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CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS AND THE SPANISH EMPIRE Prior to 1492 and Christopher Columbus voyage to the Americas Spains only possession of any consequence outside Europe were the Canary Islands By the mid sixteenth century however Spain would control much of the Caribbean large portions of the Americas and parts of Africa This rapid acquisition of overseas possessions was accompanied and aided by the establishment and consolidation of hegemony in Europe through a series of political marriages Instead of waging battles to spread its power and influence the prolific Habsburgs preferred to use the bonds of marriage to link their household to others This ensured that the number of threats to Habsburg possessions in Europe would remain at a minimum and would free Spanish resources to conquer overseas territory Spain politically socially and economically dominated her large empire and unlike the Portuguese who were limited to coastal regions and tenuously held outposts the Spaniards were able to penetrate inland and establish much more permanent settlements CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS
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