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One of the most important parts of Ferdinand and Isabella’s union was the consolidation of military power. The couple’s success in several military campaigns (such as the victory in Granada) resulted in more political and economic strength for their kingdom. This allowed Ferdinand and Isabella to provide financial backing for the voyages of Christopher Columbus and other explorers, which eventually elevated Spain to a world power.
France For more than a century, England and France intermittently battled in what was called the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453). The extended conflict left France in shambles. Yet the economic and military changes caused by the war allowed French kings to use their positions to centralize state power. Using the taille (a land tax organized under King Charles VII), French kings gathered royal income to establish an army, thus increasing royal power. To carry out the law, the king sent officials known as bailiffs into the provinces. Later kings also brought the duchy of Burgundy as well as the provinces of Anjou, Provence, and Maine under royal control, adding valuable land and income to the crown. Ruling from 1461 to 1483, Louis XI, son of Charles VII, helped France recover from the damage of the Hundred Years’ War. He also succeeded in weakening the power of the aristocracy (wealthy landowners with titles such as marquis, comte, baron, and so on), thereby strengthening the power of the king.
The power of the French king also increased through an agreement between France’s Francis I and Pope Leo X in 1516. The Concordat of Bologna permitted the pope to collect all the income that the Catholic Church made in France. However, it also gave King Francis I more direct control over French Catholic leaders. He could restrict their ability to communicate directly with Rome. The concordat also confirmed the king’s right to nominate church leaders, such as archbishops, bishops, abbots, and priors.
In 1598, after 50 years of religious war, King Henry IV of France promoted French unity by issuing the Edict of Nantes. This order granted the Calvinist Protestants of France, known as Huguenots, new rights. By no longer treating Huguenots as heretics, or individuals who reject the faith of the church, the edict helped unify France. It gave Huguenots civil rights, including the rights to worship as they chose, work in any field, work for the state, and bring complaints directly to the king. The edict marked the end of the religious wars that had been fought in France throughout the second half of the 16th century.
England King Henry VII became the first Tudor monarch through his family’s victory in the Wars of the Roses (which pitted Tudor’s family, the Lancasters, against the House of York for the English throne). Henry then married Elizabeth of York to help legitimize his position. Over time, he further increased royal power by:
• using diplomacy to avoid expensive wars
• avoiding overtaxing the landed gentry—wealthy landowners who did not have inherited titles—and the middle class

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