The Iberian Atlantic to 1650

Stuart B. Schwartz

in The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199210879
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

The Iberian Atlantic to 1650

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)



The Castilians and Portuguese were the first Europeans to create systems of continual communication, trade, and political control spanning the Atlantic. Following medieval precedents and moved by similar economic and demographic factors, these two kingdoms embarked in the late fifteenth century on a course of expansion that led to the creation of overseas empires and contact with other societies and peoples. This process produced a series of political, religious, social, and ethical problems that would confront other nations pursuing empire. Portugal and Castile were sometimes rivals, sometimes allies, and for sixty years (1580–1640) parts of a composite monarchy under the same rulers. Their answers to the challenges of creating empires varied according to circumstances and resources, but they were not unaware of each others' efforts, failures, and successes nor of their common Catholic heritage and world-view that set the framework of their imperial vision, their rule, and their social organisation. This article focuses on the history of the Iberian Atlantic to 1650, the Atlantic origins and Caribbean beginnings, conquest and settlement to 1570, and imperial spaces and trade.

Keywords: Portugal; Castile; Atlantic; Caribbean; trade; expansion; conquest; settlement; empires; social organisation

Article.  8818 words. 

Subjects: History ; Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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