A Brief History of Spain

Second Millenium

1093 CE. The Christian Reconquest El Cid led the first real attempt by Christians to re-conquer Spain. The Cid took control of a number of cities, even though they were later taken back under the control of the Muslims. It was the true beginning of the Reconquest.

1094 CE The first mention of Gandia as a place of habitation, was as a Moslem farmstead

1238 CE It was almost another 145 years before the Reconquest in the south was complete with the capture of Valencia on the 9th of October 1238 when James I and his army were able to proclaim Southern Spain as Christian once again, although the Muslims held onto Granada for a further 250 years.

1254-1324 Marco Polo History tells of his leaving Venice at the age 17 to join his father and uncle on a journey deep into Kublai Khan's China. Marco Polo himself tells, in his writings, how they were welcomed. He spent 20 years in Asia. Some say that Polo's tales are products of the imagination but, whether fact or fiction, he inspired Europeans to seek out the Orient and, in 1492, Columbus to sail the ocean blue.

1300 CE By the end of the 13th century, Castilla and Aragón had emerged as Christian Spain's two main powers.

1323 CE  The first mention Gandia in the province of Valencia – was during the Reconquest, Jaime II granted the Infant Pedro of Ribagorza the Señorío feudal rights to rule over the village of Gandia. Subsequently, Martin the Human donated it, together with the title of Dukedom to Alfonso of Aragoni Foix but later it reverted back to the Crown.

1469 CE The two kingdoms of Castilla and Aragón were united by the marriage of Isabel, Princess of Castilla, to Fernando, heir to the throne of Aragón. Known as the Catholic Monarchs, they united all of Spain and laid the foundation for the Golden Age.

1478 CE. The Spanish Inquisition. This was the year that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella sought permission from the Pope to begin the Spanish Inquisition, the stated object being to purify the people of Spain and bring them under the Catholic faith. Largely it was a political power struggle to assert control over all other creeds and create a single strong state. If the people converted and acknowledged Catholicism as the true faith, they were reasonably safe. But for those of the Islamic, Protestantism and Judaism faiths (in fact any non-Christians) who refused to convert, the future held at best deportation, but for many thousands the outcome was the torture chambers, slaughter or burning at the stake. It was one of Spain’s blackest periods.

1482 CE In this year the Catholic forces began the siege of Granada, the main Muslim stronghold. The siege was to last 10 years until the last Muslim king surrendered, ending the long-awaited Reconquista (the reconquest of power for the Catholic faith).

1492 CE The Christians completed the final war of the Reconquest by their victory at Granada, following which it was decreed that all Moors and Jews must convert to Catholicism or suffer expulsion, incarceration or death. It is written that this fate was practised more strictly on the Jews.

1492 April 30. Christopher Columbus. This was also the year Christopher Columbus, an Italian from Genoa, having failed to obtain backing from Portugal and all other sources, was finally financed by King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain to sail across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a new route to India. Columbus was inspired by tales told by the Venetian, Marco Polo, of the riches and spices to be found in India and the East.

August 3rd 1492 Columbus set sail. He commanded the Santa Maria and was accompanied by the Niña and the Pinta. On this first voyage he discovered the Americas. He made three other voyages of discovery.

May 1502 Columbus set out on his last voyage and although he reached Panama, the voyage was fraught with problems and considered unsuccessful. He returned in 1504.

11th May 1506 Christopher Columbus died at Valladolid, Spain. Spain developed an enormous empire in the New World following Columbus’ discovery of the Americas and irrespective of the controversy over his success and greed, he was an exceedingly courageous sea captain and a brilliant navigator.

1512 CE. This year brought about the unification of present-day Spain

1519 CE. The Conquest of Spanish America. This was the beginning of Spain’s colonisation of the Americas when the adventurer and conquistador, Hernán Cortez, set out from Cuba for South America in search of riches. Although totally outnumbered, he defeated the Aztec hordes due to his use of mounted soldiers, armour and guns. He captured Mexico City and took the Aztec Emperor Montezuma prisoner, eventually executing him. Following this victory, he forced the Aztec people to work as slaves in the mines. Cortez sent vast amounts of gold and silver back to Spain. The conquistadors claimed all the land mass from Cuba to Bolivia. From then on, Spain attempted to control all trade with the colonies and became one of the most powerful nations on earth. This led to conflict and war with the other major trading nations - England, France and Holland; continuous battles were fought between the land and naval forces of each country.

1519 CE Ferdinand Magellan A Portuguese captain c.1480-1521
Spain was again the country to support world exploration by financially backing Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition to circumnavigate the globe. Although people no longer thought the world was flat, it was a most perilous adventure. He found his way through the Straits off the tip of South America and into the Pacific. Regretfully Magellan died in the Philippines but some of his crew, having survived starvation, mutiny, desertion and shipwreck, eventually reached Spain again. This was the first ship to sail around the world.

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