1. Agricultural production increased: there was an increase in the amount of land after cultivation. Three field system was maintained. The main crops were cereals. Agriculture and livestock continued being the main economic activity
  2. Intensified commercial activity: agricultural production resulted in surplus, and these were sold at markets and fairs
  3. Expansion of craftsmanship, controlled by guilds. Introduction of the domestic system: peasants made products and sell them in local markets
  4. New products were borough to Europe: spices, foods and precious metals
  5. Development in mercantilism

SOCIAL CHANGES IN 15th CENTURY: The economic prosperity resulted in an increase of population and reduction of epidemics. Society in the cities developed, becoming one of the characteristics of Early Modern Ages. Estates of the Realm were maintained. Privileged continued to be clergy and nobility, they didn’t pay taxes or work. Non privileged were bourgeoisie and peasants, which continued to be the largest group. They worked an payed taxes. The bourgeoisie were the city inhabitants, and they gained political influence, they were bankers, merchants, officials and artists. Peasants were beggars and vagabonds that lived on charity


Objectives: Consolidate their authority, control the power of the nobility, administer the kingdoms resources more effectively and maintain a strong position in relation to other monarchs


  1. They formed a powerful army of paid soldiers which they used to subdue the nobles who confronted them
  2. They strengthen bureaucracy: officials under control who supervised other kingdoms
  3. Centralised power by creating new institutions
  4. They established a court for the new institutions to function well.

CULTURAL CHANGES IN 15th CENTURY: At the beginning of the Early modern ages, there were significant developments in thinking and science. Ideas spread rapidly thanks to the printing press, by Gutenberg, in 1455

Humanism characteristics:

  • Renewed interest in classical culture: classical Greek and Roman culture and philosophy became the point of reference for intellectual and artistic activity
  • Anthropocentrism: Humans became the center of the philosophical reflection and artistic creation. They abandoned teocentrism and had a reality without religion
  • Optimism and creativity: Religious beliefs that caused fear were changed by ones with a better life. Creativity was based on better techniques and numerous inventions
  • Desire for knowledge: humanists possessed a great curiosity and they didn´t limit their knowledge to a special area, they learned about everything
  • Critical thinking: knowledge was based on tradition, the sacred texts. Humanism tried to explain natural phenomena with reason, research and experimentation


Revolt of the Comuneros

Revolt of the Germanías

It was in the Crown of Castilla, in 1520-1521, Lower nobility and bourgeoisie from the cities againstking´s representatives and the high nobility.

They rose up because Carlos V used the Castilian taxes to finance his appointment as Holy Roman emperor. Carlos V was supported by Government and high nobility. An the result was that the monarchy became more powerful

It was on the Crown of Aragón, in 1519-1523, Bourgeoisie and peasants against nobility. They rose up because Bourgeoisie and peasants were tired of the abuses of the nobility and they wanted to improve economic conditions and obtain political power.

An the result was that the monarchy became more powerful


Carlos V against France

Carlos V against the Ottomans

Carlos V against the German Protestant princes

It was during the 16th century, and happened because The Kingdom of France was surrounded by Carlos V´s territories, so that Francis I wanted to weaken the power of  Carlos V, and as a result, Francis I was defeated at battle of Pavia (1525), but there wasn´t a clear victor

It was during the 16th century, and happened because The Ottoman Empire wanted to expand his territories and take control over the Mediterranean. And as a result, The Christian fleet was defeated and the Ottomans maintained control of the Mediterranean, but they didn´t expand his territory

16th century, and happened because The German Protestant princes wanted religious and political freedom.

Carlos V wanted to stop the expansion of Protestantism. As a result, Carlos V defeated them in Mühlberg (1547They signed the Peace of Augsburg in 1555.The Protestant German princes obtained religious freedom, but they didn´t obtain political freedom.

Who against who?

Felipe II against France

Felipe II against the Ottoman Empire

Felipe II against the German Protestant princes.

Felipe II against England


During the 16th century

Until 1571


Until 1588


To weaken the power of each other.

To end Ottoman control over the Mediterranean.

To stop the spread of Protestantism

To depose Queen Elizabeth I

Who won?

After the French were defeated in the Battle of San Quintín, a civil war broke out between Catholics and Huguenots. The conflict ended in 1598 with the Edict of Nantes, which granted the Huguenots religious freedom.

Felipe II organized the Holy League (Spain, Venice and the Pope), and the Ottomans were finally defeated in the naval Battle of Lepanto (1571).

The northern provinces of the Low Countries rose up against Felipe II, proclaiming their independence from the Spanish Crown in 1581, creating the United Provinces (modern Netherlands). Although  Felipe II maintained control of the southern territories, Flanders (modern Belgium and Luxembourg), the war lasted until 1648 (Thirty Years´ War).

Queen Elizabeth I supported the English pirates against Spanish ships from America as well as the Protestant rebels in the Low Countries. Felipe II formed a powerful fleet (the Great Armada) to transport troops from Portugal and Flanders, invade England and depose the queen, but it was defeated.


1497 Giovanni Caboto (Italian),  commissioned by the kingdom of England He reached Newfoundland (Terranova)
1500 Pedro Álvares Cabral, commissioned by the Kingdom of Portugal He discovered the Eastern coast of Brazil.
1513 Vasco Núñez de Balboa He crossed the Isthmus of Panama and reached the Pacific Ocean
1519-1522 Fernando Magallanes (Portuguese) and Juan Sebastián Elcano First circumnavigation
1519-1521 Hernán Cortés He completed the conquest of Aztec Empire.
1524 Giovanni da Verrazzano, commissioned by the kingdom of France He explored the Atlantic coast of North America
1528 Pánfilo Narváez He began to explore Florida
1531-1533 Francisco Pizarro He conquered the Inca Empire
1536 Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca He completed his journey across the south of North America.
1540 Hernando de Soto He crossed the Mississippi river.
1542 Francisco de Orellana He reached the mouth of the Amazon river.




To control the power of the nobility.

The Catholic Monarchs created a powerful army to subdue the nobility.

Military orders were under the control of the monarch.

Council of experts (ministros) were appointed to advise the Catholic Monarchs.

The royal treasury (Hacienda) had more power to control tax collection (to collect taxes).

They reformed the judicial system in Castilla, the audiencias (to hang out justice).

To maintain a strong position of power in relation to other kingdoms.

The Catholic Monarchs created diplomatic corps to establish alliancies with other kingdoms

To consolidate their authority

The Catholic Monarchs centralised power by creating new institutions to serve the Catholic Monarchs.

To administer the kingdom´s resources more effectively

The royal treasury (Hacienda) had more power to control tax collection.

The position of viceroy (Virrey) was created to represent the monarchs in their absence.