May 16, 2005

Spanish History

I've suffered for this essay. Now it is done and I want everyone else to suffer to. Don't care about Spanish history? Tough shit! Here's stuff I've had to learn. Had to learn. No choice! Nooooooooooooooo…

Isabella I (1451–1504) and Ferdinand II (1452–1516).

Hello. We are Isabella and Ferdinand. We are the Catholic monarchs. We are very Catholic. If you asked us how Catholic we were on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being Martin Luther dressed as Neitzsche listening to Marilyn Manson and 10 being the pope in a cathedral feeling guilty) we'd have to be modest and say 11. And a half.

We got married and as a wedding present we got Spain. Isabella used to rule the bit called Castile which has lots of flat bits in it as well as Real Madrid who win lots of things and buy lots of players. Ferdinand used to rule Aragon which doesn't have Real Madrid, or even Athletico Madrid, but does have more calamares. And sunburnt English people.

Despite being responsible for Spain we didn't really do much that was cool. Neither of us ever slew a dragon or conquered Doncaster or invented museli. We were very Catholic though. More Catholic than a nun on a consecrated bicycle.

We also threw the Jews out of Spain which was not very nice. This got us a bad reputation with people in the future but at the time no one could stop us because we got the Inquisition and they didn't. We also met this man who kept telling us there was a quick way to the East Indies. In the end we gave him some money and told him to fuck off and sail off the edge of the world (which is flat). But he came back. His name was Chris. He wasn't as Catholic as us.

We had some children but they were rubbish so we passed on Spain to our grandson Charles who was less rubbish. And less Catholic. Unlike us. Did we mention we were very Catholic?

Charles V or I (1500–1558, reigned 1516–1556)

Hello, I'm Charles V or I depending on who you ask. I don't really care because I like riding around on my horse. I'll ride for ages and sometimes I'll have no idea where I am except what I do know is I own it. I own most of Europe. That bit of Europe you're standing on? Mine. And that bit your mum is standing on? Mine.

The Spaniards weren't that keen on me because I was a bit foreign. But my horse was bigger than theirs so I ruled. I also fought lots of wars because wars are cool and as you can see I am a man. I have a beard and a horse and most of Europe. I am also emperor of the Holy Roman Empire which is just a big excuse to ride around on my horse.

Lots of people revolted against me when I was king. The Spanish revolted in 1521. This was called the Comuneros though not by me because I speak French which might have been part of why they were pissed off. Also my German subjects revolted a few years later. All this meant I got to ride around Europe on my horse a lot.

Eventually I became convinced I was crap and quit. I retired to a monastry because I had gout and was too fat to ride a horse anymore. In the end I did the sensible thing and died.


Philip II (1527–1598, reigned 1556–1598)


Hello, my name is Philip. I am the son of Charles and inherited the cool bits of his empire but not Germany which was full of people questioning Catholicism, becoming Protestant and reserving all the sunloungers with towels.

If I was alive today I would be considered a geek. Or a nerd. Or a geeknerd. I liked to sit in my office reading documents and not getting hurt in wars and stuff. I like paper, except when it gives you paper cuts but only Protestant paper does that and I at least tried to stop heretics from making evil paper cut paper.

In my reign we lost the Netherlands after a war. We also didn't capture England despite being married to its queen (Mary I) for a bit, and then creating a fuck-off huge Armada of boats to get it. We called it the 'Invincible Armada' but it wasn't and it sank. Therefore as all we did was talk big and lose when we should have won (but not so much that we were ever in any real danger ourselves) we were the Tottenham Hotspur of history. Unfortunately this makes France Arsenal and they were starting to get quite powerful. In 1598 I solved the problem by dying.



Philip III (1578–1621, reigned 1598–1621)


Hello, I'm Philip III of Spain. I was a lazy sod and my dad was one of many who thought I'd be crap… and they were right! I did very little except to trust most of my actual king-ing to the Duke of Lerma. This would have been a good idea if he hadn't been crap.

In my reign we decided to go one better than the Catholic monarchs (because I am very pious as well, despite all the opulent parties at court) and threw out the Moors. This was a bit like throwing out the Jews but with Muslims. Apparently in the future this is considered to be a bit nasty. As it turns out the Moors were quite important in other parts of Spain and I became unpopular as a result.

I'd tell you more but I can't be bothered…




Philip IV (1605–1665, reigned 1621–1665)


Unlike my dad I tried. I really did. But it was no use. Spain was buggered and there really was nothing I could do.


People say I was a miserable bastard. Well you'd be miserable too when you realised you'd inherited a country with no money, a cack handed army that couldn't punch its way out of a wet paper bag (or Holland as we sometimes call it here in Spain), no bloody trade because our South American colonies are broken, and, the icing on the cake, I had a stupid moustache.


Yes, by this point it was obvious I didn't have the required Catholicism or manliness or even plain old big fuck-off boats to do anything exciting. Therefore all I get remembered for is for being around when Spain was falling apart. Oh well, at least I got thorugh a whole load of immorality at court which was nice. Then, in accordance to the precedent set by the rest of my family, I died.

Charles II (1661–1700, reigned 1665–1700)


Alas, here the Habsburgs in Spain end with me, the perfect example of why monarchies should, y'know, get out more and meet people. My parents were uncle and niece and my grandparents on one side were uncle and niece, and I can tell you, when your family tree ain't got many branches it ain't gonna grow good fruit.

Annoyingly this meant I was a perfect physical manifestation of the crappy, broken Spain that I was put in charge of. Me! I could barely hold a conversation I was that inbred. Seriously. My jaw jutted out way too far and I was slow and epileptic and everyone in Spain, in Europe, where ever, spent my entire life wondering when I would die!

How bloody rude!

So I didn't. Ha! I lasted ages longer than they thought. And y'know what? It felt good. It felt like finally I was sticking two fingers up at tha haterz. "No necesito esta mierda", that's what I said. Just when it's all over we finally showed some spirit.


I'd have up there giving them grief if I was capable. Which I wasn't. Oh well… nevermind that I went loopy at the end, nevermind that I was an invalid and a drooly one at that, nevermind that really, for all the prestige on our family name, the Habsburgs weren't very good at their jobs. Nevermind. We had our revenge. We became part of History and then poor children in the future had to write essays about us. Especially English, Dutch and French children because their ancestors caused us all that grief. That'll learn ya!

Carlos II signing out! I'm off for a ciggy and a pizza…

- 26 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Gordon R

    First class, Cruise, first class.

    I think you captured the Habsburg lip admirably. I was wondering when Austria would come into the picture.

    You certainly deserve to go to bed now.

    16 May 2005, 00:26

  2. Very good, very good.

    16 May 2005, 00:31

  3. Brilliant! Henry Kamen and Fernand Braudel and JH Elliott, not to mention Schiller, eat your hearts out.

    16 May 2005, 01:46

  4. Haha nice; takes me back to A-Level History where our teacher, who recognised that amusing anecdotes were far more interesting (if not strictly useful) than actual history, always used to laugh about the "Habsburg Jaw", which was apparently so bad in the case of Philip II that he insisted upon dining alone; presumably the food just kept spilling out of his mouth what with not being able to close it properly…

    That's about the only thing I remember from my A-Level, that and the fact that Ferdinand and Isabella apparently married for love as well as politics; awwwww.

    16 May 2005, 02:09

  5. Ms Cruise – you're great. When is the second lesson? …and can we request periods of History or does it have to be something you've studied?!

    If the latter, please publish a list of which modules you took this year immediately…

    16 May 2005, 08:28

  6. Wow… I think I just found an educational post interesting. That's quite an achievement…

    16 May 2005, 08:35

  7. Dave tCB

    Was Charles II related to Moomin Papa or is the resemblance purely coincidental?

    16 May 2005, 09:47

  8. Hello, I'm Henry Kamen and I wrote lots of books about Spain. I think it's silly to talk of Spain declining because it was always rubbish and to decline means become more rubbish giving it negative points which don't exist. Therefore the economy sucked and so did Spain.

    Hello, I'm John H. Elliot and I also wrote lots of books on Spain but I don't think it sucked quite as much as Henry did though it did go a bit downhill. Actually it went a lot downhill. Then it sucked.

    Hello, I'm Hol and I'm a poor, long-suffering history student who is trying not to go revision crazy. I wrote 4,500 words on Spain redently. Can you tell? For those who want to know, my modules this year were:

    • British Electoral and Parliamentary Politics 1688–1832 (waaaaaaaaay more interesting than it sounds).
    • Ireland 1848–1972 (just plain tragic).
    • European World 1500–1720 (diverse and goes beyond 1720 despite the module title).
      Requests to the usual address but no, I will not be singing any of them.

    16 May 2005, 12:24

  9. I hated when courses go beyond the place where the module title takes them! Class history lesson though. Holland / wet paper bag sounds like a useful metaphore – will remember it! Can't wait for the Irish history lesson, still wondering what happened there. Hollywood can't really do it justice I think.

    16 May 2005, 12:43

  10. Carter

    A couple of points completely unrelated to this post.

    1) In your picture in the Profile section you appear to have become a cast member from 'Tron'. Respect.

    2) As a fellow fan of Brand New I feel compelled to tell you to get hold of the song 'Mr Raven' by MC Lars (from 'The Laptop EP'), which rather sterlingly samples 'Okay, I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don't'. It is, in two words, absolutely beezer. Alternatively, get thee to Top B tonight and hear the great man's sterling tune 'iGeneration' tossed liberally into the mix at peak time, which will hopefully give you cause to bounce like a buffoon.

    That is all.

    16 May 2005, 13:14

    3 hours. Answer two questions.

    1. Why did only Ferdinand and Isabella, of all Spanish monarchs before 1700, have noses?

    2. Either (a) "Neither a decline, nor Spanish, and certainly not both." (Henry Fernando Kamen y Elliott). Discuss this view of the decline of Spain.
    Or (b) "The original lead balloon." (Fernando Henry Elliott y Kamen). Do you agree with this description of Spain in the early Modern period?

    3. Who is your favourite favourite, and why?

    4. Either (a) "They led with the jaw." Was this the reason for the failures of Philip III and Philip IV?
    or (b) "Jaw jaw, not war war." Does this apply to the Habsburgs?

    16 May 2005, 15:21

  12. Charles that is a work of genius. I would answer 2 (b) ("Yes it was a lead balloon but this is a history paper so I will spend an hour and a half defining "original". And "lead". And "balloon".) and question 3 ("Olivares. He wasn't quite as rubbish as everyone else. And he was a Count-Duke. Not just a Count. Not just a Duke. But a Count-Duke).

    Carter, I will download get a copy from a friend legitimately purchase said item. The idea of sampling Brand New is too good not to hear.

    Thorwald, the amazing thing about wet paper bags is how hard they can be to get out of. And also how effectively they establish a trading empire based on superior naval capability. Actually that last point might not apply to wet paper bags, but it is certainly Dutch.

    16 May 2005, 15:52

  13. Almost makes me regret not taking history… "almost", because I have little faith that the history lecturers make it quite as amusing as you do!

    16 May 2005, 17:25

  14. I vote for Ireland. Anyone care to second it?

    17 May 2005, 08:31

  15. Dave tCB

    Seconded. Peter Hain is on standby. Quoted as saying "Help me Holly Wan, your my only hope!

    17 May 2005, 09:54

  16. In that case it's good news all round (except for me) as my Ireland exam is my first exam (28th May, oh joy) so that's almost certainly what will be on my brain for the next week and a half. Poor brain.

    17 May 2005, 10:55

  17. Poor brain indeed.

    17 May 2005, 15:00

  18. which one liked to dangle people out of the window by their shoelaces? that's all i remember of a level history, and we only studied up to philip II, and i'm sure it wasn;t him. OH MY GOD i learnt something on my own.

    17 May 2005, 16:21

  19. Gordon R

    The Defenestration of Prague is a favourite of mine. Closely linked to shoelace-dangling.

    17 May 2005, 16:35

  20. I'd take you deeeep into the world of Poujadism but first my tutor wants me to do that…in the form of a 5000 word essay. Plod on.

    18 May 2005, 00:30

  21. matt

    do you do commissions for artwork? can I get a Tycho Brahe? He had a silver nose cause he lost his or something.
    What about the Tulip Bubble? Do you do flowers?

    18 May 2005, 13:00

  22. Tim

    Holly, I too have suffered with European World this year, but as a postgraduate seminar tutor it's been because, unlike yourself, none of my students have fully grasped how gloriously ridiculous the early modern period can be. If your essay's as good as your blog I'm sure Penny et al will give you a first (and can I provide a link to your blog for my revision seminars?).

    18 May 2005, 13:17

  23. yes!
    please come and see 'noir way out' in the cooler at 2pm, friday-sunday, and bring your buddies.

    you knows it!

    18 May 2005, 15:02

  24. Tim Sure, link away. If it helps anyone else it's probably been worth the pain (hehehe).
    Matt Sure, I can do commissions although no promises as to how long it'll take (oh what fun my days in the library are) or to the quality. Kind of like Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel.
    Eimear Oooooh, shameless plugging? I'll allow it this time but next time there might be spoons involved. No further comment.

    18 May 2005, 19:14

  25. Thank you for providing further evidence for my recent belief that history isn't nearly as boring as history lessons make it seem.

    19 May 2005, 15:52

  26. Hahahahahaha, Holly you should go into journalism. Charles, your entry was great too.

    26 May 2005, 18:33

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