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The third national state and strong monarchy to be established by the end of the fifteenth century was in Spain. Separated from the rest of the Continent by the lofty and forbidding Pyrenees, Spanish culture developed in relative isolation from the main currents of Europe. The Iberian peninsula had a semi-arid climate, poor soil, and a scarcity of mineral resources. Only when they exploited the mines of Mexico and Peru, or those European lands gained through inheritance or marriage, were Spanish kings wealthy. The country' s poverty obstructed the rise of commerce and industry, limited the cosmopolitanism that accompanied them elsewhere, and hampered the rise of a middle class in Spanish society. The national state that developed in Spain, therefore, never threw off feudal traditions to the degree that occurred in England and France. Throughout the Middle Ages Spanish history was dominated by the Reconquista, the name given to the perennial crusade against the Mulim population which inhabited the peninsula. The centuries of struggle against Islam produced a race of soldiers filled with religious zeal and perhaps explain why Spanish national feeling had intense religious overtones. Very early in Spain there arose the notion that national unity was predicated upon religious orthodoxy. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section V: The Rise of Capitalism and the National State to 1500. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.