Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the recovery by the peoples of the Iberian Peninsula from the eighth through the 15th century of the territories that had been seized by the Arabs (more precisely, by Arabs and Berbers, subsequently commonly known as Moors).

The Reconquest began with the battle of Covadonga in 718. Independent states were established on the reconquered lands. (It was in the best interests of the Reconquest that the states be centralized and unified.) The disintegration of the caliphate of Córdoba in 1031 made it easier for the Spanish states to liberate the lands in the southern part of the peninsula. In 1085 the Castilians captured Toledo. The incursion into the Iberian Peninsula by the Almoravids in the late 11th century and the Almo-hads in the mid-12th century merely delayed the Reconquest somewhat. On July 16, 1212, the united forces of Castile, Aragón, and Navarre gained a decisive victory over the Almohads at Las Navas de Tolosa. In 1236 the Castilians captured Córdoba, and in 1248, Seville. From 1229 to 1235, Aragón reconquered the Balearic Islands, and in 1238, Valencia; in 1249–50 the Portuguese liberated the Algarve (present-day southern Portugal). By the mid-13th century only the emirate of Granada remained in the hands of the Arabs, and it fell in 1492.

To a considerable extent the Reconquest determined the unique character of the economic and political development of the states of the Iberian Peninsula. The Reconquest was not only a series of military campaigns; it was also a wide-scale colonization—the settlement and economic development of lands that had been devastated by war. The peasants constituted the principal moving force. During the initial period the peasants who settled on the liberated lands for the most part gained their personal freedom. The cities also took part in the Reconquest. The constant threat of Arab raids stimulated the formation of peasant communes (behetrías) and urban communes.

The successful course of the Reconquest facilitated the strengthening of the royal power in the newly formed states. Gradually the kings took into their own hands (with the participation of the secular and ecclesiastical feudal lords) the distribution of the reconquered lands. Since they were concerned with the economic development of the land and the continuation of the struggle against the Arabs, the kings were compelled to grant the new populated areas, along with the urban and rural communes, a number of rights and privileges, including self-government. From the 11th through 13th centuries the urban and rural communes flourished; in León and Castile the peasantry remained personally free at this time.

As the Moors were pushed back into the southern part of the peninsula, the pressure of the feudal lords on the peasants increased, and in a number of states on the peninsula (but not in León and Castile) the peasants had lost their personal freedom by the 13th century. Linked with the Reconquest, which was waged under the banner of a religious struggle against the “infidels,” was the growth of the Catholic Church’s ideological influence and economic power in Spain and Portugal. Religious orders of knights, such as the orders of Calatrava, Alicántara, and Aviz, became the largest owners of latifundia.

The Reconquest also determined other peculiarities of feudalism on the Iberian Peninsula, such as the great number of people in the stratum of petty knighthood (whose ranks were open even to peasants and burghers, if they were wealthy enough to provide equipage for a horse), as well as the comparatively early strengthening of the royal power, which was dictated by the need to consolidate forces in the struggle against the foreign enemy. The Reconquest also contributed to the formation of the Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician, and Portuguese nationalities, as well as their culture and character.

The Reconquest has been vividly portrayed in Spanish literature, such as in the heroic epic of the Cid and the romancero. Castile’s special role in the Reconquest was reflected in the formation of the national Spanish language, based on the Castilian dialect, which had become widespread in the liberated territories.


Arskii, I. V. “Rekonkista i kolonizatsiia ν istorii srednevekovoi Katalonii.” In the collection Kul’tura Ispanii. [Moscow] 1940.
Friazinov, S. V. “Problema rekonkisty, kak kolonizatsionnogo dvizhe-niia, ν osveshchenii ispanskikh uchenykh.” Uch. zap. Gor’kovskogo gos. un-ta.: Ser. istoriko-filologich., 1959, issue 46.
La Reconquista española y la repoblación del país. Zaragoza, 1951.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
I have it on good authority that General MacArthur will soon have the men and material he needs for the reconquest of our homeland.
Over the course of the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the heart of what is known as the Spanish Reconquest, thousands of Muslim soldiers from North Africa entered the service of the Christian Crown of Aragon.
Art of Estrangement: Redefining Jews in Reconquest Spain.
It is also set in Mallorca, but in the 13th century, during the Christian reconquest of the island from the Moors.
The final stage of Operation Reconquest begins today.
In The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Sudan, Winston Churchill presented the British perspective on the conflict between British/Egyptian forces and the Sudanese forces of the Sudanese Mahdist Revolt of the late 19th century, largely focusing, as one might expect, on the agency of the British officers involved in the fighting.
"Since the weekend and the reconquest of Gao and Timbuktu along the curve of the Niger river, we had the upper hand and had to keep it," said a senior French officer, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Now I have the feeling we are engaged in a general reconquest of Mali, which is immense," former foreign minister Alain Juppe said on Monday, calling for France's position to be "clarified." Hollande's response has been both categoric and vague.
The reconquest of the north has already begun," said Ivory Coast President and Chairman of Ecowas, Alassane Ouattara.
FEAST DAY ST LUKE THE EVANGELIST 1016: Danish king Knut (Canute) defeated Saxon king Edmund II "Ironside" at the Battle of Assandun (Ashingdon), securing the Danish reconquest of England.
The real promoters of Jackson's conquest (or reconquest) of the presidency in 1828 were men such as U.S.
They continued to write in Arabic for centuries after the reconquest of Alfonso VIM(1085).