Spain in the medieval era after the Protestant Reformation began a steady decline. A few of the factors that contributed to that decline included the Reformation, the Spanish relying on gold from the New World, and Spain’s aggressive military policies in the Netherlands and England as they tried to crush their Protestant foes.
The Protestant Reformation brought forth the seeds of spiritual freedom, but it also laid the foundation is men’s mind for physical freedom. These principles brought about a steady decline in the power of sovereigns across Europe, as well as giving birth to the Protestant rival of Spain, which was England.
The Spanish exploration of the New World brought about a discovery of a large amount of gold and other resources, as well as the technologically inferior Indian tribes, who were easily put into slavery by the greedy Spaniards. These resources were shipped back across the Atlantic, producing a massive, but very artificial, boost in the economy. Once England cut off the supply of gold, or the gold mines that remained in Spanish hands ran low, the economic bubble collapsed.
Spain tried repeatedly to bring England to heel, as fought for many years to keep the Low Countries in its power. As thousands of troops were sent to die facing the Protestant armies, Spain’s resources were drained even more. The Spanish Armada, one of the greatest naval failures of all time, put a relative stop to some of Spanish military conquest, though they continued to fight tooth and nail in the New World, though were eventually defeated by privateers like Captain Drake.
Unable to maintain a real economy, plagued by real plagues and civil unrest, and beaten everywhere by freer nations, Spain lost its status as the greatest European nation. Maybe if it allows greater freedom, it could again rise among nations like it once did.