What was the Reconquista?

The Reconquista was a long campaign during which the Christians to the north of the Iberian Peninsula gradually reclaimed the territory they had lost to the Moors in the 8th century. The Moors began their conquest of Iberian in 711 and by the turn of the century, had most of the Iberian Peninsula under their control.

However, they couldn’t take the territories to the northwest of Iberia and their advance was checked in the northeast by the Franks. In time, the Christian populations in northern Iberia bordering Moorish territories formed independent principalities of their own which evolved into kingdoms over time.

These kingdoms would then slowly advance southwards, retaking the Moorish territories and making them a part of Christendom.

Map giving Timeline of the reconquista

The first recorded instance of successful resistance to the Moorish conquest of Iberia was the Asturian rebellion led by Pelagius.

Beginning of Reconquista

Although the “Reconquista” was not a concerted campaign launched by collective Christian forces, the term has been historically used to denote the overall campaign meant to retake the Moorish territories. The first recorded instance of successful resistance to the Moorish conquest of Iberia was the Asturian rebellion led by Pelagius.

Great Ruler Pelagius During the Reconquista - Pelagius

Ruler Pelagius (685–737) defeated the Moorish armies in the Battle of Covadonga which took place in 722

Pelagius rebelled against the Moorish control of the northern region of Asturias. The Moors sent a sizable army to suppress the rebellion but Pelagius was able to rout this army with the help of a handful of followers in the 722 Battle of Covadonga. This battle is historically regarded as the beginning of the Reconquista and led to the establishment of the independent Kingdom of Asturias in northern Iberia.

Battle of Tours and Poitiers

The Battle of Tours

This was soon followed by the 732 Battle of Poitiers in which the Frankish military commander, Charles Martel, decisively defeated a large Moorish army in northeast Iberia. This victory definitely halted the advance of Moorish forces into Frankish territories and marked the maximum extent of Moorish Iberia.

Charles Martel

Charles Martel

Reconquista Fast Facts

  • The Reconquista – European Christian forces fought to reclaim European lands from the Muslim Moors
  • Northern regions of Spain & Europe were unconquered and were able to fight back against the Muslims
  • Before the Muslim invasion of Spain, the Spanish were much lighter-skinned and many had blonde hair
  • In the first major battle of the Reconquest, Muslim armies were defeated in the battle of Toledo in 1212
  • Isabella the Queen of Castille helped to liberate Spain from Moorish occupation

Christian Kingdoms in Northern Iberia

Throughout the Reconquista period which lasted from the early 8th century to the late 15th century, the Christian kingdoms in northern Iberia were the frontline entities in the Reconquista effort. Many of these kingdoms were originally independent principalities that later grew into kingdoms. Over time, these kingdoms would splinter, merge and re-merge with each other.

The most notable of these were the kingdoms of Castile, Aragorn, Navarre, Leon, Asturias, and Portugal. As the Moorish authority in regions bordering these kingdoms diminished, these kingdoms slowly advanced southwards, sometimes at the expense of each other.

Progress and Conclusion of Reconquista

By the 11th century, Cordoba Caliphate had collapsed and civil warfare raged in Moorish Iberia. Christian kingdoms to the North took advantage of the situation and were able to reclaim a sizable portion of the northern Moorish territories. The stability of the Moorish territories declined steadily in the subsequent centuries so that Christian kingdoms steadily advanced southwards.

By the 13th century, the Emirate of Granada in southern Iberia was the only Moorish territory in the region. The Christian kingdoms repopulated the regions they regained with Christian populations, effectively countering the demographic effects of the centuries-long Moorish rule.

Reconquista Period

In 1492, the Catholic monarchs of Spain were able to effectively subdue the last stronghold of Moors in Granada. The fall of Granada marked the effective end of Moorish rule and the completion of Reconquista which resulted in the reclaiming of the entire Iberian region from the hands of the Moors.

Reconquista Fast Facts

  • In 722 the Moorish armies invaded Gothic France after navigating the Pyrenees mountains
  • In 732 The Moors had established a strong base in Spain to launch a major attack on Europe
  • Under the leadership of Abd ArRahman, the Moorish armies launched a massive attack in 732
  • The Frankish and Gothic regions of France were under a massive Muslim attack around 732
  • Charles Mantel helped to stop the Moorish takeover of Europe in the Famous Battle of Tours