The Discovery of America and the Spanish Empire
In 1492, coinciding with the consolidation of the new Spanish state, the explorer Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. With Carlos I, the reign of the Hapsburg dynasty, the House of Austria, began, and, through the conquest of extensive territories in America and other overseas colonies, Spain became the principle European colonial power. Literature and the Arts flourished during this period between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
At the start of the eighteenth century, after the War of Spanish Succession, the Hapsburg dynasty gave way to the Bourbons, and Philip V succeeded to the throne. Following the War, Spain lost its military might in Europe and, after a series of bankruptcies, saw its power gradually wane. The Age of Enlightenment would attempt to bring a new air of European science and culture to the country.
The 19th century and the loss of the colonies
The 19th century witnessed great changes in Spain, leading to independence for most of its colonies and many internal conflicts. In 1808 the Dos de Mayo uprising marked the beginning of the War of Independence against the Napoleonic invasion. Political instability followed, leading, in the second half of the century, to the brief First Spanish Republic, which only lasted for eleven months.