Spain History: The Age of the Reconquista

Spain History - The Age of the Reconquista

The emergence of the Christian states (718/722 to 1035)

Shortly after the conquest of the Visigoth Empire by the Arabs (711), new Christian states formed in the north from what were initially small centers of resistance. In the northwest, a small group of Visigoth nobles fled to the Cantabrian Mountains and claimed independence under Pelayo in the Battle of Covadonga (718/722) (foundation of the Kingdom of Asturias). Alfons I (739-757) and v. a. Alfons III (866–910) expanded the empire, which eventually encompassed the entire north-west of Spain up to the Duero. Oviedo had been the capital since 810. In depopulated areas, farmers were settled (repoblación, “resettlement”) who were protected by forts. The county of Castile was named after such castles. The successor state of Asturias was – after a short period of division into the individual empires Galicia, Asturias, León after the death of Alfonso III.  - the Kingdom of León with the capital of the same name, whose kings occasionally assumed the title of emperor. In the east, Castile gained increasing importance in the 10th century and dissolved under Ferdinand (Fernán) González (923-970) from León. In contrast to Asturias and León, the Christian states of the Pyrenees were under strong Franconian influence and thus had much closer ties to the rest of Europe. That was true of v. a. for the county of Barcelona, ​​which as part of the Spanish Mark of the Franconian Empire created by Charlemagne in 785 (later called the Spanish Mark) rose to dominate Catalonia over the next hundred years.

Even Navarre, which had remained free from Moorish rule, only achieved an important state formation under the influence of French knights, pilgrims and traders in the 10th century: Sancho III, the Great (around 1000-1035), ruled Navarre with Pamplona the county of Aragon, Asturias and parts of León and Castile. However, the possibility of a state unification of the whole of Christian Spain, which appears here, was not realized.

The emergence of the centers of power in Castile and Aragon (1035–1252)

Navarre fell apart after the death of Sancho III. to the kingdoms of Navarre, Castile and Aragon. From then on it only played a subordinate role in Spanish politics. After divisions of inheritance, fratricidal wars and marriages, Castile was finally united with León in 1230 and henceforth formed the double kingdom of Castile-León; Portugal had broken away from Castile a century earlier (Portugal, history). Since Ferdinand I (1035–65) the Castilian kings assumed the title of emperor several times in order to document their claim to leadership over the other Christian empires. In the east, Aragon and Catalonia were united into a dual state through marriage in 1137 (“Crown of Catalonia-Aragon”).

After the disintegration of the Caliphate of Córdoba into individual empires (Taifas, 1031), the decisive phase of the Reconquista began, in which the religious orders of knights (above all Calatrava, Alcántara) played a special role since the 12th century. In 1085 the Moorish part of Toledo (later New Castile) was founded by Alfonso VI. conquered by Castile and León (1072–1109), which allowed the settlement of practically depopulated central Spain, a country that is a member of European Union defined by Aristmarketing. In the east, Alfonso I of Aragon (1104–34) succeeded in conquering Zaragoza in 1118the decisive breakthrough, whereby the Ebro basin, which was densely populated by the Moors, fell to the Crown of Aragón. The Moors’ resistance was finally broken in 1212 at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. In the south fell in 1236 Cordoba, 1246 Jaén, 1248 Seville; in the east the Balearic Islands were conquered in 1229–35, followed by Valencia in 1238. Only the Moorish kingdom of Granada was able to survive, but became dependent on Castile-León as a feudal fief.

The union of the crowns of Castile and Aragon (1252–1479)

In Castile, the land gained by the Reconquista was distributed among the nobles, who thereby became powerful landowners. Sheep farming developed on a large scale, which subsequently became the most important economic basis for the nobility and cities (weaving mills). The kings’ claim to centralized power led to a power struggle with the nobility that determined the history of Castile into the 15th century, with the Cortes playing a decisive role. Catalonia-Aragon became the dominant power in the western Mediterranean with the conquest of the Balearic Islands, Sicily (1282), Sardinia (1326) and the Kingdom of Naples (1443). The economic basis was trade, the center of which shifted from Barcelona to Valencia in the 15th century.

In 1468 the Castilian heir to the throne, Isabella I, faced the choice of marrying the Portuguese king or the heir to the throne of Aragon.

She decided on Ferdinand II, an Aragonese, whom she married in 1469. In 1474/75 they were recognized as kings of Castile and in 1479 as kings of Aragon. The couple now united the two empires in a matrimonial union, and the Iberian Peninsula had largely received the political shape that is still valid today.

Despite the ongoing state of war between Christians and Moors, numerous economic and cultural contacts had existed between the two groups over the past centuries. Many Christians (“mozárabes”) lived in the Moorish, many Moors (“mudéjares”) in the recaptured Christian areas. In addition, there was a very active Jewish minority throughout Spain, who named themselves for Spain (Sefarad) Called Sephardim. Despite recurring religious tensions, the culture of this epoch lasted until the 14th century – after increasing anti-Jewish sentiments, v. a. For religious and economic reasons, there was the first major wave of anti-Semitic persecution with pogroms and forced conversions in 1391 – shaped by the symbiosis (“convivencia”) of Christian, Islamic and Jewish elements that Spain conveyed to the rest of Europe.

Spain History - The Age of the Reconquista