Timeline of the Spanish Golden Age
1469 Prince Ferdinand of Aragon marries Princess Isabella of Castile.
1479 Ferdinand succeeds his father as King of Aragon, uniting the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile into a powerful Spanish state.
1492 Spain conquers Granada, the last outpost of Muslim rule on the Iberian Peninsula. Spain also issues a decree expelling all Jews from its territories.
Spain funds an expedition by Christopher Columbus to discover a westward route to the Indies. Instead, Columbus stumbles upon the Americas, giving Spain immense and lucrative colonies.
1504 Ferdinand conquers the Kingdom of Naples in Italy, bringing it in to an expanding Spanish empire. Queen Isabella dies.
1516 Ferdinand dies. His grandson becomes King Charles I of Spain, adding the Netherlands to the empire.
1519 Charles becomes Holy Roman Emperor, taking control of German and Austrian lands.
The work of the conquistadors in the New World begins to pour tremendous wealth into the Spanish treasury.
1547 Miguel de Cervantes is born. He will become a leading writer of the Spanish Golden Age.
1556 Charles abdicates the throne of Spain, making his son King Philip II. Philip is married to the daughter of King Henry VIII of England and hopes to make England a Catholic country again. As a devout Catholic, he spends much of his reign fighting Protestant Europe and the Muslim Ottoman Empire.
1558 The Protestant Elizabeth becomes Queen of England, frustrating Philip’s attempts to convert England through political means.
1561 King Philip moves the court to Madrid, creating a dynamic and powerful capital in the center of the country.
1562 Lope de Vega is born in Madrid to a middle-class embroiderer. He will become the father of Spanish Golden Age theatre and will write more than 1,000 plays.
1571 At the battle of Lepanto, a league of Christian countries destroys the Ottoman naval fleet, freeing the Mediterranean for Spanish and Italian trade.
1572 The Netherlands revolt against Spanish rule. English forces arrive to join in the Protestant fight against Spain.
1588 After the execution of the Catholic Mary (Queen of Scots), Philip plans to invade England. He sends a massive fleet of 130 ships bearing 25,000 soldiers, but this Spanish Armada meets bad weather and fierce resistance in England. Only 67 ships and 10,000 men return. One of the survivors is a 25-year-old Lope de Vega.
1598 King Philip II dies, making his son King Philip III. The 20-year-old king loves art and entertainment, spending lavishly on them. After decades of war, and with money from the New World dwindling, Spain is increasingly bankrupting itself.
1599 Diego Velázquez is born in Seville. He will become the greatest painter of the Spanish Golden Age.
1600 Pedro Calderón de la Barca is born in Madrid to a treasury secretary. He will become an innovative and popular playwright.
1604 After the death of Queen Elizabeth I and the ascension of King James I, Spain and England sign a peace treaty.
1605 Cervantes publishes part one of his masterpiece Don Quixote.
1613 Lope de Vega writes The Dog in the Manger, one of his greatest plays.
1615 Cervantes publishes part two of Don Quixote.
1616 Cervantes dies.
1618 The Thirty Years’ War begins, involving most of Europe in crippling conflict.
1621 King Philip III dies, making his son King Philip IV.
1625 King James I of England dies, making his son King Charles I.
1635 Lope de Vega dies.
1636 Calderón writes Life is a Dream, his masterpiece.
1643 King Philip’s nephew Louis XIV becomes King of France.
1648 Spain makes peace with the Netherlands, ending the Thirty Years’ War.
1649 After a civil war in England, Puritans behead King Charles I.
1660 King Charles II is restored to the throne of England.
Diego Velázquez dies.
1665 King Philip IV dies, making his son King Charles II. After generations of inbreeding, the 4-year-old king is physically and mentally handicapped and his rule is disastrous for Spain. Economic stagnation leads to widespread famine and the Spanish Empire begins to splinter.
1681 Pedro Calderón de la Barca dies. His death is now considered the end of the Spanish Golden Age of arts and literature.
1700 King Charles II dies without an heir, ending the dynasty that began with King Charles I in 1516, and setting off the War of the Spanish Succession.