Decline of the Spanish Empire (1492-1898)


I have already created a general thesis statement for the decline/fall.

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Thesis: The Spanish Empire’s downfall is attributable to the transition of the monarchy from Habsburg to Bourbon.

The Bourbon reforms directly affected the ability for the Empire to survive, creating internal revolts at home and abroad in its territories.


Many factors contributed to the decline of the Spanish Empire in the 17th century. Among the reasons for the decline are the lack of population across most of the new world, decentralized political nature, and power struggles. The Habsburg to Bourbon transition consisted of economic and political legislation, paving the way for new power with defined authority lines. Unlike Habsburg monarchs, the Bourbon reforms placed power into civil officials and economic reforms, promoting state supremacy. Administrative structure shifted significantly, intending to stimulate manufacturing and modernize the country. I would like to show how these reforms caused the Spanish Empire to not be able to stay on par (keep up) with its competitors (Spain did not progress as the other empires were doing so at the time). Bourbon reforms diminished the Cas de Contratacion and Council of Indies’ role, introducing the royal bureaucrat and awarded power to royal ministers. The reforms fronted trade and economic wars that led to the steady decline of the Spanish Empire. The Bourbon transition also created a significant shift in allegiances, allowing ties to France to create division.


I also have several sources and partial Annotated Bibliography included in the attachments.

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