A Conquistador Society? The Spain Columbus Left

John Edwards finds the roots of Spanish actions in America in the crusade mentality that won back the Iberian peninsula for Christendom in the Middle Ages.

On the second day of January I saw Your Highnesses' royal banners placed by force of arms on the towers of the Alhambra... and in the same month... Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians and princes devoted to the holy Christian faith and the furtherance of its cause, and enemies of the sect of Mohammed and of all idolatry and heresy, resolved to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the... regions of India.

Thus the discoverer of America begins his diary of his first voyage by firmly placing the venture in the context of the conquest of Muslim Granada by his patrons, Ferdinand and Isabella. Modern historians, too, have recognised the connection between the whole New World enterprise and the Spanish Middle Ages. Thus J.H. Elliott sees the development of the Spanish empire overseas as a

natural culmination of a dynamic and expansionist period in Castilian history which had begun long before. Both reconquest and discovery... were in reality a logical outcome of the traditions and aspirations of an earlier age, on which the seal of success was now firmly placed.

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