History of Spain in 5 minutes

A walk through the history of Spain

In this page we will try to summarize the history of Spain in 5 minutes, it is not an easy task but at the end, you will be impressed.

So…let’s just start!

From the origins until the Spanish Reconquest

Due to its complicated orography, Spain has been since ancient times a mix of different cultures (Iberians, Turdetans, Celts, Phoenician, Greeks…) and this culminates with the arrival of the Romans, the first ones to give political unit with the creation of the “Hispania Romana”.

The Roman influence lasted several centuries, until the dismemberment of the Empire caused by the Barbarian invasion that destroyed all the lands; after that Visigoths would take control of the Peninsula.  

Even though, the Visigoths wouldn’t remain that much in Spain. The decline of the Gothic monarchy allowed the growth of a new civilization for the North of Africa: Al-Andalus. 

Muslims raised one of the most important state in Europe which would reach its peak with the Caliphate of Cordoba. 

Nevertheless, the Caliphate entered in a decline that had as a result the creation of various Taifas kingdoms, small Muslim kingdoms that fought each other for the political, military and artistic hegemony. 

During these fights, the Christian kingdoms of the North of Spain started to organize themselves in order to conquer Spain again, “La Reconquista” (the Reconquest). These fights would finish in 1492 with the conquest of Granada and the discovery of America thanks to Christopher Columbus.  

After the Discovery of the “New World”

Thanks to the discovery of the New World, Spain became an important Empire counting on a territory that went far beyond the Iberian lands. Charles I would be mentioned as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and he managed to expand his territories all over Europe. 

However, this expansionist politics needed to rely on a strong army, the famous “Tercios españoles” (Spanish thirds), which with the time caused debts to the Crown that would end up more and more reduced.  

The successor of Charles I would be his son Philip II, who continued the politic of his father. During this period, Spain had many open borders; Philip II fought against the Dutch, the English, the Turks and even if the hegemony was preserved, the gold and the silver, needed to pay these campaigns, started to diminish gradually.  

The following Austrian kings were not so interested in governing; for this reason,they left the regency of power to their nobles. The most famous among them was the Count Duque de Olivares, who tried to recover the importance of the Empire with “the Thirty Years’ War”.

During this War even if the Spanish thirds showed a great courage, the French army prevailed giving the victory to France, which imposed its hegemony in Europe. 

The Spanish society and the Enlightenment

During the XVIII century, started the “War of Succession”. Charles II died without an heir and the Crown went to France, which would choose a Bourbon for the Spanish throne. The Bourbons tried to introduce in Spain the enlightened ideas, famous at that time all around Europe.   

Although there would be some changes with the Enlightenment, the Spanish society was characterized by old customs where religion and nobility had greater power compared with the other European countries. 

Neither Napoleon with his liberal ideas, nor the “Cortes de Cadiz” with the Constitution of the 1812 were able to change the Old Regime; eben King Ferdinand VII persecuted everyone who had ideas of changing inside the system.

The XIX century

The XIX century was the century of the crisis of the Spanish Empire that started to lose its colonies while suffering various internal insurrections. Nevertheless, at the end of the century, there would be an important politician who tried to change the Spanish panorama: Canovas del Castillo. He understood the importance of a new political system in an attempt to create an entrepreneurial society and to modernize the national industry. 

Cánovas del Castillo followed the English political model of the bipartisanism with the creation of two different parties that would take turns in power. However, these parties didn’t know how to solve the internal problems of the country and the workers began to organize themselves into syndicats, starting the first strikes. A lot of them were involved in socialist, communist and anarchist parties.   

Franco and the Spanish Civil War

The Spanish society became so radicalised that the country was ungovernable and this lead to the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) where at the end the national side led by Francisco Franco took the power.

When “El Caudillo” took the power, people believed that he would be a transitional figure in order to help with the national reconciliation and a “return to normality”. But actually, it would be a dictatorship of almost 40 years which would end after Franco’s death in 1975. 

After the dictatorship of Franco until today

After the dictatorship of Franco, there would be a great change in the society; the new generations wanted to see a new world, new ideas and wanted to be closer to Europe. 

King Juan Carlos I succeeded Franco and was able to get rid of Francoism in order to leaving the power to the people, safeguarding the transition to democracy. 

The politicians were able to work together in order make Spain a democratic country and although some problems like corruption, crisis or terrorism, the Spanish have managed to maintain the democracy until today. 

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