Western Civilization^2 lesson 35

What factors contributed to the decline of Spain?

Spain’s formidable power and wealth began to decline drastically in the 1600s due to an unhappy combination of revolts, wars, plagues, and poor management. Many provinces of Spain attempted to break free and become their own countries. Catalonia and Portugal actually managed to unshackle themselves from Spain. However, trying to tame entire provinces ate up Spain’s funds rapidly. What money that was not used up was inhaled by the raging mouth of ongoing wars with the French and Dutch. Plagues overshadowed Spain and carried away 6,000,000 to 10,000,000 citizens. Unable to govern all of Spain at once, King Philip III granted the Duke of Lerma excessive political power. In 1609, the Duke of Lerma forced 400,000 Moriscos (Muslims who converted to Christianity)—who were all working citizens of Spain—to vacate their homes within three days with anything they could carry on their backs, because the Duke worried they had not truly converted. Perhaps the biggest factor in the decline of Spain was Many of the causes of the decline of Spain could have been avoided in the long run simply with better planning and a more competent ruler.

What were Cardinal Richelieu’s primary aims?

Cardinal Richelieu became Chief Minister of France during King Lois XIII’s reign, and he wanted to reform France by centralizing the government. At the time, a mammoth part of France’s income was made by the selling of political offices to whoever would fork over the most dough. Richelieu thought it a marvelous solution to quickly stock up the crown’s coffers. However it was only a temporary solution. In the long run, France had to pay all of these politicians back in their salaries by taxing the souls out of the people. In his quest for consolidating power, Richelieu enforced restrictive laws against the miniature kingdoms of various nobles to keep their self-governing to a minimum. At the same time, Richelieu attempted to subdue the Hapsburgs because they circled France’s borders and restricted France’s potential to expand. Cardinal Richelieu’s desires and actions to acquire money and power for the leaders of France eventually lead to the centralization of the country under a single monarch: the king.

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