Urban government and the foundation of new towns are fundamental to understanding Castilian expansion from the eleventh-century conquest of Toledo to the sixteenth-century conquest of Tenochtitlan. The economic, social, religious and military connections between town and territory relied on a broad framework of institutions and laws as well as monarchical intervention. The result in Castile was the emergence of an original urban model of secular construction and proven political success to ensure control of territory and to govern heterogeneous populations. This Castilian model influenced the America’s urban systems, given its proven ability to control and defend territories. In fact, the Spanish kings favored transplanting this model, which linked town and country, to the colonies. These municipalities could ensure the sedentarization of the settlers, enable the settlers to govern minority communities, and allow the settlers to occupy effectively the newly conquered lands. Though the American Urban systems created during the sixteenth century included different types of cities – such as pre-Hispanic hubs, ports, vice regal courts, and mining cities, in every situation, municipal governments prioritized the links between town and country taking advantage of previous experience in Medieval Castile. This article focuses on late medieval Castilian urban experience and its application to the Americas to advance the study of urban behavior at the beginnings of the modern age. In the process, the article calls for a re-periodization of Spanish and Spanish American history by demonstrating the continuity between two chronological periods that have long been divided by the watershed events of 1492. The article also compares aspects of urban systems in both Spain and America during sixteenth century in order to identify reciprocal influences and thereby underscore transatlantic connections.

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