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286ReviewsLa corónica 30.1, 2001 Edwards, John. The Spain of the Catholic Monarchs, 1474-1520. Cambridge , U.K. andMaiden, MA: Bhckwell Publishers, 2000. xi+311 pp. ISBN 0-631-22143-3 John Edwards has written the first all-encompassing history ofthe Catholic Monarchs in English since William Hickling Prescott's remarkable, epochmaking History ofthe Reign ofFerdinand and Isabel (1837). And it is a very fine history indeed. Edwards's book will serve both as a comprehensive reference source for scholars and as a cogent, sharply focused point of departure for students embarking upon the period's study. Over the years, I have often been frustrated by the requests of colleagues and students alike to recommend a good, up-to-date study in English on this crucially important moment in early modern European and American history. In the absence of one, I have suggestedJohn Elliot's Imperial Spain 1469-1 716 and Henry Kamen's Spain, 14691714 . A Society ofConflict, each ofwhich, though excellent in its own way, fails to provide an in-depth examination of this critical juncture in the destiny of the Iberian peninsula, Europe, and the world. To comply with future requests I have but to look no further than Edwards's excellent book. The Spain ofthe Catholic Monarchs is divided into nine chapters with a concluding bibliographical essay and covers the political, social, cultural, religious , economic, and military history of the age. All of this is accompanied by several useful maps and plates of portraits of the major figures of the period. Chapter 1 appropriately deals with "The War of the Castilian Succession", its origins in the political and constitutional upheavals of the reigns ofJuan II and Enrique IV, Castile's dynastic and territorial entanglements with Portugal , and the conflict's final resolution in 1479. Edwards's placement ofall these events on a broad plane manages to extract succinctly their significance for the transformation of the balance of power in the rest of Iberia and, indeed, the rest ofwestern Europe through their involvement with Louis XI ofFrance. In the course ofhis analysis, Edwards discusses the compelling role played by the education, temperament, and personalities of Ferdinand and Isabel in the unfolding of the events. In Chapter 2, titled "The Consolidation ofa Regime," Edwards examines with admirable clarity the early administrative and fiscal problems confronted by the Catholic Monarchs, and the measures taken to resolve them to establish their hegemony in Castile, Aragon, and the Mediterranean possessions ofthe Crown ofAragon. A separate, though related and equally detailed chapter , Chapter 3 ("The New Inquisition"), is devoted to the establishment of the Inquisition and its use as a means for enacting firm control over the religious La corónica 30.1 (Fall, 2001): 286-87 Reviews287 and cultural life of the citizenry. Edwards highlights the personal part played by Isabel in the Inquisition's establishment in Castile and Ferdinand's cunning role in overcoming the Aragonese administrative obstacles and social resistance to it. In addition to providing new insight into the political dimensions of the Inquisition, Edwards offers an effective overview of its methods and a sobering account of their impact upon society in general. It is here, and in Chapter 6 ("Christian, Jews and Muslims"), devoted to the complexities of the interaction of coexisting religious communities that Edwards, as might be expected, is at his best. He not only delves searchingly into the religious issues that affected relations between these three groups, but provides a thorough examination of some of the major cultural factors that induced the breakdown of long-sustained accommodations that ultimately led to the extirpation of two of them. Chapters 4, 5, and 7, devoted respectively to "The War for Granada," "Economy and Society," and "Spain in Europe," are likewise complimentary in that they offer a concise political, military, economic, and dynastic history of events and trace clearly the process of the domination of Catholic Monarchy from the moment of its Iberian hegemony in 1492 to the beginnings of its supremacy in Europe and America by the year 1520. In short, for the transformation of the union of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon into an early modern Spain that, almost despite itselfaccording to Chapter...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 286-287
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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