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Transcript of Spanish History
by Isaac DeGraaf
With Guidance from Mark Willaims
The Story of Spain
Merida: Remains of a Roman City
So much to see in this once booming Roman city... Enrique made sure we at least gave it justice. From the sites listed below to a circus maximus, ancient Roman compound, a museum dedicated to Roman construction and of course another bridge we got a good glimspe into what once was during the times of the Romans. Enrique told us about the battles in the Amphitheater including ones in which the battle takes place on boats and the arena is flooded. He explained that an aqueduct is in fact not a water slide and instead a way to bring water into the city from the mountains. Merida was at one time a thriving Roman city and its ruins give us a fantastic glimpse into an important part of Spanish history. They help us to appreciate the power and vast knowledge the Romans had. To have built these buildings so long ago and have them still standing is amazing in itself but when you add in the complexities of something like an aquaduct its truly mind blowing they were made over 2000 years ago.
Battle of Covadonga
Christian legends report in about 720 a group of about 30 men led by Pelayo camped out in a cave in Covadongo. According to the legend the Virgin Mary appeared to them int the cave and then helped them defeat 400,000 muslims in battle. In reality a small "marauding band" was defeated but this event sparked the beguning of the Reconquest and the war hero Pelayo went on to help create the kingdom of Asturias by having his daughter mary Alfonso I
Ribadesella: Cueva de Tito Bustillo
The Tito Bustillo Cave in Ribadesella holds some of
the oldest history in Spain. The cave has on its walls
dozens of cave paintings from the Magdalenian
period. These people lived in Hunting and Gathering
societies but little else is really known about them.
These paintings are about the only substantial thing
left to give instight into the time period. The exact
dates are unknown but the general time period
associated with the cave is 22,000-10,000 BC. The
Paintings themselves are made out of minerals and
remarkably still could intordice a wide variety of colors
The cultural context of the paintings are hard to pinpoint exactly. Since not very much is know about this time period. What these caves do allow us to realize is where our ancestors come from, and it at least for me helped me grasp a little better how primitive their lifestyles were and how far humanity has come.
The Greek to Carthridge Exchange
This chapter is hard to pinpoint a most important moment, it was a time period of one group after another entering the peninsula. So I cheated a bit and picked a moment that could two of these groups, the Greeks and Carthaginians. The Greeks came from Greece and arrived around 600 BC. They stayed mainly in present day Cataluna and along the coast because they were only intrested in trade. The Carthaginians who came from the Phoenician North African colony of Carthage arrived next. During the battle of Atalia off Sicily in 535 BC the Greek fleet was heavily defeated and the Cartaginians now ruled the western Mediterranean
The reason I choose these two people groups is because of what they each brought to the pennisula. The Greeks develped the olive and wine cultures which play a key role in Spain today and they also are thought to have introduced the coin (coins still used today as well). Little is known of the Carhaginians era but they also brought something very important to the Pennisula, the Romans. The group that left the language and religion still used today.
Introduction of Christianity
The Romans brought a lot of things to the peninsula during their rule. Roads, language, city structure, politics, but I'd argue the most important thing to come to "Hispania" during Roman times was Christianity. Legend has it that St. James the Greater brought Christianity around 40 AD. They say he built a temple to the VIRGIN and then spent seven years evangelizing before returning to Palestine and dieing. According to legend his bones were then brought to Santiago de compestella which remains today a pilgrimage destination. In reality it took two centuries for Christianity to catch on beginning with the urban workers but once it caught it certainly stuck.
The Romans had such a huge influence on the peninsula its hard to pick one key event. I choose the Introduction of Christianity because of how influential the catholic church has been to the history of Spain. Just think how many cathedrals and monastery's we've visited. For century's the church had the power and cities were built around them. They played a key role in Isabel financing Colon's voyage to the new world, symbolized the conquering of the moors, and could influence millions. For better of for worse I don't know but I believe without the catholic church Spain would look very differnt than it does today, certainly its history would.
The Beginning of Al-Andalus
The peninsula, no matter who held it, had always felt threatened from North Africa to its south. Attempts to invade had already been made and finally the one launched in 711 was successful. Who are the Moors is a difficult question to ask. The soldiers themselves cam from around Northern Africa but the ones behind the attack from the Arab world. It seems what they most had in common was their religion but even that doesn't adequately define them. The invasion began in Andalucia and until 914 they held almost the whole peninsula minus a section of the North
To me this was clearly the most important event in chapter 3. The Moorish Invasion changed Spanish history and culture in ways that can still be felt and seen today. Williams descibes it as the event that led to the Pennisula developing differently than the rest of europe. Something that I believe now is appreciated and treasured. But even if none of these things were contributed it still led to the reconquest one of the most triumphant and unifing events in spanish history
Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Sea
The Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the third largest church. Construction began in 1401 and was completed in 1528. The Church holds multiple tombs including Christopher Columbus and Alfonso X. The cathedral is huge and that's evident the minute you set eyes on it but i think the most important/coolest part of the cathedral is the bell tower. It stands 343 feet tall and is the only remaining part of the mosque that once stood on the same site. It was a minaret for the mosque and even though we trekked our way to the top according to Enrique in those days a man would take a horse up to announce it was time from prayers.
Marriage of Isabella and Ferdinand
Isabella the future queen of Castilla had her choice of King Alfonso V and Ferdinand the heir to the Eragon throne. A decision that Williams describes as deciding the very composition of modern Spain. She choose Ferdinand (lets be honest for his looks) The 19 year old Isabel and 18 year old Ferdinand were first cousins and required a forgery document but that didn't stop the marriage of the two heirs from happening on October 19. 1469.
Capture of Grenada
On January 2, 1942 the Christian army entered Grenada. The last Moor refuge in peninsula had fallen and the christians had officially defeated the Moors. The city was handed over without a fight with Boabdil, the last sultan of the Nasrid dynasty made a deal to hand over the city for 30,000 coins and some land in the south. To the christians this marked the end of the long reconquest and Isabel and Ferdinand thought it so important the moved their royal crypt from Toledo to Grenada.
Columbus Sails the Ocean Blue
It all began with a persistent Columbus attempting to kind a kingdom to support his expedition. He bounced around trying to get the money when finally Isabel decided to buy in. Her motivations a mixture of economics and religion. She wanted to convert more souls and thought by reaching China she could continue the attack of ending Islam from the rear. She also was seeking spices that in a world without refrigeration had considerable demand. So on August 3, 1942 a fleet of 120 men on 3 ships took off. Thirty-two days later they discovered 'The New World" and what a discovery it was.
While the Peninsula was under Moorish rule the capital of the empire rested in Cordoba. The Emir lived in Cordoba the first three centuries and at the time the city was one of the most civilized in all of Europe. In 784 construction begun on what became known at "The Great Mosque". It was built on top of St. Vincent's church which itself was sitting on an old Roman church. Somewhat surprisingly the Moors began by only using half and allowing Christians to still worship in the other half.
Recapture of Toledo
In 1085 Alfonso VI army recaptured Toledo in what Williams describes as "the first crucial victory of the reconquest". Williams explains that it brought a huge boost in moral especially because it was the former Visigoth capital and it was the heart of New Castilla. This victory even sent the Moors scrambling and led to Seville calling for help from Northern Africa.
I don't beleive this is the most important event in the chapter because without the invasion it wouldn't even had mattered. That being said what I see as a completely made up stupid story turned into the raling cry for the beguning of the reconquest. It gave hope to the people that the moors could be defeated and triggured the beguning of the austurian empire which is still honored today though the title of Spains prince
Over the centuries the Cordoba Mosque became the 2nd most important place of worship behind Mecca. It represented the city and over the centuries kept expanding. Its last modification wasn't the most aesthetically or reverent change but as Williams admits it may be what allowed it to stay standing. Right in the middle of the Mosque a church was being built after Christians reconquered the city. According to Enrique they begin from the middle because what they destroy of the old building the use to build the new. The only reason the project was stopped is because King Ferdinand (I think Enrique said Ferdinand) saw what was happening and was furious that such a beautiful building was being destroyed. This place has been my favorite visit so far because it causes us to think about these two religions that have been at war for centuries now and continue to be. I also really liked seeing the comparison of the two types of places of worship, I think it gives us a glimpse into how they saw their God and at least for me it cemented in my mind the extravagance the catholic church went through when building their cathedrals.
I think the recapture of Toledo was important because of the changes in attitude that ensured after its capture. As Williams explains it was a huge boost of confidence for reconquest movement. Because Toledo is situated in the heart of new Castilla I think it symbolized a turning point that the reconquest was beginning to head to he southern half of the Pennisula. I do believe however that though this battle and recpature is important its still only a battle and not nearly as influenceial as the new union of the queen of Castilla and King of Eragon
The church was built show off the citty's wealth. After the reconquesta it had become a major trading center. Just up the river from the sea it would continue to prosper through the times of colonization as it was often the place the gold, silver, and other goods coming form the new world entered Spain. It also is a good example of a Cathedral that was built on the site of a muslim mosque. This was commonplace at the time and the bell tower allows to see evidence of this occurance. For me this church also represnts how corrupt and selfish the catholic chruch was at the time to spend so much money on a building. I can't help to think what Jesus would do if came across a cathedral like Sevilles.
At time this marriage wasn't nearly as big a deal as it ended up being a century later. I think Williams captured it right when he said her decision of a man decided the composition of modern Spain. If she'd chosen Alfonso V current Spain might look very different with Portugal and Spain one country and Eragon its own (something the Catalans would be very found of). This marriage united two kingdoms in a interesting way that didn't involve much fusion but instead just linked them together for years to come. So as far as Spanish history is concerned I believe this marriage had a bigger effect on the years to come than the Reconquest of Toledo.
The Big Shit
The Big Shit, more formally know as Palace of Carlos V was built beginning in 1527. According to Enrique it was built because his new wife didn't like the weather further North but also needed a palace fit for current standards something the Alhambra couldn't fulfill. According to all other sources it wasn't the wife but in fact because Carlos wanted to make Granada one of his residential palaces. He attempted to stay in the royal houses of the Alhambra but wanted the comforts of a present day palace so he built a new one next the Alhambra so he could still enjoy it while living in luxury. The arciteture of the palace is considerd Spanish Renaissance.
Although this doesn't top discovering the new world, finally capturing Grenada was a very big deal at the time. If you would've asked the question in 1942 of whether getting Granada back or Columbus setting sail was more important? hands down the answer would've been Grenada but then Columbus found that piece of land and Spain's future was again changed drastically. The reason Grenada was important however I've already listed above. It was the last remaining Moor stronghold and to capture it finally marked the end of the long and grueling reconquest. It was a time of celebration for the Christians and meant they were finally in chagre of the peninsula again and could do with it what they wanted including hiw to treat the Jews and Muslims
Williams goes as far to say that "it can be argued that the discovery of America in 1942 was the greatest single event in the history of mankind." Thats a pretty powerfull statement but the implications of this discovery were felt around the world. As Williams says it put an end to the Middle Ages and opened the colonial era in one stroke. It shifted the center of trade which in turn meant wealth from the Mediteranian to the Atlantic. The biggest consequence it had however was by destorying the concept that a man's place in life was decided by birth. Classism took a big hit and now "men who could get the job done became leaders rather than those of a high social class". Even now in the United States the so called "American Dream" still exists and really that dream began once those boats hit land in Sepetember og 1942
I find that no matter what the reasons for the construction of the palace are that this building shows me the the selfishness and corruptness of kings and queens of the past. In my opinion they were spoiled brats and you can see that in all the places we visit but I think this one trumps them all because they had the nerve to build it next to such an awesome piece of history and architecture. It makes me realize that no matter how much faith I lose in our political system at least we're way better off than when monarchs ruled the world
End of the Habsburgs
Carlos II was the last Habsburg to occupy the throne of Spain. He was only 4 when he inherited the throne but from the beginning it was obvious it could only last so long. He was the victim royal interbreeding with a reported four generations of predecessors marring cousins and nieces. One of Carlos’s defects disabled him from having children thus a scramble across Europe began to try and secure the Spanish throne. It pretty much came down to the Austrians or the French after his first choice Prince of Bavaria died suddenly a year after being named heir. Finally while lying on his deathbed in 1700 Carlos signed papers handing the thrown over to Philippe, the duke of Anjou, a Frenchman.
War of Spanish Sucession
Austrian Emperor Leopold didn’t take to kindly to Carlos II decision. He had also married a daughter of Felipe and claimed his son the Archduke Charles was a legitimate heir to the throne. By 1701 in an effort to ensure France didn’t gain any more power England and the Netherlands joined Austria in a grand alliance to dispute the Bourbon inheritance. It became the first major fighting Spain had seen on its soil since the Reconquest and was Europe’s first great modern war, whose causes were not religious. The bourbons held the support of most Spaniards minus Aragon and Valencia who sided with the Austrians based on French’s centralization policy. Eventually the war ended in 1713 with the Treaty of Utrecht. Spain lost several Italian territories and also had to confirm British occupation of Menorca and Gibraltar.
La Granja served as the summer palace for the bourbon kings in the city of San Ildefonso. In 1719 Philip V bought the site after his current summer palace at the time burned down. His goal was to build a palace suit for a Frenchman and he aimed to model its garden after Versailles, the grand palace built by his grandfather. Construction began in 1721 and endured many phases over the years. By far the most spectacular site was the over 1,500 acre garden filled with fountains but the palace also bolstered rooms and rooms of beautiful tapestries which according to Enrique are “priceless” which really just means worth a shit ton of money.
Spain's Bloodiest 48 Hours
It all began on the Second of May in 1808. In Madrid a mob rose against the French army and its Mameluke cavalry (a group of Egyptian mercenaries hired by the French) and chaos ensued. Members of the poorest neighborhoods were the most involved as is the case in most riots and they grabbed whatever they could find to hurt the enemy. Goya captured the riot in his painting Dos de Mayo but by far his more famous painting was Tres de Mayo that depicted the day after the riots. On that day all those suspected of being involved the previous day were rounded up and executed by firing squad. These 48 hours so graphically depicted by Goya began what would be known as Spain’s War of Independence or the Peninsula War.
Capital Moved to Madrid
Although it did not become the official capital until the bourbons arrived, Felipe II in 1561 moved the governments administrative center from Toledo to Madrid. They Selected Madrid because of its central location but also because it could be built the way he wanted because at the time it was nothing more than a tiny pueblo with only a few thousand people. This may seem an insignificant event but at the time Spain was extremely rural and very unlike the rest of Europe. The largest cities never had more than 50,000 residents and by shaping Madrid Felipe could build it like other european cities and capital something that couldn't have really occurred in Toledo.
Construction on El Escorial began in 1563 and the building was completed 21 years later in 1584. King Philip II was the one who ordered it to be built and he enlisted Juan Bautista de Toledo as architect who had spent most of his career in Rome and had even worked on St. Peters Basilica. The Basilica, really the main feature of the palace, became the burial site for most of the Spanish kings and queens. Supposedly the building was built in the form of a gridiron to represent St. Lawrence who was roasted to death but that remains controversal.
Although this decision doesn't rival the drama of the next Spanish King and the end of the Habsburgs I still believe it was an important decision that helped cement Spain as European just with a cultural edge. Having a Capital like Madrid for foreigners and more specifically other kingdoms royality to visit is huge for apperances (and if I've learned anything from being in Europe it is that appearances matter). On a side note it also allowed for Toledo to remain the medivial city it is today, somehting that couldn;t have happended if it remained the capital but it also couldn;t have been what Madrid is toady so now we have the best of both worlds.
Loss of the Colonies
The loss of the colonies didn’t begin actually begin in the Americas but actually was triggered by what had been going on Spain. After seeing the liberalism movement that had been going on throughout Spain and more profoundly during the French revolution Creoles, American born economic and social elite with Spanish blood, decided they wanted to break ties from the homeland to ensure none of those liberal ideas made it to the colonies. They decided now was a good time to declare independence as well due to Spain’s weakened state because of the war. Strong independence movements were created around 1810 and Mexico finally grasped its independence in 1821. The rest of Latin America was soon to follow and by the end of 1824 all that remained of Spain’s once great empire was Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Instability and Dissatisfaction
As I read chapter 9 it seems like one thing just keeps repeating itself and repeating itself and that’s the peoples dissatisfaction with the Government and the closely related topic of government instability. Anarchism grows ever more popular during these years and is what Williams describes as Spain’s most “distinctive political feature. Three prime ministers were killed and bombs were becoming a common phenomenon. Labor unions grew which led to strikes and in a span of 5 years around 1,000 people were gunned down in Barcelona. But the most specific event to describe the time was General Primo’s military coup in 1923.
Valle de los Caídos
Valle de los Caídos was probably the most controversial place we visited all semester. The monument began construction in 1940 after the civil war and wasn’t completed until 18 years later. Franco claimed to have had it built to honor and bury those who fell during the war and said it was meant to be a “national act of atonement”. To me contradicting words when you consider it was constructed by forced labor in the warm of prisoners from the war who were given years of their sentence in exchange for labor. The tombs contain 40,00 bodies from both sides of the war as well as Franco himself buried underneath the giant dome in the basilica.
On April 1, 1939 Franco and his army rolled into Madrid and announced the war was over. The Nationalists had defeated the Republicans and the Franco era was born. The writing had been on the wall for months at this point. In January Franco practically strolled into Barcelona unopposed and on February 27 Britain and France even recognized the Franco government. However Madrid and Valencia were still under Republican territory so the end still had to happen. The republicans fought each other deciding how to best give up until Franco Pardoned all non-criminals and along with his army Franco finally entered Madrid on March 28.
Juan Carlos Stamps Out Coup
On February 23 an attempted coup took place by a group of generals. Led by Colonel Tejero the group invaded parliament and held deputies hostage for several hours. A number of high-ranking officials were involved including the Kings close advisor General Armada, Jaime Milans del Bosch, and Fuerza Nueva. These members of the military and guardia civil were fed up with the new democracy and the course it was taking specifically things like regional autonomy, legalization of the communist party, and the recent murder campaign by the ETA that had recently killed a top army commander. The coup may have succeed if not for the efforts of the King Juan Carlos. He rallied loyal generals and gave a memorable televised speech claiming they “would only succeed over my dead body”. It was quite an effort by the new king, one that saved democracy and one the hearts of the people.
The impacts of this decision had huge ramifications across Europe. One of Europe’s major powers was about to get a huge enhancement to its empire and the decision of who lay in the hands of a deformed inbred King. The decision Carlos made can still be seen today through the current King Juan Carlos who is in fact bourbon. The decision of the French was interesting because of its proximity and Louis XIV famously claimed, “there are no Pyrenees”. The politics and foreign affairs of Spain also took a drastic change. Spain was now inexplicably linked to France and its policies and politics now had much more effect. The decision didn’t come without fighting however. Before the bourbons could take over the Austrians wanted a say hence the War for Spanish succession. An event that might’ve occurred no matter who Carlos choose but couldn’t have happened without the end of the Habsburg line.
This war had huge implications on Spain but also Europe in general. Britain walked out with control of the Mediterranean and France got a Frenchman on the Spanish throne. For Spain it meant the loss of several key territories but also a king schooled in the French way to rule. This meant Spain was better governed, more prosperous, and more attuned to the rest of Europe than it was in the past. It also meant that the Castilian push for one unified nation finally came true. The Red and gold flag was adopted, a national anthem chosen, and a regular army formed. For Aragon and Valencia this was their worse nightmare and even recently we see Catalans attempting to undue this event that happened centuries ago.
The reason I choose such a broad topic instead of one of the more specific events in the chapter is because no single event lead Spain to the path it took. It was a combination of all these different things that led to a country divided and the civil war that ensued. I tried to pick a topic that could describe everything that was going on at the time and I felt like things like violence, working class strife, regionalism, and what Williams calls the Revolving-door government ministries all could classify under the instability of the country and a general dissatisfaction with the government but even more deeper than that a dissatisfaction with the current way of life.
Franco winning the war changed the course of Spain for the next decades. A Fascist government was created and a dictator emerged. I understand other things happened in the chapter to lead to a Nationalist victory but to me the ramifications of this single event are just too much to say anything else was more important. A nation that was so divided it had a civil war now had to conform to one mans idea of what Spain should be. A nation that was way behind the times politically now just traded a king for a dictator something that to most people is a step backwards.
The American Agreement
In 1953 President Eisenhower and Franco signed an agreement permitting four American bases on Spanish soil in return for substantial aid to the tune of about $1.8 billion by 1965. The Americans liked this deal because in the midst of the cold-war Spain was a strategic location against the Soviets but this deal did way more for Franco than it ever did for the U.S. The money for Spain from this agreement was a Godsend and it did wonders for the economy but the agreement also helped legitimize the regime. Two years later Spain was admitted to the U.N. something that was more than a coincidence.
Franco did many things during his 36 years as Spain’s Head of State but the reason I choose the agreement he made with Eisenhower is because it drastically changed the direction the country was moving to. The country’s economy was a mess and I don’t think people would’ve put up with it much longer but when the money started coming in things started looking up. I think this agreement did a lot to help raise Spain’s citizen’s views of Franco. Also being more legitimized had huge benefits as well including options of more aid and the admission into the UN.
This event could’ve led to Spain taking steps backward politically if it weren’t for the efforts of Juan Carlos. Spain’s democratic government was young and vulnerable at the time and needed time to take hold. The generals weren’t willing to wait it out and if they had it there way we might still be living in a military dictatorship. The acts of Juan Carlos were heroic but also very smart. He knew it was time Spain joined the rest of the democratic world and he was ready to do anything in his power to make that happen. In the long run things began leveling out and I think most people would admit that democracy was the best option. An option that without Juan Carlos heroics might not have gotten the time to play out.
At the time of construction Philip II was still fighting his battle against the protestants. He decicided to build the palace and more specifically the basilica I believe as proof of his devotion to Catholicism. He ws such a good Catholic he had his own basiclica in his house. Muc of that is speculation but when you see the thing what else could he be thinking other than trying to show off. The location of the palace is interesting because it was only a few years earlier that he moved the capital to Madrid. To me I see him building this huge palace so close to Madrid as of way of saying alright he intends to make Madrid the center and he'll be up on the hill overlooking it and available when needed. Also according to Enrique the Ceiling paintings were painted by an Italian who get get them done vry quickly because he could pain with both hands. I believe it was Tibaldi
Another palace and another example of the thrones extravagant wealth. I will say the garden was a nice touch and provided us a glimpse into what a French palace looked like at the time. I can only imagine the extravagant parties that occurred when you have a never-ending fountain of wine flowing. But realistically this palace did give us a good idea of what the life of the king and his royal family looked like and Enrique really tried to stress this visit that it wasn’t so easy being a king or queen. It was a duty that endured no privacy and lots of people asking and needing things from you, I think I agree with Enrique that no matter what luxury they get to live in, being a king is a job I would’ve liked no part in.
These 48 hours that Goya depicted so powerfully in his paintings are what Williams describes as “the most important 48 hours in Spanish history”. He calls them the birth of modern Spain and in a way they were. They triggered Spain’s War Independence and hence gave birth to an independent Spain. A Spain that doesn’t have anyone ruling them similar to today but also no other colony to rule for the first time in centuries due to the loss of its colonies beginning in 1810.
Losing the colonies never affected the Spanish people or government as much as the 2nd and 3rd of May but ir still provided a significant blow to Spain’s image and also a huge loss of income. According to Williams it was what really toppled Spain from its pedestal, which I can get because really its vast empire had always been Spain’s biggest asset and now just like that it was gone. Spain’s situation after losing her gem of an empire was bleak and contributed to the image of Africa really actually beginning at the Pyrenees.
This monument is one complicated piece of rock. It serves as the tomb of a dictator, an active basilica, the tombs of thousands from a gruesome civil war, a civil war memorial, and a fascist political site. I don’t really believe Franco built it as a remembrance I believe it was built for two reasons. The first reason was to serve as his final resting place because he couldn’t be buried in El Escorial he built his own basilica nearby. The second was to acknowledge he won the war and could do what he want, I see evidence in this by placing all the Republican bodies in the tombs but even more so in the tomb of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera. Franco’s enemy who was executed can’t even receive his own burial ground site, instead is forced to rest in his enemies giant monument. However no matter Franco’s intentions the fact remains that the monument is an important symbol of Spain history and in a plae that tends to not talk very much about the Civil War and Franco it’s a good reminder of what happened but also the power and arrogance the dictator possessed to build such a place.