Medieval Spain comprised of a number of Christian kingdoms at one hand and many independent Muslim dominions on the other hand. The Spanish kingdoms were situated to the north of Spain while the Muslim territories were located along the Iberian Peninsula to the south.
Since the Muslim conquest of the south in the 7th century, Spanish kingdoms had launched a campaign to regain lands from the Muslims. This greatly influenced the development of the Christian kingdoms in Spain and their consequent evolution.
In the 11th century, Spain had many kings ruling different kingdoms. One of the most notable of these was Ferdinand I who assumed the throne of the kingdom of Leon in 1037. Under his reign, the kingdoms of Leon and Castile became a single realm. He consequently had himself crowned the Emperor of Spain in 1056.
During his reign, he waged wars against many Muslim territories such as Zaragoza, Toledo, Badajoz and Seville. Most of these campaigns led to the Muslim taifas paying tribute Ferdinand I. He also conquered significant territories back from Muslim rule, including modern-day region of Portugal and the historically significant city of Valencia. He died in 1065.
Alfonso was the son of Ferdinand I who was originally allotted the kingdom of Leon as inheritance from his father in 1065. He would then go on to wage war against his brothers, attempting to expand his sphere of influence of power. Although briefly ousted, he returned after one of his brothers died and the power of other had diminished.
This made him the uncontested ruler of Leon, Castile and Galicia by 1077 and he then took the title of Emperor of Spain, following his father’s example. Alfonso VI was regarded as a fierce warrior and a chivalrous noblemen. He increased the influence of Papacy in Spain and forged ties with different realms to his East in Europe. He died in 1109.
Alfonso VII became the king of Leon, Castile and Galicia in 1126 and assumed the title of “Emperor of All Spain”. During his reign, the fighting with the Muslims to the south took on a more religious fervour as Alfonso VII became patron to different Church institutions within his realm.
He led many campaigns against the Moors to the south of his territories. He ruled over both Muslim and Christian populations and was considered an ardent patron of arts and culture. During his reign, culture and arts flourished in the Spanish court. He died in 1157.
Ferdinand III of Castile
Ferdinand III, the ruler of Castile, Leon and Galicia by 1230, was one of the most significant figures that gave the Reconquista its decisive push in southern Spain. It was during his reign that Leon and Castile permanently became a single entity. His reign marked with the dwindling power of the Almohads in southern Spain. He was able to exploit this by launching numerous campaigns towards the south and captured most of the important Moorish territories, including the heartland of Muslim Spain, the city of Cordoba. He died in 1252.