Front Page Titles (by Subject) 46.: Spain and Portugal - Judgments on History and Historians
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46.: Spain and Portugal - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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Spain and Portugal
The grandees, to be sure, remain loyal to the crown after the deaths of Isabella (1504) and Ferdinand the Catholic (1516). But inner strife appears because the supreme power as such is in dispute, and finally the uprising of the comuneros turns against the Netherlands councilors of Charles V. But royalty remains in complete and sole control and, as soon as the division into parties had ended, achieves its highest apotheosis. The Inquisition crushes everything; the head of the Medina Sidonia bears its banner. Servitude does not seem to have been felt as such. The same nation which is cut off from whole large areas of thought and knowledge by an unheard-of preventive censorship remains fresh and creative in other areas and even develops quite late its best and most lasting elements. Not until the course of the sixteenth century are there added to the existing romance and lyric poetry the sacred and the profane drama (the latter again the tragic and the comic), the novella and the realistic novel (the beggar’s novel). In art, which in the sixteenth century was still dependent on the outside, the true Spanish spirit achieves its flowering only in the seventeenth century when the nation was already dying.
In discovery and the founding of colonies, Columbus must work with the only powerful agent which sets people into motion; it is not even the promise of enjoyment, but the mere greed for gold; he must let the whole curse hold sway. Added to the unprecedented widening of the horizon is the worst surrender to Spanish sloth over money and power. In order to attain this, people undergo any danger and effort. Until Cortes the human element is greatly inferior to the Portuguese under Manuel the Great whose entire activity is devoted to outside journeys, but who, in between, also reaches the other European monarchs with exhortations to go on crusades. Here is a more active people that does not want merely to enjoy and to rule; from the smallest to the biggest it seems to be gripped by enthusiasm for the martial-commercial voyages, so that afterwards a great poet was able to focus this feeling. Furthermore, the leaders and viceroys appear to be nothing but loyal and united servants of the great idea which is personified in kings, and they had to suffer no infamies like Columbus, Balboa, and others.
They discovered no “New World,” as did the Spaniards, although they obtained a share of it in Brazil; rather, they encountered an age old and yet essentially unknown world. They found no mere savages and semi-civilized peoples, but a civilized world fraught with perils and warlike Moslems whom one keeps encountering as familiar, active enemies down to the farthest reaches of India. After Vasco da Gama one gateway to the Orient after another was burst open, and, after all, Portugal was at first still blameless in the war of the European peoples.