Through the unification of the Iberian kingdoms which began with the marriage of Isabel of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon and culminated in Philip II's assumption of the Portuguese throne in 1580, Spain became the dominant superpower throughout the 16th and much of the 17th century. Spanish monarchs ruled at various times much of northern Europe, Italy and the Americas. Spaniards were at the forefront of th Age of Discovery, of the battles against the Turks and Protestants, and of the Catholic Reformation. The Golden Age was accompanied by great achievements in spirituality, literature, and the visual arts. Spain became a global superpower during the Golden Age but at the same time it struggled with internal unrest, economic catastrophes, industrial collapse and the sheer difficulty of administering its far-flung territories. This module will explore Spain's triumphs and troubles during this complex and fascinating period.