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House Of Habsburg: Marriage And Religion As Tools For Political Eminence In Spain And Europe

3065 words - 12 pages

Emerson PAGE 1
Martin EmersonFinal Research Assignment22 April 2010House of Habsburg: Marriage and Religion as Tools for Political Eminence in Spain and EuropeIntroductionBefore Christopher Columbus made his famous voyage to the Americas in 1492, Spain's only territorial possession outside the borders of Europe was the Canary Islands. By the middle of the sixteenth century however, Spain had gained control over large segments of the Caribbean, the Americas, parts of Africa and much of Europe. The rapid territorial expansion that followed was the foundation of the Spanish Empire and The Habsburg family's power in Spain, Europe and abroad.A series of events led up to the royal family's worldly political eminence, propelled by Frederick III's (formerly known as Duke Frederick of Steiermark) successful marriage to Eleanor of Portugal in 1580. Frederick and Eleanor's marriage produced a son, Archduke Maximilian I, who later married Mary of Burgundy, sole heir to the prosperous lands of her father, Charles of Bold, duke of Burgundy ("Habsburg Dynasty"). As history progresses, we see the consequential developments of these marriages as well as the politically charged actions taken by members of the Habsburg family to secure additional territory, effectively expanding their dynastic political influence.The House of Habsburg had a monumental impact on the world during the height of its dynasty beginning in 1506. Aside from the family's philosophy of marrying strategically to gain territorial possessions, religion also became an important tool to maintain their territories and political influence. Charles I, leader of the Spanish Empire and heir to the Habsburg's territorial holdings in Europe, led the religious fight in defense of Catholicism. When emperor Charles was just seventeen, a German monk criticized the Catholic Church's practices, essentially initiating the Protestant Reformation in Europe ("Charles V"). This caused religious upheaval within Charles's territories. At the same time in 1521, a war broke out with France over Habsburg territory in Italy. Pope Clement VII was anxious to rid Italy of warfare and reluctantly sided with Charles. After his defeat against France and assurance of his control of Italy, Pope Clement crowned Charles as leader of the Holy Roman Empire in 1530 ("Charles V"). A few years later, Charles was able to bring together the world's most diverse empire.Through my extensive research, I have determined that political eminence is the underlying objective for the Habsburg family. With this fact in mind, I will connect the tool of marriage, the topic of religion, and the goal of a vast political network to the actions and motivations of the Habsburgs from the base of their empire in Spain. I plan to discover and report specific aspects relating to the rise of the empire, including an examination of the arranged marriages, as well as their intended political purpose. The Habsburg family is notorious for arranging strategic...

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