The Spanish Empire: Introduction (01:22)
By the 15th century, Spain was a mostly Christian country and had a reputation for brutal inquisition and exploitation. This episode examines how a Catholic crusade changed the world.
Walls of Ávila: 1090 AD (05:20)
The city's fortifications enclosed an area of 31 hectares, averaged 12 meters in height, and included 88 watchtowers. Isabella I and Ferdinand II presided over the Inquisition; St. Thomas Monastery was their summer residence. The Ávila Cathedral highlighted the city's Catholic roots.
The Alhambra: 889-1333 (08:08)
Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived in medieval Spain. Castle construction evolved over the centuries; it was the last Islamic citadel. The Inquisition intensified against Muslims and Jews. King Charles I erected buildings on or next to Muslim sights; Mudejar became a common practice.
Seville Cathedral: 1401 (03:43)
The world's largest cathedral was a mosque; the bell tower became an important symbol. The Reconquista militarized Spanish society. Hernán Cortés defeated the Aztec Empire.
Tenochtitlan, Mexico: 1325-1521 (03:37)
Cortés captured the Aztec capital and kidnapped Montezuma. The city covered 14 square kilometers with a sacred precinct at the center where human sacrifices occurred.
Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption: 1573-1813 (02:32)
The largest cathedral in the Americas was constructed in sections; conquistadors built the original church with stones from the Templo Mayor. Architecture and ritual helped convert native populations. Francisco Pizzaro discovered the Inca Empire.
Inca Empire (05:23)
The Inca created a complex society with a warrior ethic. Pizarro overthrew the empire within two years; he captured and killed Atahualpa. Spanish settlements arose throughout the Americas, transforming the western world.
Global Empire (03:54)
The Spanish Empire boomed because of silver from the Americas. Forced labor decimated indigenous populations and led to the African slave trade. The Spanish established coastal fortresses to defend against pirates. Charles I was central to empire development.
Royal Palace of Madrid: 1036-1755 (02:20)
Spain held significant wealth in gold and silver, and the palace underwent many renovations. The Hapbsburgs defended the Roman Catholic Church against Protestantism and Europe against Islam.
Royal Site of San Lorenzo De El Escorial: 1563 (03:05)
The monastery represented the piety of Phillip II. Philip III expelled the Moriscos. The Spanish Empire further weakened during the reign of Philip IV.
General Archive of the Indies: 1598 (03:07)
Treasures from the 17th and 18th centuries were stored in the archive. Catholic missionaries worked to convert New World inhabitants. The plague devastated Seville in 1648 and the trading base moved to Cádiz.
Port of Cádiz: 1104 BC (03:55)
The port city experienced a golden age after the devastation of Seville. The Spanish Empire, along with the Hapsburg dynasty, was in decline by the late 17th century. Britain began targeting Spanish territories; French and British soldiers arrived on the Iberian Peninsula.
Fort Barrancas: 1698 (05:17)
Florida was a Spanish colony for over 300 years. The Spanish Empire struggled after the Napoleonic Wars. Many imperial territories declared independence and Spain ceded its Caribbean colonies to the U.S.; Cádiz declined.
Credits: The Spanish Empire (00:38)
Credits: The Spanish Empire
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