Golden Age of Piracy > Spanish Empire

Spanish Empire

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration


The Spanish Empire was one of the major players during the Golden Age of Piracy and provided the impetus for many other European nations to join in the quest to colonize the New World. Following the discovery of the New World for the Crown of Castile by the explorer Christopher Columbus there were legions of conquistadors that found unimaginable wealth and treasure by vanquishing the Aztec and Inca Empires.

However, this massive influx of wealth to Spain was immediately exploited by other nations in Europe who used the many wars of the time to justify the use of privateers initially to attack Spanish settlements and ships along the Spanish Main. However, eventually as the Spanish Empire began to decline the other colonial powers exploited this during the Buccaneering Era to colonize various territories for their respective empires.

It is from this patchwork of colonial buccaneers and privateers that the entire Americas did not come under the complete control of the Spanish despite their best efforts. Even from the earliest years pirates were able to steal great treasures from the Spanish and flaunt their defenses. Over the centuries Spain was forced to concede countless territories around the New World until its final collapse in the 19th century.

Overall, the Spanish Empire is one of the most interesting players in the Golden Age of Piracy as well as the Age of Sail, the Age of Discovery and the Age of Colonialism. However, the reluctance of Spain to adapt and successfully manage their finances caused them to eventually collapse to a myriad of other colonial powers vying for global hegemony.

The Spanish Empire (Spanish: Imperio español) was one of the largest empires in the world and became one of the first global empires in world history.[2] It reached the peak of its military, political and economic power under the Spanish Habsburgs,[3] through most of the 16th and 17th centuries, and its greatest territorial extent under the House of Bourbon in the 18th century, when it was the largest empire in the world. The Spanish Empire became the foremost global power of its time and was the first to be called the empire on which the sun never sets. The Spanish empire originated during the Age of Discovery after the voyages of Christopher Columbus, it comprised territories and colonies of the Spanish monarch in the Americas, Asia, Oceania and Africa, as the Greater Antilles, most of South America, Central America, and part of North America (including present day Florida, the Southwestern, and Pacific Coastal regions of the United States), as well as a number of Pacific Ocean archipelagos including the Philippines; and it lasted until the early 19th century Spanish American wars of independence, which left only Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines under Spanish rule. Following the Spanish–American War of 1898, Spain ceded its last colonies in the Caribbean and the Pacific to the United States. Its last African colonies were granted independence or abandoned during Decolonisation of Africa finishing in 1976. The dynastic union between the Crown of Castile (which included the kingdom of Navarre after 1515) and the Crown of Aragon,[4] by the Catholic Monarchs (Spanish: Reyes Católicos) initiated a political, religious and social unity to become the first modern state in Europe,[5] known as Catholic Monarchy.[6] During this period, the Spanish sovereign acted as monarch in a unitary manner[7] over all his territories through a polisynodial system of Councils, although his power as king or lord varied from one territory to another, since each territory retained its own particular administration and juridical configuration. The unity did not mean uniformity.[8] Therefore, under this political configuration, irrespective of the denominations[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17] given to the "dynastic union"[18][19] existing from 1580 to 1640, the Portuguese realm kept its own administration and jurisdiction over its territory, as did the other kingdoms and realms ruled by the Spanish Habsburgs.[20] Nevertheless, some historians assert that Portugal was part of the Spanish monarchy at the time,[21][22][23][24][25] while others draw a clear distinction between the Portuguese and Spanish empires.[26][27]

Rise of the Spanish Empire

Decline of the Spanish Empire

Spanish Settlements

The Spanish founded numerous settlements around the globe that have developed into major capitals and regional cities in the modern era. While the Spanish Empire collapsed their influence on culture, language, architecture and much more continues into the present day.

19th Century

Colonial Empires

Spanish Empire






Primary Sources

Secondary Sources