War and Feudalism in Europe

During the middle of the 15th century, Europe was in a time of war and feudalism. Many European states had a weak central government and needed strong rulers to reestablish the order. Several leaders emerged during this time period who did some great works to bring the power back into the monarch’s hand, and thus they earned the name “new monarchs”. There were several factors that helped these leaders rise. Most of the “new monarchs” that arose during 1450 to 1550.

In England, King Henry VII taking major steps in building the economy, causing a downshift in noble’s power, Spain’s monarchy came to power through the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella, France’s Louis XI earned his power by playing mind games, happily snatching the power away from nobles. King Henry VII who supposedly became the “new monarch” of England, began his era after the end of civil war, also known as the (1)‘Wars of the Roses’, fought between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, later won by the House of Lancaster, was one of main factors that brought King Henry VII into power.

He came into power only after the death of his father Henry Tudor (the leader of the winning house). Since (2)the war had caused tension between two of the most powerful families, Henry later married Elizabeth of York to ease the tensions. England was in a changing phase, which meant most of the nobles still had power to compete with the king. Therefore (3)Henry VII altered several of England’s political features, resulting in increase of his ‘power and stability’. To gain an advantage over the nobles, Henry prohibited “livery and maintenance”.

This meant that nobles were no longer able to maintain private armies, substantially weakening their power. (4)He also utilized the ‘Star Chamber’, which acted as a royal council and helped bring peace to his kingdom. (5)One of his best decisions was to keep England out of costly foreign wars. This helped England loose less money and helping his treasury become more fiscally stable. Furthermore, this decision made it so that Henry did not have to ask Parliament for money, decreasing the nobles’ say and power in the government.

These were the key decisions taken by King Henry VII to maintain and increase his power and thus become the ‘new monarch’ of England. The new monarch of France was going to be the King Louis IX. Louis was crowned in Reims at the age of 12, following the death of his father Louis VIII the Lion, although his mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled the kingdom until he reached majority. (1)When Louis came to power, he was able to expand French boundaries. He gained land in northern France and was able to force the English out of Normandy.

(2)‘The League of the Public Weal’, an alliance of nobles was angry with the King Louis for centralizing the France government and taking away their power. Louis responded to this by appeasing some of the nobles by granting them some land rights in exchange for disbanding their alliance. Due to such kind of mind games played by King Louis which helped him in expanding the French boundaries and keeping the nobility happy and still getting his work done, gave him the name of “The Spider King”. (3)It was also said that he led France by weaving a multitude of plots and conspiracies to achieve his goals.

For example, Charles the Bold, the leader of The League of the Public Weal feared Louis’s success and allied with the king of England. To prevent any serious opposition from England and Charles, Louis bought off Edward IV in the Merchant's Peace of Picquigny. These plots that Louis devised helped avoid major problems for France and increased the monarch’s power. The mind games played by King Louis IX not only made him the ‘ spider king’, but also, made him the ‘new monarch’ who brought back stability in France.

The new monarchy in Spain was a unique monarchy at the time. It was maintained by two leaders, the Queen Isabella and the King Ferdinand. When they got married, it resulted in unification of both parts of Spain. (1)While Spain was still not completely united politically, it was now united by religion, with Ferdinand and Isabella as “the Catholic Monarchs”. (2)Together, they led Spain through the Reconquista and the Spanish Inquisition. During these two events, Spain tried to rid of all non-Catholic people in Spain especially Muslims and Jews.

Sending away the ‘non Catholics’ meant a united population of common religion. (3)They created a group of people named the Hermandad. These men were used as a judicial police force for Castile, as well as to attempt to keep Castilian nobles in check. To establish a more uniform judicial system, (4) they created the Royal Council, and appointed magistrates (judges) to run the towns and cities. This establishment of royal authority is known as the Pacification of Castile.

Creating a group of people who maintained peace in the city meant two things, people stay under control, thus the monarchy could concentrate on other matters, and the second thing, keeping the people united and happy meant no intra-state wars or uprisings would come up. (5)The new monarchs also authorized the expedition of Christopher Columbus, who was given the name of Admiral of the Ocean Sea by the monarchs, which brought knowledge of the Americas to Europe. Columbus' first expedition to the supposed Indies actually landed in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492.

In conclusion, many of the new monarchies, such as England, France, and Spain, had many unique characteristics that allowed the ‘new monarchs’ to maintain their rule over their own respective country. The time period (1450 to 1550), when Europe was politically weak, Monarchs like Kings Henry, King Louis, and Ferdinand and Isabella rose in their respective countries and taught the other neighboring countries how to rule effectively, that’s why they were known as the “new monarchs”.