ABSTRACT

The choice of 1578 as the date to divide the treatment of this topic (with 1578-1660 following in Chapter 9) is deliberately provocative. 1578 saw the most significant defeat for European power outside Europe during this period, the battle of Alcazarquivir. In this decisive clash, Abd al-Malik of Morocco crushingly defeated the Portuguese, in part by making effective use of arquebusiers trained to fire from horseback;1 in contrast, the arquebusiers used by the Spaniards against the French in northern Italy along the river Sesia on 29-30 April 1524 were carried on horseback, like later dragoons, and dismounted to fire. In both cases, as more generally with horse archers, firepower and mobility were combined. The Portuguese defeat cost the lives of King Sebastian and his army and led to the end of Portuguese plans for conquering Morocco and also, in 1580, of Portuguese independence from rule by the king of Spain, Philip II, who became Philip I of Portugal. It therefore serves as a reminder of the danger of treating this period simply in terms of the expansion of European empires.