Spain: A Country’s History and Economics


In order to appreciate a country’s present, future, and economics, it is first vital

that one first look at the past. Spain’s early history was known to Mediterranean people
as

far back as the Stone Age. In eleven hundred B.C. colonies were established first by the

Phoenicians and were followed by subsequent colonization by the Carthaginians as well as

Greeks. These colonies lasted for some time until they were conquered by the Romans in

the second century [Before Christ] and were made a Roman colony. Some two hundred

years later, Christianity was introduced and became the states religion even though

Romans had not officially excepted the religion. But the Romans’ opinion was soon to be

trivial as the country was overran with by Germanic Invasions in 409 [AD] and in 419

became a Visigothic Kingdom. However, in 711 when Spain was invaded from North

Africa by Muslim “Berbers” the last Visigothic Kingdom collapsed. The Muslim Invaders

or “Moors” quickly conquered the entire Spanish Peninsula with the exception of

Northern Spain. Although Christianity obviously suffered greatly during Muslim control,

Spanish Cities, agriculture, and industry thrived while a new distinct type of Architecture

flourished. But the Moors never did capture Northern Spain, and over the centuries

northern Christian kingdoms expanded; though the Moors were becoming more divided,

until the eventually fell from power. (Spain: Early History, 1)

Initially, Spain like the rest of Europe had an economy based on one thing-

subsistence. Spanish dwellers lived to feed themselves and their families and maybe sold



their surplus to their surrounding neighbors. As stated, when the Moors invaded, certain

things, especially commerce flourished. The Moors were more technologically advanced

and helped make many necessary changes to advance the Spanish civilizations. But with

the invasion and overthrow of the Moorish Government by Christians, the Spanish people

also suffered.

After the Moorish removal, Spain took a Physiocratic approach making agriculture

their main form of survival. Spain didn’t necessarily adopt the teachings of the

Physiocrates but they definitely lived it. But agriculture and subsistence would no longer

keep Spain happy as it was now in a constant race with neighbor Portugal to dominate the

Spice trade.

By the late fifteenth century, Mercantalism was being introduced into Spanish

government. With the fall of Granada in 1492 Spanish monarchs Ferdinand V and

Isabella I became the rulers over all of Spain. Under mercantalist theory, Spain needed to

lessen its dependencies from other countries, and soon helped launch the three hundred

year race to build European empires built on commerce. After gaining power over all

of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella contracted Christoph Columbus. Columbus was hired

not as a ingenious sailor who would find a new world, but instead as a revolutionary

sailor who believed that he had found a faster route to the spice-rich East Indies, but

instead found a new world. Now, with the most extensive, powerful, and largest empires,

Spain needed protection so they erected the most power navy, government, and political

structures to exploit and govern their empire. (Craig, 520)

No where was the Spanish exploitment felt more than in the colonization of




Central and South America. First, in 1519, Hernan Cortes landed in modern day Mexico

with around five hundred men and a few horses. Cortes soon began communicating with

the Aztecs who had formed a fairly advanced civilization under their leader Moctezuma

II. It is speculated the Moctezuma may have thought that Cortes was the god

Quetzalcoatl and thinking this tried to appease him with gifts of gold. The gold worked

at first but in 1521, just two years after their arrival the Spanish killed, conquered, and

enslaved the Aztecs. In much the same fashion, Francisco Pizarro landed in present day

Peru, met with and befriended the Incas, and summarily conquered and enslaved them as

well.

After conquering these civilizations in the sixteenth century, the Spanish hoped to

put them to work in the harsh gold-mines of the America’s. But there was a major

problem-the Native Americans were all dying. First by their initial slaughter, then by slow

deaths from being forced to work deep in the Spanish gold mines, and finally by the

acquisition of European brought diseases that killed millions of natives. Because of this,

Spain began the age-old yet still horrific practice of slave-trading. Between