Rival Monarchies: Old Regime Spain and France. In the memory of the history of Western Europe, the 16th century was Spanish, the 17th French, and the 18th British. The aim of this seminar is to tell the story of a 200 year duel between two archenemies: France and Spain from the Late Middle Ages to the eve of the Enlightenment. Both powers alternatively dominated during these 200 years. At the end of the period, Spain was still the most powerful European colonial empire and France the most threatening continental power upon the European soil. This is a story of wars, conquest and frontiers. During a long 16th century, Spain and its empire overwhelmed the French Monarchy. A king of France, Francis I, was taken prisoner by his rival the emperor Charles V. Philip II of Spain dreamed of giving the government of France to his favorite daughter, and almost succeeded to do so, in the middle of the horrors of the French Wars of Religion. In the 17th century, the French Prime Minister Cardinal Richelieu shaped a fantastic international coalition of Catholic and Protestant powers in order to put an end to the Spanish hegemony in Europe. His resilience and energy proved to be efficient. During the second half of the century, with the rise of Louis XIV’s strength, France conquered Spanish provinces in Catalonia and in the Low Countries. This is also a story of love and crossed marriages between Habsburg and Bourbon offspring. Two remarkable ceremonies took place in 1615 and in 1659, when the heirs and the heads of both monarchies married princesses of the rival country. Three queens of Spain were of French ancestry in the 17th century. The mother and the wife of Louis XIV were Spanish princesses. As a consequence, the triumph of France against Spain was not the only move between both enemies. The influence of Spanish religious style, literature, military organization, court ceremonies, etc., on the French monarchy and society was very deep. French historians wrote that Louis XIV, the most powerful king of France, was more likely a Spanish king than a French one! The shining of the Spanish superpower began with the three “admirable” events of the year 1492: the final conquest of Granada (the latest Muslim principality in Spain), the expulsion of the Jews, and the first voyage of Columbus to the Caribbean. The triumph of the French ambition, almost two centuries later, in 1684-85, concluded with three important decisions: the bombing of Algiers, the expulsion of French Protestants, and the publication of the Code Noir (Black Code, i.e. the legal organization of the slave plantation in the Caribbean). France finally defeated Spain on the battlefield, of course, but it did so by converting itself into a Spanish-style monarchy. The seminar will provide students with a dynamic overview of the rivalry of the two most powerful European monarchies and empires in the Early Modern Times, before the rising of the British power. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. The European Old regime. The French almost superpower in the Late Middle Ages Union of crowns and Reconquista in Spain. Charles V and his empire against France. Wars of Religion and the down of the French Monarchy Happy weddings in 1615 Richelieu against Olivares. The Spanish crisis of the 1640’s and the French intervention. The Fronde in France. 10. Louis XIV: a Spanish king for France? 11. The Spanish decadence under Charles II and the horizon of a Bourbon Spain. 12. Conculsion1 : two monarchies as empires. 13. Conclusion 2: Catholicism and politics in Early Modern Europe.