History of Spain
Lady of Elche made by the Iberians
People have lived in Spain for a long time. There have been people living there since the Stone Age. Later, the Roman Empire controlled Spain for about five hundred years; then as the Roman Empire broke up, groups of Germanic people including Visigoths moved in and took control.
In 711, the Umayyads took over, and later groups from North Africa, called the Moors. At first the Moors ruled most of Spain but the reconquista slowly forced them out over seven centuries. They called the land Al-Andalus. They were Muslims, and Muslim Spain was the farthest western point of
Islamic civilization. The Caliphate of Córdoba fell apart in the early 11th century and Muslim rulers sometimes fought each other when they weren't fighting the Christians. Muslim Spain was focused on learning. The greatest library system outside Baghdad was also there.
Kingdom of León
The Kingdom of León, the most important in the early Spanish Middle Ages, was born in 910. This Kingdom developed the first democratic parliament (Cortes de Llión) in Europe in 1188. After 1301, León had the same King as the Kingdom of Castile in personal union. The various kingdoms remained independent territories until 1833, when Spain was divided into regions and provinces.
In 1492, the Christians took the last part of Spain that still belonged to the Moors, Granada.
Boabdil, the last Moorish King of Granada, surrendered to King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile on 2 January 1492. Ferdinand and Isabella now ruled all of Spain.
Before this, there were a number of Christian countries in what is now called Spain. Two of these countries, Castile and Aragon, came together when Ferdinand II of Aragon married the queen Isabella of Castile. The King ruled as much as the Queen.
In the same year, 1492, they sent Christopher Columbus to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. Columbus found the islands of the Caribbean Sea.
When other Europeans explored, like Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro, they found out that there were two continents there - North America and South America. Spanish conquistadores took over very large parts of those two continents. This empire did not make Spain a rich country, for most of the money had to be spent in wars in Italy and elsewhere. Some of these wars were fought against other European countries who were trying to take over parts of the Americas.
Meanwhile, at home, the Muslim manuscripts had been either burnt or taken to other countries. Jews had also been expelled from Spain. Some Jews remained but they had to become Christians. Among the few old things kept and respected in Spain were in music: harmony and stringed instruments. The buildings that had been built by the Moors were kept, and many Muslim religious buildings (mosques) were turned into churches. Some Jewish religious buildings were also turned into churches. Many Arab words became part of the Spanish Language.
16th and 17th century
The grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella was Charles. When his grandfather died he inherited Castille and Aragon. He also inherited many territories at the death of his other grandfather, Maximilian I of Austria. Charles received from Maximilian the Austria state and the territories of Burgundy. He was named Charles I in Spain, but he was elected as the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and was called Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. This made the empire bigger than ever. However, it was not a single country, but a personal union of many independent countries with a single King. At first many Spaniards did not want Charles as their king, so they fought against him. However, he won.
Charles did not like the Protestant Reformation, and fought against it.
In the 18th century some of the parts of that large empire became their own countries, or were taken over by new countries, such as the United States of America.
Spain (and other European countries) was invaded by Napoleon of France. Britain sent troops to defend the peninsula, since it was so weak. Most of the Spanish Empire became independent in the following decades.
There was not much peace in Spain during the first part of the 20th century. Some Spaniards tried to set up a government chosen by the people (a democracy), and they made
Alfonso XIII leave the country. However, in 1936, two different groups of Spaniards went to war over whether the government should be a democracy, in the Spanish Civil War (although those on the side of the Republic were largely socialist or anarchist), or take orders from one person. In 1939, those who wanted democracy were defeated, and a nationalist dictator named Francisco Franco took over the government.
Francisco Franco died on 20 November 1975. He had decided that Spain should have a monarchy again, and he chose Juan Carlos, the grandson of Juan of Bourbon who had been forced to leave the country, to be king and Adolfo Suárez to become its first Prime Minister. But the king and Suárez did not rule as a dictator; instead, they chose to set up a democracy.
On 23 February 1981 a group of people who had supported the now dead General Franco tried to take control of the democratic Spanish Parliament by force, they entered the building and fired guns in the air. It was seen live on Spanish television and there was widespread fear that this might be the start of another civil war. However, Juan Carlos I, quickly appeared on television and broadcast to the nation that they should remain calm. The persons responsible for the attempt to take over the country were arrested.
Now Spain is a modern democratic country, and does business with many countries around the world. It is the eighth largest economy in the world and is an important part of the European Union.
On 2 June 2014, Juan Carlos I announced that he would abdicate in favour of his son, Felipe VI. The date of abdication and handover to Felipe occurred on 19 June 2014. He and his wife kept their titles.