Spain History – The Arab Conquest

The Arab conquest. According to Thedresswizard, this internal situation explains the very rapid success of the Arabs, who came from North Africa. the conquest of the peninsula began between 710 and 711 (according to legend, urged by a count Julián, governor of Ceuta, to avenge the outrage done to one of his daughters by King Rodrigo; in reality, called by the riots that ravaged the last years of the Visigothic monarchy). After a first successful raid of Cape Tarif, which went as far as Algeciras (710), in April 711, the landing of several thousand soldiers, mostly Berbers, under the chief Tariq ibn Ziyad: victors of King Rodrigo in Guadalete (July 711), shortly after masters of Toledo, they quickly occupied the country and, transforming the raid into a stable conquest (in 713 the caliph of Damascus was proclaimed, in Toledo, sovereign of the occupied region), began the Arab domination in Spain, destined to last, albeit gradually over more limited territories, until 1492. The conquerors, then called by the Spaniards mori and also, later, with derogatory meaning, moriscos, were in part real Arabs (in the precise ethnic meaning of the word) and in part much greater Berber populations, some of which already Arabized. They were very well received by the indigenous population, intolerant of the exaggerated Visigothic fiscalism; the large religious tolerance facilitated their task and they, having occupied the peninsula with the exception of the Asturian region, were able to cross the Pyrenees and spread into France, finding however an insurmountable obstacle in the Franks of Carlo Martello (Battle of Poitiers in 732). Instead, between 732 and 756, violent disputes broke out between the invaders themselves: the revolt of the Berbers, dissatisfied with having had, in the division of the territories, the poorest regions (Galicia, Asturias, León), repressed in blood, emigration of these towards the South. The frontier line of the Muslim Spain, which had reached its maximum expansion at the time of ‛Oqba (734-40), thus became a line that touched Coimbra, Coria, Talavera, Toledo, Guadalajara, Tudela and Pamplona and, in the central Pyrenees, did not go beyond Alquézar (Sobrarbe), Roda (Ribagorza), Ager (Pallás), leaving out the northwestern regions of the Iberian Peninsula. The crisis, however, did not have serious repercussions for the advent of the Umayyad ‛Abd al-Rahman I, who, having made himself recognized (756) Emir of Cordova, firmly organized the country, effectively removing it from the sovereignty of the Caliph of Baghdad. The very serious crises that subsequently upset him (revolt of “renegades”, that is, of Catholics converted to the Muslim religion, and of Catholics against the fuqaha ‘ or very powerful jurists; attraction on the Catholics subjects of the Moors exercised by the tiny Christian states saved from the invasion; uprisings of Arab nobles and “renegades”; raids by the Normans that began in 844; and again, the struggle between Berbers and Arabs) did not succeed in breaking up the state he created, which resisted for two and a half centuries, until 1031. Afterwards a period of near-general anarchy in the early 9th century, unity was saved from ‛Abd al-Rahman III, the greatest of the Spanish Umayyads (912-61), who, in Cordoba in 929, even assumed the title of caliph. This was the most splendid period of the Muslim saints of the Caliphate: a great civilization flourished, admirable for its economic development (agricultural, but also industrial), sumptuous for its splendid constructions, for its cultural tone; the apex of political power was reached, under the caliphate of Hisham II (976-1008), with al-Mansur (➔ al-Mansur, ibn Abi Amir), great general, who invaded the kingdom of León and conquered Barcelona, ​​reaching Santiago de Compostela in 997. When al-Mansur died (1002), a terrifying anarchy (civil and racial struggles, social upheavals with a religious background, etc.) upset the caliphate, which ended up being overwhelmed (1031); in its place arose the so-called kingdoms of taifas , ie various small states governed by powerful families, which came to be more than twenty (the most important were those of Zaragoza, Valencia, Badajoz, Malaga, Almeria, Granada, Seville).

The kingdoms of Aragon and Castile . Apart from the frequent alliances against Muslims, the relationship between these two kingdoms is not a completely peaceful story, which in fact, in the past, had not hesitated in their struggle for hegemony to resort, at times, to the same Moors.. The kingdom of Navarre, now territorially reduced and entered the French sphere of influence, and that of Portugal, recognized independent after long struggles by Castile-León (1263), became marginal in Iberian political life, the two kingdoms remained to contend for hegemony of Castile and Aragon. While the Castilian monarchy in foreign policy remained on the ground of the reconquista, that is of the territorial expansion towards the South, the Aragonese one instead, forced in 1213 by the defeat of Muret to renounce the policy of expansion towards France, gave itself to carrying out a Mediterranean policy in grand style (Sicily, Sardinia, companies of the Catalan Company in Greece and Asia Minor). Both kingdoms, however, were troubled over the course of the centuries. 14th and 15th centuries by violent internal discords, often degenerating into civil wars (revolts of the nobility against royal power, especially in Aragon; wars of succession, especially in Castile during the reign of Peter I, 1350-69, which saw the intervention of foreign powers; struggle between the end of the 13th century and the first half of the 14th of the monarchical power with the Union of the nobles, and of the Union of Aragon with that of Valencia, etc.). In the course of these events, the dynasties also changed: on the throne of Castile, in 1369, there was the advent of the Trastamara with Henry II; on that of Aragon, in 1412, due to the Caspe compromise, Ferdinando d’Antequera, regent of Castile, climbed. In the second half of the 15th century. A new civil war broke out in Castile, on the death of Henry IV (1474), between his sister Isabella I, wife of Ferdinand the Catholic, future king of Aragon from 1469, and the supporters of Giovanna la Beltraneja (➔ Giovanna the Mad). With the definitive victory of Isabella (1479), a new phase in Spanish history began: in that same year her husband Ferdinand ascended to the throne of Aragon, a union was achieved between the two kingdoms divided up to that moment. It was still a purely personal union, destined to become definitive in the person of his nephew Charles (Charles V).

Spain History - The Arab Conquest