In the past few decades a considerable amount of research has appeared that has enriched our understanding of Spanish medieval history. On the basis of this new knowledge, a growing number of regional studies have been published, and this volume represents another example of the genre. The region under study is Andalucía, that is to say, the old kingdoms of Seville, Córdoba, and Jaén that were incorporated into Castile in the thirteenth century. Because the exploration, conquest, and colonization of the New World were launched from Andalucía and because between one-third and one-half of the Spaniards who emigrated to America in the sixteenth century came from this region, many of them from Seville and its hinterland, it is not surprising that the institutions and culture formed in Andalucía in the last centuries of the Middle Ages played such an important role in shaping the New World.

This volume is a work of synthesis and interpretation based on the author’s own previous research and the contributions of a host of other historians over the last decades, as witnessed by the approximately four hundred publications included in the bibliography. The author, a noted Spanish medievalist, aims to show why Andalucía was so well prepared for overseas expansion at the end of the fifteenth century. To accomplish this, he has written an in-depth account of the region’s contemporary society and economy and its political and religious structures. In his analysis he stresses the theme of the region’s continuity with its immediate past as well as its future role in the transatlantic enterprise.

The book is divided into three parts. The first deals with demography and economic conditions, the second with culture and society, and the third with political organization. A final chapter concerns the conquest of Granada and the incorporation of the Canary Islands. The conquest and colonization of the Canaries is viewed as both the continuation and extension of forms and practices used in the Middle Ages, and the creation of new methods and practices that would emerge in the conquest of America. This volume is a tour de force that provides a provocative survey of the world of Andalucía at the end of the Middle Ages. It can be read with profit by those interested in Spain as well as Latin America.