I have had the pleasure of reading Fernand Braudel’s The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II (Vol. II) while in Malta. When I first searched for Malta in the index, I was so pleased to see that it actually said passim… So many references that the indexer didn’t even have to bother.
I shall save tidbits as I read for later. But for now, I want to post this wonderful wonderful passage:
Isabella [of Castile] had the choice between a Portuguese husband and an Aragonese, between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean… The decision finally reached in 1469 signalled the re-orientation of Castile towards the Mediterranean, an undertaking full of challenge and not without risk, in view of the traditional policies and interests of the kingdom, but which was nevertheless accomplished in the space of the generation. Ferdinand and Isabella were married in 1469; Isabella succeeded to the crown of Castile in 1474 and Ferdinand to that of Aragon in 1479; the Portuguese threat was finally eliminated in 1483; the conquest of Grenada was accomplished in 1492; the acquisition of Spanish Navarre in 1512. It is not possible even for a moment to compare this rapid unification with the slow and painful creation of France from its cradle in the region between the Loire and the Seine. The difference was not one of country but of century.
I adore how matter-of-factly Braudel sees Isabella’s marriage choices as the decision to face one body of water or another. A Mediterranean marriage or an Atlantic one, you say?