The Catholic Monarchs and the Habsburg dynasty
The 15th century marked the end of the Middle Ages and the beggining of the Modern Age. The Modern Age saw economic and population growth. There was also an increase in artisan activity and the circulation of money.
The rule of the Catholic Monarchs replaced the feudal system, and they established an absolute monarchy. The Catholic Monarchs also unified most of the territories on the Peninsula.
Charles I came to the throne at the beginning of the 16th century. He was the first king of Spain from the Habsburg dynasty. He and his son, Philip II, governed an extensive empire of territories in Europe and America. Although these kings dominated Europe, they were constantly involved in conflicts and wars. In the 17th century, under Philip III, Philip IV and Charles II, the Empire went into decline. It suffered an economic crisis, a sharp decrease in population and several military defeats.
The 17th century was a period of contrasts in Europe.There were demographic problems and a crisis in agricultural production. However, at the same time new trade routes were established and manufacturing was developed. The nobility and clergy maintained their power, but the influence of the bourgeoisie grew. Absolute monarchies appeared across Europe. Baroque became the predominant style in architecture, sculpture and painting. The style was characterised by the use of movement, light, colour, realism and symbolism.