In the land between Europe and Africa, between the calmness of the middle sea and the stormy ocean, was founded the Kingdom of Spain. Reclaiming their land from the infidel invaders, they forged a strong kingdom “that never again would be overrun. Steadfast in religion, humble before God, they could be proud before lesser men. Their great ships voyaged far, seeking out new lands and trade, such that the wealth of the King of Spain became rightly legendary.
|1050 – 1150
1150 – 1300
The name El-Cid sums up much of the special character of medieval Spanish warfare. It comes from the Arabic Al sayyid, meaning master or chieftain, and seems to have been given to Rodrigo de Vivar by his Muslim foes. Rodrigo came from the lesser nobility of Castile. He was not one of the great magnates, and his successes were sometimes distasteful to such barons. The popular view sees El Cid as a Christian champion whose early victories gave leadership of Spain to Castile rather than Leon, but who was then exiled to Aragon through the machinations of his rivals. El Cid was supposedly obsessed with the idea of a unified Spain and the defeat of the ‘Moors’, while his capture and government of Muslim Valencia is portrayed as an example of cultural harmony under Christian leadership. He is also believed to have halted the Almoravid tide, which threatened to engulf Spain.
The Moors conquered the entire Spanish peninsula except for Asturias and the Basque country between AD 711 and 72. Asturias became the focus of the Christian reconquest. The rulers of Asturias, who were descended from the semi legendary Pelayo, conquered large territories in NW Spain and consolidated them with Asturias as the kingdom of León. Navarre, under a branch of the Asturian line, reached its greatest prominence under Sancho III (1000–1035), who also controlled Aragón and Castile. His state split at his death into three kingdoms: Navarre, which soon lost its importance; Aragón, which united (1137) with Barcelona and Castile, which was eventually united with León (1230) under Ferdinand III and with Aragón (1479) under Isabella I and Ferdinand V. This long process of unification was accomplished by marriage and inheritance as well as by warfare among the Christian kings; what began as a matter of survival in Asturias became a crusade to rid Spain of the Muslims and an imperial mission to reconstruct a united monarchy in Spain.