Early Spain contained settlements of
Iberians in the east, Celts in the north,
and Tartars, Greeks and
Phoenician’s in the south.
By the 3rd Century BC, the south of
Spain was in the control of the
Carthaginians who were descendants of the
By 19 BC, the Iberian Peninsular was
in the control of Rome. With the decline
of the Roman Empire in the fifth Century
AD, the Iberian Peninsular was invaded by
Swabians, Vandals and Visigoths. The
Visigoths, a Germanic people, went on to
unite the the Iberian Peninsular until
the area was invaded by Muslim Arabs in
Christian / Muslim battles lasted for
700 years with the Muslims eventually
concentrated in the Granada area to the
south, and the Christians in the Aragon,
Cataluna, Castilla and Leon regions.
With the Iberian Peninsular split into
these kingdoms, none of them had enough
power to have any influence on Europe. In
1496, the marriage of King Ferdinand of
Aragon, and his cousin Queen Isabella of
Castile, united the two regions.
In 1492, they captured Granada and
expelled the Muslims. They were then in
control of a united Spain. The only
regions of the Iberian Peninsular not
under their control were Portugal and the
small kingdom of Navara in the north.
Ferdinand and Isabella funded
the trade route expeditions of
Christopher Columbus in an attempt
to build an empire. Their son John
died in 1497 leaving his sister
Juana next in line to the
Juana married Philip (the
handsome) son of Maximilian I, the
King of Germany, who was also the
Holy Roman Emperor.
In 1516, Ferdinand died. As
Juana was proclaimed to be mad, her
son Charles of Ghent (Charles I)
inherited Spain, its colonies and
In 1519, his grandfather
Maximilian died leaving Charles his
Hapsburg domains in Germany.
Shortly after, Charles was elected
Holy Roman Emperor.
His first important service to the
empire was to try and quell the
foundation of the Protestant religion in
Germany. Martin Luther had brought to the
attention of the Germans, some Roman
Catholic preachings he did not agree
with, the main being German churches
paying money to Rome.
Charles could not afford to lose the
Germanic armies as he needed them in his
long fought battle against the Ottoman
Turk Muslims. So an agreement was
reached, Protestantism went on to become
the main religion in Germany, Sweden and
Charles continued the
colonization of South America and
the West Indies that had been
discovered by Columbus.
By 1521, they had conquered the
Aztecs of Mexico and explored
southern parts of North America.
Between 1531 and 1535, they subdued
the Incas of Peru while in search
of their treasures.
He also funded Ferdinand Magellan from
Portugal to sail with five ships
around the world. Magellan sailed
from Spain, around the tip of South
America and on to the Philippines.
Although Magellan and many of his
men were killed in battle with
tribal warriors on the Island of
Mactan in the Philippines, one ship
with 18 survivors managed to round
the tip of Africa and complete the
journey back to Spain.
In 1521, Charles was forced into war
with France by Pope Leo X over papal
territory. Also at that time, the Turks
were moving into Hungary, the north of
Africa and parts of Italy. The Turks were
also causing havoc in the Mediterranean
with their ships. In 1554, he finally
made peace with France, and by 1555, had
cleared the Mediterranean of the Turkish
In 1556, with the Spanish Empire at
its greatest, Charles abdicated to retire
to a Spanish Monastery. His son Philip
II, inherited Spain, its Italian
possessions, and the Netherlands. In
1558, Philip inherited the throne of
Portugal, this seeing the Iberian
Peninsular under the rule of a single
monarch for the next sixty years.
Charles had retired to the monastery
of Yuste in Extremadura where he died
21st September 1558. Twenty-six years
later, his remains were transferred to
the Royal Pantheon of The Monastery
of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.