Colonization

  • Political and legal structures for the government of the Empire

  • The destruction of indigenous societies, the miscegenation (mestizaje) and the defence of the Indian

VIII. Philip III: the Decline of the Empire (1598 - 1621)

  • The end of the Spanish hegemony in Europe

  • The inner crisis

  •  Why did the Spanish Empire fall?