chapter  9
29 Pages

– Spain and her Empire

The chapter is in four parts: first, a summary of political, social and economic changes in Spain from the commencement of the reconquista (as introduced in Chapter 4) to the end of the eighteenth century; second, a general account of urbanism in Spain of the period, with illustrated descriptions of major cities; third, the Spanish Latin American empire, introduced separately (pages 302-4); and fourth, a summary of settlement in the Spanish Philippines, and the Portuguese colonization of Brazil. I The settlement of those originally Spanish parts of the USA is described in Chapter 10. Special acknowledgement is made to J H Parry's The Spanish Seaborne Empire as a main reference source for this chapter. 2

Spain: the reconquista and Spanish unification The eighth-century conquest of Spain by Islam has been described in Chapter 4. Two prerequisites for the Christian reconquista of the country were first, need for separate northern kingdoms to gain strength and then to unite against the Muslim south, and second, for the Moors to be seen to be vulnerablc.f The latter encouragement existed from the early eleventh century; nevertheless, as Fisher cautions, 'so inveterate was the localism of Christian Spain that only the most powerful motive would have sufficed to overcome it ... and such a motive was wanting'. I t was thus no accident, he explains, 'that the great period of the Spanish reconquista, which begins with the taking of Toledo in 1085 and ends with the recapture of Murcia in 1266, corresponds with the epoch of the crusades'. 4

The three leading northern kingdoms were Leon, the oldest but which became only a secondary realm when united in 1230 with Castile, and Aragon, which had been created in 1035. Navarre was a fourth, less important realm, and there was also the County of Barcelona. Castile emerged as the dominant kingdom from origins as 'Old Castile' - in the region around Burgos. I ts leading families were to provide the majority of the ruling class of the unified Spain of the later fifteenth century, and it was their life-style and values which very largely determined the nature of the Latin American Empire. Immediately upon their unification, Castile and Leon commenced a new sustained offensive against the Moors, taking Cordoba in 1236 and then Seville in 1248. Aragon contributed with the regain of Valencia in 1238. The remaining Moors retreated into a mountain fastness centred on Granada where they were tolerated, in return for annual tribute,

1. See C R Boxer, The Portuguese Seaborne Empire, 1969/1977. See also C Gibson, Spain in America, 1966: 'the Portuguese marine attack of 1415 upon the fortified Moslem city of Cueta was ... the first act of statedirected imperialism of modern European history'. 2. The main general chapter reference is J H Parry, The Spanish Seaborne Empire, 1977, a volume in the History of Human Society series; the other most useful historical background references are J H Elliott, Imperial Spain 1469-1716, 1963/1983; G Pendle, A History of Latin America, 1976/1990; J B Lockhart and S B Schwartz, Early Latin America: A History of Colonial Spanish America and Brazil, 1983/1989. The general urban histories which have been found most useful are J E Hardoy, 'Two Thousand Years of Latin American Urbanisation', in J E Hardoy and C Tobar (eds) Urbanisation in Latin America, trans. F M Trueblood, 1975 (as an updated and expanded version of the article of the same name in La Urbanizacion en America Latina, 1969); various of the chapters, as individually referenced, included in R P Schaedel, J E Hardoy and N S Kinzer (eds) Urbanisation in the Americas from its Beginnings to the Present, 1978; and also chapters in G H Beyer (ed.) The Urban Explosion in Latin America, 1967. 3. See G Goodwin, Islamic Spain, 1991; R Collins, The Arab Conquest of Spain, 1989; see also Chapter 11 and Figure 4.92 which shows the main successive phases of the Christian reconquest.