Plasencia was at the core of important developments in the late medieval and early modern world. For example, the leaders from this city secured King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel their most important title, “The Catholic Monarchs”, from the papacy. These same leaders were also responsible for securing the papal bulls that gave the Americas to Spain, for negotiating the marriage of England’s Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon and for challenging Pope Julius II for the papacy in 1512 (with the assistance of the French and Machiavelli). In addition, leaders from Plasencia served as the first royal administrators of the Consejo de las Americas (the official Spanish American government) and prepared the first revised collection of official state histories for the new united kingdoms that made up Spain.
In short, the community of Plasencia and their influential citizens, had a broad impact on the events that helped shape Spain and Europe. However, these momentous events did not self-generate or form in a vacuum, rather, they were the byproduct of the unusual conditions and relationships that began in the frontier-city of Plasencia. These unique influences included:
Cooperation, conflict, and disruption were all a part of daily life. The city and the surrounding area were a lively inter-religious community with sizeable Jewish and Muslim populations residing under Castilian Catholic rule. Perhaps it might seem unexpected, but over time these communities formed unusual interfaith, political, and economic alliances.
Rebuilding and visualizing these alliances offers a compelling and novel way to analyze this period of Spanish history.
Competing and overlapping structures of political authority and governance (including, royal, municipal, seigniorial and ecclesiastical jurisdictions) created a dynamic environment of competition and cooperation where various and influential interactions emerged.
Diversified natural resources (from vineyards to mining) shaped economic trade and generated new group identities that often challenged traditional Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim roles in society.
The community’s institutions and leaders were important ecclesiastical and administrative innovators who influenced the development of the Roman Catholic Church, the Spanish royal government in Spain and in the Americas, inevitably forging global networks during the 16th through 17th centuries.