*** Spanish historia Spain historia de España

Spanish History

Spanish history
Figure 1.--The 20th century saw the rise of toltalitarian political systems after World War I. The first was Communism put in place by the Bolsheviks in Russia (1917). This was followed by the Fascists, in part a reaction to Communism, which took power in Italy (1924) and Germany (1933). While these two systems voiced rhetoric oposing each other, they actually shared many similarities. And both were fundamentally opposed to the liberal democracy that had been developing in Europe. The first armed clash between liberal democracy, Fascism and Communism occurred in Spain. The resulting Spanish Civil War proved to be dry run for World War II.

Modern Spain is the product of a fascinating mosaic of an amazingly diverse series of peoples over several millenia. The Iberian peninsula was settled by humans in the neolithic era. The Atapuerca site in northern Spain has been dated to about 800,000 years ago. Modern man arrived approximately 35,000 BC. Some of the most important examples of early human art have been found in Spain. The first people known to history were the Iberians (4000 BC). Next came the Celts who settled in the north. he Iberian Peninsula had a thriving bronze age civilization. The most impressive was the Tartessian civilization centered on Seville (1000-500 BC). Phoenician maritime traders established trade-based colonies along both the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts (1100 BC). Their most important colony was Cadiz. Phocaean Greeks also traded along the Mediterranean coast. Phoenicia was conquered by the Assyrians. Carthage established as a Phoencian colony became the dominant force on the Iberian Peninsula. Rome seized Iberia from Carthage in the Punic Wars. Rome ruled Iberia for six centuries. Roman rule was the foundation for both the Spanish language and the country's culture. The Germanic Visigoths seized Iberia after the fall of Rome (5th century AD). Visigoths kingdoms ruled until the Moorish invasion (711 AD). They conquered almost all of Iberia and even crossed the Pyrannes and attempted to conquer France. The Moors ruled large areas of Spain for several centuries creating the cultural jewel of Dark Ages Europe--al Andaluse. Moorish Spain was noted for its vibrant culture and, learning, and toleration. Gradually the Christian kindoms drove south as part of the Reconquista.Isabel and Ferdinand seized Granada, the lst Moorish lingdom (1492). In that same year to create a pure Catholic Spain, the Catholic monarchs expelled the Jews and Moors. they also used the Inquisition to purify Spain of foreign inluuences. Christopher Columbus in the same year Granad fell without realising it discovered the Americas. Vast quantities of bullion from the Americas poured into Spain making it a European superpower. The wealth, however, was used in a series of wars associated with the Counter Reformation. The Inquisition stifeled thought an inovation. Spain declined to a European backwater. The Hapsburgs were replaced by the French Bourbons (18th century). The country was devestated by the Peninsular Cammpaigns of the Napoleonic Wars (1808-14). It also lost most of its colonies. Spain became increasingly polarized between conservatives and liberals forces. The liberals backed by workers grew in importance in the cities while the conservatives dominated rural Spain. Spain became politically unstable, experiencing coups d'etat and constant changes of government. The dictatrship of Primo de Rivierra failed (1930). King Alfonso XIII was forced to flee the country and a Reublic was declared (1931). The Republic instituted fundamental social reform. The conservative reaction resulted in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). El Caudillo Francisco Franco sympathized with the Axis during WorldWar II, but did not participate in the Holocaust. Spain because of its sympathy with the Axis was isolated by the Allies after the War. The country was, however, important to the Western Allies during the Cold War and allowed to join NATO. Spaniards often sought jobs abroad. This and the development of the tourist industry helped to spark the Spanish economy. Franco death open the possibility of reform and joining Europe (1975). Given Spain's turbulent history, the accession of King Juan Carlos and the country's to a modern democratic state were surprisingly traquil.


Early indications of human inhabitation on the Iberian Peninsula are the stunning cave paintings in the area of the Bay of Biscay and and the Western Pyrenees. Very little is known about the neolithic people who made these energetic paintings, but theywere done with stunning skill. What is especially remarkable about these paintings is that they exhibit a skill and energy not equalled in figurative art for millenia. Subsequently we note another neolithic culture in the south, the Almerians (3000 BC) which appear to have been culturally related to prehistoricn Africans. The Iberians, a North African people, appear in the Iberian Peninsula (1000 BC) and of course lent their name to it. The Iberians dominated the Peninsula for centuries. They were confronted by Celts migrating over the Pyrenees from what is now modern France (600 BC). We know little about this confrontation, the Celts having left us no written language. The Celts to a large part absorbed the native Iberians in central and northern Iberia, but a lesser extent in the northern mountains. The resulting people are referred to as the Celtiberians and are the people encountered by colonizers from the east.

Early Colonizers

The seafaring Phenicias are the first eastern Mediterranean know to history people to have encountered Iberia. Phoenician maritime traders established trade-based colonies along both the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts (1100 BC). Their most important colony was Cadiz. Phocaean Greeks also traded along the Mediterranean coast. Phoenicia was conquered by the Assyrians. at around the same time of the Celtic migration (about 1000 BC). These contacts are of some importance because there are actual legends and written accounts which are unavailable from the Celtiberians. Seafaring traders from Rhodes and other Greek city states established colonies along the Mediterranean coast. These seafaring people also entered the Atlantic through the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar).


Phoenicia in the eastern Mediterranean was conquered by the Assyrians. Carthage which had been established as a Phoencian colony further west remained independent and became the dominant force on the Iberian Peninsula. Carthage was the first colonial power to move away from coastal colonization. Hamilcar Barca conquered part of the Iberian Peninsual (237-228). The Carthaginians occupied a substantial part of Iberia, the southern and eastern area of the peninsula. It was Carthage which founded modern Barcelona. Another important Cathaginian City was Carthago Nova (New Carthage). Cathaginian expansion in Iberia was looked upon with concern in Rome. This reached the breaking point when the famed Carthaginian general Hanibal destroyed Saguntum (Sagunto) which violated a treaty limiting Carthaginian territoty (219 BC). This resulted in the Second Punic War. One of the results of the Roman victory in the War was that Carthage had to withdraw totally from the Iberian Peninsula (206 BC).

Rome: Hispania

The Iberian Peninsula with rich mineral resouces nd strategic ports became a major issue in the conflict between Carthage and Rome to control the Western Mediterranean. The Romans referred to the Iberian Peninsula as Hispania. The origins of this name is largely unknown. Roman armies first landed in Hispania (218 BC). They first used it as a staging area and training ground for new officers. They also tested out tactics to be used in the Punic War tactics against the Carthaginians as well as the indigenous peoples of the peninsula (the Iberians, the Lusitanians, the Gallaecians and other Celts). Very little is know about many of these people who were a mix of indigenous people and more recently arrived Celtic tribes, often referred to collectively as Celtiberians. The Cathaginians who controlled the south and east were defeated in only a few years. Rome after defeating Carthage in the Second Punic War and forcing the Carthaginians to withdraw began the conquest of Iberia. With the departure of the Cathaginians, much of Hispania was autonomous and left in the hands of independent tribal groups. It took the Romans two centuries to complete the conquest of the rest of the peninsula, especially the far northwest. The Romans initially divided Iberia into two provinces, Hispania Citerior (valley of the Ebro) and Hispania Ulterior (the plain of the Guadalquivir River) (206 BC). The modern name Spain (España) comes from the name of the Roman provinces. Modern differences within Spain come in part from the pre-Roman Celtiberians and the Roman administration districts. Ceasar in the Gallic Wars (58-50 BC) conquered the Gauls north of the Pyrenees and laid the foundation for the final conquest of the remaining areass of Hispania south of the Pyrenees. The Roman conquest was finally completed under the Emperor Augustus (19 BC). The final step was the Cantabrian and Asturian Wars (29-19 BC). This was the Roman campaign in the modern Spanish provinces of Cantabria, Asturias and León in northwestern Spain. Romanization proceeded unevenly within Hispania. Here location, date of conquest, local resources, and reactions of the conquered tribes all affected the process. Romanization thus occurred relatively quickly in some areas and more slowly elsewhere. The Romans gradually changed the administrative districts. Information is limited on this process, but some glimses are provided by the accounts left by the togati (lawyers). After the time of Augustus, the Romans divided Hispania into three separately governed provinces which ultimately incrased to nine provinces. Thus for some 500 years, Hispania became part of the cosmopolitan Roman world tied together by law, language, and culture. Roman roads and sea trading routes tied Hispania into this world economically. This is not to say that the population was completely Romanized. The Roman influence was strongest among the educated elites and urban population. There is substantial evidence that the Celtiberians retained a degree of separate identity. Caesar mentioned during the Civil Wars that his soldiers from the Second Legion had become Hispanicized and regarded themselves as hispanicus. Of course this was before Hispania had been complrtely cinquered. The level of Romanization must have been substantial after four more centuries of Roman rule. The modern Iberian romance (Latin-based) languages are a powerful indicator of the level of Romanization. As in the rest of the Roman Empire, some of Celtiberian population was admitted into the Roman aristocratic class and were a part of the Roman administration of Hispania. The native aristocracy class continued to rule each local tribe after they were conquered or submitted to Roman rule.

The Barbarians (409)

Teutonic tribes crossed the Pyrenees and pillaged Hispania (409 AD) decades before Rome itself was sacked. Alans, Vandals, and Suevi swepy over the entire Peninsula, devestating the formerly prosperous Roman colony. The Romans in an attempt to establish some kind of order in the chaos of their former colony, and highly Romanized colony, appealed to the Visagoths.

Visigothic Kingdom

The Visagoths entered Iberia (412 AD) and within 7 years established themselves as the dominant power in the Peninsula. The Visagoths established the Toulouse Kingdom, only nomally subject to the emperor in Rome (419). The Kingdom at its peak streached from Gibraltar north to the Loire River. The Vandals also entered the Iberian Peninsula. The Romans turned to thge Vusigoths to control the violence prone Vandals. This was a factor in the Vandals leavihg the Iberian Peninsula and playing no important role in Spanish history. Their conquest of North Africa essentially destroyed what remaining power Rome had left. Although Teutonic in origins, the Visigoths built on the earlier base of Latin (Roman) culture and eventually implanted Christianity. Euric ruled as king (466-84) at perhaps the peak of Visogothic power in Iberia. He codified of Roman and Gothic law. Leovgild (569-86) finally conquered the Suevi tribes and united Romans and Visagoths into a single people. Reccared (586-601) made Roman Christianity the state religion.

Spread of Islam

One of the fascinating aspects of Islam is how the new religion of the Arab tribes sp rapidly became one of the major religios of the world and the dominant religiom from Noth Africa west to central Asia. The common concept iun the Wesr is that Islam was spread by the sword. This is an important element in the success of Islam, but it is hardly the only factor. There are a range of economic and social factors which contributed to the success of Islam. The weakness of Byzantine Christianity was a major factor. As was the after the conquest, the obvious economic advantages of converting. There were other factors involved. And these factors varied over time and in the different areas in which Islam became the domininant or principal religion. Another interesting question is the strength of Islam in the modern world.

Moorish Invasion (711-719)

A decade after smashing Byzantine power in North Africa at Carthage (698), the Arabs had not only reached the southern shores of Europe facing Gibraltar, but launched an invasion of Spain. Arab armies had defeated Byzantine armies in the East, but the Byzantines still prevented an Arab invasion of Eastern Europe. That invasion wiukld come in the West. After the conquest of North Africa, the Arabs and their Berber Allies looked across the Strait of Gibraltar at the weak Visigoth kingdom of the Iberian Peninsula. Here a small Germanic ruling class had governed since the fall of the Roman Empire. Musa bin Nusayr, the governor of Muslim North Africa, dispatched his general, Tarik, and his largely Berber army on an expedition across the Strait (711). The defection of Count Julian in Ceuta made this possible. Tarik's army consisted of Muslims of varying origins. Accounts vary. Some sources say the Moorish army was predominately Arabs, but included Berbers, Syrians, and others). Others emphasize Berber origins. The Visigothic King , Roderick, assembeled an army to repulse the Tarik who he thought commanded a small mercinary army. Tarik landed at Gibraltar, the name of which cimes from the ArabicJebel-al Tarik. Roderick proved to be an ineffectual commander. One historian describes him as 'Weighed down by a golden crown, a heavy robe, archaic jewelry, and an ivory carriage drawn by two white mules" [Fuentes, p. 51.] The weakness of the Visigithingb kingdom was displayed in Rodericks stunning defeat at Guadalete / Río Barbate, (July 19, 711). It is believed that Roderick and much of the Visigothic nobility was killed in the battle and aftermath. Tarik swept north toward Toledo, the Visigithic capital, facing no futher strong resistance. Visigothic Spain passed into history. The Moors moved through the Visigothic Kingdom (sometimes referred to as the Toulouse Kingdom) destroying any armed resistance and over the space of only a few years almost totally dominated the Peninsula. Muslim armies then ventured across the Pyrenees and established a foothold in southwest France. A moved north was defeated at the Battle of Poitiers by a Frankish army under Charles Martel near Tours (732). While only a relatively minor military scirmish, along with avictory in the East of Byzantine Emperor Leo III ended the phase of rapid advance by Arab armies. The Moors then withdrew south of the Pyrenees. They never again seriously threatened France. Charles Martel would go on to found a powerful state, the foundation of modern France. The Moors were left in control of almost the entire Iberian Pensinsula except for a few small Christian enclaves in the rugged northhwest. The cost of coqquering the rugged moutabeous area proved not worth the effort.

Moorish Spain

The Arabs who dominated the Moorish conquest administered the Iberian Peninsula as part of Province of North Africa which was subject to the Caliphate of Damascus. The caliph began appointing emirs to rule Spain in his name (718). Spain was the most distant extension of the caliph's domians. Little communication was possible in the 8th century between Iberia and Damascus. The emirs often abused their authority, distant as they were from the watcheful eye of the caliph. Word did eventually get back to Damascus and the result was considerable instability. One report suggests that there was 20 Spanish emirs in a 40 year span. The situation was further complicated by the struggle for power in Damascus between the Ommiads and Abbassides. Yusuf, the last Spanish emir, supported the Abbassides, but many local officials supported the Ommiads. The Ommiads chose a family member Abd-er-Rahman to replace Yusuf and rule Spain. Abd-er-Rahman proceeded to found an independent emirate which was to develop into the caliphate of Córdoba (756). Abd-er-Rahman was the greatest of the Moorish rulers. Córdoba under his rule became the most splendid city in Western Europe, second only to Constaninople in all of Europe. The level of civilization during the Moorish acendency in Spain was far above that of the rest of Europe. Schools were establish, including schools for poor children, presumably boys, although I have few details on these schools. The first European universities were established in Moorish caliphate of Córdoba, not in Christain Europe. These universities pursued medicine, mathematics, philosophy, and literature. These universities collected translations of Greek and Roman manuscripts. Aristotle was read by Moorish scholars before he became well-known in Christian Europe. Strangely the Caliphiate was a conduit of classical literature to th West before either the Crusades or Renaissance. At a time when most Christian rulers were illiterate or unread, some of the Córdoba caliphs becme noted poets and architects. The Ommiad caliphiate of Córdoba were progressive rulers, encouraging trade and commerce and sponsoring vast irrigation works in southern Spain. The Caliphiate after Hisham III died split into independent kingdoms (1031). The Moors with the disolution of the Caliphiate, like the Christians split into several small, often warring kingdoms. The kingdoms included: Córdoba, Granada, Lisbon, Murcia, Saragossa, Seville, Toledo, and Valencia. The disappearance of a strong central Moorish power provided an opportunity for the Christians who conquered some of the kingdoms and made others tributary states. The Abbadid kings of Seville (1023-91) attempted to restore a united Moorish state. King Alfonso VI of Castile and Léon marched against the Moors and took Toledo (1086).


The Moors never succeeded in totally subduing Christian forces. A small Christain kingdom. Asturias, was established in the north by Pelayo, a surviving Visogothic chieftan who was the successor to the defeated Roderick (718). As the Moors sent an army across the Pyreneees, we are not sure why they allowed this small Christian kingdom survive south of the Pyrenees. Pelayo's son-in-law Alfonso the Catholic during his reign (739-57) using Asturias as a base recaptured most of modern Galacia and Léon. He was crowned king of Léon and Asturias. These victories were in part the result of a weak series of Spanish emirs and the disorder in the Islamic world caused by the conlict between the Ommiads and Abbassides over control of the Caliphate. Thus only a few decades after the Moorish conquest, an important Christian kingdom was established in northern Spain. The Caliphiate after Hisham III died split into several independent kingdoms (1031). Like the Christians kingdoms, these small kindoms often warred with each other. The Moorish kingdoms included: Córdoba, Granada, Lisbon, Murcia, Saragossa, Seville, Toledo, and Valencia. The disappearance of a strong central Moorish power provided an opportunity for the Christians who conquered some of the kingdoms and made others tributary states. The Abbadid kings of Seville (1023-91) attempted to restore a united Moorish state. King Alfonso VI of Castile and Léon marched against the Moors and took Toledo (1086). Abbad III of Seville, faced with defeat at the hands of Alfonso, asked for aid from Muslim North Africa. The Almoravides dispatched military assistance. They not only defeated Alfonso (1086), but deposed Abbad III and the other rulers of the Moslem kingdoms. The Almoravide ruler soon controlled Moslem Spain (by 1100). Another Muslim army, the Almohades invaded Spain from North Africa (1145) and had within 5 years replaced the Almoravide dynasty. While the Moors were fighting among themselves, Christain kings steadily pushed south and increasingly cooperated with each other. The fighting between contending Moorish armies had weakened the Moorish forces. The decisive battle for the future of Spain was fought on the open plain in front of Toledo. (The city of Toledo sits on a rocky prominannce in the midst of a flat virtually treeless plain. The united Christain forces decisively defeated the Moorish army and expelled the Almohades from Spain (1212). This broke the power of the Moors in Spain. The Moors held on in ports around Cadiz and the Kingdom of Grenada in the extremne south. Although small in size, Grenada was until its fall, the most splendid of the Spanish kingdoms.

Spain (13th-14th centuries)

Spain after the Battle of Toledo (1212) consisted primarily of two Christian kingdoms. Castile and Léon dominated the east abs included Asturias, Córdoba, Estrmadura (home of Cortez and Pizarro), Galacia, Jaén, and Seville. Aragon dominated the east and included Barcelona, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands. Somewhat complicating the picture was Portugal and the Moorish regions in the south. Spain during this era was a very different from what we commonly think of Spain, an image forged duing the colonization of the Americas, the armada, the Inquisition, and the attempt to subgegate the Dutch. Spain before unification was a country of diversity and relative tolerance, at least compared with what was to come with the Launching of the inquisition. Spain was a land with diverse languages and peoples. Modern Spanish is basically Castillian, but there were many variants spoke on the Iberian Peninsula, not to mention Basque in the north. Catalan is one of those various and is still widely spoken in Catalonia today. The population was a mixture of Christians, Moors amd Jews commonly living in relative harmony. There was also a complexity of political forms in the different provinces of each kingdom. This was a level of diversity unknown any where else in Western Europe. To us with our modern politically correct sensabilities, this seems a impressive interlude in Spanish history. This changed in the 15th century and the principal force here was Isabella la Católica, Queen of Spain. To the Catholic Church and Isabella the diversity in her realm was an intolerable affont to God. To Ferdinad suppression of the Moors and Jews was a convenient method of financing his wars.

Ferdinand and Isabella (1469)

Queen Isabella I of Castille anf King Ferdinand II married (1469). Castille at the time was the dominant force in Spain. The marriage thus made substantial forces available to Ferdinand, beyond the polential of Aragon. The marriage was one of corulers. Isabella did not defer to Ferdinad in matters of state, but was in every sence a ruling monarch. Upon their marriage, Spain did not become a unified state. Rather each monarch continued to rule in their own state. The marriage, however, began the process of unification. The first step was to centarlize administration. Isabella covoked a great Cortes (insipient parliament) at Toledo, which was at the time the seat of government (1480). The Cortes recodified and reformed the judicial system. Through the process Ferdinand and Isabella with considerable success worked to make the Spanish themselves absolute monarchs and reduce the power of the Spanish nobility. This seems to have been achieved to a far greater extent than in many other European countries with guarelsome nobility. There was no civil war in France resisting the monarchy's efforts as there was in other countries (the Fronde--France, Thirty Years War-Germany, and the Civil War--England). We are not entirely sure why this was, but the Inquisition must have been a factor. Surely Spanish Inquisitors saw royal absolutism under Isabella an oportunity to tarnsform and purify the Spanish people. Isabella the Católica was fanatical about the Christain religion promoted the adoption of repressive measures against the Jews by the Cortes which helped to fill the monarchy's coffers. She established the nortorious Spanish Inquisition (1478) which was to operate under her authority rather than that of papacy which had earlier created the less fanatical Inquisition. After the meeting of the Cortes, Aragon and Castille were politically joined. Ferdinand's armies took Grenada, the last Moorish kingdom (1492). In the same year, Isabella and Ferdinand expelled the Jews from their kingdom. It was a fateful year. It was also the year Columbus discovered the Americas. Partly with the loot extracted from the Jews, Ferdinand invaded and conquered much of southern Italy. Ferdinand also obtained Navarre south of the Pyranees.

Voyages of Discovery

The marriage of Ferdinand V of Castile and Isabella I of Aragon essentially united the Iberaian peninsula, except Portugal, into a Spanish monarchy (1479). The last Moorish city, Granada fell (1492). With the Moors at last defeated, the Spanish could turn their energies into naval expansion, but weree behind the Portuguese in this area. Genonese navigator Christopher Columbus is the most renowned of all the great explorers. He sailed west under the banner of their most Cathlolic magesties Ferdinand and Isabella, hoping to reach the Indies (1492). The voyage was intensely debated by Spanish authorities. Knowledgeable people did not believe that the orld was flat. Many did believe that the world was so large that the crews of ships sailing west would perish before reaching Asia. Coilumbus of course found America, although it was not until his third voyage that he began to realize that he had found an entire new continent. Nuñez de Balboa reached the Pacific over the Istmus of Panama (1513). Charles I commissioned Magellan to find a passage through the Americas to the Spice Islands. Magellan sailed from Seville (1519) and explored the Plate estuary (1520) before crossing into the Pacific through the straits at the tip of South America now named for him. He claimed the Philippines for Spain, but was killed there (1521). One if his ships managed to return to Seville, completing the first circimnavigatiin of the world (1522). Conquistadores Hernado Cortes and Francisco Pizarro conquered the Aztec and Incan civilizations, laying claim to great wealth and a vast colonial empire for Spain. Although at first disappointed with their new lands, the conquest of the Aztecs and Incas brought vast quantities of gold and silver flooding into Spain and through Spain the rest of Europe and had an enormous impact on the still largely feudal European economies. Many other new products were broughtb back to Spain. One of these, the humble potato, had an even more profound impact than the gold and silver. Coronado and Ponce de León expanded the Spanish claim to North America as well.

The Conquest of the Americas (16th century)

The voyages of Columbus and the other European Voyages of Discovery had profound consequences for both Europe and the world. Following on Columbus' voyages, Spain rapidly beagan estalishing colonies. At first Columbus and the Spanish did not realize that they had chanced upon an entirely new continent--the Americas. They thought it ws India and thus called it the Indies and the Caribbean Islands have become known to us as the West Indies. Spanish colonization was at first in the Caribbean and extrodinarily brutal. The native Americans on the islands were for the most part exterminated. Here both Spanish brutality and the lack of immunity to European diseases were factors. Next the Spanish looked to the mainland where rumors described natin American civilizations of vast wealth. This led to Diego Cortez's Conquest of Mexico. Balboa had earlier found the Pacific across the Istmus of Panama. This led to Hernando Pizarro's Conquest of Peru. The gold and silver flowing from the Americas made Spain a European super-power and financed the Great Armada. The most significantimpact of the conquests, however, may well have been the introduction of the humble potato to Europe fom Peru. Another plant, corn, is even more important to our modern society.

Spanish Colonial Empire

Spain began building a colonial empire even before completing the Recoquista or unification (1492). The first overseas possession was the Canary Islands (beginning 1402) and it served as a template for the counry's future imperial expansion. Spain was formed primarily by the fusion of Castille and Aragon after the marriahe of Isabella and Ferdinand who ruled as joint soverigns. Castille had no maritime tradition, but Aragon did along with a Mediterranean empire. Efforts to establish North African colonies was met with determined resistance by the Islamacized popultion. Efforts in the Indies beginning with Columbus' voyage (1492) met with far greater success. The fact that a Genoan navigator led the expedition attests to the limited maritime tradition of Castille. The Spanish proceeded to build one of the great world empires, the first truly global empire. Previous empires had been either regional or like the Mongol Empire a purely terrestrial territorial expansion. Spain established colonies on all continents except the Arctic and Antarctica. Great wealth from the Americas flowed into Spain, but it did not suceed in building a great world power. After a century of empire building and efforts to destroy the Reformation, Spain began along slow decline. This culminated in a bloody military campaign against French occupation and loss of most of its empire (early-19th century). The Spanish Empire (Imperio Español) comprised territories and colonies arond the globe administered directly by the Spanish Crown. Spanish conquistadores, navigators,and priests founded colonies in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania. This resulted from the Age of Discovery launched by the Portuguese. After Ferdinand and Isabella, Under the Spanish Habsburgs, Spain with the wealth flowing in from the new Empire became the superpower of the age with vast, political, military, and economic power. The Spanish overseas expansion began at roughly the same time as the Reformation (1517). Much of the strength of the empire was devoted to a costly and ultimately uncucessful effprt to stamp out Protestantism. The bullion flowing into Spain had massive economic consequemves throughut Europe. The Spanish and Portuguese Empires were established at about the same time with at first little competition from their European rivals. This ushered in the modern global era (globelization in modern parlance) and the rise of Western dominance in global affairs. The Spanish empire Spain's territorial reach beyond Europe spanned five centuries, although it was sharply reduced with the American wars of independemce (early-19th century). The ls mjor possessions were lost as a result of the Spanish-Amerivan War (1898-99). The last African colonies were given independence (1975).

The Spanish Inquisition

The final episode of the Reconquista is of course the Spanish Inquisition. This was the effort of their most Catholic magesties, Ferdinand and Isabella and the Spanish Church to finally and irrevocably root out any lingering Islamic and Jewish influence in Spain. It is a sad conclusion to the gistory of the one corner of Europe where religious toleration and cultural openess existed over such a long period. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel established the Spanish Inquisition as separate from the Roman Inquisition (about 1480). They and suceeding Spanish monarchs appointed the officers of the Spanish Inquisition and they were not responsible to the Church in Rome. After finally defeating the Moors in 1492, the Spanish monarchy embarked on an effort to purify Spain. Spanish authorities dealt harshly with suposedly insincere converted Moslems and Jews ( conversos ) as well as illuminists. The Spanish Inquisition with its massive public autos-da-fé became notorious throughout Europe. Unlike tge Roman Inquisition. death sentences in the Spanish Inquisition were quite common. Here there are no precise numbers. Estimates range from 3,000 to more than 40,000 individuals. The wide range results from the competing claims of Catholics and Protestants during the Reformation. The most notorious Spanish Inquisator General was Tomás Torquemada. The Spanish Inquisition was persued with great ferocity in thec 16th century, throughout Spain and Spain's colonies in America and Europe such as the Netherlands. The Spanish Inquisition not only pursued heretics but became involved in not only politics, but other crimes including some without any religious connotations (polygamy, seduction, adultury, smuggling, usury, and other offenses). The barbarous methods used to extract confessions from the acused as well as witnesses apauled even contemporary Europe. While not as lurid as the enemies of Spain and the Church aleged, they were indeed apaling, especially for an arm of the Church. The intebnsity of the Inquisition relacked in the 17th century. Eventually inquisators were requuired to obtain rotal authority for an arrest (1770). The Spanish Inqusition was finally abolished until the 19th century (1834).

The Hapsburgs

Spain as a result of the Reconqista, the most accomplished military power in Europe. With the influx of gold and silver from its American colonies, Spain with its army and navy a country of enormous military power. Holu Roman Emoperor Maximillian's son Philip I married Princess Juanna daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Castille and Aragon, the first Christian rulars of a united Spain in 7 centuries. Philip became king when they died in 1504, the first Spanish Hapsburg. Emperor Charles V (King Charles I of Spain) was the son of Philip I. He thus inherited Spain and its wealthy overseas empire, parts of Italy (Naples, Sicily. Sardinia, Milan, Mantua, Parma, and Piacenza), the Netherlands, parts of France (Burgandy and Franche-Comté), and the Habsburg German and Austrian possessions. The Hapsburg domains dominated Continental Europe, surronding Burobon France and soon to threaten England. Vast quantities of gold and silver from the American possessions flowed into the Hapsburg coffers which combuined with their extensive possessions gave them enormous power. Philip II with his decission to send the Armada against England waisted vast amounts of wealth. The gold and silver from the Americas proved in the end a curse. (Not unlike many modern oil producing countries.) Arab Spanish manufacture suffered as it was easier to ourchase rather than make products. In addition the religious persucutioin led by Holy Office of the Inquisition which expelled the Jews acted to supress though as well. Thus Spain did not share in the European Renaisance which was in the 18th century to lead to the Industrial Revolution. The Spanish Hapsburg line ended in 1700 and led to the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). Under the Peace of Utrecht (1713) and the treaty of Rastatt (1714), Spain shifted from a Hapsburg to a French Bourbon possession. In conpensation, the Austrian branch of the family obtained Spain's Italian possessions (except for Sicily) and also the southern Netherlands.

Spanish Armada (1588)

English audacity and technology at sea laid the groundwork for the Royal Navy and command of the seas. Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins , and the other "Sea Dogs" bedelved the Spanish treasure fleet with Queen Elizabeth as a secret partner. The English then formed overseas trading companies and very modest colonization attempts were made in the Caribbean and North America by Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh. The long conflict with Spain was rooted in an English hunger for Spanish treasure and a commercial and maritime rivalry, but Philip II's desire to destroy the Reformation in the Netherlands and England was also a very important factor. This struggle culminated in Philip's decession to build a Great Armada. Spain in the 16th century was the preminent international power. The Spain as a result of the Reconquista had buily a powerful military capability. Spain and Portugal at the time had colonized or claimed of the known world and huge quantities of gold and silver flowed into Spain from its American colonies. This enabled Spain to build a huge navy to maintain its colonial dominions. Phillip was a devout Catholic and determined to destroy the Protestant Revolution in his domanins in the Netherlands and to do the same in England, after his marriage with Queen Mry failed to so. The Armada proved a disaster for the Spanish but it should not be thought that Spain suddenly ceased being a major European power after the destrivtion of the Armada. Spain in fact remained militarily the most powerful country in Europe, althojugh not as dominant as in the 16th century. It was the Battle of Rocroi (1643) that signalled Spain's decline. It ended the invincibility of the Spanish Tercio and the beginning of the era French supremacy on the continent.

The Reformatiom

Spain was a great power (15th and 16th centuties). This of course was the period which generated the Reformation and in which the Reformation unfolded. Thus developments in Spain would play a major role in the Reformation. Three powerful developments came together at roughly the same time in Spain. The fall of Granada and thus the completion of the Reconquista as well as Columbus' first voyage both occured in the same year (1492). The outcome of victory in the Reconquista was to expel non-Catholics from Spain (Muslims and Jews) and use the Inquisition to attack free thinking. In addition, Archbisip Jimenez de Cisneros who also served as the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition oversaw a wide-ranging reforms of Spanish religious life attacking many of the clerical abuses tht had so offended Luther and other early Protestants (late 15th century). As a result, Protestants ideas would not surface in Spain after Luther nailed his 95 Thesis on the church door, unitentionally launching the Reformation iun Germany (1517). At the time the Hapsburgs in the person of Charles V oversaw a vast European realm, including both German and other central European provinces as well as Spain. The Spanish army as a result of the Reconquista was the strongest in Europe and as gold and silver began pouring in from the the Indies, Charles and then his son Philip II who woiuld inherit the Spanish part of Charles' vast empire. Charles and then Philip had at their command vast power. Much of the strength and wealth of the their empires was devoted to supporting the Catholic Church and the Catholic Counter Reformation effort to supress the Protestants. Great efforts wre made to keep Protstants out of their American colonies. (In shrap contrast to what occurred in the English colonies. This would have an impact on the future history of Latin America) Two of the major and most costly Spanish efforts were the campaigns to destroy Protestantism in the Netherland and England. Both poved proved enormously expensive. The hugely expensive effort to build the Spanish Armada was a total failure. And the tiny Netherlabds fought the Spanish armies to a standstill in the Dutch War for Independence. The Spanish and German Hapsburg as well as the Spanish Bourbons undeniably suceeded in steming the Protestant advance and reqconquered the sother Netherlands (modern Belgium), but at the cost of bankrupting the realm. And they failed to destroy the Protestant stronghold on northern Europe. The Spanish would ultimately squandor much of the wealth of the indies. This and the Spanish Inquisition would in a short period turn the country into a militry, economic, and intellectual backwater. The Spanish Inquisition not only had theological consequences. The 16th century was an embriomic period in the history of science. Galileo and others invented the scientific method. Spain with its great wealth might have been thought to have been an important center of learming and science. It was not. Spainards were absent from the los of imprtant sciebtists during the era. The one important Spanish scientst, Michael Servetus, pursued his career outside of Spain, mostly in France.

Dutch War of Independence (1581-1648)

Spain and the northern provinces of the Netherlands negotiated a 12-year truce (1609-21). Spain was preparinfg a new offensive against the Dutch when the truce ended. The problem for Spain was how to support military operations in the low countries. The rise of a Dutch navy made it difficult to send troops and provisions by sea. Reach the Dutch by land was also difficult. France stood between Spain and the Netherlands. And the French were not about to permit Spanish troops to pass through their country. It suited French purposes at the time to have an independent Netherlands even though they were Protestant. Thus the Spanish would have to send their forces along a circuitous route from Spain to Italy by sea and then through the Alpine passes to the the Rhine River Valley. The Rhine than led to the Dutch. This was a very difficult march for any body of troops and needed equipment and supplies, especially given the nature of roads at the time. The key to the route was the Rhineland. This was a contested area. The Spanish hoped to acquire Alsace which Ferdinand had promissed for supporting his imperial candidacy.

War of Spanish Succession (1702-14)

The War of the Spanish Succession was the second war of the 18th century. It was another war resulting from Louis XIV's desire to expand French territory and influence. The immediate objective was Spain. The War was fought in Europe from 1702-14. The War was primarily fought on land and was the first major engagement of English forces on the European continent beyond French coastal areas. It was the last of the wars launched by Louis XIV in his drive to expand French power and territory. Two great military leaders emerged, the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugène who secured major victories over the French. The War eventually statemated and the English withdrew. The Treaty of Utrech (1713) left the crown in Bourbon hands, but with the stipulation that the French and Spanish crowns never be unified. England gained important territories including Gibralter and areas of Canada. As a result of the War of Spanish Succession, the Bourbon dynasty accedes to Spanish throne.


The Treaty of Utrech (1713) left the crown in Bourbon hands which was the case throughout the rest oif the 18th century. The Bourbons showing the French influence were more modern nd progressive than the Spanish Hapsburgs. As a result, Spain during the 18th century experienced a sustained period of growth and prosperity. The power of the Inquisition was limited and Spanish began yto move into the European mainstream. The Bourbons kings introduced important reforms and the the ideas of Enlightenment began to circulate in intellectual circles. Dpin began to expeience adegree prosperity and the country began to regain her status as a major European military power. The country participated in several European wars throughout the century. In several but not all cases this was a result of the alliance between the Bourbon crowns of Spain and France. The Treaty oif Utrech prohibited the union of the two crowns. The reform era and the end of Spain as a major European power came with the coronation of Charles IV (1788). This of course was a criticalmperiod in history. America had won its independence with Spanish assistance (1783) and the French Revolution would break out a year later (1789). Charles' Bourbon predecesors are escribed by most historians as smart, reforming monarchs committed to modernizing their country. Charles was vey different. He is generally described as not very smart, bordering on stupid in blunt terms. He by all accounts was completely uninterested in political affairs. He basically delegated governmental duties to his wife, Queen Maria Luisa of Parma, who while more interested was not a lot smarter. The major force in Spain became Prime minister Manuel Godoy, Prince of the Peace. He proved to be an inept sycophant who was rumored to be a lover of the Queen. This brought a century of reform and prosperity to an abrupt halt. The enligtenment flickered out. Spain's domestic politics became largely intrigue and infighting at Charles' court. And with Charles, Maria, and Godoy leading Spain, the country was confronted with the most seismic political explosion sice the fall of Rome--the French Revolution.

French Revolution (1789-99)

Two decades after American farmers fired the shot heard around the World, challenging monarchy, revolutionaries in Paris set off a revolution against the core of European monarchy, the absolute Bourbon monarchy of France. The moderate reforms triggered the radical Revolution (1792). The Spanish Bourbon crown was allied with the French Bourbons and the depoition of Louis XVI meant war--the war of the First Coalition (Austria/Holy Roman Empire, Britains, the Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, and Spain). The Coaliition invaded Revolutionary France, expecting easy victories. The Spanish struck in the south. The Spanish achieved a few early victories. But like the other coalition parners, the French revolutionaries raising alarge citizen army managed to turned the tide. While historians commonly focus on fighting in the north, the French Armies in the south drove the Spanish back across the Pyrenees. The French occupied large areas in Catalonia and the Spanish Basque Country. And they threatened to march largely unopposed toward Madrid. The King and Godoy began to have second thoughts about the War. The War was no going well in the north either. The French hd annexed the Netherlands. Prussia had quit the Coalition. And austrian Armies had suffered serious defeats. King Charles as the French Armies advanced began to fear the fate of his Bourbon cousin, Louis XVI. Charles called for a cessation of hostilities. Spain and France signed the Treaty of Basilea which allowed Spain to recover the occupied territories, although the French held on to colonial posessions. But to regin the lost territory, Charles had to switch sides and declare war against the United Kingdom and subsequently Britain's ally Portugal. This left France in a position to dictate Spanish military movements. The Spanish army, however, had been shattered by the French. And the econmy had beeb badly damaged. The only important force was the Navy. The Spanish Navy was no longer the once dominant force it had once been, but it was still important--the third largest navy in the world. And the French wanted to use it to deal a crippling blow on the British Royal Navy. The British led by the commnding figure of Horstio Nelson dealt a series of crippling blows to the allied French and spaznish navies. The most importasnt was the Battle of Cape St Vincent (1797). This was the end of Spain as a major naval power. It also cut off Spain from her colonial empire, which worsened the economic situation. This largely ended the fighting. Spain was babkrupt, its Army and Navy sgattered, and cut off from its colonies where revolution was flaring.

Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815)

The Spanish Bourbon monrchy had become an unlilely ally of Revolutionary France. And with the rise of Npoleopn, he was largely in control of Spain and its inaffectual king, Charles IV. Spain's position weakened when fighting broke out between Portugal and Spain, a conflict instigated by Napoleon. The British intervened to support its ally, preventing the weakened Spanish Army from achieving victory. It also led to climatic Battle of Traflgur. Nritain did not have the ground forces to defeat the Spanish, but naval war fare was a different matter Lord Nelson destouyed the Allied French-Spanish fleet at Trafalgur (1805--giving the Royal Navy commnd of the seas for a century. The spanish Navy virtully ceased to exist. Napoleon was frustrated with the inability of the spanish Army to end the fighting in Portugal. He demanded Charles IV and Godoy to agree to the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1807). The Treaty required Spain to allow French troops to cross Spain and enter the g=fighting in Portugal. The plan was to divide Portugal into several territories to be governed by Spain and France. The French invasion was both quick and successful, occupying Portugal and driving out the British--for a time. (Given the dominance of the Royal Navy, Britain could reinsert troops nywhere on the Iberian Peninsula.) Napoleon with his sucess in Portugal, decoded to essentially tear up the Treaty of Fontainebleau and occupy all of spain. Charles snd Godoy became what would now be called collaborationists. What Napoleon had not counted on was the reaction of the Spanish people. The French saw thenselves as liberators. Thde Spanish people, unlike their King, fiercly resisted the French occupation. The French Army reacted with a brutal campaign of repression. The resulting Peninsular War became the most brutal of all the wars of the French Revolution and Npoeoinic campigns. The British backed by the Royal Navy intervened to support both the Portuguese and Spanish. The French experienced heavy losses. They faced both conventional and guerilla forces. The Iberian Peninsula with its extensive coasts was the ideal place for the British to bring the power of the Royal Navy to bear against the French. Wellington's small army benefitted from that support. The result was the Peninsula Campaign (1808-14). The combination of Spanish guerilla tactics and Wellington's army wore down the French causing substantial casualties. Until Napoleon's disaterous invasion of Russia, Spain was the once place in Europe that French armies could not prevail. The losses did not compre to thise in Russia, but were substantial enough. In the process Spain was devestated, by both conventionl engagements and gurilla operations. The Spanish Goverment virtully cased to exist. This and the Royal Navy meant the colonies were on their own and revolutionarirs began to attack the colonial governments which were unble to obtain support from Spain itself. This wiithin a few quick years would learn to the disolution of the Spanish Empire. Napoleon ultimately decided to depose the Burbons. He appointed his brother Joseph king.

Latin American Wars of Independence (1806-26)

Latin America when the French Revolution erupted in Europe was largely controlled by Portugal and Spain. The Portuguese colony was Brazil with a capital at Rio de Janeiro. Brazil included much of eastern South America and the amazonian Basin. Spain controlled the rest of South America, Central America, Mexico, and a few Caribbean islands. Spanish South America was divided into the three Viceroyalties of New Grenada (Bogotá), of Lima and of Rio de la Plata (Buenos Aires). Spain restricted power in its colonies to a small European born elite, not trusting the criollos, people of European ncestry born in the colonies. The growing number of locally born colonists who had acquired wealth as important landowners and merchants resented the inferior status assigned to them as "criollos". They wanted a share in the governing of the colonies. Unlike English North America, there were no colonial legislstures in Latin America. The mother country also severly restricted economic activity. The colonies were only permitted to trade with the mother countries. And both exports and imports were taxed. The Enlightenment provided a challenge to the legitimacy of monarchies. The American Revolution (1775) and French Revolution (1789) showed agrieved Latin American criollos that change was possible. And than the Napoleonic Wars weakend both Portugal and Spain, giving Latin American criollos the oportunity to seize theur independence, especially when French armies crossed the Pyranees to invade Spain and Portugal. Napoleon deposed the Bourbon monarch in Spain and the Portugesr court fled to Brazil. The result was a two decade struggle involving many fronts on which opposing armies fought on some of the most difficult terraine imaginable.


Spain as a result of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars, only about 30 years, Spain went from a European power, to a bnkrupt, devestated staste--a minor backwater. Spain saw her army and navy destroyed and the government bankrupted, and her empire largrely lost. The French occuption both devestated the economy, institutions collapsed, anbd the country's ecomy in ruins. With the defeat og Naoleon, the Congress of Vienna began to restore the old monarchies, Charles IV's son Ferdinanc VII was nominally named king just before the French invasion was restored to the throne. Almost incoceivanly, Ferdinand proved to be a worse monrch than his father. Ferdinand set out to rid Spain from any French influence, meaning the moderizing reforms of Napoleonic authorities as well as the Spanish Bourbons before is fther's reign. He set out to turn back the clock Ferdinand quickly plunged a devestated Spain back into royal absolutism. Thus while democrtic institutions were developing in 19th century Europe, Spain returned to royal absolutism. The result was economic failure asnd civil war which would ultimtely lead to the spnih Civil War (1936-39).


First Republic

Spanish American War (1898-99)

The Spanish-American War announced America's arrival on the world stage. While one of the lesser known American wars, the War had huge implications for America's world role in the 20th century. The path to war led through Cuba. Cuba was the last important Spanisg colony in the Americas. Attempts by the Cubans to ver throw Spanish rule failed. A new revolution broke out (1895) and was brutally supressed by Spanish authorities. American economic interests wee damaged in the fighting. Some American began to see strategic interests in Cuba, especially as interest was building for a canal in Central America. The situation in Cuba was brough to the attention of the American public through "yellow journalism" reporting lurid details of actual ad imagines Spanish attrocities. W.R. Hearst's New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer's New York World competed with each other for the most luris stories to increase circulation. War fever grew when a letter written by a Spanish diplomat disparaging President McKinley was published. The sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor made war inevitable. The United States demanded Spain withdraw from Cuba. Spain declared war (April 24, 1898). The American Pacific Fleet commanded by George Dewey was ordered to engage the Spanish Fleet at Manila Bay. Dewey destoyed the Spanish Fleet (May 1). The American Atlantic Fleet sought out the Spansh Atlantic Fleet, but it sought refuge in Santiago Harbor. The advancing American Army forced the Spanish Fleet out and it was destoyed (July 3). Santiago subsequently surrendered. An Armistace was reached (August 12). The Treaty of Paris ending the War was signed (December 10). Spain granted Cuba independence. The United States attempted to control political developments in Cuba, even after withdrawing by insisting that the Platt Amendment be inserted in the Cuban Constitution. Spain ceeded Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States and the Philippines for a $20 million payment. This ended the long history of the Spanish Empire in the America. It also began an involvement of the United States in Latin American affairs. America had earlier acquired the Hawaiian Islands. The acquisition of the Spanish territories also further involved America in the Far East.

World War I (1914-18)

Spain at the turn of the 20th century had the reputation as a backward unstable country. The Spanish-American War (1899 had exposed Spain's military weakness. As a result neither of the two military alliance systems extended a real effort to obtain Spanish adherence. Prime Minister Dato declared Spanish neutrality when the war broke out. Public opinio was split. The leftist groups generally pro-French. Conservatives generally favored the Germans. I am not sure if they were really pro-German or were reacted to the pro-French, anti-clerical feeling among left-wing groups. Some Spanish companies benefitted by expanding export demand. The Allied blockade cut Spain off from German markets, but shipments were possible to Britain and France. The country was adversely affected by reduced imports. This adversely affected the underprivileged. War profiteers in particular pushed up grain prices. Radical gains in Catalonia (Catalonian Lliga Regionalista) destabalized the political system. Rising prices as well as news from Russia led to strikes. King Alfonso XIII declared his support for Germany (1917). This caused widespread disorder and strikes. Prime minister Count Romanones resigned. A General Parlimentary Assembly met in Barcelona to consider major constitutional reforms (1917). Conservative elements and the army objected to the Assembly. A general strike failed (Summer 1917). The Army and conservative elements became increasingly popular. A group of army officers fearing civil war demanded that a cabinet be appointed that would support constitutional reform (October 1917). This began a period of significant reform in Spain that was not decisively interupted until the Spanish Civil War (1936).

Primo de Rivera Dictatorship (1923-30)

Miguel Primo de Rivera established a military dictatorship (1923). He cooperated with France to recover lost Moroccan territory. But the natinalist actions did not appeal workers demanding the rights to organize and strike to gain better wages.

Depression (1929)

The Stock Market Crash in America (1929) had ripples around the world. American companies stopped buying overseas, essentially exporting the financial crisis. Congress move to incrwase tariffs. One of those countries was Spain. The growing world-wide Depression affected Spanish companies and workers were laid off in large numbers.

Political Crisis (1930)

Unemployment fuels worker resentment at Primo de Rivera and his regime. King Alfonso forced him to resign (1930) and offered real elections. Even so, many workers connected the King with the dictatorship.

Elections (1931)

Spain in 1931 held its first truly democratic elections. Resentment toward the King's involvement in his dictatorship, Spain's wirkers and other urban population voted strongly for republican parties in the municipal elections (April 1931). These were Spain's first truly democratic elections. Feightened by the strength shown by the republicans, King Alfonso fled the country, but did not abdicate.

The Second Republic (1931)

A united front of socialists and liberals seized power. The new government declared Spain a Republic--Spin's Second Republic. The Republic launched a program of social reform designed to bring a still almost feudal society into the 20th century. Women were given the right to vore. Substantial autonomy was granted to the Basque Country and Catalonia. This put the Republic in conflict with the aristocracy that held large tracts of land and the conservative Catholic church. The Republic began seizing the large haciendas and destributing the land to the peasantry. The Republic also recognized labor unions agitating for better working conditions.

Spanish Civil War (1936-39)

Following a period of escalating political instability in the early 20th century, the Spanish monarchy fell. It was replaced by a Republic which began instituting social reforms. Threatened conservative elements supported a military revolt led by Francisco Franco. This plunged Spain into a bloody civil war. NAZI Germany and Fascist Italy beginning in 1936 were also active in Spain helping Franco establish a Fascist-like regime. The Spanish Civil War is often seen as the unveiling of the new German Luftwaffe after Hitler had unilaterally abrogated the Versailles Peace Treaty prohibiting Germany from building an air force. Spanish Generals Francisco Franco and Quiepo de Llano revolted against the reform-minded Republican Government elected in Madrid (July 1936). Franco appealed for help. Hitler immeduately ordered Luftwaffe transport plans to transport Franco's loyalist troops in Morroco to participate in the fighting. He saw a left-wing government in Madrid as harful to the Reich, aiding the French policy of encirclement. [Davidson, pp. 57-58.] Both Italy and Germany were soon sending arms and men to the loyalists and provided important air elements. The defenseless Basque village of Guernica was the first European city to be destroyed by the Luftwaffe. The democracies and League of Nations respnded with an arms embargo. Only the Soviets aided the Republic. The Spanish Civil War is most commonly seen as the first major battle against fascism in Europe. Less know and more controversial is the social revolution launched by the Republic.

World War II (1939-45)

The Spanish Civil War ended (Match 1939) months before World War II broke out in Europe. Spain maintained its neutality and never entered the War. During the first years of the War, however, Spain sided with the Axis and offered some support. Volunteers organized into the Blue Division participated in the campsaign against the Soviet Union. The Spanish also sold critical war materials to support the NAZI war industry. Franco refused Hitler's demands to let German troops pass through Spain to seize Gibraltar. He also refused German demands to turn over Jews to the NAZI killing machine.

Post-War Era

Spain because of its sympathy with the Axis was isolated by the Allies after the War. The country was, however, important to the Western Allies during the Cold War and allowed to join NATO. Spaniards often sought jobs abroad. This and the development of the tourist industry helped to spark the Spanish economy.


Franco's death open the possibility of reform and joining Europe (1975). Juan Carlos de Borbón is proclaimed king. Given Spain's turbulent history, the accession of King Juan Carlos and the country's to a modern democratic state were surprisingly traquil. Spain becomes a democratic, constitutional monarchy. This allowed Spain to join the European Union.


Davidson, Eugene. The Unmaking of Adolf Hitler (Univesity of Missouri: Columbia, 1996), 519p.

Fuentes, Carlos. The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World (Houghton Mifflin: New York, 1992), 399p.

Jungman, Ann. The Most Beautiful Mosque (2004). This is a lovely little book of historian fiction for younger readers. It the story of a Christian, Islamic, and Jewish boy who after the fall of Cordoba to the Christians plead for the Mosque's preservation. It is a reminder of an era of Spanish history when toleration ruled and a good beginning with children who will have to confront the quetion of intolerance in our modern age.

Wells, H.G. The Outline of History: The Whole Story of Man (Doubleday: New York, 1971), 1103p. [Comment withheld due to BNBR] So, to summarize, in a period of time lasting little more than 30 years, Spain saw her army and navy annihilated, went bankrupt, lost the vast majority of her empire and suffered through a devastating occupation that destroyed her institutions and economic fabric. That explains why Spain is no longer a major power. >


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Created: 10:11 PM 11/23/2007
Last updated: 10:33 PM 10/25/2022