The political development of the Iberian peninsula was distinctive, yet in certain ways similar to that of England and France. At the same time as William was conquering England from Normandy, several Christian kingdoms in the northern part of the peninsula began to conquer the disunited Muslim states to their south. Castile, in the north-central part of the peninsula, became the strongest of the growing Christian kingdoms, with Aragon, in the northeast, the second most powerful. During the 1100s, the kings of Castile, Aragon, and several smaller states established representative assemblies (the Cortes in Castile, the Corts in Aragon), which, like the French Estates General, were structured with separate houses for the clergy, nobility, and urban dwellers. By the fi fteenth century, the Castilian Cortes had relatively little power; so little, in fact, that representatives from the clergy and nobility simply stopped attending. The Aragonese Corts , by contrast, retained effective authority over the approval of taxes. During the twelfth century the region that is now northern Portugal gained its independence from Castile, and by the mid-thirteenth century, Portugal controlled all its present-day territory. Christian conquests continued, and by the late 1200s, Muslim territory in Spain had been reduced to the kingdom of Granada in the south. The Christian kingdoms of Aragon, Navarre, and Castile controlled the rest of what is now Spain. Spain became unifi ed fi rst through marriage, and then through conquest. Both Castile and Aragon saw civil wars arising out of succession controversies in the 1460s, with France and Portugal supporting whichever heir seemed most likely to further their own interests. The monarchs of both countries had their eyes on Isabella, the heiress presumptive of Castile, but in 1469, she married Prince Ferdinand of Aragon, whose territory also included Naples, and the Mediterranean islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Mallorca, and Menorca. After they became monarchs their kingdoms remained separate, but under their heirs their lands became a more unifi ed realm, though each state in Spain (and the territories beyond the peninsula) retained its own laws, courts, system of taxation, and representative body until about 1700. Following their own example, the royal couple made astute marriages for their children with every country that could assist them against their most powerful neighbor, France: their eldest daughter, Isabella, married King Afonso of Portugal; in a double wedding, their son John and their second daughter, Joanna, married the two children of Maximilian I and Mary of Burgundy, Margaret and Philip of Habsburg; their third daughter, Catherine, married Arthur, the eldest son of Henry VII of England. Death complicated this marital strategy, however. Afonso and John both died shortly after their weddings, Afonso actually in a fall from a horse while the wedding celebration was still going on. Isabella (the younger) was married again to Afonso’s oldest brother, Manuel, but she died shortly after giving birth to a son, who died as an infant. (Isabella and Ferdinand quickly recemented the Portuguese alliance with a marriage between Manuel and their fourth daughter, Maria, which eventually produced seven children, several of whom married their Habsburg cousins.) Arthur of England died less than a year after he married. All of this left Joanna as heiress apparent in Castile and Catherine a teenage widow. Joanna did eventually rule Castile, though her mental instability cut her reign short, and she became known as “Joanna the Mad.” To the great outrage of her parents – who had hoped to use her in yet another alliance – Catherine and her dowry were held in England, and, after complicated negotiations, she was married, as noted above, to Arthur’s younger brother, Henry. Catherine thus followed a pattern of marrying successive siblings set by her sister Isabella and her brother-in-law Manuel. While marriages linked Isabella and Ferdinand with the rest of Europe, military victories enlarged their holdings. Immediately after their marriage they began military campaigns against Granada, the last remaining Muslim state on the peninsula, which were ultimately successful in 1492. After Isabella’s death, Ferdinand conquered Navarre in 1512, and later Spanish troops also seized territory in what is now southern France, northern Africa, southern Italy, and the Canary Islands. Isabella and Ferdinand also strengthened their position as monarchs through the systematic suppression of aristocratic power. They reorganized the main royal council, making it larger, stronger, and more professional, and fi lling it with lower-level nobility and educated non-nobles. Their successors established a huge number of additional councils, each responsible for one geographic area – Aragon, Naples, New Spain, and so on – or one aspect of government, with members and offi cials appointed by the monarch, not inherited by virtue of a noble title. To counter any rebellious nobles, Isabella and Ferdinand used the hermandades , brotherhoods of local vigilantes who acted as both police forces and judges; these were ordered to be disbanded in 1498 and replaced by a standing army. The religious situation in the Iberian peninsula provided Isabella and Ferdinand with unique opportunities for further expansion of royal power. Around 1300, Jews had been expelled from England and France, and many of them had settled in the Muslim and Christian areas of the Iberian peninsula. Initially the rulers of both faiths welcomed them, but during the late fourteenth century attacks and riots against Jewish communities in Christian areas became more common, and many Jews converted (or were forced to convert), becoming conversos or “New Christians.” Particularly in Castile, conversos were often well educated, serving as lawyers and physicians, local and royal offi cials, and even bishops and abbots. Their success enhanced popular resentment on the part of “Old Christians,” and with the accession of Isabella, this sentiment gained a royal ear. Isabella was very devout, and she regarded conversos as a cancer within the Christian community; she and Ferdinand gained papal permission from Sixtus IV to establish an Inquisition to distinguish real from false converts. In contrast to earlier inquisitions, this was not under papal control but became a branch of royal government; it was established for Castile in 1480 and Aragon in 1481, making it the fi rst institution common to both states. A separate Portuguese Inquisition on the Spanish model was established in 1526. Investigations, trials, and executions of conversos began immediately, with offi cials of the Inquisition charged to search out the least sign of an incomplete conversion, such as not eating pork, or wearing clean clothes and not cooking on Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath). Some individuals and communities engaged in more clearly Jewish practices such as circumcision and Sabbath services, and maintained a kind of dual identity, blending Jewish and Christian beliefs and practices. Evidence of these practices has led some scholars to argue that most conversos were “crypto-Jews,” while others view them as entirely assimilated until the Inquisition invented their devotion to Judaism. When brought before the Inquisition, most conversos argued that they were fully Christian and had been for generations. (We have no way of knowing exactly whether such an argument was a matter of expediency or the truth, of course, which is why there is such disagreement among scholars.) In countering this argument, Spanish offi cials developed what many historians see as a new type of anti-Semitism. Christian hostility toward Jews had existed throughout the Middle Ages, but Jews were defi ned primarily as a religious group, unacceptable because they did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. To the offi cials of the Spanish Inquisition, however, Judaism was not simply a religious adherence that could be changed through conversion, but an essential (and unchangeable) aspect of a person’s nature, housed in the blood and heritable. Thus it was more like noble status, which, despite the fact that in every part of Europe new families were frequently elevated to the nobility, was conceptualized as “having noble blood.” These two hierarchies of blood – religious and social – converged in Spain during the sixteenth century, with the passage of laws requiring “purity of blood” – having no Muslim or Jewish ancestors – for anyone claiming noble status. In some areas intermarriage between Old and New Christians had become common, so that families sought to hide their ancestors, as the revelation of “tainted” blood could mean disaster. (For discussion of the implications of these ideas in the Spanish colonies, see chapter 7 .) The threat of an inquisitorial investigation became a further tool in the hands of offi cials seeking to expand royal power against recalcitrant or politically suspect nobles, used particularly during the reign of Isabella and Ferdinand’s great-grandson, Philip II (ruled 1556–98). The Muslim areas of southern Iberia were home to signifi cant numbers of Jews, including families who had lived there for centuries and others who had migrated there more recently. The conquest of Granada in January 1492 made this no longer a safe haven; later that year Isabella and Ferdinand ordered all Jews to leave Spain without taking any of their property with them. Historians estimate that about 200,000 Jews left Spain, about half to North Africa and the rest dispersed throughout Europe. Some went to Portugal, where the king offered Jews and conversos twenty years’ exemption from investigation. This did not necessarily mean they would be allowed to stay in Portugal, for in the same year the Portuguese crown sent 2,000 newly baptized Jews to its African island colonies, hoping they would intermarry with Portuguese Christians who were already there and increase the islands’ population. Later in the sixteenth century Jews were offi cially expelled from Portugal as well as Spain, taking their talents, skills, and (despite the best efforts of the monarchs to prevent this) some of their wealth from both countries.