Spain in the Middle Ages

Spain in the Middle Ages
History of Spain
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Early History
Prehistoric Iberia
Roman Hispania
Medieval Spain
Visigothic Kingdom
Kingdom of Asturias
Suebic Kingdom
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After the disorders of the passage of the Vandals and Alans down the Mediterranean coast of Hispania from 408, the history of Medieval Spain begins with the Iberian kingdom of the Arianist Visigoths (507–711), who were converted to Catholicism with their king Reccared in 587. Visigothic culture in Spain can be seen as a phenomenon of Late Antiquity as much as part of the Age of Migrations. The Moorish conquest, completed in the decade after 711, reasserts Roman patterns of hegemony, in contrast to the Visigothic period which forms a more decisive cultural break with the Roman past. The Arabs, for example, re-located their capital to Cordoba, and their focus to the south and south-east part of the peninsula, away from the Visigothic capital of Toledo.

The Middle Ages in Spain are often said to end in 1492 with the final acts of the Reconquista in the capitulation of the Nasrid Emirate of Granada and the Alhambra decree ordering the expulsion of the Jews. Early Modern Spain was first united as an institution in the reign of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor as Charles I of Spain.


Early medieval Spain

Historical developments may be pursued by region:

Cultural developments can also be followed in the careers of the major Visigothic kings:

The broadest cultural divisions in Hispania during the medieval period are between Islamic and Christian societies.

Medieval Islamic Spain

For specific medieval Muslim dynasties, see:

  • Umayyad Dynasty in Spain:
    • Umayyad Emirate of Cordoba, 756–912 (929)
    • Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba, 929–1031
      • Abd ar-Rahman III, as caliph, 929–61
      • Al-Hakam II, 961–76
      • Hisham II, 976–1008
      • Mohammed II, 1008–09
      • Suleiman, 1009–10
      • Hisham II, restored, 1010–12
      • Suleiman, restored, 1012–17
      • Abd ar-Rahman IV, 1021–22
      • Abd ar-Rahman V, 1022–23
      • Muhammad III, 1023–24
      • Hisham III, 1027–31

Medieval Christian Spain

An organizing principle of medieval Spain was the Reconquista, by which territories that had once been Christian and Visigothic were recaptured and Christianized; the outstanding figure in the cultural imagination was the mythologized El Cid. For Medieval Northern (Christian) Spain see individual kingdoms and polities:

Medieval Spanish culture

In the post-Roman period prior to 711, the history of the Spanish language began with Old Spanish; the other Latin-derived Hispanic languages with a considerable body of literature are Catalan, and to a lesser degree Valencian. Asturian Medieval Spanish, Galician and Basque languages were primarily oral.

Main Spanish cities in the Middle Ages

Medieval Spain was as much as a network of cities, which were cultural and administrative centers, the seats of bishops and sometimes kings, with markets and housing expanding from a central fortified stronghold. Medieval Spanish history can also be followed through its major cities:

and at the great shrine of Santiago de Compostela.

See also

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