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Castile, sovereign territory of the kings of Spain, was united with Aragon by the marriage in 1469 of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. The kingdom of Castile was carved out by the Reconquest of Spain, which shaped its enduring political, social, and economic structures, and by the regional division of the Castilian meseta (tableland) into a northern area of small land proprietors and villages called Old Castile and a southern area dominated by larger landowners and towns known as New Castile. Superficially united under the crown of Aragon during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, its growing economic strength allowed it to become an imperial power colonizing the New World. The Catholic monarchs contracted with Columbus to explore "the Indies." Their successor, Charles I, expanded Columbus's conquests to include large swaths of Mesoamerica and the Andes. Madrid became the empire's capital in 1561, when Philip II took the court there and the concept of Spain began to take precedence over Castile. Its culture and legal system were used to bring its transatlantic colonies into the fold. In the early twenty-first century the language of Castile is the official language of most Hispanic American republics.

See alsoColumbus, Christopher; Explorers and Exploration: Spanish America; Ferdinand II of Aragon; Isabella I of Castile.


Elliott, John H. Imperial Spain, 1469–1716. 1963. Reprint, New York: New American Library, 1977; see in particular pp. 24-43.

Carr, Raymond. Spain, 1808–1975, 2nd edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982. See in particular pp. 1-37.

Kamen, Henry. Spain, 1469–1714: A Society of Conflict. London; New York: Longman, 1983. See in particular pp. 9-15.

Moraña, Mabel, ed. Ideologies of Hispanism. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2005.

Pagden, Anthony. Lords of All the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France c. 1500–c. 1800. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

                           Suzanne Hiles Burkholder

                                   Thomas Ward

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Castile Region and former kingdom in central Spain, traditionally comprising Old Castile (n) and New Castile (s). Old Castile was part of the kingdom of León until 1230. The Castilian captured New Castile from the Moors. Queen Isabella I established the union with Aragón in 1479, and in the 16th century Castile became the most influential power in Spain and the core of the Spanish monarchy.

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Castile a region of central Spain, on the central plateau of the Iberian peninsula, formerly an independent Spanish kingdom. The marriage of Isabella of Castile to Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469 linked these two powerful kingdoms and led eventually to the unification of Spain.