Thursday, January 2, 2014


1492 – The Reconquista ended when the forces of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon defeated the armies of Abu 'abd-Allah Muhammad XII of Granada, the last of the Moorish rulers.

The Reconquista (a Spanish and Portuguese word for "Reconquest"; Arabic: الاسترداد al-Istirdād, "Recapturing") was a period of 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula succeeded in retaking (and repopulating) the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims. The Islamic conquest of the Christian Visigothic kingdom in the eighth century (begun 710–12) extended over almost the entire peninsula (except major parts of Galicia, the Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country). By the thirteenth century all that remained was the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, to be conquered in 1492, bringing the entire peninsula under Christian leadership.

The Reconquista began immediately after the Islamic conquest and passed through major phases before its completion. The formation of the Kingdom of Asturias under Pelagius and the Battle of Covadonga in 722 were major formative events. Charlemagne (768–814) reconquered the western Pyrenees and Septimania and formed a Marca Hispanica to defend the border between Francia and the Muslims. After the advent of the Crusades, much of the ideology of Reconquista was subsumed within the wider context of Crusading. Even before the Crusades, however, soldiers from elsewhere in Europe had been travelling to Iberia to participate in the Reconquista as an act of Christian penitence.

Throughout this period the situation in Iberia was more nuanced and complicated than any ideology would allow. Christian and Muslim rulers commonly fought amongst themselves and interfaith alliances were not unusual. The fighting along the Christian-Muslim frontier was punctuated by periods of prolonged peace and truces. The Muslims did not cease attempting to reconquer their lost territories. Blurring the sides even further were mercenaries who simply fought for whomever paid more.

The Reconquista was essentially completed in 1238, when the only remaining Muslim state in Iberia, the Emirate of Granada, became a vassal of the Christian King of Castile. This arrangement lasted for 250 years until the Spanish launched the Granada War of 1492, which finally expelled all Muslim authority from Spain. The last Muslim ruler of Granada, Muhammad XII, better known as Boabdil, surrendered his kingdom to Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, the Catholic Monarchs (los Reyes Católicos).

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