In the 16th century, the Spanish sentence, "El imperio en el que nunca se pone el sol," -"the Empire on which the sun never sets"- was first used to describe the Spanish Empire.
It originated with a remark made by Fray Francisco de Ugalde to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (Charles I of Spain), who as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Spain, had a large empire, which included many territories in Europe and vast territories in the Americas.
The phrase gained added resonance during the reign of Charles's son, King Philip II of Spain. The Philippines was obtained by Spain in 1565. When King Henry of Portugal died, Philip II was recognised as King of Portugal in 1581, resulting in a personal union of the crowns. He now reigned over all his father's possessions (except the Holy Roman Empire) and the Portuguese Empire, which included territories in South America, Africa, Asia and islands in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans.
But, let's go step by step...

Comment Germany:
We understand your steps. You obviously have a loooong history and we see the advantage of all the inventions but we also see the problems.

Comment Finland:
I think that your country has done a big difference for a whole world. And I also think that this told me pretty much everything i need to know those steps forward. The taxt was also very clear to read.
1. - Causes of discoveries
Technical Improvements

  • New ships: lighter and faster
  • More complete maps. In it had a big influence the Cartography School of Majorca (Majorcan Jewish family Cresques)
  • New instruments: compass, astrolabe, quadrants, sextants …
Economic and commercial needs
  • The Turkish Empire had cut off the passage of commercial routes between Asia and Europe.
  • It encourages the interest of the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula in search of new sea routes.
  • Portugal, in the 15th century, had begun the search along the African coast until Bartolomé Díaz, in 1487, got round the Good Hope Cape, opening the desired route to India through the Indian Ocean.
The mentality
  • It beginsto be acceptedthe sphericity of theEarth, considered in classical antiquity.
  • It is rediscovered the Ptolemy’s Geography (2nd century BC) what increased interest in learning geography and knowing new lands.
  • Renaissance man is attracted to the adventure and the unknown (the Book of the wonders of Marco Polo or different medieval legend on fabulous kingdoms).
  • Recovers the ideal of Crusade, reappeared by the threat of the Turkish Empire.

2. - Columbus. The discovery of America
Looking for a Maecenas
Christopher Columbus, Genoese sailor, tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Portuguese authorities the viability of finding a route to India across the Atlantic to the West.
Facing the refusal he came to Castile, where he tried to sell the idea to the Catholic Monarchs.
After several refusals Kings agreed to sponsor their journey by signing, in April 1492, the agreement called "capitulations of Santa Fe":
ü All what they discover would have Spanish sovereignty.
ü Columbus would receive the highest titles and a tenth of all the obtained wealth.
On 3 August 1492 Columbus set sail from Palos, in the province of Huelva, with two caravels (Pinta and Niña) and a ship, the Santa Maria.
They arrived at Guanhaní or San Salvador in the Bahamas, on 12 October, 1492.
They find out on this trip the island of La Española (Santo Domingo) and the Juana island (Cuba).
He made three more trips after:
2nd trip: 1493-1496. Discover Jamaica and Puerto Rico.
3rd Trip: 1498-1500. Discover Trinidad and explores the American continent for the first time.
Trip 4: 1502-1504. Explore the coast of Central America.

The "failure / success" of Columbus
Columbus believed that:
ü They had reached the East Indies (Cathay and Cipangu)
ü But it was not: the new lands discovered were a new continent, located between Europe and Asia: America.
ü The merit of the discovery was Columbus, but also of the Catholic Monarchs who believed Columbus and supported him paying his project.

The distribution of the world
Pope Alexander VI, in 1493, divided the lands discovered or to be discovered between Spain and Portugal (100 leagues west of the Azores and Cape Verde).
Portugal does not accept this division: proposed the transfer of the meridian 370 leagues west of Cape Verde.
The Catholic Monarchs in 1494 accepted and signed the Treaty of Tordesillas:
ü Portugal entitled to Africa and Brazil
ü Castile entitled to the rest of America

3. Formation of an overseas empire.
In the last years of the 15th century and the first third of the 16th century, was the exploration, conquest and colonization of America.
It took place in two periods:
ü Under the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella (1492-1516)
ü Under the reign of Charles I (1517-1556)

a)Under the reignof Ferdinand and Isabella(1492-1516)Apart fromthe Columbus’ travels, therewere others carried-out called minor travels and were in chargeof Columbus’employees from1499. These travels confirmed thatthe discovered landswere notIndianbut a newcontinent:
ü Alonso de Ojeda, Juan de la Cosa, Amerigo Vespucci, explored Venezuela.
ü Vicente Yanez Pinzon, discovered Tobago sailing along the Amazon and reached the Orinoco.
ü Ponce de León conquer Puerto Rico.
ü Vasco Núñez de Balboa discovered the Pacific across the Panama Isthmus (1503).
ü Juan Díaz de Solís reached the Río de la Plata in 1515.
The Laws of Burgos (1512) gave the Indians the same rights as Spanish people from the main land.

b) Under the reign of Charles I (1517-1556)
The Emperor wanted:
ü Complete the work begun by Columbus finding a western route to the Indies. This required finding a passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific: the search for Magellan's expedition (1519-1522) culminated by Elcano.
ü The Strait of Magellan is been crossed.
ü The Philippines were discovered.
ü It was the first trip around the world, what demonstrate the sphericity of the Earth.
ü But also the economic infeasibility of the Columbian project made, on the other hand, Carlos I to sell the Moluccas to Portugal.

4. - Expansion, conquest and colonization
It was carried out the systematic conquer and colonization of the continent. Highlight the achievements of the great empires:
ü Azteca: conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortés (1519-1522)
ü Inca conquest of Peru by Pizarro, Almagro and Luque ((1521-1533)
After these two important tasks came:
ü Orellana explored the Amazon
ü Pedro de Valdivia conquered Chile
ü Hernando de Soto the Mississipi
ü In 1550 it had been explored from California to Rio de la Plata
5. - Supporters and opponents to the Conquest
It began a lively controversial about the legitimacy of the conquest and the use of force against the Indians. The most argumentative contemporaries were:
  • Fray(Brother) Bartolome de las Casas (1484-1566):
ü Supported the equality between Indians and Spanish
ü Indians were free subjects of the Castilian monarchs
ü Colonization could only be justified as an evangelizing and peaceful task
  • Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda (1490-1573): against Fr B. de las Casas
ü defended the legitimacy of the conquest;
ü claimed the superiority of people who were more rational than others;
ü the wisest should guide the ignorant and civilize them;
ü If necessary it could be used force.
  • Francisco de Vitoria (1483-1546):
ü Is the creator of international law
ü Supported the right of all nations to trade peacefully;
ü considered false the justifications used to legitimize the conquest,
ü he regarded as justification, end practices contrary to natural law (human sacrifice) of certain peoples and civilized people who should be protecting them in a kindly way to correct their mistakes
This ideological debate led to legislative improvements as the New Laws of 1542 and 1543, which improved the living conditions of the Indians and forbid abuses, although the degree of fulfillment was concerning, especially because of the distance between the conquered territories and metropolis and the difficulty in communications.
6. - Consequences of the conquest
  • For America
    • Demographic
    • Social
    • Religious
    • Economic
  • For Spain:
    • Political
    • Economic:
    • Gold and silver mines. The massive arrival of such precious metals will cause: a revolution in prices as well as a commercial monopoly (Casa de Contratación, Seville) and the arrival of new types of food,
    • Demographic
    • Cultural
7. - Other discoveries
In 1560 Felipe II decided to impel the expansion along the Pacific and ordered to colonize the Philippines, in order to turn it into the Spanish base of the commerce with Asia and China, despite the fact that with this decision the treaties currently in force with Portugal were violated for being outside their area of agreed expansion.
The person in charge of carrying it out was Miguel López de Legazpi, who departing from Mexico disembarked in the Philippine archipelago, at the Cebu islands: Mindanao and Luzon. In 1571 Legazpi founded the city of Manila, which is placed in an excellent natural port on the west part of Luzon Island; the capital became soon the center of the Spanish presence in Asia, and from there grew an intense trade with China

Comment Italy:
Spain has always had a main role in European and American history and the text is very clear about it; maybe it's excessively schematised.