Country Explorer


You are here: Home > Spain

Spain history

Pre and early history

The Iberian Peninsula was already populated in the younger Paleolithic. Caves like the one in Altamira, which show animal paintings, date from around 12,000 BC.

Spain historyThe following millennia were characterized by the most varied immigration. About 5000 years ago, Iberians migrated from Africa and Liguria across the Pyrenees; fortified cities emerged around 4000 years ago. About 3100 years ago, Phoenicians, a Semitic seafaring people from the eastern Mediterranean coast, founded trading branches on the southwest coast. A little later, Celts from France settled in the north of the country. About 300 years after the Phoenicians and 100 years after the Celts, Greeks also settled on the coasts.

Antiquity

From the 5th century BC Large parts of both the Greek and Phoenician settlements came under Carthaginian rule. Carthage purposefully extended his rule to the north in the following centuries and in 226 BC. Romans and Carthaginians agreed on the Ebro as the border between the two great empires. After Hannibal crossed the Ebro, he triggered the Second Punic War (218-201 BC), in which the Carthaginians lost to the Roman legions. In the peace of 201, the Carthaginians had to give up their Spanish possessions. Subsequently, the Romans extended their rule over the Iberian Peninsula and romanized large parts of the country. According to AbbreviationFinder, the Cantabrian War around the beginning of the Christian era finally brought the entire peninsula under Roman rule (Hispania). In the Pax Romana, the Roman peace of the Emperor Augustus (30 BC to AD 14), legal norms and fundamental rights were laid down for the entire Roman Empire, Latin became the official language. Christianity spread until the 4th century AD. so in the Spanish provinces.

When the Western Roman Empire disintegrated in the 5th century, Germanic tribes (Suebes, Vandals, Alans and Visigoths) invaded the country. In 475 Rome had to recognize the independence of the Visigothic Tolosan Empire and its Spanish possessions due to a lack of military resources. In 507 the Visigothic Tolosan Empire came under the rule of the Franks. The Spanish possessions, however, could continue to exist independently as the empire of Toledo until the Arab invasion in 711. Under the rule of the Visigoths, the Iberian Peninsula was first united under one empire. In the following centuries the Visigoths and Hispanic-Romanesque population came closer. However, attempts to convert the Hispano novels to Arianism failed. Then the rulers of Toledo took a different path, The greater success was that the political and spiritual elite unanimously converted to the Catholic confession. The close alliance between the crown and the Catholic Church began here.

Middle ages

In 711, Tarik Ibn Sijad, governor of Tangier, destroyed the Visigoths and within a few years almost all of Spain was occupied by the Muslim Moors. An exception were small Christian empires in the highlands of Asturias in northwestern Spain, which were able to maintain their independence. From 714 to 756, Spain became a dependent emirate of the Umayyad Caliphate of Damascus. In 756 the Abbasids took over and established the politically independent emirate of Cordoba in Spain. This was appointed Caliphate in 929. It disintegrated from 1030 and the advancing Christian Reconquista was able to recapture the Spanish regions. The last Moorish settlement in Europe was the Kingdom of Granada until the surrender in 1492.

The reign of the Moors represented a heyday in Spain: science, literature and architecture flourished, effective administration was concerned with social balance. The rulers also showed a high tolerance towards the Christian faith. The same was true for the Jews living in the country.

The starting points for the Reconquista, the "reconquest" of the Iberian Peninsula by Christian armies, had already emerged in the middle of the 8th century with the Christian mountain ranges in Asturias. The Reconquista itself began with the founding of the kingdoms of Navarre (905), Asturias (910) and Castile and Aragon (1035). The re-conquest dragged on over the following centuries and at the end of the 13th century only Granada, Malaga and partly Cadiz and Almeria were under Moorish rule. The Muslim presence in Europe ended in 1492 when the last ruler of Granada, Abu Abdallah Muhammad, surrendered and with his retinue escaped to African Fez. The city's Jews, who were free to practice their religion for many centuries, were forced to convert to Christianity.Those who refused were exposed.

In 1474, Ferdinand von Arag¨®n married Isabella of Castile, they ruled over both empires and an absolute monarchy replaced the feudal system that had existed until then and the rights of the estates.

In 1478, due to a papal bull Sixtus' IV. In Spain, the state-led Inquisition, to which thousands fell victim, was used to advance religious and state unity (through displacement and brutal religious beliefs). In terms of foreign policy, the basis for the overseas empires of the crown of Castile was created by the sea voyages of the Genoese Christopher Columbus, who was to seek the western sea route to the Indian subcontinent on behalf of the Catholic Royal Couple in 1486 . In 1492 Columbus discovered America.

However, attempts to unite Portugal and Spain through dynastic marriages failed. Portugal and Spain divided their colonial spheres of interest in the Treaties of Tordesillas (1494) and Zaragoza (1529), at which point the true meaning of Columbus' discovery had not yet been recognized. All areas west of a demarcation line laid down in the treaties, which ran almost 400 km west of the Azores, were henceforth attributed to Spain. Spain's rise to become the world's first global power began.

Modern times

At the beginning of the 16th century, Charles I of Habsburg also became King of Spain. Spain became the heartland of the political rule of the Habsburg emperors until 1700. In 1561 Madrid became a permanent seat of government. While the Spanish conquistadors on the American continent destroyed the empires of the Aztecs and Incas, the persecution of Jews, Muslims and, more recently, Protestants continued on mainland Spain. The majority of the population was poor, which was in strong contrast to the wealth of a small, rich stratum of the higher nobility. Portugal was annexed in 1580 and Spain took over the overseas colonies of the former competitor. The main enemy was now England.

Spanish domination did not last long. Already towards the end of the 16th century, Spain was replaced as the most important naval power after a devastating defeat of the Armada in the English Channel (1588). From the mid-17th century, Spain suffered its first territorial losses, the Dutch, English and French took over numerous overseas possessions. Spain was also weakened internally in the mid-17th century by uprisings and a political and economic decline that contrasted with the country's cultural boom. From 1684, the Alawites drove the British out of Tangier and liberated almost all African coastal cities on the Atlantic and Mediterranean from the Spanish and Portuguese. Only Melilla, Sidn Ifni and Ceuta remained in the hands of the Spaniards

In 1700 the death of Charles II led to the extinction of the Spanish Habsburgs and after the War of the Spanish Succession (1700-1713 / 14) the Bourbone Philip V, who had been chosen by Charles II as successor, was able to assert himself, but lost further possessions in Italy, the previously Spanish southern Netherlands to Austria and Gibraltar and Menorca to Great Britain. Spain was ruled by the Bourbons in the 18th century, and France's influence increased. Especially Charles III. In the second half of the 18th century, efforts were made to bring about internal reforms in the spirit of the Enlightenment, and the Catholic Church lost power and influence.

From the end of the 18th century, Spain came increasingly under the influence of France under Napol¨¦on Bonaparte, until 1814 the country was under French rule. The Spanish War of Independence started at the same time. In 1812, a liberal constitution was passed in Cadiz by insurgent representatives, which provided for a constitutional monarchy based on the British model. After the French were defeated with the help of the English in 1813, the Bourbone Ferdinand VII returned to the throne. He rejected this constitution and persecuted the liberals with great severity. The civil war that broke out in 1820, during which Ferdinand was captured, ended as a representative of the so-called "Holy Alliance", a conservative-monarchical alliance between Russia, Austria and Prussia and reinstated the monarch.

19th century

After Ferdinand's death in 1833, his daughter Isabella II came to power. Her rule was marked by fierce party struggles (including against her own uncle Don Carlos and his ultra-conservative supporters, the so-called Karlists), until it was overthrown by liberal forces in 1868. Her successor Amadeus I of Savoy was unable to hold power for long and renounced the throne in 1873. Spain became a republic for two years before Alfonso XII, the eldest son of Queen Isabella II, revived the monarchy, which was laid down in a constitution in 1876.

In terms of foreign policy, the subsequent period brought the independence of the last Spanish colonies in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Domestically, the situation was characterized by relative stability and rising living standards. Nevertheless, the country's social problems remained unsolved. Despite the introduction of universal suffrage in 1893, this included the unresolved issue of the land and disregard for the interests of the industrial workers, which led to the strengthening of a socialist and anarchist movement that rebelled against the existing social system in Spain.

Another problem was Catalan regionalism. Catalonia acquired a special role in the course of the 19th century due to its advanced industrialization, which was also expressed in a growing need for self-determination. The attempts by the Spanish conservative government to stop these efforts culminated in the "semana tr¨¢gica". In this "tragic week" in 1909 the Catalan autonomy efforts were bloodily put down. Thereafter, the relationship between Catalonia and the state as a whole remained marked by rejection and distrust, and a strong regionalist movement continued to pursue the goal of self-determination.

20th and 21st centuries

Spain remained neutral during the First World War, but in 1917 actions by dissatisfied officers led to a state crisis, which in 1923 with the consent of King Alfonso XIII. a military dictatorship led by General Miguel Primo de Rivera followed. Due to growing popular opposition, the general resigned in 1930 and after the Republican Party's election victory, Alfonso XIII sat down. abroad. The Second Republic of Spain was proclaimed and lasted from 1931 to 1936. The goals of the political forces in the country, which ranged from Catholics, bourgeoisie, large landowners and commoners to socialists, Marxists and anarchists, were not compatible with each other and led to the civil was in 1936.

The starting point of the civil was was a revolt in Morocco that spread to the mother country. General Francisco Franco Bahamonde, leader of the right-wing camp, proclaimed himself head of a national Spanish government. In the same year (1936) the fascist states Germany and Italy recognized Franco and supported him militarily, while the republican forces received help from the USSR and Mexico. At the same time, there was a social revolutionary upheaval in the republican domain, the goals of which were to collectivize the economy and introduce a socialist market and economic order. In 1939 the Republic collapsed and National Spanish troops entered Madrid, the dictatorship under the "Caudillo" (leader) Franco began.

Spain remained neutral in the Second World War, but felt isolated after the end of the war due to the political sympathy expressed for the Axis powers. Isolation was loosened in the 1950s, however, by the Western powers' interest in an anti-communist Spain. The United States, but also the immediate neighboring countries of Portugal and France, came closer to the regime, and in the 1960s the dictatorship gradually relaxed (eg alliance treaty with the United States in 1953, admission to the United Nations in 1955).

The regime also saw increasing protests and resistance movements, particularly in Catalonia and the Basque Country, which could not be contained even with the help of a massive police presence. The Catholic Church - formerly close to the dictatorship - also increasingly distanced itself from the end of the 1950s.

In 1969 the Bourbon Juan Carlos, grandson of King Alfonso XIII, was given political success after a long hesitation by Franco (Franco officially declared Spain a monarchy as early as 1947, albeit initially with a vacant throne). Two days after his death in November 1975, Juan Carlos I was proclaimed King of Spain. The appointment of the king proved positive for the country's democratic development. In 1975 Basque, Catalan and Galician became official languages ​​after being suppressed in the Franco era. Already in 1976 parties and political assemblies were again allowed and Adolfo Su¨¢rez as prime minister came to power (until 1981).

In 1978, the people adopted a new constitution by referendum, which gave the regions a right to autonomy. New elections in 1979 confirmed the government of Adolfo Su¨¢rez. In 1981 he resigned and was succeeded by L. Calvo Sotelo. Right-wing forces putsch before his appointment. King Juan Carlos I, however, publicly sided with democracy and the attempted coup could be blocked. From 1982 to 1993, the socialists under Felipe Gonz¨¢lez Marquez ruled again with an absolute majority, in 1986 Spain became a member of the EC and a narrow majority voted to remain in NATO. In 1988 the country became a member of the WEU.

Corruption scandals and a difficult economic situation caused the socialist party to lose its absolute majority in 1993. Nevertheless, the Gonz¨¢lez government re-emerged, but was replaced by the Jos¨¦ Mar¨ªa Aznar government in the next parliamentary elections in 1996 from the conservative People's Party. At the end of 1999, the ETA, the Basque separatist organization (founded in 1959, ceasefire since 1994) again terrorized Spain with politically motivated murders, kidnappings and extortions. In 1998 the moderate nationalist Partido Nacional Vasco (PNV) emerged victorious from the elections to the Basque regional parliament, the ETA-related party "Euskal Herritarrok" received almost 18%; A similar picture emerged in the early regional elections in 2001. In March 2006, the ETA declared an armisticewhich she repealed in June 2007.

In 1999 the exchange rates between the national currency and the euro were also fixed in Spain, which became the national currency in eleven European countries at the beginning of 2002. In the parliamentary elections in 2000, the conservative People's Party under the incumbent Prime Minister Jos¨¦ Maria Aznar again won the majority. The government's course, however, with popular opposition to Spanish support from the United States in the war against Iraq. Spain fell victim to Islamic terrorist attacks in March 2004, when nearly 200 people were killed in Madrid bombings. The parliamentary elections that took place shortly after the attacks were not unaffected by this: the ruling conservative "People's Party" (PP), which had defended its stationing in Iraq, was

After the PSOE won another election in March 2008, Zapatero held out the prospect of a more moderate course for the second legislative period. The core topics were the revived ETA terrorism, the solution of regional autonomy issues and the judicial reform. Another problem was (and is) the economic slowdown caused by the real estate crisis (subprime crisis) in the USA: The sudden illiquidity of the rapidly growing market with asset-backed securities triggered a global financial crisis in 2007/2008. Since the initially approved economic stimulus programs had no effect and the public debt increased, instead drastic cuts and savings were decided, against which there were repeated mass protests by the population. Unemployment rose sharply in the wake of the economic crisis, especially among young Spaniards (here over 50%).

Due to early elections in November 2011, the PP gained an absolute majority in parliament, Mariano Rajoy became prime minister. He also continues to pursue strict austerity measures. In July 2012, the country pledged billions in financial aid from the European Union for its ailing banks

Africa - Asia - Central America - Europe - Caribbean - Middle East - North America - Oceania - South America


Country Explorer Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved