Ask anyone about the significance of the year 1492, and you're almost certain to hear something about Christopher Columbus and the discovery of the New World. But there is also a perspective on 1492 far different than the one most of us know - one that is more complete and complex. A 1492 when there was no country called Spain and no language called Spanish. A 1492 whose biggest event - in the region that would eventually become Spain - was the surrender of the last Muslim stronghold, Granada, with the subsequent Edict of Expulsion that gave Jews three months to either convert to Christianity or leave the Kingdom of Castile and the Crown of Aragon.
This 12-lecture series uses the year 1492 to examine the events that made Spain a country and an empire. It examines the centuries of developments that led up to that pivotal year in Spanish history and the consequences that followed for both Spain and the New World, presenting Spanish history from the perspective of both the victors and the defeated: the Muslims, Jews, and New World natives for whom 1492 was not a time of wonder but of terror and despair.
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Great background for Latin American developments
Prof. Ruiz does a great job of explaining how diverse Spain was at the time that Ferdinand and Isabella united the Iberian peninsula (he discusses regional and religious differences) and how that diversity continued and shaped "Spanish" policy. In particular, he does an excellent job explaining the policy differences pursued in Castille and Aragon.
I also have to say that Prof. Ruiz's lectures were first time I have really heard the history behind the development of the latifundio system and the office of the corregidor (two key concepts for understanding Latin American history). Usually, books about Latin America give these concepts short shrift and simply note "they came from Spain". Hearing why they were developed and what their function was in various parts of Spain was very enriching.
¡Ha hecho usted un excelente trabajo, profe!
I really enjoyed listening to this lecture and plan to listen to it a second time as well. There is a wealth of information. Some listeners may not like all the context he provides, but I did.