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Spain -- Section 1


Hesperia ( Iberia )


Western Civilization
End of Middle Ages: Spain Section

By Michael Johnathan McDonald

Span is on a Peninsula. A Peninsula is land that is surrounded on three sides by water. What made Spain so accessible was its easy access for shipping which made it a prime land for trade by the Carthaginians, Romans and Greeks.

The Greeks called the place “Hesperia,” while the Carthaginians called it “ Ispana.” The inhabitance called it Iberia, in which the Spaniards main commercial jetliners carry the name, today. So Iberia is Spain’s ancient name, and most likely the inhabitants mainly were from North Africa. It was the Carthaginians who first visited Spain and established a community they called New Carthiage. It was the Romans who established trade and business with Spain in the period-scope of 17 BC- 411.

What the Romans left in Iberia would be the shaping of history for the region. They left Christianity. Christianity will play a main role in combating the coming Moorish ( Islamic People) to the region who will for 800 years establish political and cultural rule. The Moors will not proselytize as was the main custom of the Christianity movement, yet in order to enter politics or a major position in the governing arena the Moors made you convert to Islam. This meant you had to do five basic things.

1. Recite the Shyada once a day.
a. Pray five times a day. ( Could be to yourself in private) This also ment that you had to wash your hands and feet every time you pray
b. ( Mostly for cleanliness reasons) and bow your head touching the ground most notably facing east, or preferably Mecca.
2. Alms, making alms is on special occasions where you give to the poor and the needy.
3. Ramadam, a month of prayer and fasting with codes and procedures.
4. If you can make a trip at least once in a lifetime to Mecca.

Iberia in its meaning means “place of the rabbit.”
The Romans also left another valuable tool. The language of Latin.
Roots of the Latin Language are encompassed in Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian and Spanish.

How the Roman Empire came into Iberia

If you squished into itself all the territory of the Romann Empire, you would get roughly 3,300 miles. It was large. Now the Germanic tribes that had been semi-conquering the already splintered Roman Empire ( It had really fallen but was hanging on by only technicalities)
For example the Franks, became the French; the Saxons took Briton and Visigoths ( The western Goths) came in from the north of Iberia and claimed for themselves the land. The Visigoths brought kingship with them and the people who worked for the kings. They established their hierarchical system of king, priest, knights, and serfs in that order of rank. Everyone had a job to do that was necessary for the society to function. The Visigoths will stay for 200 hundred years until the Moors (Arabs) push them out. Out of the Gibraltar straits is 711 the Arabs will come with a fervor (Zealousness) on Mohammad’s call to rule the world.

Came out of North Africa ?
Arabs bent on their own conquest take Iberia. This comes from Mohammed’s decrees that they are a vicious fighting legion of conquerors. Before the Arabs had a book, they were basically in anarchy. All tribes were Bedouin (Nomadic). For example, if your Arab neighbor had a well and he caught you taking a drink because you were dying of thirst, and was far from home he would knife you in the back.

Mohammad’s story in short he was a illiterate and his buddy would write down laws for the Arab people. He would go out into the desert and meet with what he called the “ Angle Gabriel.” He was born in Mecca and after telling the people that he was establishing a new religion called Islam, according the angle, they kicked him out to Medina. There he married a bunch of rich women for strategic circumstance who supplied him with wealth for an army in which he forged against his hometown in the first Jihad on the face of the Earth to force down their throats the Quran, the book that is his writings. He Killed large amounts of his own people forcing them to accept him as the last great prophet. Mohammed never called himself divine or is regarded as such by Arabs. Jesus and Moses are considered divine by the Christians and the Jews. Islam is said to respect the Jews and Christians “because they have a book like ours.”

So the Jihad extends to other nations and people and eventually ends up in one of its conquering locations in Iberia. Cordoba will be the western capital of this new Islamic Empire and Baghdad will be the co-capital on the eastern front. Cordoba was called “ El Andalus” So from 711 to 1492 and Arab dominance in the world at that time will make their home for many reasons. For example, their were 40,000 books in the Cordoba library. Greek plays and science and literature from both Romans and Greeks are translated then sent to be kept in the library. While the entire western world is in the dark ages, the Arabs have street lights made of oil-lamps and will build fountains and water their geranium plants that are in pots and function as a civilization. For instance, 200,000 private homes and 800 shops made their residence a habitual civilized arena of goodness, while the western world lay in darkness and illiteracy.

Now over by the Philippine Islands are the Molucca islands and this is how far they had trade routs that were their business stops for the spices that they use to make life more flavorful. This trade rout encompasses China down to the Moluccas and back out to Iberia. Spices that were imported were vital to new methods of preserving meat and stopping plague ( or slowing it down) Variety of cloves was the herbs and others too. From China they imported Silk, Paper, the compass, and from Persia they tae orange seeds to Iberia that would eventually end up in California as well as Florida a long time from then. Arabs were the ones to refine sugar and they did this to make their own version of the soft drink. They like sweet drinks. They gave us calligraphy, astrolabe, number systems, algebra and all the Arabs could read. In Toledo Spain they made the famous three foot swords known around the world with inscriptions on the blades. They would smack the blades onto hard rocks until it got the bend they desired.

Most of the Spanish sounds come from the fact that the Arabs words usages are used in the language of Spanish. For example, the letter J is from the Arabic language, as a sound of “h” while making a blowing motion in the back of your mouth for emphasis that creates the unique sound. “Jota,” “Ajala,” “el,” ”arbol,” ”ole,” are all Arabian words that are now main Spanish.

Today we put tiles on our roofs for various protective reasons and the Arabs imported tiles from Peria and started the tile roof business booming. The have a Arabic arch that that is displayed in two UCLA’s prominent building structures on their campus. Arabs gave us the number Zero as well, yet they borrowed it from the Inda’s country, yet the Sumerians had usage and comprehension of the term as did other civilizations.

• Describe the Arab contributions in Spain by the end of the year 1492? ( exclude Christopher Columbus) Why was this period called a successful crusade?

Arabs brought the Spaniards to a higher level of civilization compared to their demise after they kicked them out.
The most successful crusade in history is the Spanish reconquering their former territory from the moors (Arabs) It was complete and lasting.

The Arabs brought invaluable tools to the aids of the Spanish that proved valuable to their conquest of the new world. The Astrolabe, numbering systems including zero, Algebra and reading by way of translating important works of the older ages. They stored some of the best works in Cordoba in a library there.

They bring the building blocks of a language that is the mixture of Latin (Roman) and Arabic (Arabs), but most of the language comes from Arabic language, that forms their language of as Spanish. For example: letter ‘J’ sound is from the Arabic language, in such words as “Jota,” and “Ajala.” Words like “el”, “arbol” and “Ole.”

In buildings they bring tile roofing to Spain, a modern wonder of the day, as well the first gas lamps that lighted up night streets. The Arabs brought superior methods of swordsmanship that started in Toledo Spain, till this day the decorative swords are coveted by world leaders as souvenirs of show.

Trade in Arab spices that went as far as China, all the way to the Mollucas Islands. 12 Century Marco Polo introduced China to the west.

• What major accomplishments occurred in Spain by the end of the year 1492?
(exclude Columbus) Why was this period called a successful Crusade?

Jan. 2, 1542, Arabs are finally kicked out of Spain and parties and church bells ring all over the country, according to legend.
1492 Ferdinand and Isabella move into the Alhambra (red house), actually a splendor castle in the capital of Cordoba.(to this day)
Castilian becomes the official language
One Monarch
One Religion
Pope is Catholic so he titles Ferdinand and Isabella “Los reyes Catolicos” (Catholic Monarchs).
No other country at the time was fortunate to have all this good stuff that the Moors (Arabs) left them. Crusade pronounced as the most successful campaign in history.
Renamed country to Espana.

Spain leads the world, with Portugal as the maritime supreme power of Europe’s west end.
Side note: With out the reconquista, poor ol’ Columbus would not have been financed by fanatic Isabella to seek new territories. The whole place was now rich. “Get those spices” Isabella said. Italy had a monopoly on the spice trade and the Ottoman Empire controlled the Mediterranean shipping ports, so no Spanish could do business with them once they found out what they did to their brothers and sisters the Moors.

Ottomans in 1453 captured al of Turkey almost into Austria, establishing Islam and politics. “Convert to Islam” was the message to the world. This Ottoman Empire would not collapse until WWI in the 20th Century. The Christian westerners would say, Look, they got Jerusalem, we must expel them.” This is brand-off 12 major and some minor Crusades, some successful fro shot time and some not successful by European Christians, to expel the Muslims from the Holy Land.


Four northern kingdoms in Iberia began what is called in history as the reconquest. This started in 718.
From 718 to 1492 was a war of wars called the reconquest. Here the Jews who were Diaspora, meaning they been homeless wanders themselves to various countries being kicked out of Israel first by the Romans than the Moors are called Heretics, as well as the Moors. This word comes in to play because the term means that if you do not adhere to the Christianity message that Jesus is the supreme God and all others are subordinates than you must go. Sometimes this means death.

Crusade is the term for the reconquests and this one is a dozy. This in history will be called the “era of the Conquistadors.” If you had a horse and some men ( People) and some swords, you would go get permission from one of the Kings ( This was not hard) and he would grant you a OK to go out and conquer a town or city. Once you completed that you were granted Latifnga. This meant that you are no sole owner under a Christian doctrine of that land and it is yours.

With the Marriage of Queen Isabella,  jointly with her new husband,Ferdinand, Castile and Aragon are combined (Ferdinand II of Aragon, Ferdinand V of Castile). Isabella will head up her army and ride on a horse into parts of the land in reconquista. She is deeply religious and is viewed as constantly on her horse when she was not getting off it to make love to her husband at stops along the way to give birth to five children. She will also establish hospitals on the battle field. Some say this is a first. She forms a blockade on Grenada the last stronghold of the Moors- she has is surrounded. This blockage was so that the Arabs could not get supplies or help from N. Africa.

January 2, 1442 the keys of the ‘red Palace’ called Ahambra, that is what the word means is given to Isabella. The keys signified the passing of 800 years of Moorish dominance in the region of Iberia and out of it came a unified Christian state that will bear the Name “Espana.” It is said that all the church bells rang that day. (Highly doubtful that the word could spread in one day to all the churches in Iberia.) Anyway, Isabella didn’t stop here. Her confessor was credited with coercing her to get the Spanish Inquisition started up and to torture the heretics and burn them at the stake. “All the roman Catholic Kings listened to their Confessors.” ( This doesn’t mean they all did what they suggested, but in a large part this was the case).

Now if you were converted to Christianity, yet practiced your Jewish or Muslim faith in private you were considered a heretic. This means that in three months or less you must show up to their offices and confess and get a list of what to do to get back into good graces with the Church. There is one problem here, it was your word against your neighbors and the people were encouraged to out their next door neighbor. You could just see a neighbor that didn’t like you for some odd reason heading down to the local inquisition office and rating out a lie to get you in trouble. This was one large trouble if it was not your luck and you were taken by this group. First, they did not tell your family anything, you just simply disappeared into nothing. Second, you were put into a dungeon to be tortured for a year or until you confessed, usually what they wanted to hear, which meant that sometimes it wasn’t the truth at all – the person usually just wanted the pain to end. Thirdly, your entire family’s property was confiscated and your wife probably ended up as homeless on the street, and nobody under pressure would take her in. Fourthly, if you survived the torture that sometimes ended in the most painful death someone could imagine, you were taken out into a village, or city main downtown and a huge party was thrown in your honor. You were the entertainment of that day and age. There was not much else in that capacity. Like the hangings of the westerners where the entire town brought their lunchboxes and a entire day was promoted to hanging people. This was their entertainment. After you are in the dungeon for a year and your body disfigured from being beaten up severely day-after-day you are brought out to be burned at the stake. IF you confess then in front of the crowd, you get strangled before you burn. If you don’t, well lets just say you will feel the full brunt of what it is like to feel being roasted alive. The official title is like all propaganda tiles of today, “Auto de Fe,” meaning ‘act of faith.” The people would come out in white sheets like the Klu Klux Klan and than a priest would read a long list of sins that were real or made up. Everyone in town was supposed to show up. The benefits were sold to the public “If you show up, you yourself our forgiven of whatever dirty deeds you have done.” Many people died in this form of barbarism of this tragedy of western culture. Taxmen, doctors, bankers, document makers, and many other prominent people were put to death in this fashion as well as poor and humble that society saw as reclusive quiet individuals.

Women in History website

Women in History website: Isabella's half-brother, Henry IV, became king of Castile when their father, John II, died in 1454. Isabella was only three years old, and her younger brother Alfonso was the expected heir. Isabella was raised by her mother, Isabella of Portugal, until 1457, when the two children were brought to court by Henry IV to keep them from being used by opposition nobles. Henry's first marriage ended without children and in a divorce. When his second wife bore a daughter, Juana, in 1462, soon the opposition nobles claimed that Juana was actually the daughter of Beltran de la Cueva, duke of Albuquerque. (Thus, she's known in history as Juana la Beltraneja.)

The opposition's attempt to replace Henry with Alfonso met with defeat, the final defeat coming in July, 1468 when Alfonso died of poison. Isabella was offered the crown by the nobles, but she refused, and Henry was willing to compromise with the nobles and accept Isabella as his heiress in September.

Henry, however, withdrew his recognition and again identified Juana as his heir when Isabella married Ferdinand of Portugal in October 1469 without Henry's approval. At Henry's death in 1474, a war of succession ensued, with Alfonso V of Portugal, prospective husband of Isabella's rival Juana, supporting Juana's claims. The war was settled in 1479, with Isabella recognized as Queen of Castile. Juana retired to a convent rather than marry the son of Ferdinand and Isabella, Juan. She died in 1530.

Ferdinand had by this time become King of Aragon, and the two ruled with equal authority in both realms, thus unifying Spain. Among their first acts were various reforms to reduce the power of the nobility and increase the power of the crown.

In 1480, Isabella and Ferdinand instituted the Inquisition in Spain, as one of many changes to the role of the church instituted by the monarchs. The Inquisition was aimed mostly at Jews and Muslims who had overtly converted to Christianity but were thought to be practicing their faiths secretly -- known respectively as morranos and moriscos -- as well as at heretics who rejected Romman Catholic orthodoxy, including alumbras who practiced a kind of mysticism or spiritualism.

Ferdinand and Isabella were given the title "the Catholic" by the Pope, in recognition of their role in "purifying" the faith. Among her other religious interests, Isabella also took a special interest in the order of nuns, the Poor Clares.

Isabella and Ferdinand proceeded with their plans to unify all of Spain by continuing a long-standing but stalled effort to expel the Moors (Muslims) who held parts of Spain. In 1492, the Muslim Kingdom of Granada fell to Isabella and Ferdinand, thus completing the Reconquista. That same year, all Jews in Spain who refused to convert to Christianity were expelled by royal edict.

Also in 1492, Isabella was convinced by Christopher Columbus to sponsor his voyage of discovery. The lasting effects of this were many: by the traditions of the time, when Columbus discovered lands in the New World, they were given to Castile. Isabella took a special interest in the Native Americans of the new lands; when some were brought back to Spain as slaves she insisted they be returned and freed, and her will expressed her wish that the "Indians" be treated with justice and fairness.

Isabella was also a patron of scholars and artists, establishing educational institutions and building a large collection of art works. She learned Latin as an adult, was widely read, and educated not only her sons but her daughters. One of these daughters, Catherine of Aragon, is known in history as the first wife of Henry VIII of England and mother of Mary I of England.

At her death, she left as her only heir "Mad Joan," Juana, her sons and grandson and her daughter, Isabella, queen of Portugal, predeceasing her. Her will, the only writing which she left, is a fascinating document, summarizing what she thought were her reign's achievements as well as wishes for the future.




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