Medieval Spain

Medieval Spain started with the arrival of the Visigoths in the late 5th century to the end of the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella in the 16th century.

However, its roots can be traced back to the medieval countries and kingdoms including Galicia, Leon, Castile, Aragon, Navarre, Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia, and Granada. These countries all contributed to what has been known as the Spanish language as well as the country itself.

Best Medieval Towns in Spain

Ronda, Peratallada and Albarracin are some of the Best Medieval Towns in Spain Read more about the Best Medieval Towns in Spain >>

Famous Spanish Knights

Knights such as El Cid (Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar) and Reverter de La Guardia were Famous Knights in Medieval Spain Read more about the Famous Spanish Knights >>

Medieval Spanish Kings

Medieval Spanish Kings

Medieval Spain Like France and England were the Power Houses of Medieval Times Read more about the Medieval Spanish Kings >>

Top 10 Castles in Spain

Some of the most Iconic castles and fortifications were built in Spain during the Moorish rule Read more about the Top 10 Castles in Spain >>

Medieval Spain and Feudalism

There was quite a debate whether feudalism existed in Spain or not. Historians believed that feudalism can be traced back to the height of the dark ages, especially when dealing with the history of Spain.

Medieval Vassals postion in the Feudal system

Feudal System

However, English scholars had the tendency of downplaying feudalism with its application to the early Middle Ages.

This was in contradiction to the more recent trends in Spanish historiography where feudalism was pushed back to the time of the Visigoth Kingdom, which is called protofeudalism.

French historians believed that protofeudalism did not exist in medieval Spain as sworn by the public instead of individuals.

Medieval Spain - Medieval Spanish army

Spain was a Medieval Superpower

Medieval Spain – Daily Life

Medieval Spain was a battlefield between Muslims and Christians. They fought for their lands and this fight lasted for 700 years.

This marked the peninsula as a military contended space thereby greatly affecting the lives of the people.

Conquest of Spain by the Moors

The Moorish conquest of Spain and Europe lasted around 700 years

Nonetheless, Christians continued to live in Muslim kingdoms and so did Muslims living in Christian areas, all in what was referred to as relative peace. However, violence eventually broke out.

Example of Moorish Warriors Clothing El Campello Moors

Every kingdom had distinct regulations about religion and their faith at varying levels. These regulations intended to prevent interaction between religions and prohibited them from partaking in their food.

Medieval Spain – People

The rest of the Iberian Peninsula was under Islamic rule and the population was predominantly Muslim. Arabic was their primary language. Muslim Spain was called “al-Andalus” in Arabic.

The Moors 1300 Spanish Moorish Period

Alongside the Christians and Muslims, there were also a significant number of Jews living in medieval Spain in both Christian and Muslim kingdoms and thereby, medieval Spain was known as the land of three religions (tres culturas).

How Rich and Powerful was Medieval Spain?

Medieval Spain was considered a battle for Christians who attempted to regain control from the Moors ever since they conquered Spain in 711 AD.

The Moorish influence was prevalent during the early years of medieval Spain and it was marked by fighting among different Muslim Kingdoms.

However, the Spanish people eventually and gradually conquered more and more of Spain back, starting with the northern part of the country close to France, and fighting little by little towards the southern part of the realm.

Reconquista *Re-conquest of Spain

Reconquista *Re-conquest of Spain

However, there was an organizing principle called Reconquista that prevailed in medieval Spain. This was a period of 780 years after the Islamic conquest in 711 until the fall of Granada in 1492.

Reconquista Soldiers in Granada Spain

Reconquista Soldiers in Granada Spain

This ended before the discovery of the New World that preceded the Spanish colonial empires. The territories which were once Christian and Visigothic were captured and re-Christianized.

Medieval Spain also had many networked cities. These cities served as cultural and administrative centers, where the bishops, kings, and government officials were situated.

Barcelona Spain

Barcelona Spain

These cities also had large markets and houses that expanded from a fortified stronghold across the peninsula. Medieval Spain was also known for its great cities such as Barcelona, Leon, Granada, etc.

Medieval Castles - Medieval Spanish Castles

Medieval Spanish Castle Castillo Javier

Medieval Spain *Castles

Spain has the most formidable castles in the world. Spain has more than 1000 Spanish castles recorded throughout history. The castles were built for various reasons. However, the primary reason was to stop the Arabs when they invaded Spain in 711.

castle g188fcbe89 640

The Spanish built so many of them in fact. These castles were mostly concentrated in the northern part which was where the Arabs advanced when they attacked.

When the Spanish military moved to reconquer the peninsula towards the south, they built additional strongholds to prevent the Arabs from reclaiming Spain. These castles were known as Castilla.

Medieval Spain *Kings & Queens

The Hispanic-Goth monarchy was the known political and legal monarch that succeeded Rome on the peninsula. This was the first effective independent Kingdom in all Spanish territories. The crown and leader of the monarch were elected and selected from a particular lineage.

Castillo Sadaba Famous Spanish Castle in Spain

However, the collapse of the Hispanic-Goth monarchy gave way to the Reconquest, where Christians in the northern part of the mainland founded their own kingdoms and monarchies.

They governed spaces and recovered the mainland from the Muslims with the objective of fully restoring power to the Spanish.

Medieval Spain - Medieval Spanish Knights

Medieval Spain Spanish Knight Santiago

Medieval Spain – Knights

Chivalry was already known in Spain when Frankish knights fought to protect the pilgrims at the tomb of apostle James of Campstella in Galicia during the 10th century.

This was introduced to the Spanish knights who fought during the 2nd century of the Reconquista.

Famous Spanish Knights El Cid

Chivalry among knights flourished to a great extent after. However, the chivalry of the Spanish knights cannot be totally associated with Military Orders of Knighthood as it was conflicted whether the knights were directed by royalty or by the Pope.

Medieval Spain *Music

Spain had several contrasting cultures that had evidently, one way or the other influenced its music, especially during the medieval period. This coexistence of a varied cultural landscape and musical influences in the peninsula resulted in a unique blend of music.

tradition g0df48a21e 640

The Visigoths developed their own kind of music which became the very first form of Medieval Spanish Music. The traditions of Spanish medieval music survived long after the fall of the monarchs and the Hispanic Rites in favor of the Roman Rites.

However, the kind of music which were developed along the parallel lines of the church, the people, and literature prevailed.

Medieval Spain – Food

The Arabs had quite an influence on Spanish cuisine. They had introduced new plants like lemons, pomegranates, and eggplants. They also coloured food during the medieval period.

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The Arabs also passed on other cooking techniques and these techniques were gradually spread to the northern regions.

Because of the Iberian Peninsula’s highly diverse geography, several distinct cultures existed in the region, and various unique cuisines also existed. Spain has been a great colony of Mediterranean cuisine.

Medieval Spain - Spanish Nobilty

Medieval Spain Spanish Nobility Moroni Don Gabriel de la Cueva

Medieval Spain – Clothing

Like a lot of things in the Middle Ages, clothing was dictated by the feudal system. The clothes worn in the medieval period reflected the status of the person wearing them.

The basis for clothing in medieval Spain was regular tunics and loose outer wraps, especially for Muslims. However, there may be considerable variations depending on region, ethnicity, and class. Spanish peasants wore tunics.

Soldiers wore scarlet capes which were similar to the ones Christians wore in the northern part of Spain.

Medieval Spain - Medieval Spanish Knights

Spanish Peasants and Slaves

Spain was the first Atlantic Empire that established sugar plantations in the Americas. When Spain began to colonize what was known as the Americas, it also aimed to exploit the New World’s valuable resources such as gold and silver.

A number of Spanish settlers found dominance in the lives of the peasant class who were primarily Indians and Africans.

Spain tried to create what they referred to as an inclusive society however, this society caused the downgrade of Indians and Africans into many inferior states and eventually down to slavery.

Spain forced the people to work in mines granting them only a few rights and very little autonomy. And right after the system had depleted the minerals on the island, Spain sent more explorers westward.

Medieval Spain Summary

After the last reigning Gothic king, Pelayo become one of the earliest Spanish heroes who reigned after the Muslim role. These refugees had lain the foundation for modern Spain.

The second kingdom of Navarre which was founded by Garcias Iniguez entered and subdued the realm. The Spanish people regained Spain back and conquered even more colonies after.

They began with the northern part of the peninsula, close to France moving towards the south.

Spain has gone through a lot since. After several years of fighting, Spain finally reunited under the rule of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella when they united forces and took back Grenada from the Moors in 1492, thereby ending the Reconquista.

Right after the Reconquista, the Muslims and Jews who lived in Spain were converted to Christians. Otherwise, they were expelled from the country.

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