This chapter provides a brief history of Castilian ascendancy from the late Middle Ages through the end of Philip II's reign. After the marriage of Prince Ferdinand of Aragon and Princess Isabella of Castile, a series of agreements—both tacit and explicit—recognized Castile's exclusive sovereignty over all territories conquered in the future. Ferdinand and Isabella shed many of the medieval structures of administration, modernizing the apparatus of the state and preparing it for the coming expansion. At the dawn of the early modern age, Ferdinand and Isabella had succeeded in giving their kingdoms a relatively strong monarchy and streamlined state institutions. Castile, where reforms were particularly deep and the peace dividend sizable, flourished economically.
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