SPAIN - PREHISTORY - THE FALL OF MUSLIM IBERIA
Fall of Muslim rule and unification
The term Reconquista ("Recon quest") is used to describe
the centuries-long period of expansion of Spain's
Christian kingdoms; the Reconquista is viewed as beginning
in 722 with the creation of the Christian Kingdom of
Asturias, only eleven years after the Moorish invasion.
As early as 739, Muslim forces were driven out of Galicia,
which was to host one of medieval Christianity's holiest
sites, Santiago de Compostella. The break-up of Al-Andalus
into the competing Taifa kingdoms helped the expanding
The capture of the central city of Toledo in 1085 largely
completed the recon quest of the northern half of Spain.
The great Moorish strongholds in the south fell to
Christian Spain in the 13th century—Córdoba in 1236 and
Seville in 1248—leaving only the Muslim enclave of Granada
as a tributary state in the south. Also in the 13th
century, the kingdom of Aragón expanded its reach across
the Mediterranean to Sicily.
In 1469, the crowns of the Christian kingdoms of Castile
and Aragón were united by the marriage of Isabella and
Ferdinand. In 1492, these United kingdoms captured
Granada, ending a 781 year presence of Islamic rule on the
The year 1492 also marked the arrival in the New World of
Christopher Columbus, during a voyage funded by Isabella.
That same year, Spain's large Jewish community was
expelled during the Spanish Inquisition.
As Renaissance New Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand
centralized royal power at the expense of local nobility,
and the word España began being used to designate the
whole of the two kingdoms. With their wide ranging
political, legal and military reforms, Spain emerged as a
European great power.
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