Monday, November 30, 2009

Overview of Spain's History, Part 1

We have spent this semester learning about Spain's geo-political history, customs, foods, history and famous painters. You will find a section on the semester final over this information. Let's use this blog to review!

Shown above: detail from the cave paintings of Altamira

Spain's History

What can be seen in the caves of Altamira?

What is La Dama de Elche? By how many years does this Iberian bust predate the birth of Jesus Christ?

Spain has been inhabited by Phoenicians, Cartheginians, Greek, Romans, Visigoths and Moors. The Phoenicians settled ports in the south, the port city of Cadiz is an example.

The ancient port of Mastia, one of the best harbors in the Western Mediterranean, was re-founded by the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal in 228 BC as Carthago Nova (New Carthage).

By 575 BC, Greeks had established two small colonies as offshoots of Massilia in the extreme northeast, one at Emporion (Ampurias) and another Rhode (Rosas).

The Romans contributed much in Spain: public works such as aquaducts (shown right) roads, bridges, and the Latin language from which Spanish developed.

The Visigoths, a Germanic people, controlled the Iberian Peninsula from the 5th to 8th century AD. The Visigoths developed the most extensive secular legislation in Western Europe, the Liber Iudiciorum, which formed the basis for Spanish law throughout the Middle Ages. You may remember seeing a picture of a Visigoth crown in (the red book) A History of Art in Spain.

The Moors from North Africa made their presence felt in Spain beginning around 711 AD. Under their leader, Tariq ibn-Ziyad, they brought most of Iberia under Islamic rule in an eight-year campaign. The Moors ruled in the Iberian peninsula for several decades, except for areas in the northwest such as Asturias, where they were defeated at the battle of Covadonga. Though the number of original "Moors" remained small, many native Iberian inhabitants converted to Islam.

The Moors introduced many products and conveniences to the Iberian Peninsula, such as hand-woven silk carpets, silk pillows and steam baths. They introduced the cultivation of figs, dates and almonds to the areas of Murica and Valencia and built irrigation systems. In their cities, the nobles had running water in their homes. There were even gas lanterns to light the streets.

Isbabel and Fernando united Spain for the first time in 1492 when they captured Granada, the last Moorish stronghold and defeated the last sultan, Boabdil. The "Catholic Monarchs", as they were called, further united the country by requiring everyone to convert to Roman Catholicism. Jews and Muslims were given the choice of converting or being expelled from the country. the Moorish Kingdom of Granada is known for magnificent architectural works such as the Alhambra palace. The tombs of Isabel and Fernanado are in Sevilla.

Related reading: Spain's History, Part 2

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