History of Spain

history of spain

History of Spain

Primitive History

The ancient history of Spain shows that before the evolution of the state, Spain was a part of the wider region which was called the Iberian Peninsula. The Iberian Peninsula includes contemporary countries like Spain, Portugal and a very small part of France. The major portion of the Iberian Peninsula is today a part of Spain. According to the findings of scholars for the history of Spain, the Iberian Peninsula has been inhabited by humans for over thirty thousand years. The earlier cultures that existed in the ancient Spanish region were the Hominin occupants, who have left several marks of their existence in Spain dating back a hundred thousands years. This was recently reconfirmed from the excavation at the Atapuerca Mountains in Spain, where skeletons of the Hominin natives were found. Archaeologists confirm that these skulls are over one hundred thousand years old.

The Neanderthals were the successors of the Hominin in ancient Spain during the Lower Paleolithic period. There were two branches of the Neanderthals that existed at two different periods. The first were the Neanderthal Mousterian inhabitants, who existed till the Upper Paleolithic period. The other type was the Neanderthal Chatelperronian inhabitants, who existed for around seven thousand years. There are several remains of these groups that were explored in the near past and are still searched in modern Spain.

New Inhabitants

Continuing in the primal history of Spain, the Aurignacian inhabitants were the next occupants of the Iberian Peninsula. The Aurignacians can be classified into four different forms corresponding to the period of their existence. These diverse types of Aurignacian groups include: the Archaic Aurignacian to start with and followed by the Typical Aurignacian, Evolved Aurignacian and Final Aurignacian.

After the period of the cannibals during the Paleolithic era, the practice of agriculture was introduced in the Iberian Peninsula only eight thousand years ago. The Mediterranean cultures were responsible for bringing this new way of creating food into Spain. The Los Millares cultures were the next to dominate the ancient region of Spain. These cultures along with the Bell Beaker cultures were the ones that introduced the use of copper and such other soft metals in developing tools, utensils and weapons. The Cogotas I culture followed the Copper Age cultures in Spain.

Finally the Celtic tribes occupied major area of Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century B.C.E., accompanied by the Phoenicians, Portuguese, Carthaginians and the Greek. The Carthaginians from Africa dominated the Iberian Peninsula for a considerable period. It was in the 4th century B.C. onwards that the Romans started taking interest in the Iberian Peninsula and had started aggressions with the Carthaginians. This reached a peak when the Romans finally won control over the peninsula in mid years of the 3rd century B.C.


History of Spain II

Ancient History

The Romans could acquire a complete control over the Iberian Peninsula only in the year 17 B.C.E., after they fought with the Iberians, Carthaginians and Celts for over hundred years. This final occupation of Iberia was achieved by Roman Emperor Augustus. The Roman Empire included the heads of the local tribes in the Roman courts, giving them freedom to control their respective tribal groups. During the Roman occupation, several developments occurred around the region of contemporary Spain. These developments included the building of cities of contemporary Spain like Valencia, Merida, Tarragona and Zaragoza.

Progressive Achievements

The construction of roads and bridges throughout the Roman Empire gave a boost to the economy, as transportation of goods became easier. There were several economical reforms that were carried out by Julius Caesar and Augustus that further gave a push to the economy. The Romans set up metallurgical businesses and sourced major metals like copper along with precious metals from Spain to use in making weapons and ornaments that were produced for the Roman Empire and other markets outside the state. The other source of income for the Romans in Iberia was the increased agricultural produce, which was a result of the construction of irrigation systems like canals and reservoirs which provided continuous water to the crops.

Losing Control

The Romans lost control over Spain step by step during the beginning of the fifth century, and in the second decade of the same century, the Visigoth dynasty took complete control of the Iberian Peninsula. The Visigoth Empire lasted for few centuries and was less influential than the Romans. Due to this fact, the culture and language in Spain during their rule remained less affected keeping the earlier Roman effect intact. The Visigoth Kings were more interested in filling their coffers rather than making developments in their kingdom. The formation of the cities like Luceo, Olite, Reccopolis and Victoriacum were an exception.

The Visigoths had a unique Code of Law that they implemented in ancient Spain, which unfortunately was washed out from Spain after the fall of their empire. They were well know for preserving historical records and also maintained the earlier Roman establishments in Iberia. The prime aspect that influenced the region of Spain about the Visigoths was their architecture which spread mainly after several centuries in different parts of Europe as gothic architecture.

By the end of the seventh century, the Visigoths’ army had weakened, as the soldiers mainly included slaves who were trained to fight in the battles. Also, the King did not have direct control over the army and needed the permission of the nobles’ council to give orders to the army. The Visigoth Empire was finally raided by African Arabs in the dawning years of the eighth century. These Arabs also killed King Rodrigo of the Visigoths, which eventually resulted in the end of the Visigoth Empire.

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History of Spain IV

16th Century

The history of Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was one of great upheavals, of expansions and conquests, as well as defeats and financial ruin. After the death of Fernando of Aragon in 1516, Charles I inherited the throne. In 1519 he was also crowned head of the Holy Roman Empire. The Spanish empire, under his rule, stretched to include the Spanish Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, the European possessions of the Habsburgs, and vast colonies in the Americas.

Charles I fought interminable wars against the Turks and the North Africans. After initial success at Tunis in 1535, his army was defeated twice, first in 1538 by Barbarossa, and then in 1541 at Algiers. Ultimately, Spain was unable to establish its supremacy over the Mediterranean.

Effects of Victory

In 1556 Charles I abdicated the throne in favor of his son Philip II. Battles against the Turks in the Mediterranean continued, but success came only in 1571. This victory changed the course of the history of Spain. It established Spain as the champion of Christianity. The Spanish continued their battles against the heretics, even in the face of ruinous costs. By the end of the century, Spain had declared bankruptcy twice. The history of Spain in the latter half of the16th century is marked by many defeats. Unrest grew in the Netherlands, and ultimately led to the Eighty Years’ War. In 1580 Spain was compelled to sign a truce with the Turkish government. The Spanish navy or Armada was trounced by the British in 1588.

Philip II was succeeded by his son Philip III in 1598 and his grandson Philip IV in 1621. Both of them were ineffective rulers, and the history of Spain during this time is marked by more military defeats and territorial losses. In 1618, Spain was drawn into the Thirty Year’s War. In 1640, Portugal asserted its independence, and Catalonia became a virtual French province. In 1654, Spain was forced to grant independence to the northern Netherlands.

Other Outcomes of War

Philip IV’s successor, Charles II, was equally inept, and Spain gradually lost its power and prominence. The War of Spanish Succession (1702-1714) ensued, and the Bourbon Louis XIV of France finally assumed control of the throne. Under his rule the different Spanish kingdoms were unified. The rule of the Bourbons continued under Ferdinand VI and Charles III.

Charles III was an enlightened despot and the history of Spain during his reign is marked by prosperity. Though Spain lost in the Seven Year’s War against Britain, it helped to win the American Revolutionary War and once again became an international power to reckon with. A weak Charles IV was unable to carry on with his father’s reforms. Once again chaos descended, and Napoleon I invaded Spain in 1808 triggering Spain’s War of Independence. The little progress that had been made was wiped away, and Spain began to lag behind the other European powers in all respects.

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History of Spain V

19th Century

The beginning of the nineteenth century in the history of Spain was marked by the onset of the Spanish War of Independence. Fought against the French under Bonaparte, it lasted between 1808 and 1813. The French were defeated, and Fernando VII of Asturias assumed the crown. The first Spanish constitutional text was promulgated in the city of Cadiz in 1812. It ratified the sovereignty of Spain, recognized Fernando as the legitimate monarch, and granted inviolability to his deputies. This was the beginning of Spanish constitutionalism. At this time, Spain also lost its South American colonies, except Cuba and Puerto Rico, to independence.

Spain’s exiting history of the nineteenth century is one of dynastic and civil wars. Spain during this time saw a succession of rulers, namely, Maria Cristina, Espartero, Ramon Maria Narvaez, Isabella II and Amadeus of Savoy. Revolution and anarchy were the ruling tendencies of the day. In 1873, Amadeus fled the country, and a government of radicals was formed that declared Spain a republic. The rule of the republic was a troubled one.

New Ruler

In 1874, for the sake of peace, the Spaniards accepted Isabella II’s son, Alfonso the XII, as their ruler. Alfonso was able to procure some amount of stability and economic progress for his people. But his death in 1885, followed by the assassination of his successor, Canova Del Castillo, in 1897 brought the forces of anarchy to the forefront once again. This period in the history of Spain is also significant for a near-complete loss of its colonial possessions. Spain ceded control over its remaining colonies, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. Spanish colonial possessions were reduced to Morocco, Sahara and Guinea in Africa.

Civil Unrest

Anarchy and fascism continued to scar the history of Spain in the beginning of the twentieth century. Spain remained neutral during World War I, supplying materials to both sides, and boosting its economy. King Alfonso XIII occupied the throne with the help of the dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera. But the alliance ultimately failed, Alfonso fled the country, and the Spaniards voted the republican parties to power in the elections of 1931. The Second Spanish Republic survived from 1931 to 1939 and was plagued by economic turmoil, substantial debts and warring government coalitions.

The Civil War broke out in 1936 between the Republicans and the Nationalists. The Nationalists, under the leadership of General Franco, defeated the Republican forces by 1939. Franco assumed absolute dictatorship by creating only one party, the Falange, banned the left-wing parties, Republicans and trade unions, and imprisoned and executed thousands of Republicans. During his rule, the history of Spain demonstrates an increasing isolation from the outside world. Economically though, Franco’s regime brought success to Spain. After Franco’s death in 1975, control was given to King Juan Carlos. At this time, Spain moved from dictatorship to liberal democracy.