History Of Spain
History of Spain
The history of Spain is one of the richest in the world. Here is a brief account of how Spain came to be the country that it is now:
The most important remains of this period of the history of Spain can be found in the caves of Cova Negra (in Jativa) and Piñar (Granada). The findings are said to date back to as early as 30 million to 50 million B.C.
The Celts and the Iberians
It is believed that the first Iberian population arrived in the peninsula from the north of Africa. The first important kingdom was one established by the Tartessos, probably an Iberian tribe. Their high culture flourished in the valley of Guadalquivir River located in the south of Spain.
From the north, the Celtic tribes entered the peninsula in 1200 B.C. They mixed up with the Iberians, thus generating a mixed Celt-Iberian race.
Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians
The next phase in the history of Spain begins barely a century later in 1100 B.C. By this time, the Phoenicians have arrived in the peninsula where they proceeded to build colonies. The most important of these colonies was Gadir, which is now known as Cadiz. In addition, the Greeks also settled in southern Spain and founded colonies there as well as along the Mediterranean coast.
Outside the borders of Spain, the Punic Wars erupted between Rome and Carthago. To gain military advantage, the Carthaginians invaded Spain and conquered large parts of it. After the war, important colonies such as the island of Ibiza and Cartagena, called the "new Carthago" later by the Romans after defeating Carthago, flourished.
Romans and Goths
After defeating Carthago, Rome turned its eyes on the rich Carthaginian colonies in Spain. The Romans invaded these colonies and ended up conquering the entire Iberian Peninsula.
This is an important point in the history of Spain as the territory was collectively referred to as Hispania and became one of the most important provinces of the Roman Empire. Two Roman emperors, Traian and Hadrian (of the British Hadrian's Wall), were born in Spain. So complete was the Roman influence over Spain that Spaniards completely absorbed the Roman culture. Today, this Roman influence is still very evident in the Spanish language.
Roman domination saw its end with the coming of the Gothic tribes. In 409, the Goths took advantage of the ailing Roman Empire, invading the peninsula. With Rome's eventual fall, the Goths succeeded in establishing their kingdom in 419.
The Moors and the Reconquista of Spain
The last Gothic kingdom fell in 711 under the onslaught of Muslim armies who crossed the Straight of Gibraltar to defeat Roderic, the last of the Visigoth king. This is the Moorish epoch of the history of Spain, a time when Spain succumbed to Islam and were under the rule of the Moorish monarchs.
However, the thriving Christian kingdoms in the north were brought together with the union in marriage of Isabela of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. When Arabian dominance began to break into squabbling caliphates, the Christian reconquista of Spain began.