Age of Absolutism

Getting to know Spain...

Spain was a powerful empire that consisted of the Netherlands, Spain, Sicily, Naples, and Milan. Spain’s main religion was Catholicism and they believed that God chose them to save Catholic Christianity. King Philip II was the successor of King Charles V and he inherited the empire. Philip’s way of ruling was very strict about Catholicism. The Spanish Armada also helped Spain to become the strongest nation. In 1571 in the Battle of Lepanto, Spain obtained victory over the Turkish fleet by having leadership over the Holy League. One part of the Spanish empire there was a man named William the Silent. He was the prince of Orange and in 1566 in the Netherlands, there was an rebellion. This struggle lasted till 1609 and this led to start of a 12 year truce. The northern province which rebelled was now called the United Province of the Netherlands. This rebellion created issues for Spain.

Description of Events/Wars

  • Around 1500, Catholic kingdoms reconquered Muslim areas and expelled Spanish Jews and Muslims
  • In 1566, King Philip sent 10,000 troops into the Netherland to calm down the revolts which led to a war, only ended by a 12-year truce
  • In 1588, King Philip sent an armada to conquer England and make it a Catholic country, but was defeated miserably causing England to remain and Protestant country and shifting the power towards them and France.


  • In the 1500s, Spain was able to reconquer the areas that were taken over by the Muslims. Spain also expelled all of the Spanish Jews and Muslims.
  • Because of king Philip II’s strong leadership, Spain was able to be victorious in most battles. Spain’s leadership over a Holy League led to their victory against the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
  • Spain consisted of Spain, Netherlands, Milan, Naples, and Sicily.
  • They also had the strongest navy called the Spanish Armada

Key Facts

  • Catholicism and Calvinism were highly militant religions
  • Spain included Milan, Naples, Sicily, the Netherlands, Spain, and the New Worlds
  • The Netherlands revolted against Catholicism
  • Spain tried to invade England, and conquer it to make it a Catholic country, but failed miserably
  • Spain became bankrupt in 1598 and the real power in Europe shifted to England and France.

Key People

  • King Philip II “Most Catholic King” - King of Spain
  • Charles V - Former King of Holy Roman Empire
  • William the Silent - Lead the rebellion in the Netherlands

Changes during this period

In the Route of the Spanish fleet, 1588, the Spanish fleet of warships were trying to conquer England but failed to do so because of the faster English ships and they were forced to retreat. This established two things: England would remain a protestant country and the powers of Europe shifted from Spain to Europe and France.

Legacy of the Spanish Empire

  • Spain itself believed that it was chosen by God to help save the Catholic Christianity.
  • Its navy, the Spanish Armada, was the strongest navy in the world until it was defeated by the English in the late 1500s.

New ideas originated from the Spanish Empire

  • One of the first to explore the Americas
  • Started the idea of establishing trading posts and colonies
  • Used Colonies for gaining resources and profit, a Mercantilistic view

Important Terms

  • Militant
      • combative and aggressive in support of a political or social cause, and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods:

  • King Philip II

    • Philip II was King of Spain from 1556 and of Portugal from 1581. From 1554 he was King of Naples and Sicily as well as Duke of Milan. During his marriage to Queen Mary I, he was also King of England and Ireland.

  • William the Silent
    • Dutch leader, statesman, and revolutionary leader born in Germany: prince of Orange 1544–84.

  • Elizabeth Tudor
  • Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, the childless Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.
  • Armada
    • A fleet of warships
The Spanish Empire, Silver, & Runaway Inflation: Crash Course World History #25

Essential Questions

  1. What difficulties must Phillip II have encountered administering an empire of this size?

    1. One difficulty, that resulted in the Independence of the Netherlands, was controlling the spread of religion. Philip II wanted all of his land, and even land that didn’t belong to him, to be Catholic. However, the Netherlands, being surrounded by protestant religions, eventually wanted to become a protestant land itself.
  2. Why was the defeat of the Spanish Armada a turning point in history?

    1. The defeat of the Spanish Armada guaranteed that England would remain a Protestant country and it signaled a gradual shift in power from Spain to England and France.

  3. What did Philip II hope to accomplish by Invading England?

    1. He hoped to get rid of Protestantism by using the Spanish armada. This led to Spain becoming bankrupt because King Philip II spent most of the money on funding the invasion. This also led to the shift in power.


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William the Silent(Keij, Adriaen Thomasz. Portrait of William I, Prince of Orange. 1579. Oil on panel. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam.)

Youtube. "The Spanish Empire, Silver, & Runaway Inflation: Crash Course World History #25." Online video clip. Youtube, 12 July 2012. Web. 9 December 2015.