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See also: Rulers of Spain since 1474 (table)Rulers of Spain since 1474
(including dates of reign)

Union of Castile and Aragón
Isabella I (of Castile), ruled jointly with Ferdinand II (of Aragón), 1474–1504
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Span. España (āspä`nyä), officially Kingdom of Spain, constitutional monarchy (2015 est. pop. 46,398,000), 194,884 sq mi (504,750 sq km), including the Balearic and Canary islands, SW Europe. It consists of the Spanish mainland (190,190 sq mi/492,592 sq km), which occupies the major part of the Iberian Peninsula; of the Balearic IslandsBalearic Islands
, Span. Baleares , archipelago, off Spain, in the W Mediterranean, an autonomous community coextensive with Baleares prov. (2011 pop. 1,100,503), 1,927 sq mi (4,992 sq km), Spain. Palma is the capital. The chief islands are Majorca, Minorca, and Ibiza.
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 in the Mediterranean Sea; and of the Canary IslandsCanary Islands,
Span. Islas Canarias, group of seven islands (2011 pop. 2,082,655), 2,875 sq mi (7,445 sq km), autonomous community of Spain, in the Atlantic Ocean off Western Sahara. They constitute two provinces of Spain. Santa Cruz de Tenerife (2011 pop.
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 in the Atlantic Ocean.

Continental Spain extends from the Pyrenees, which separate it from France, and from the Bay of Biscay, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, southward to the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates it from Africa. (GibraltarGibraltar
, British overseas territory (2015 est. pop. 34,000), 2.5 sq mi (6.5 sq km), on a narrow, rocky peninsula extending into the Mediterranean Sea from SW Spain. Most of the peninsula is occupied by the Rock of Gibraltar (Lat.
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 itself is a British possession, although Spain has long claimed sovereignty over it.) The eastern and southeastern coast of Spain, from the French border to the Strait of Gibraltar, is washed by the Mediterranean. In the west, Spain borders on the Atlantic Ocean both north and south of its frontier with Portugal. The small republic of Andorra is wedged between France and Spain in the Pyrenees. The five enclaves in Morocco are the only remnants of Spain's former empire. Two of the enclaves, CeutaCeuta
, autonomous city (2011 pop. 83,517), c.7 sq mi (19 sq km), NW Africa, a possession of Spain, on the Strait of Gibraltar. An enclave in Morocco, Ceuta is administered directly by the Spanish government.
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 and MelillaMelilla
, autonomous city (2011 pop. 81,323), 5 sq mi (13 sq km), Spanish possession on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco, NW Africa. Administered directly by the Spanish government, it is a free port, and the principal industry is fishing.
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, are Spanish municipalities. Morocco disputes Spain's possession of the enclaves and in 2002 briefly occupied an islet off Ceuta, sparking a bloodless confrontation with Spain. MadridMadrid
, city (1990 pop. 3,120,732), capital of Spain and of the autonomous community and prov. of Madrid, central Spain, on the Manzanares River. The newest of the great Spanish cities, it lacks the traditions of the ancient Castilian and Andalusian towns.
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 is the nation's capital and largest city.


Administratively, Spain is divided into 17 autonomous communities based on regional geography and history and in large part corresponding to the old Christian and Moorish kingdoms of Spain. The communities are subdivided into 50 provinces that predate the establishment of regional autonomy beginning in the late 1970s. The chief cities, other than Madrid, are BurgosBurgos
, city (1990 pop. 163,507), capital of Burgos prov., N Spain, in Castile and Léon, on a mountainous plateau c.2,800 ft (850 m) above sea level, overlooking the Arlanzón River. Normally it has among the coldest winters of any Spanish city.
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, ValladolidValladolid
, city (1990 pop. 333,680), capital of Valladolid prov. and the administrative center of Castile and León, N central Spain, at the confluence of the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers and on the Canal de Castilla.
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, LeónLeón,
city (1990 pop. 137,758), capital of León prov., NW Spain, in Castile and León, at the foot of the Cantabrian Mts. and at the confluence of the Bernesga and Torio rivers. It is an agricultural and commercial center.
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, ZamoraZamora
, city (1990 pop. 63,436), capital of Zamora prov., NW Spain, in Castile and León, on the Duero River. It is a communications and agricultural marketing and processing center.
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, and SalamancaSalamanca,
city (1990 pop. 162,037), capital of Salamanca prov., W central Spain, in Castile and León, on the Tormes River, c.2,600 ft (790 m) above sea level. Food-processing and tourism are its most important industries.
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 in Castile and León; ToledoToledo,
city (1990 pop. 60,671), capital of Toledo prov. and of Castile–La Mancha, central Spain, on a granite hill surrounded on three sides by a gorge of the Tagus River. Historically and culturally it is one of the most important cities of Spain.
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 in Castile–La Mancha; and BadajozBadajoz
, city (1990 pop. 126,781), capital of Badajoz prov., SW Spain, in Extremadura, on the Guadiana River. Situated in an agricultural region, food processing is the main industry. Strategically located near the border of Portugal, it has an active trade with that country.
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 in Extremadura.

The center of Spain forms a vast plateau (Span. Meseta Central) extending from the Cantabrian Mts. in the north to the Sierra Morena in the south and from the Portuguese border in the west to the low ranges that separate the plateau from the Mediterranean coast in the east. It is traversed from west to east by mountain chains—notably the Sierra de Guadarrama—and the valleys of the Douro (Duero), the Tagus, and Guadiana rivers. Except for some fertile valleys, the central plateau is arid and thinly populated; wheat growing, viniculture, and sheep raising are the principal rural activities. The plateau comprises the autonomous communities of Castile and LeónCastile and León
, autonomous community (2011 pop. 2,540,188), 36,381 sq mi (94,227 sq km), N central Spain, encompassing the provinces of Ávila, Burgos, León, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid, and Zamora.
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, Castile–La ManchaCastile–La Mancha
, autonomous community (2011 pop. 2,106,331), 30,680 sq mi (79,462 sq km), central Spain, encompassing the provinces of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Guadalajara, and Toledo. It was established as an autonomous community in 1982.
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, and MadridMadrid
, autonomous community and coextensive prov., (2011 pop. 6,421,874), 3,099 sq mi (8,027 sq km), central Spain. Madrid, the capital of Spain, is also its capital and most important city.
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, which form the heart of Spain, and ExtremaduraExtremadura
, autonomous community (2011 pop. 1,104,499), 16,075 sq mi (41,634 sq km), W central Spain, on the border with Portugal. It was established as an autonomous community in 1983 by the statute of autonomy.
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, which is in the west.

To the northeast of the central plateau is the broad valley of the Ebro, which traverses AragónAragón
, autonomous community (2011 pop. 1,344,509), 18,425 sq mi (47,720 sq km), and former kingdom, NE Spain, bordered on the N by France. Land and People
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 and flows into the Mediterranean. Aragón has ZaragozaZaragoza
or Saragossa
, city (1990 pop. 592,686), capital of Zaragoza prov. and leading city of Aragón, NE Spain, on the Ebro River. An important commercial and communications center, it is situated in a fertile, irrigated agricultural region.
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 as its chief city; it is historically and geographically connected with CataloniaCatalonia
, Catalan Catalunya, Span. Cataluña, autonomous community (2011 pop. 7,519,843), 12,390 sq mi (32,090 sq km), NE Spain, stretching from the Pyrenees at the French border southward along the Mediterranean Sea.
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, which occupies the Mediterranean coast from the French border to the mouth of the Ebro. BarcelonaBarcelona
, city (1990 pop. 4,738,354), capital of Barcelona prov. and of Catalonia, NE Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea. Economy

Situated on a plain between the Llobregat and Besós rivers and lying between mountains and the sea, Barcelona is the second
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, the chief Catalonian city, is the largest port and the second largest city of Spain.

The W Pyrenees and the northern coast, paralleled by the Cantabrian Mts., are occupied by NavarreNavarre
, Span. Navarra , autonomous community and province (2011 pop. 640,129), 4,012 sq mi (10,391 sq km), N Spain, bordering on France, between the W Pyrenees and the Ebro River. Pamplona is the capital.
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, with the city of PamplonaPamplona
, city (1990 pop. 183,525), capital of Navarre, N Spain, on the Arga River. An older spelling is Pampeluna. It is an important communications, agricultural, and industrial center, manufacturing crafts, paper, and chemicals. The Univ. of Navarre (1952) is there.
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; the Basque CountryBasque Country
, Basque Euzkadi, Span. País Vasco, autonomous community (2011 pop. 2,185,393), 2,793 sq mi (7,233 sq km), N Spain, S of the Bay of Biscay and bordering on France in the northeast, comprising the provinces of Araba/Álava, Gipuzkoa
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, with the ports of BilbaoBilbao
, city (1990 pop. 383,798), capital of Bizkaia (Vizcaya) prov., N Spain, in the Basque Country, on both banks of the Nervión River, near the Bay of Biscay. A leading Spanish port and commercial center since the 19th cent.
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 and San SebastiánSan Sebastián
, Basque Donostia, city (1990 pop. 183,944), capital of Gipuzkoa (Guipúzcoa) prov., N Spain, on the Bay of Biscay at the mouth of the Urumea River, in the Basque Country near the French frontier. Picturesquely situated at the foot of Mt.
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; CantabriaCantabria
, autonomous community and coextensive prov., (2011 pop. 592,542), 2,057 sq mi (5,328 sq km), N Spain, on Santander Bay and the Bay of Biscay. It is bordered by Asturias (W), Castile and Lén (S), and the Basque Provinces (E).The capital is Santander.
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, with SantanderSantander,
city (1990 pop. 194,221), capital of the autonomous region and coextensive prov. of Cantabria, N Spain, on Santander Bay and the Bay of Biscay. It is a seaport, fishing center, and popular resort. On the Magdalena Peninsula is a former royal summer palace.
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; and AsturiasAsturias
, autonomous community and coextensive prov. (2011 pop. 1,075,183), 4,093 sq mi (10,602 sq km), and former kingdom, NW Spain, S of the Bay of Biscay and E of Galicia. It was established as an autonomous community in 1981.
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, with OviedoOviedo
, city (1990 pop. 194,637), capital of Asturias and of the coextensive Oviedo prov., NW Spain, near the mining district of the Cantabrian Mts. Oviedo has long been one of the most important industrial centers of Spain; ordnance, firearms, gunpowder, textiles, food, and
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 and the port of GijónGijón
, city (1990 pop. 264,948), Oviedo prov., N Spain, in Asturias, on the Bay of Biscay. This major seaport, the largest city in Asturias, is an industrial and commercial center. It has steel, iron, chemical, petroleum, glass, and food and tobacco industries.
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. The extreme northwestern section, occupied by GaliciaGalicia
, autonomous community (2011 pop. 2,772,928), 11,419 sq mi (29,575 sq km), NW Spain, on the Atlantic Ocean, S of the Bay of Biscay and N of Portugal. Comprised of the provinces of A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense, and Pontevedra, the region gained autonomy in 1981, when it
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, has a deeply indented coast and the excellent ports of A CoruñaA Coruña
, formerly La Coruña
, city (1990 pop. 256,579), capital of A Coruña prov., NW Spain, in Galicia. It is a busy Atlantic port, a distribution center for the surrounding farm area, and a summer resort spot.
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, FerrolFerrol
, city (1990 pop. 86,272), A Coruña prov., NW Spain, in Galicia. The naval base on the Atlantic was built in the 18th cent. and is one of the most important in Spain. Shipbuilding and ironworks are the main industries.
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, and VigoVigo
, city (1990 pop. 279,986), Pontevedra prov., NW Spain, in Galicia, on an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean. A naval base and one of the most active ports of Spain, it has the country's most important fishing fleet.
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Along the eastern coast, S of Catalonia, extend the autonomous communities of ValenciaValencia
, autonomous community (2011 pop. 5,009,931), 8,980 sq mi (23,257 sq km), and former kingdom, E Spain, on the Mediterranean. It now comprises the provinces of Alicante/Alacant, Castellón/Castelló, and Valencia/València.
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 and MurciaMurcia
, autonomous community and former Moorish kingdom (2011 pop. 1,462,128), 4,368 sq mi (11,314 sq km), SE Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the province of Murcia. It became an autonomous community in 1982.
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, named after their chief cities. The Balearic Islands, with PalmaPalma
or Palma de Mallorca
, city (1990 pop. 325,120), capital of Majorca island and of Baleares prov., Spain, on the Bay of Palma. It is the chief port and commercial center of the Balearic Islands.
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 as their capital, are off the coast of Valencia. The southernmost part of Spain, S of the Sierra MorenaSierra Morena
, mountain range, SW Spain, extending c.375 mi (600 km) eastward along the southern edge of the Meseta (central plateau) from the Portuguese border to the Sierra de Alcaraz. Its highest peak is Bañuelo (c.4,340 ft/1,320 m).
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, is AndalusiaAndalusia
, Span. Andalucía , autonomous community (2011 pop. 8,371,270), 33,821 sq mi (87,596 sq km), S Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar, and the Atlantic Ocean.
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; it is crossed by the fertile Guadalquivir valley. The chief cities of Andalusia are SevilleSeville
, Span. Sevilla, city (1990 pop. 678,218), capital of Seville prov. and leading city of Andalusia, SW Spain, on the Guadalquivir River. Connected with the Atlantic by the river and by a canal accessible to oceangoing vessels, Seville is a major port as well as an
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, CórdobaCórdoba
or Cordova
, city (1990 pop. 307,275), capital of Córdoba prov., S Spain, in Andalusia, on the Guadalquivir River. Modern industries in the city include brewing, distilling, textile manufacturing, metallurgy, and tourism.
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, and GranadaGranada,
city (1990 pop. 268,674), capital of Granada prov., S Spain, in Andalusia, at the confluence of the Darro and Genil rivers. Formerly (17th cent.) a silk center, Granada is now a trade and processing point for an agricultural area that is also rich in minerals.
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, the Mediterranean port of MálagaMálaga
, city (1990 pop. 560,495), capital of Málaga prov., S Spain, in Andalusia, on the Guadalmedina River and the Costa del Sol. Picturesquely situated on the Bay of Málaga, it is one of the best Spanish Mediterranean ports.
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, and the Atlantic port of CádizCádiz
, city (1990 pop. 156,903), capital of Cádiz prov., SW Spain, in Andalusia, on the Bay of Cádiz. Picturesquely situated on a promontory (joined to the Isla de León, just off the mainland), it is today chiefly a port exporting wines and other
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. The Sierra NevadaSierra Nevada
, chief mountain range of S Spain, in Granada prov., running from east to west for c.60 mi (100 km), parallel to the Mediterranean Sea. The range's highest peak is Mulhacén (11,411 ft/3,478 m).
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, rising from the Mediterranean coast, has the highest peak (Mulhacén, 11,411 ft/3,478 m) in continental Spain. Spanish summers are often very hot, but winters vary sharply, being mild in coastal areas and colder inland.


The Spanish people display great regional diversity. Separatist tendencies remain particularly strong among the Catalans and the Basques. Castilian is the standard Spanish language, but Catalan (akin to Provençal), Galician (akin to Portuguese), and Basque, unrelated to any other language, are still spoken and written extensively in their respective districts. Roman Catholicism was the official religion until 1978, but its role in Spanish public and private life has declined. There is a sizable Muslim minority (about 1 million), largely consisting of North African immigrants.


Long a largely agricultural country, Spain produces large crops of wheat, barley, vegetables, tomatoes, olives, sugar beets, citrus fruit, grapes, and cork. Spain is the world's largest producer of olive oil and Europe's largest producer of lemons, oranges, and strawberries. The best-known wine regions are those of Rioja (see Rioja, LaRioja
, autonomous region, 1,690 sq mi (4,378 sq km), N Spain, coextensive with La Rioja prov. A fertile region, it is famous for its fine wines, which are produced chiefly between Logroño and Haro in the upper Ebro Valley.
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), in the upper Ebro valley, and of MálagaMálaga
, city (1990 pop. 560,495), capital of Málaga prov., S Spain, in Andalusia, on the Guadalmedina River and the Costa del Sol. Picturesquely situated on the Bay of Málaga, it is one of the best Spanish Mediterranean ports.
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 and Jerez de la FronteraJerez de la Frontera
, city (1990 pop. 186,812), Cádiz prov., SW Spain, in Andalusia. Jerez is an important commercial center noted for its sherry and brandy. Its horses of mixed Spanish, Arab, and English blood are world famous.
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, in Andalusia. Cattle, pigs, and poultry are raised. Agriculture is handicapped in many places by lack of mechanization, by insufficient irrigation, and by soil exhaustion and erosion.

The major industries produce textiles and apparel, foods and beverages, metals and metal products, chemicals, ships, automobiles, machine tools, clay and refractory products, footwear, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment. Industries are concentrated chiefly in the Madrid region; in Valladolid; in Catalonia, which has large textile, automotive parts, and electronics manufactures; in Valencia; and in Asturias and the Basque Country, where the rich mineral resources of the Cantabrian Mts. (iron, coal, and zinc) have been exploited, though coal and iron mining have declined. Copper is mined extensively at Río TintoRío Tinto,
, or Minas de Ríotinto
, town (1990 pop. 5,934), Huelva prov., SW Spain, in the Sierra Morena Mts., in Andalusia. It is the center of the Río Tinto mining region, named for the river which crosses it.
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; other mineral resources include lead, uranium, silver, tin, and mercury. Petroleum is found near Burgos. Fishing, notably for sardines, tuna, cod, and anchovies, is an important source of livelihood, especially on the Atlantic coast, and fish canning is a major industry. Tourism is Spain's greatest source of income.

Most Spanish railroads, unlike those of the rest of Western Europe, use broad-gauged tracks, although some regional systems consist of narrow-gauge railways. In 1992 a high-speed standard-gauge railway connecting Madrid and Seville began operation.

Spain has made great economic progress in recent decades, but it still lags behind most of Western Europe. Though industry has grown considerably since the 1950s, the country still has a large trade imbalance. Spain's greatest trade is with France, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain. Among the leading exports are machinery; motor vehicles; fruit, wine, and other food products; and pharmaceuticals. Major imports include machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, and medical instruments.


Spain is a constitutional monarchy governed under the constitution of 1978 as amended. The hereditary monarch, who is the head of state, may ratify laws, dissolve the legislature, and propose candidates for the office of prime minister; he is also head of the armed forces. The prime minister (presidente) is the head of government. The king proposes the prime minister, who must be approved by the legislature. Spain has a bicameral legislature, the Cortes (Las Cortes Generales), or National Assembly. Members of the 350-seat Congress of Deputies are elected by popular vote. Of the 259 members of the Senate, 208 are directly elected, while 51 are appointed by regional legislatures. All legislators serve four-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 17 autonomous communities (regions) and 2 autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla). Each of the autonomous communities has its own parliament and regional government.


Spain before the Muslim Conquest

Civilization in Spain dates back to the Stone Age. The BasquesBasques
, people of N Spain and SW France. There are about 2 million Basques in the three Basque provs. and Navarre, Spain; some 250,000 in Labourd, Soule, and Lower Navarre, France; and communities of various sizes in Central and South America and other parts of the world.
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 may be descended from the prehistoric humans whose art has been preserved in the caves at Altamira. They antedated the IberiansIberians,
ancient people of Spain. Some scholars have argued that they migrated from Africa in the Neolithic period and again at the end of the Bronze Age, while the archaeological evidence has been interpreted to suggest that Iberians had an E Mediterranean origin dating to the
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, who mixed with Celtic invaders at an early period. Because of its mineral and agricultural wealth and its position guarding the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain was known to the Mediterranean peoples from very early times. The Phoenicians passed through the strait and established (9th cent. B.C.) colonies in Andalusia, notably at Cádiz and Tartessus (possibly the biblical TarshishTarshish
, in the Bible. 1 Eponym of a country distant from Palestine which cannot be accurately identified; Cyprus, Spain, and Tarsus (S Asia Minor) have been suggested.
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). Later the Carthaginians settled on the east coast and in the Balearic Islands, where Greek colonies also sprang up. In the 3d cent. B.C., the Carthaginians under Hamilcar BarcaHamilcar Barca,
d. 229 or 228 B.C., Carthaginian general. He was assigned the command in Sicily in 247 in the First Punic War (see Punic Wars). From mountain bases near Palermo he made repeated raids on the Romans and relieved the Punic garrison in Lilybaeum.
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 began to conquer most of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearics and established CartagenaCartagena,
Lat. Carthago Nova, city (1990 pop. 175,966), Murcia prov., SE Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea. A major seaport and naval base, it has a fine natural harbor, protected by forts, with a naval arsenal and important shipbuilding and metallurgical industries.
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 as capital.

The Roman victory over Hannibal in the second of the Punic WarsPunic Wars,
three distinct conflicts between Carthage and Rome. When they began, Rome had nearly completed the conquest of Italy, while Carthage controlled NW Africa and the islands and the commerce of the W Mediterranean.
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 (218–201 B.C.) resulted in the expulsion of the Carthaginians. The Romans conquered E and S Spain, but met strong resistance elsewhere, notably in the north. The fall (133 B.C.) of NumantiaNumantia
, ancient settlement, Spain, near the Durius (now Douro) River and north of modern Soria. Numantia played a central role in the Celt-Iberian resistance to Roman conquest. Its inhabitants withstood repeated Roman attacks from the time of Cato the Elder's campaign (195 B.
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 marked the end of organized resistance, and by the 1st cent. A.D. Roman control was virtually complete. Except for the Basques, the Iberian population became thoroughly romanized, perhaps more so than any subject population. Roman rule brought political unity, law, and economic prosperity. Christianity was introduced early; St. Paul is supposed to have visited Spain, and St. James the Greater is its apostolic patron. Natives of Spain contributed increasingly to both pagan and Christian literature in Latin. Among them were Seneca, Martial, and Quintilian.

In A.D. 409, Spain was overrun by the first wave of Germanic invaders, the Suevi and the VandalsVandals,
ancient Germanic tribe. They originated in N Jutland and, along with other Germanic peoples, settled in the valley of the Oder about the 5th cent. B.C. They appeared in Pannonia and Dacia in the 3d cent. A.D., apparently under imperial aegis. In the early 5th cent.
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. They were followed by the VisigothsVisigoths
(West Goths), division of the Goths, one of the most important groups of Germans. Having settled in the region W of the Black Sea in the 3d cent. A.D., the Goths soon split into two divisions, the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths.
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, who forced the Vandals to emigrate into Africa and established (419) their kingdom in Spain and S Gaul, with Toulouse as capital. The victory (507) of the Franks under Clovis over Alaric IIAlaric II,
d. 507, Visigothic king of Spain and of S Gaul (c.484–507), son and successor of Euric. He issued (506) at Toulouse the Breviary of Alaric for his Roman subjects.
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 at Vouillé resulted in the loss by the Visigoths of most of Gaul; in the Iberian Peninsula, Belisarius temporarily reconquered (554) S Spain for the Byzantine Empire; however, the Visigoths soon regained S Spain and in 585 also conquered the kingdom of the Suevi in Galicia. The Visigothic capital after the loss of Toulouse was at Toledo. The Germanic Visigoths, who adhered to Arianism until the late 6th cent., and the Catholic, romanized native population lived side by side under two separate codes of law (see Germanic lawsGermanic laws,
customary law codes of the Germans before their contact with the Romans. They are unknown to us except through casual references of ancient authors and inferences from the codes compiled after the tribes had invaded the Roman Empire.
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); fusion of the two elements was very slow.

King RecceswinthRecceswinth
, d. 672, Visigothic king of Spain (653–72). He was the son of Chindaswinth, who in 649 admitted him to joint rule. Recceswinth succeeded to the throne without election, thereby violating the Visigothic tradition enjoining election of the king by the nobility.
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 imposed (c.654) a common law on all his subjects. His code remained the basis of medieval Spanish law. Learning was cultivated almost exclusively by the Roman Catholic clergy, among whom OrosiusOrosius, Paulus
, c.385–420, Iberian priest, theologian, and historian, b. Tarragona, Spain or Braga, Portugal. He went to see St. Augustine (c.413) and wrote, on request, a summary of the errors of Priscillian and of Origen. Augustine then sent him to Palestine to warn St.
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 and St. Leander and his brother, St. Isidore of SevilleIsidore of Seville, Saint
, c.560–636, Spanish churchman and encyclopedist, bishop of Seville, Doctor of the Church. Born of a noble Hispano-Roman family from Cartagena, he spent his youth under the supervision of his brother St.
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, were outstanding. Byzantine cultural influence was strong, but was probably less important than that of the JewsJews
[from Judah], traditionally, descendants of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, whose tribe, with that of his half-brother Benjamin, made up the kingdom of Judah; historically, members of the worldwide community of adherents to Judaism.
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, who had settled in Spain in large numbers, and were persecuted after 600. Politically, the Visigothic kings were weak; the clergy, meeting in councils at Toledo, acquired secular power. Visigothic society was rent by a clash of Germanic, Hispano-Roman, and Jewish influences. When, in 711, a Muslim Berber army under Tarik ibn ZiyadTarik ibn Ziyad
, fl. 711, Berber leader of the Muslim invaders of Spain. When the heirs of the Visigothic king, Witiza, requested help from the Moors of N Africa against the usurper Roderick, Tarik, with his Moorish army, crossed (711) from Africa to Gibraltar (originally named
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 crossed the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain, RoderickRoderick
, d. 711?, last Visigothic king in Spain (710–711?). After the death of King Witiza, a group of nobles chose Roderick, duke of Baetica, as successor to the king. Having defeated Witiza's son, Roderick established himself on the throne.
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, the last Visigothic king, was defeated, and his kingdom collapsed.

Muslim Spain and the Christian Reconquest

The MoorsMoors,
nomadic people of the northern shores of Africa, originally the inhabitants of Mauretania. They were chiefly of Berber and Arab stock. In the 8th cent. the Moors were converted to Islam and became fanatic Muslims.
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, as the Berber conquerors were called, soon conquered the entire peninsula except for Asturias and the Basque Country. Córdoba became the capital of the emir, who governed in the name of the Baghdad caliph. In 756, however, Abd ar-Rahman IAbd ar-Rahman I,
d. 788, first Umayyad emir of Córdoba (756–88). The only survivor of the Abbasid massacre (750) of his family in Damascus, he fled from Syria and eventually went to Spain.
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, scion of the UmayyadUmayyad
, the first Islamic dynasty (661–750). Their reign witnessed the return to leadership roles of the pre-Islamic Arab elite, and the rejuvenation of tribal loyalties. The Banu Ummaya constituted the higher stratum of the pre-Islamic Meccan elite.
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 dynasty, established an independent emirate. This Muslim state, which reached its greatest splendor under Abd ar-Rahman IIIAbd ar-Rahman III,
891–961, Umayyad emir (912–29) and first caliph (929–61) of Córdoba. When he succeeded to the throne, the Spanish emirate was reduced to Córdoba and its environs and beset with tribal warfare.
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, who set up the Western caliphate, or caliphate of Córdoba, included all but northernmost Spain. In the northeast, CharlemagneCharlemagne
(Charles the Great or Charles I) [O.Fr.,=Charles the great], 742?–814, emperor of the West (800–814), Carolingian king of the Franks (768–814).
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 created (778) the Spanish March, out of which grew the county of Barcelona (i.e., Catalonia). In the W Pyrenees, the Basques held out against both Frankish and Moorish attacks and eventually united in the kingdom of Navarre.

Asturias, the only remnant of Visigothic Spain, became the focus of the Christian reconquest. The rulers of Asturias, who were descended from the semilegendary PelayoPelayo
, d. 737, first king (c.718–737) of Asturias. He was elected king by the tribespeople of Asturias and by Visigothic leaders who had escaped Tariq. His victory over the Moors at Covadonga sometime between 718 and 725 marked the beginning of Christian resistance to
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, conquered large territories in NW Spain and consolidated them with Asturias as the kingdom of León. Navarre, under a branch of the Asturian line, reached its greatest prominence under Sancho IIISancho III
or Sancho the Great
, c.970–1035, king of Navarre (1000–1035). Having inherited the kingdom of Navarre, which included Aragón, he launched an annexation campaign that made him the leading power in Christian Spain. After conquering (c.
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 (1000–1035), who also controlled Aragón and Castile. His state split at his death into three kingdoms: Navarre, which soon lost its importance; Aragón, which united (1137) with Barcelona (see Aragón, house ofAragón, house of,
family that ruled in Aragón, Catalonia, Majorca, Sicily, Naples, Sardinia, Athens, and other territories in the Middle Ages. It was descended from Ramiro I of Aragón (1035–63), natural son of Sancho III of Navarre.
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); and Castile, which was eventually united with León (1230) under Ferdinand III and with Aragón (1479) under Isabella I and Ferdinand V. This long process of unification was accomplished by marriage and inheritance as well as by warfare among the Christian kings; it was accompanied by the expansion of the Christian kingdoms at the expense of the Moors.

The Umayyad empire had broken up early in the 11th cent. into a number of petty kingdoms or emirates. The AbbadidsAbbadids
, Arab dynasty in Spain that ruled Seville from 1023 to 1091. Taking advantage of the disintegration of the caliphate of Córdoba, the cadi [judge-governor] of Seville seized power and became (1023) king of the newly founded state as Abbad I.
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 of Córdoba were the most important of these dynasties. They called in the AlmoravidsAlmoravids
, Berber Muslim dynasty that ruled Morocco and Muslim Spain in the 11th and 12th cent. The Almoravids may have originated in what is now Mauritania. The real founder was Abd Allah ibn Yasin, who by military force converted a number of Saharan tribes to his own
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 from Africa to aid them against Alfonso VI of Castile. As a result, the Almoravids took over Moorish Spain, but they in turn were replaced (c.1174) by the AlmohadsAlmohads
, Berber Muslim dynasty that ruled Morocco and Spain in the 12th and 13th cent. It had its origins in the puritanical sect founded by Ibn Tumart, who stirred up (c.1120) the tribes of the Atlas Mts. area to purify Islam and oust the Almoravids.
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, another Berber dynasty. In the battle of Navas de Tolosa (1212), a turning point in Spanish history, the Almohads were defeated by Alfonso VIII of Castile, whose successors conquered most of Andalusia. Little more than the kingdom of Granada remained in Moorish hands; it held out until its conquest by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492.

Disunity among the Moors facilitated the Christian reconquest. However, the states of Christian Spain were also frequently engaged in bloody rivalry, and the Christian kings were in almost continuous conflict with the powerful nobles. Alliances between Muslim and Christian princes were not rare, and the Christian reconquest was a spasmodic, not a continuous, process. A major reason for the Christian victory was that Christian Spain was in a stage of dynamic expansion and religious enthusiasm while Moorish Spain, having attained a high degree of civilization and material prosperity, had lost its military vigor and religious zeal. In the Moorish cities Muslims, Jews, and Christians (see MozarabsMozarabs
, Christians of Muslim Spain. Their position was the usual one of Christians and Jews in Islam: they were a separate community, locally autonomous, and they paid a special tax in place of the requirement made of Muslims to serve in the army.
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) lived side by side in relative harmony and mutual tolerance. Their excellent artisans and industries were famous throughout Europe, and their commerce prospered.

Agriculture, helped by extensive irrigation systems, was productive under the Moors. To the Christian nobles of N Spain, particularly of Castile and León, the flourishing cities and countryside to the south were a constant temptation. The united state of Aragón and Catalonia, commercially more prosperous than the other Christian kingdoms, was less active in the reconquest and was more concerned with its Mediterranean empire—the Balearics (which for a time formed the separate kingdom of MajorcaMajorca
, Span. Mallorca , island (1991 pop. 602,074), 1,405 sq mi (3,639 sq km), Spain, largest of the Balearic Islands, in the W Mediterranean. Palma is the chief city.
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), Sardinia, Sicily, and Greece. Portugal also, after winning its independence in the 12th cent., developed as an Atlantic sea power and took part only in local campaigns against the Moors. It was thus under Castilian leadership that the reconquest was completed, and it was the Castilian nobility that formed the nucleus of the class of feudal magnates—the grandees—who were the ruling class of Spain for centuries after the reconquest. The fall of Granada (1492) made Ferdinand V (see Ferdinand IIFerdinand II
or Ferdinand the Catholic,
1452–1516, king of Aragón (1479–1516), king of Castile and León (as Ferdinand V, 1474–1504), king of Sicily (1468–1516), and king of Naples (1504–16).
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 of Aragón) and Isabella IIsabella I
or Isabella the Catholic,
1451–1504, Spanish queen of Castile and León (1474–1504), daughter of John II of Castile. In 1469 she married Ferdinand of Aragón (later King Ferdinand II of Aragón and Ferdinand V of Castile).
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 rulers of all Spain. (For a list of the rulers of Spain from Ferdinand and Isabella to the present, see the table entitled Rulers of Spain since 1474Rulers of Spain since 1474
(including dates of reign)

Union of Castile and Aragón
Isabella I (of Castile), ruled jointly with Ferdinand II (of Aragón), 1474–1504
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In the same year, in their zeal to achieve religious unity, the Catholic rulers expelled the Jews from Spain. Until 1492 the Jews and the Muslims had been allowed to live in reconquered territory. From the time of the Spanish InquisitionInquisition
, tribunal of the Roman Catholic Church established for the investigation of heresy. The Medieval Inquisition

In the early Middle Ages investigation of heresy was a duty of the bishops.
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 (1478), however, attempts at conversion were made more forcibly, often including confiscation of property, torture, or murder, usually by auto-da-fé. The Inquisition was not restricted to Jews and Moors, and even those who did convert were often persecuted. The expulsion of the Jews deprived Spain of part of its most useful and active population. Many went to the Levant, to the Americas, and to the Netherlands, where their skills, capital, and commercial connections benefited their hosts. The Mudéjares, as the Muslims in reconquered Spain were called, were not immediately expelled, but after an uprising they were forcibly converted (1502) to Christianity. Many of the MoriscosMoriscos
[Span.,=Moorish], Moors converted to Christianity after the Christian reconquest (11th–15th cent.) of Spain. The Moors who had become subjects of Christian kings as the reconquest progressed to the 15th cent. were called Mudéjares.
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 [Christian Moors] secretly adhered to Islam. After many persecutions, they were finally expelled in 1609.

In spite of the expulsion of 1492, a large population of Christian converts remained in Spain and, as members of the educated elite, continued to make significant contributions to Spanish culture. The Jewish-Moorish legacy to Spain and to Western Europe is immense. Moorish architecture (see Islamic art and architectureIslamic art and architecture,
works of art and architecture created in countries where Islam has been dominant and embodying Muslim precepts in its themes. Background

In the century after the death (A.D.
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) has left a deep imprint on Spain; its most famous example is the AlhambraAlhambra
[Arab.,=the red], extensive group of buildings on a hill overlooking Granada, Spain. They were built chiefly between 1230 and 1354 and they formed a great citadel of the Moorish kings of Spain.
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 of Granada. Arabic scholars such as AverroësAverroës
, Arabic Ibn Rushd, 1126–98, Spanish-Arab philosopher. He was far more important and influential in Jewish and Christian thought than in Islam. He was a lawyer and physician of Córdoba and lived for some time in Morocco in favor with the caliphs.
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 and Jewish scholars such as MaimonidesMaimonides
or Moses ben Maimon
, 1135–1204, Jewish scholar, physician, and philosopher, the most influential Jewish thinker of the Middle Ages, b. Córdoba, Spain, d. Cairo.
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 had a major share in the development of Christian scholasticism. Material legacies of Moorish Spain included the great steel industry of Toledo, the silk industry of Granada, the leather industry of Córdoba, and the intensive plantations of rice and citrus trees.

By fostering the exploitation of central Spain for sheep grazing, Ferdinand and Isabella unwittingly prepared the ruin of much land that had been fruitful under the Moors. The major economic revolution that occurred during their reign was, however, the discovery (1492) of America by Columbus. By the Treaty of TordesillasTordesillas, Treaty of
, 1494, agreement signed at Tordesillas, Spain, by which Spain and Portugal divided the non-Christian world into two zones of influence. In principle the treaty followed the papal bull issued in 1493 by Pope Alexander VI, which fixed the demarcation line
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 (1494), Spain and Portugal divided the world into two spheres of influence. Almost all of South America, Central America, S North America, and the Philippines were added to the Spanish world empire in the 16th cent. Gold and silver, the primary objectives of the conquistadores, flowed into Spain in fabulous quantities. Spain in the 16th cent. (the Golden Century) was the first power of the world, with an empire "on which the sun never set," with fleets on every sea, and with a brilliant cultural, artistic, and intellectual life. In the Italian WarsItalian Wars,
1494–1559, series of regional wars brought on by the efforts of the great European powers to control the small independent states of Italy. Renaissance Italy was split into numerous rival states, most of which sought foreign alliances to increase their
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 (1494–1559), Spain triumphed over its chief rival, France, and added Naples (see Naples, kingdom ofNaples, kingdom of,
former state, occupying the Italian peninsula south of the former Papal States. It comprised roughly the present regions of Campania, Abruzzi, Molise, Basilicata, Apulia, and Calabria. Naples was the capital.

In the 11th and 12th cent.
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) and the duchy of MilanMilan
, Ital. Milano, Lat. Mediolanum, city (1991 pop. 1,369,231), capital of Lombardy and of Milan prov., N Italy, at the heart of the Po basin. Because of its strategic position in the Lombard plain, at the intersection of several major transportation routes, it
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 to its dependencies.

The Golden Age

When Charles I (elected Holy Roman emperor in 1519 as Charles VCharles V,
1500–1558, Holy Roman emperor (1519–58) and, as Charles I, king of Spain (1516–56); son of Philip I and Joanna of Castile, grandson of Ferdinand II of Aragón, Isabella of Castile, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and Mary of Burgundy.
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), first of the HapsburgHapsburg
or Habsburg
, ruling house of Austria (1282–1918). Rise to Power

The family, which can be traced to the 10th cent., originally held lands in Alsace and in NW Switzerland. Otto (d.
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 kings (who ruled Spain from 1516 to 1700), succeeded Ferdinand V, Spain was still divided into separate kingdoms and principalities, united chiefly in the person of a common ruler. Each kingdom had its separate CortesCortes
, representative assembly in Spain. The institution originated (12th–13th cent.) in various Spanish regions with the Christian reconquest; until the 19th cent.
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 and its own customary law. The cities, which had retained their individuality since Roman times, enjoyed great privileges and independence. Charles had to be acknowledged by each individual Cortes at his accession. Castile was nominally ruled jointly by Charles and his mother, JoannaJoanna
(Joanna the Mad), 1479–1555, Spanish queen of Castile and León (1504–55), daughter of Ferdinand II and Isabella I. She succeeded to Castile and León at the death of her mother.
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, until Joanna's death. The centralizing policies of Charles's predecessors had curtailed some of the local powers, particularly in Castile, but Charles's efforts to continue the centralizing process and his fiscal policies resulted in an uprising of the cities—the war of the comunidades (see comuneroscomuneros
, in Spain and Spanish America, citizens of a city or cities when organized to defend their rights against arbitrary encroachment of government. The first great revolt of comuneros in Spain was the uprising (1520–21) of the comunidades
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)—in 1520–21. The rising was suppressed, and its leader, PadillaPadilla, Juan de
, c.1490–1521, Spanish revolutionary leader in the war of the comuneros [municipalities] against Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Charles's conduct and his foreign advisers offended Spanish national feeling and led to a rising in Toledo under Padilla's
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, was executed.

By the time Charles abdicated (1556) in Spain in favor of his son Philip IIPhilip II,
1527–98, king of Spain (1556–98), king of Naples and Sicily (1554–98), and, as Philip I, king of Portugal (1580–98). Philip's Reign
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, Spain was on its way to becoming a centralized and absolute monarchy. Under Philip II the process was continued, although Catalonia, Navarre, Aragón, Valencia, and the Basque Country still maintained a considerable degree of autonomy. During the 16th cent. the church enlarged its already dominant position in Spanish life. The Spanish Inquisition, organized by Tomás de TorquemadaTorquemada, Tomás de
, 1420–98, Spanish churchman and inquisitor. A Dominican, he became confessor to Ferdinand II and Isabella I and in 1483 was appointed inquisitor general of Castile and Aragón, charged with the centralization of the Spanish Inquisition.
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 in the late 15th cent., reached its greatest power in the 16th cent. under Philip. At the same time the Counter Reformation was advanced in Spain by St. Ignatius of LoyolaIgnatius of Loyola, Saint
, 1491–1556, Spanish churchman, founder of the Jesuits (see Jesus, Society of), b. Loyola Castle near Azpeitia, Gipuzkoa, Spain. Early Life and Ordination
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, St. Theresa of Ávila, and St. John of the CrossJohn of the Cross, Saint,
Span. Juan de la Cruz, 1542–91, Spanish mystic and poet, Doctor of the Church. His name was originally Juan de Yepes. He was a founder of the Discalced Carmelites and a close friend of St.
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With Spain, Philip had also inherited Sicily, Naples, Sardinia, Milan, Franche-Comté, the Netherlands, and all the Spanish colonies. His religious policies, fiscal demands, and high-handed rule precipitated the Dutch struggle for independence (see the NetherlandsNetherlands
, Du. Nederland or Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, officially Kingdom of the Netherlands, constitutional monarchy (2015 est. pop. 16,938,000), 15,963 sq mi (41,344 sq km), NW Europe.
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). The northern provinces of the Netherlands shook off the Spanish yoke, but the southern provinces (see Netherlands, Austrian and SpanishNetherlands, Austrian and Spanish,
that part of the Low Countries that, from 1482 until 1794, remained under the control of the imperial house of Hapsburg. The area corresponds roughly to modern Belgium and Luxembourg.
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) were again subjugated. Spanish military power, which achieved its greatest successes against France, leading to the Treaty of Cateau-CambrésisCateau-Cambrésis, Treaty of
, 1559, concluded at Le Cateau, France, by representatives of Henry II of France, Philip II of Spain, and Elizabeth I of England. It put an end to the 60-year conflict between France and Spain, begun with the Italian Wars, in which Henry VIII
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 (1559), and in the naval victory at LepantoLepanto, battle of
, Oct. 7, 1571, naval battle between the Christians and Ottomans fought in the strait between the gulfs of Pátrai and Corinth, off Lepanto (Návpaktos), Greece. The fleet of the Holy League commanded by John of Austria (d.
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 over the Turks (1571), was on the decline. As the champion of Catholicism in Europe, Spain unsuccessfully intervened in the French Wars of Religion by sending an army to support the LeagueLeague
or Holy League,
in French history, organization of Roman Catholics, aimed at the suppression of Protestantism and Protestant political influence in France.
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 against Henry IV. The rivalry on the seas between Spain and England culminated in the attempted conquest of England by the Spanish ArmadaArmada, Spanish
, 1588, fleet launched by Philip II of Spain for the invasion of England, to overthrow the Protestant Elizabeth I and establish Philip on the English throne; also called the Invincible Armada.
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 (1588); its complete failure at immense cost weakened Spain for a decade.

The Decline of Spain

Under Philip II's successors, Philip IIIPhilip III,
1578–1621, king of Spain, Naples, and Sicily (1598–1621) and, as Philip II, king of Portugal (1598–1621); son and successor of Philip II of Spain. He was as pious as his father, but lacked his intelligence and capacity for work.
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 and Philip IVPhilip IV,
1605–65, king of Spain, Naples, and Sicily (1621–65) and, as Philip III, king of Portugal (1621–40); son and successor of Philip III of Spain.
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, Spain was drawn into the Thirty Years WarThirty Years War,
1618–48, general European war fought mainly in Germany. General Character of the War

There were many territorial, dynastic, and religious issues that figured in the outbreak and conduct of the war.
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 (1618–48), prolonged by war with France until 1659. The peace treaties (see Westphalia, Peace ofWestphalia, Peace of,
1648, general settlement ending the Thirty Years War. It marked the end of the Holy Roman Empire as an effective institution and inaugurated the modern European state system.
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; Pyrenees, Peace of thePyrenees, Peace of the,
1659, treaty ending the warfare between France and Spain that, continuing after the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War, had been complicated by French intervention in the revolt of the Catalans (1640–52) and by Spanish
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) made France the leading power of continental Europe. The wars of Louis XIV of France (see Dutch WarsDutch Wars,
series of conflicts between the English and Dutch during the mid to late 17th cent. The wars had their roots in the Anglo-Dutch commercial rivalry, although the last of the three wars was a wider conflict in which French interests played a primary role.
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 (3;) Devolution, War ofDevolution, War of,
1667–68, undertaken by Louis XIV for the conquest of the Spanish Netherlands. On her marriage to Louis, Marie Thérèse, daughter of Philip IV of Spain, had renounced her rights of inheritance in return for a large dowry.
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; Grand Alliance, War of theGrand Alliance, War of the,
1688–97, war between France and a coalition of European powers, known as the League of Augsburg (and, after 1689, as the Grand Alliance).
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) cost Spain further territories and military prestige. PortugalPortugal
, officially Portuguese Republic, republic (2015 est. pop. 10,418,000), 35,553 sq mi (92,082 sq km), SW Europe, on the western side of the Iberian Peninsula and including the Madeira Islands and the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean.
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, united with Spain by Philip II in 1580, rebelled and regained its independence in 1640. In the same year a serious revolt began in Catalonia over the province's autonomous rights. In the end (1659) the Catalans retained most of their privileges.

The political weakness of Spain was complicated by the absence of a direct heir to Charles IICharles II,
1661–1700, king of Spain, Naples, and Sicily (1665–1700), son and successor of Philip IV. The last of the Spanish Hapsburgs, he was physically crippled and mentally retarded.
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, who succeeded Philip IV in 1665. The chief claimants to the succession were Louis XIV of France and Archduke Charles of Austria (later Holy Roman Emperor Charles VICharles VI,
1685–1740, Holy Roman emperor (1711–40), king of Bohemia (1711–40) and, as Charles III, king of Hungary (1712–40); brother and successor of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I. Charles was the last Holy Roman emperor of the direct Hapsburg line.
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). The pro-French party at the Spanish court ultimately won out when Charles II designated Louis XIV's grandson, Philip (later Philip VPhilip V,
1683–1746, king of Spain (1700–1746), first Bourbon on the Spanish throne. A grandson of Louis XIV of France, he was titular duke of Anjou before Charles II of Spain designated him as his successor.
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 of Spain), as successor. The War of the Spanish SuccessionSpanish Succession, War of the,
1701–14, last of the general European wars caused by the efforts of King Louis XIV to extend French power. The conflict in America corresponding to the period of the War of the Spanish Succession was known as Queen Anne's War (see French and
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 (1701–14) broke out upon Charles's death. The Peace of Utrecht (see Utrecht, Peace ofUtrecht, Peace of,
series of treaties that concluded the War of the Spanish Succession. It put an end to French expansion and signaled the rise of the British Empire. By the treaty between England and France (Apr.
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) confirmed Philip V on the Spanish throne, but it transferred the Spanish Netherlands, Milan, Naples, and Sardinia to Austria and Sicily to Savoy. Another result of the war was that Catalonia, Valencia, and Aragón, which had opposed Philip, lost their political autonomy.

Attempts to recover the lost possessions and to revive Spanish prestige were fostered by Philip's ambitious queen, Elizabeth FarneseElizabeth Farnese
, 1692–1766, queen of Spain, second consort of Philip V; niece of Antonio Farnese, duke of Parma. Soon after her marriage (1714), arranged by Cardinal Alberoni and the princesse des Ursins, she gained a strong influence over her weak husband and for some
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, and his chief minister, AlberoniAlberoni, Giulio
, 1664–1752, Italian statesman in Spanish service, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. Appointed (1713) representative of the duke of Parma at the court of Philip V of Spain, Alberoni gained influence and ultimately became de facto prime minister.
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. These attempts merely led (1718) to the formation of the Quadruple AllianceQuadruple Alliance,
any of several European alliances. The Quadruple Alliance of 1718 was formed by Great Britain, France, the Holy Roman emperor, and the Netherlands when Philip V of Spain, guided by Cardinal Alberoni, sought by force to nullify the peace settlements reached
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, which in 1720 imposed upon Spain a but slightly more favorable settlement in Italy. Spain under its BourbonBourbon
, European royal family, originally of France; a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty (see Capetians). One branch of the Bourbons occupies the modern Spanish throne, and other branches ruled the Two Sicilies and Parma.
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 kings came increasingly under French influence after the Family CompactFamily Compact,
several alliances between France and Spain in the form of agreements between the French and Spanish branches of the Bourbon family. The first of the three compacts, the Treaty of the Escorial (1733), was continued and extended by the second agreement (1743).
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 of 1733 and its successors.

With the support of France, Spain regained (1735) Naples and Sicily in the War of the Polish SuccessionPolish Succession, War of the,
1733–35. On the death (1733) of Augustus II of Poland, Stanislaus I sought to reascend the Polish throne. He was supported by his son-in-law, Louis XV of France.
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. These two kingdoms, however, were no longer administered by Spanish viceroys but were ruled independently by a cadet branch of the Spanish Bourbons. In the Treaty of Paris of 1763 (see under Paris, Treaty ofParis, Treaty of,
any of several important treaties, signed at or near Paris, France. The Treaty of 1763

The Treaty of Paris of Feb. 10, 1763, was signed by Great Britain, France, and Spain.
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), Spain lost FloridaFlorida
, state in the extreme SE United States. A long, low peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean (E) and the Gulf of Mexico (W), Florida is bordered by Georgia and Alabama (N). Facts and Figures

Area, 58,560 sq mi (151,670 sq km). Pop.
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 to Britain but was compensated with LouisianaLouisiana
, state in the S central United States. It is bounded by Mississippi, with the Mississippi River forming about half of the border (E), the Gulf of Mexico (S), Texas (W), and Arkansas (N). Facts and Figures

Area, 48,523 sq mi (125,675 sq km). Pop.
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 by France. In the American Revolution, Spain sided with the United States and France and recovered Florida in the Treaty of Paris of 1783. These, however, were short-lived successes.

The economy of Spain had steadily deteriorated since the reign of Philip II. The influx of precious metal had long ceased, and little of it remained in Spain. The colonization of the vast Spanish Empire and the many costly wars had impoverished the country. Inflation led landowners to increase their holdings. The population had greatly increased and the peasants lived in misery, some of them on the inefficiently run estates of the grandees. The court and government had decayed in an atmosphere of bigotry, incompetence, and corruption. The church, exhausted by the struggle between the popes and the kings, had largely ceased its political role as a constructive force and was using its influence for the perpetuation of the existing order. The towering artistic and intellectual achievements of the 16th cent. had given way, by the mid-18th cent., to meaningless convention.

Under Philip V's successors, Ferdinand VIFerdinand VI,
b. 1712 or 1713, d. 1759, king of Spain (1746–59), son of Philip V by his first queen, Marie Louise of Savoy. When Ferdinand succeeded his father, his stepmother, Elizabeth Farnese, lost her power at court and went into retirement.
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 and Charles IIICharles III,
1716–88, king of Spain (1759–88) and of Naples and Sicily (1735–59), son of Philip V and Elizabeth Farnese. Recognized as duke of Parma and Piacenza in 1731, he relinquished the duchies to Austria after Spain reconquered (1734) Naples and Sicily in
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, the ministers EnsenadaEnsenada, Zenón de Somodevilla, marqués de la
, 1702–81, Spanish statesman. He was created (1736) marquis for his part in the expedition to Naples that placed King Philip V's son, Carlos (later Charles III of Spain), on the Neapolitan throne.
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 and FloridablancaFloridablanca or Florida Blanca, José Moñino, conde de
, 1728–1808, Spanish statesman. After the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spain (1767), he was sent to Rome as ambassador to obtain the papal
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 made basic reforms. Internal transportation was improved. Agricultural colonies were formed for better utilization of the land. The colonial trade was freed of centuries-old regulations and restrictions. Trade and commerce, especially in Cádiz and Barcelona, were stimulated. The Jesuits were expelled from Spain in 1767 as part of an effort to subordinate church to state. Charles IVCharles IV,
1748–1819, king of Spain (1788–1808), second son of Charles III, whom he succeeded in place of his imbecile older brother. Unlike his father, Charles IV was an ineffective ruler and in 1792 virtually surrendered the government to Godoy, his chief minister
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, who succeeded Charles III, was an incompetent monarch, dominated by his wife, María LuisaMaría Luisa
, 1751–1819, queen of Spain, daughter of Duke Philip of Parma, consort of King Charles IV. Dissolute and domineering, she exerted, with her favorite Godoy, the real power in the government, thus contributing to the downfall of Spain at the hands of
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, and their favorite, the able but unscrupulous GodoyGodoy, Manuel de
, 1767–1851, Spanish statesman. An army officer, he won the favor of Queen María Luisa and rose rapidly at the court of Charles IV. The king made him chief minister in 1792, and except for a brief eclipse from power (1798–1801), Godoy ruled
..... Click the link for more information.

Drawn into the French Revolutionary WarsFrench Revolutionary Wars,
wars occurring in the era of the French Revolution and the beginning of the Napoleonic era, the decade of 1792–1802. The wars began as an effort to defend the Revolution and developed into wars of conquest under the empire.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and the Wars of Napoleon INapoleon I
, 1769–1821, emperor of the French, b. Ajaccio, Corsica, known as "the Little Corporal." Early Life

The son of Carlo and Letizia Bonaparte (or Buonaparte; see under Bonaparte, family), young Napoleon was sent (1779) to French military schools at
..... Click the link for more information.
, Spain suffered its greatest humiliation in 1808 with the successive abdications of Charles and his son, Ferdinand VIIFerdinand VII,
1784–1833, king of Spain (1808–33), son of Charles IV and María Luisa. Excluded from a role in the government, he became the center of intrigues against the chief minister Godoy and attempted to win the support of Napoleon I.
..... Click the link for more information.
, the installation of Joseph Bonaparte (see under BonaparteBonaparte
, Ital. Buonaparte , family name of Napoleon I, emperor of the French. Parentage

Napoleon's father, Carlo Buonaparte, 1746–85, a petty Corsican nobleman, was a lawyer in Ajaccio.
..... Click the link for more information.
, family) on the Spanish throne, and the occupation of the country by French troops. However, the rigor and heroism displayed by the common people of Spain in their struggle against the conqueror (see Peninsular WarPeninsular War,
1808–14, fought by France against Great Britain, Portugal, Spanish regulars, and Spanish guerrillas in the Iberian Peninsula. Origin and Occupation
..... Click the link for more information.
) was an important factor in the eventual downfall of Napoleon. By 1814 the Spanish resistance forces and the British under Wellington had expelled the French, and Ferdinand VII was restored under a constitution drawn up in 1812 at Cádiz by the first national Cortes of Spain. The constitution restricted the power of the Spanish monarch and did away with the special representation of the nobility and the church in parliament. It also formally ended the Inquisition.

Monarchists and Republicans

The nationalist and liberal upsurge that swept over Spain and its overseas empire during the Peninsular War was focused, somewhat incomprehensibly, on the person of Ferdinand VII. After his restoration Ferdinand, through his reactionary measures, drove the forces that had placed him on the throne into opposition. At home, the liberal and radical groups attacked the very institution of the monarchy; overseas, they brought about the independence of the Latin American nations. By 1825 all Latin America except several territories in the West Indies had gained independence. In Spain itself, Ferdinand's refusal to honor the 1812 constitution led to the revolution of 1820, put down in 1823 by French troops acting for the Holy Alliance.

Shortly before his death (1833), Ferdinand altered the law of succession in favor of his daughter, Isabella IIIsabella II,
1830–1904, queen of Spain (1833–68), daughter of Ferdinand VII and of Maria Christina. Her uncle, Don Carlos, contested her succession under the Salic law, and thus the Carlist Wars began (see Carlists).
..... Click the link for more information.
, and to the detriment of his brother, Don CarlosCarlos
(Carlos María Isidro de Borbón), 1788–1855, second son of Charles IV of Spain. He was the first Carlist pretender. After his father's abdication (1808) he was, with the rest of his family, held a prisoner in France until 1814.
..... Click the link for more information.
. Isabella succeeded under the regency of her mother, Maria ChristinaMaria Christina
, 1806–78, queen of Spain, daughter of Francis I of the Two Sicilies. The fourth wife of Ferdinand VII, she persuaded him to confirm (1833) the original revocation (1789) of the Salic law to allow their daughter Isabella to succeed him.
..... Click the link for more information.
, but her succession was contested by the CarlistsCarlists,
partisans of Don Carlos (1788–1855) and his successors, who claimed the Spanish throne under the Salic law of succession, introduced (1713) by Philip V. The law (forced on Philip by the War of the Spanish Succession to avoid a union of the French and Spanish
..... Click the link for more information.
 in a bitter war that raged until 1839. Her turbulent reign (1833–68) was marked by a series of uprisings, military coups, new constitutions, and dictatorships and ended with her abdication. Politics was largely a matter of personalities—among these EsparteroEspartero, Baldomero, duque de la Victoria, conde de Luchana
, 1793–1879, Spanish general and statesman. He fought against the French in the Peninsular War (1808–14) and later against the revolutionists in South America.
..... Click the link for more information.
, NarváezNarváez, Ramón María
, 1800–1868, Spanish general and statesman. He distinguished himself fighting for Isabella II against the Carlists (1834–39).
..... Click the link for more information.
, PrimPrim, Juan
, 1814–70, Spanish general and statesman. A Catalan officer, he fought for Isabella II against the Carlists and became one of the chief factional leaders in the fierce political rivalry of Isabella's reign, opposing at different times both Espartero and Gen.
..... Click the link for more information.
, and O'DonnellO'Donnell, Leopoldo
, 1809–67, Spanish general and statesman; member of a branch of the Irish O'Donnells of Tyrconnel. He fought successfully for Isabella II against the Carlists. When Espartero seized (1840) power in Spain, O'Donnell went into exile with Maria Christina.
..... Click the link for more information.
 were outstanding—but factions generally fell into three groups: the extreme reactionaries, who included the Carlists; the moderates and progressives, who theoretically favored a constitutional monarchy, but who tended to rule dictatorially when they came into power; and the republicans. The Catalonian and Basque separatists favored whichever party happened to oppose the central government.

After the abdication (1868) of Isabella, the Cortes set up a constitutional monarchy and chose AmadeusAmadeus,
1845–90, king of Spain (1870–73), duke of Aosta, son of Victor Emmanuel II of Italy. After the expulsion (1868) of Queen Isabella II, Juan Prim urged the Cortes to elect Amadeus as king. He accepted the crown reluctantly.
..... Click the link for more information.
, duke of Aosta, as king. Unable to obtain the cooperation of all factions, Amadeus abdicated in 1873. The short-lived first Spanish republic (1873–74) was torn by another Carlist War (1872–76) and by the cantonalist movement in the south, notably in Cartagena, which attempted to establish authorities independent of the central government. The Bourbon Alfonso XIIAlfonso XII,
1857–85, king of Spain (1874–85), son of Isabella II. He went into exile with his parents at the time of the revolt of the Carlists in 1868 and was educated in Austria and England.
..... Click the link for more information.
, son of Isabella, was placed on the throne by a coalition of moderate parties, and in 1876 a new constitution was adopted.

By the end of the 19th cent. the Socialist and Anarcho-Syndicalist parties began to gain a wide following among the lower classes, particularly in industrial Catalonia, rural Andalusia, and in the mining districts of Asturias. Strikes and uprisings, usually suppressed with great brutality, became characteristic features of early-20th-century Spain. The church, which was aligned with the landowners, aroused often violent anticlerical feeling among the revolutionary, and even among liberal, elements. The loss of most of the remainder of the Spanish Empire in the Spanish-American WarSpanish-American War,
1898, brief conflict between Spain and the United States arising out of Spanish policies in Cuba. It was, to a large degree, brought about by the efforts of U.S. expansionists.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (1898) prompted a period of self-examination that produced a cultural renaissance.

Under Alfonso XIII (reigned 1886–1931), Spain remained neutral in World War I. But wartime trade had increased industrialists' profits. Great social and economic unrest marked the postwar period. Colonial rebellions in Morocco were a recurring problem. In 1923 a new outbreak in Catalonia was suppressed and resulted in the establishment of a dictatorship under Primo de RiveraPrimo de Rivera, Miguel,
1870–1930, Spanish general and dictator. After a rapid and brilliant military career in Cuba, the Philippines, and Morocco, he became governor of Cádiz (1915), then in turn captain general of Valencia, Madrid, and Catalonia.
..... Click the link for more information.
. Widespread opposition forced Primo de Rivera's resignation in 1930; in 1931, after a great republican victory in municipal elections, Alfonso XIII was deposed and the second republic established. Under the new president, the moderate liberal Alcalá ZamoraAlcalá Zamora, Niceto
, 1877–1949, Spanish statesman and president of Spain (1931–36). After holding several cabinet posts under the monarchy, he became a republican and was jailed for his political activity in 1930.
..... Click the link for more information.
, the regime instituted progressive reforms, including the distribution of church property, but met widespread opposition from rightist groups and also from the extreme left. There were serious separatist and Anarcho-Syndicalist uprisings in Catalonia. The government shifted to the right after the 1933 elections, and in 1934 a miners' uprising in the Asturias was put down with much bloodshed.

Civil War

The Popular Front (republicans, Socialists, Communists, and syndicalists) was victorious in the national elections of 1936. Before the government under Manuel AzañaAzaña, Manuel
, 1880–1940, Spanish statesman. An author and critic, he gained prominence as president (1930) of the Madrid Ateneo, a literary and political club, and came to the fore as a revolutionary political leader in 1931.
..... Click the link for more information.
 had time to carry out its program, a military rebellion precipitated the great Spanish civil warSpanish civil war,
1936–39, conflict in which the conservative and traditionalist forces in Spain rose against and finally overthrew the second Spanish republic. The Second Republic
..... Click the link for more information.
 of 1936–39. The Insurgents, or Nationalists, who soon came under the leadership of Gen. Francisco FrancoFranco, Francisco
, 1892–1975, Spanish general and caudillo [leader]. He became a general at the age of 32 after commanding the Spanish Foreign Legion in Morocco.
..... Click the link for more information.
, embraced most conservative groups, notably the monarchists, the Carlists, most of the army officers, the clericalists, the landowners and industrialists, and the fascist FalangeFalange
[Span.,=phalanx], Spanish political party, founded in 1933 as Falange Española by José António Primo de Rivera, son of the former Spanish dictator.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (Nationalist Front). Their forces received the immediate military aid of Germany and Italy. The Loyalists were supported by the Popular Front parties and by the nationalists in Catalonia and the Basque Country, which had at last been granted autonomy.

Because of the nonintervention policy of Britain and France, the Loyalists received virtually no outside support except for an international brigade and some meager aid from the USSR. Despite military inferiority and bloody internal divisions, the Loyalists made a remarkably determined stand, particularly in central Spain. By the beginning of 1938, however, the territory held by the Loyalists had shrunk drastically, and with the fall (Jan., 1939) of Barcelona the war was almost over. Madrid surrendered in Mar., 1939. The Loyalist government and many thousands of refugees fled into France, and the government of Franco was soon recognized by all major powers except the USSR.

Spain under Franco

A dictatorship was set up under Franco. The church was restored to its property and its favored position, although there was much friction between church and state. The Falange was made the sole legal party, and the leftist opposition was energetically suppressed. The Cortes and Catalonian and Basque autonomy were abolished. Although it gave aid to the Axis, Spain remained a nonbelligerent in World War II. The Cortes was reestablished in 1942. The United Nations, refusing to recognize the constitutionality of the Franco regime, urged its members in 1946 to break diplomatic relations with Spain; this resolution was not rescinded until 1950. Spain entered the United Nations in 1955. An agreement with the United States in 1953 provided for U.S. bases in Spain and for economic and military aid.

In 1956, Spanish Morocco became part of the independent state of Morocco; in 1968, Spanish Equatorial Guinea became independent; in 1969 Ifni was ceded to Morocco; and in 1976 Spanish Sahara was transferred to Morocco and Mauritania. In 1968 Spain closed its frontier with the British colony of Gibraltar, over which Spain has long claimed sovereignty. The border was reopened in 1985, and in 1987 Spain and Great Britain forged an agreement that would have allowed joint use of the Gibraltar airport, but Gibraltar rejected the agreement.

Political unrest, partly over the problem of succession to the Franco regime, became increasingly evident in the 1950s, and at the start of the 1960s the church, which had long been silent, began to voice some opposition to aspects of the dictatorship. In 1962 a series of strikes, beginning in the coal fields of Asturias, gave indication of widespread discontent. Student demonstrations also occurred. Basque separatism posed another serious problem for the regime.

A new organic law (constitution) was announced by Franco in 1966. It separated the posts of head of government and chief of state, provided for direct election of about one quarter of the members of the Cortes, gave married women the vote, made religious freedom a legal right, and ended Falange control of labor unions. The forming of new political parties was still discouraged. Press censorship was ended in 1966, but strong guidelines remained. Economically, Spain progressed dramatically in the 1960s and early 70s, stimulated in part by the liberal economic policies espoused by Opus DeiOpus Dei
[Lat.,=work of God], Roman Catholic organization, particularly influential in Spain, officially the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei. Opus Dei was founded in 1928 by a wealthy lawyer turned priest, José María Escrivá de Balaguer y
..... Click the link for more information.
; growth was particularly pronounced in the tourist, automobile, and construction industries.

Contemporary Spain

The year 1975 was marked by escalating terrorist activity in the Basque Country on the part of the militant separatist organization ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna), the death of Franco, and the beginning of the reign of King Juan Carlos IJuan Carlos I
, 1938–, king of Spain (1975–2014), b. Rome. The grandson of Alfonso XIII, he was educated in Switzerland and in Spain. Placed by his father, Don Juan de Borbón, under the care of Francisco Franco as a possible successor, he graduated from
..... Click the link for more information.
. With his prime minister, Adolfo Suárez GonzálezSuárez González, Adolfo
, 1932–2014, Spanish lawyer and political leader. Because he had worked in the Nationalist Movement (the Falange) for 18 years and had become its secretary-general after Franco's death (1975), centrist and leftist forces opposed his
..... Click the link for more information.
, the king ushered in a period of political reform and rapid decentralization. Juan Carlos opened the new bicameral Cortes in 1977. The Falange was dissolved in 1977 as well, and the Communist party was legalized shortly thereafter. A new constitution, which replaced the fundamental laws under which Spain had been governed since 1938, was ratified in 1978, formally establishing a parliamentary monarchy and universal adult suffrage.

Catalonia and the Basque Country were granted limited autonomy in 1977, the Balearic Islands, Castile and León, and Extremadura in 1978, and Andalusia and Galicia in 1980. In 1981 Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo became prime minister following Suárez's resignation. Rightist civil guards seeking greater centralization seized the Spanish parliament in 1981, but the coup was quickly put down. In 1982, a Socialist majority was elected to the Cortes in parliamentary elections and Felipe González MárquezGonzález Márquez, Felipe
, 1942–, Spanish political leader. After joining (1962) what was then the Spanish Socialist Workers' party, González became (1974) its secretary-general and revived it from the moribund position into which it had fallen under
..... Click the link for more information.
 became prime minister. Spain also expanded its international role; it was admitted into NATO in 1982 and became a member of the European Community (now the European Union) in 1986. Spain continued to enjoy economic growth as a result of increased domestic and foreign investment in the 1980s and 90s, but had one of the highest unemployment rates in W Europe. In 1988, a general strike prompted the government to increase workers' unemployment benefits and salaries for civil servants.

Basque separatist violence continued in the 1980s with the ETA committing hundreds of murders, but showed some signs of abating in the 1990s, following arrests of many ETA leaders. The ruling Socialist party suffered losses in the 1993 elections but was able to form a minority government with the cooperation of the Catalonian nationalist coalition. Following the Mar., 1996, elections, a center-right government took office. Popular party (PP) head José María Aznar LópezAznar López, José María
, 1953–, Spanish politician, prime minister of Spain (1996–2004), b. Madrid. Originally a lawyer and tax inspector, he joined the Popular Alliance, precursor of the conservative Popular party (PP) in 1978.
..... Click the link for more information.
 became prime minister in coalition with the Catalonian nationalists. Factors in the Socialists' fall included economic problems, corruption scandals, and charges that Socialist officials had endorsed a "dirty war" against Basque separatists in the 1980s.

Aznar introduced a government austerity and privatization program, and the economy experienced significant economic growth. A cease-fire called by the ETA in 1998 resulted in fruitless negotiations with Aznar's government, and in 1999 the ETA ended the cease-fire. With the end of the cease-fire the government took a hard line with the separatists. Also in 1999, Spain became part of the European Union's single currency plan. Benefiting from a prosperous economy, Aznar led the PP to a parliamentary majority in the Mar., 2000, elections.

Following the Sept., 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the Spanish government sought greater international support for its campaign against the ETA and renewed its crackdown the organization. In Aug., 2002, a Spanish judge suspended Batasuna, the Basque separatist party linked to the ETA, accusing it of collaborating with terrorists; the party was permanently banned in Mar., 2003. Despite strong opposition from the Spanish people, Aznar was a strong supporter of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Spain did not, however, commit troops to the invasion force, but it subsequently contributed to the occupation force.

The government's support of the U.S. occupation of Iraq appears to have contributed to multiple bombings of Madrid commuter trains in Mar., 11, 2004, shortly before Spanish national elections. Initially termed likely an ETA attack by Aznar's government, the bombings were soon linked to a largely Moroccan group of Islamic terrorists; 190 people died, and more 1,400 were injured. Although the PP had been expected to win the mid-March parliamentary elections, the opposition Socialists secured a plurality of the seats. Their win seemed due both to continuing popular opposition to sending Spanish forces to Iraq and to the government's strongly asserted, presumptive mischaracterization of those behind the bombings. Socialist leader José Luis Rodríguez ZapateroZapatero, José Luis Rodríguez
, 1960–, Spanish political leader, prime minister of Spain (2004–11), b. Valladolid. A Socialist and a lawyer, he taught law at the Univ.
..... Click the link for more information.
, who had called for withdrawing Spain's troops from Iraq, did so after becoming prime minister.

Dependent on the support of Catalonian nationalists, Zapatero agreed to consider increased autonomy for Catalonia. The Catalonian government passed an autonomy plan in 2005, and the Cortes voted to approve increased autonomy for Catalonia in 2006. (A more extreme autonomy plan for the Basque Country, calling for "free association," failed to win Cortes approval in 2004.) The ETA, the militant Basque independence group that had mounted terror attacks since the 1960s, announced a "permanent" cease-fire in Mar., 2006, and called for negotiations; Zapatero announced in June that his government would open talks with the ETA. Also in June, Catalonian voters approved the autonomy plan; the approval meant that the powers accorded the Catalonian government could also devolve on other Spanish regions. In 2010, however, the constitutional court essentially nullified many of those powers, an action that stoked support for Catalonia's independence.

Negotiations with the ETA were slow to develop, although government representatives did meet with the ETA secretly in December. Progress was slowed in part by acts by each side that the other side regarded as contrary to the spirit of the cease-fire, and a major ETA bombing at the Madrid airport at the end of December led the government to announce it was ending the talks, and it subsequently arrested many ETA members. The ETA asserted the cease-fire continued, despite the bombing, but also threatened further attacks in retaliation for what it regarded as government moves against it, and in June, 2007, it officially ended its cease-fire.

In the Mar., 2008, elections, the Socialists again won a plurality of seats in the Cortes; both the Socialist and Popular parties increased their seats a little at the expense of smaller regional parties. The global financial crisis and resulting economic downturn that began in 2008 hit Spain especially hard, aggravating the collapse of a national housing and construction bubble; beginning in 2010 unemployment was near or above 20% for several years. The weakened economy greatly worsed the government's deficit, forcing the eurozone nation to adopt austerity measures. The ETA announced a new cease-fire in 2010 and an end to its armed campaign in Oct., 2011; the Spanish government continued to call for the group to disarm and disband.

Spain's economic difficulties led to significant losses for the governing Socialists in the May, 2011, local and regional elections, and Mariano Rajoy BreyRajoy Brey, Mariano
, 1955–, Spanish political leader, b. Santiago de Compostela. The son of a prominent Galician lawyer, he received (1978) a law degree from the Univ. of Santiago de Compostela.
..... Click the link for more information.
 led the PP to a parliamentary majority in the national elections in November. The new government enacted additional austerity measures as the economy continued to weaken; the PP failed to win the regional assembly elections in Andalusia in Mar., 2012. By mid-2012 increasing financial troubles with a number of Spain's banks had led to a government takeover of the largest savings bank, and also led Spain to seek European Union aid amounting to as much as €100 billion for its banks. At the same time, unemployment exceeded 27% at its peak in 2013 as a result of the ongoing recession, and the nation's budget deficit as a percentage of GDP increased to exceed Greece's in 2012.

The economic situation (which showed some improvement in late 2013) contributed to sentiment for independence in Catalonia, and led to renewed tensions between the region and the central government as Catalonia's government sought to hold a vote on independence. Ultimately held (Nov., 2014) as a nonbinding poll, in which most of those voting favored secession, the vote was later declared unconstitutional. In June, 2014, Juan Carlos abdicated and was succeeded by his son, Felipe (as Philip VIPhilip VI,
1968–, king of Spain (2014–). The only son and youngest child of Juan Carlos I, he was created prince of Asturias in 1977. As heir apparent, he traveled widely as a representative of Spain; he also engaged in philanthropic work and was a member of Spain's
..... Click the link for more information.

In the May, 2015, local and regional elections the PP remained the largest vote-getter but nonetheless suffered significant losses as voters turned to two new parties, one center-right and the other left-wing, in protest against continuing poor economic conditions. The September Catalonia elections gave separatist parties a regional parliamentary majority, which then approved a plan for secession and later sought to proceed with a 2017 independence referendum despite central government challenges in the courts. In December, national elections resulted in a divided parliament. The PP won a plurality, but only slightly more than a third of the seats, and the Socialists and the new left-wing and center-right parties also won significant blocs. Any new government needed the support of three of the four largest parties, making the formation of a new government difficult.

In June, 2016, new elections were held after the parties proved unable to agree on a new government; the result largely mirrored that six months before, though the PP did increase its plurality. A new government again failed to win parliamentary approval, but in October Rajoy was able to form a minority government with the support of the center-right Citizens party and the acquiescence of the Socialists. By the end of 2016, the unemployment rate had fallen from its highs but remained above 18%; it fell further through 2018, to 14.5%.

In Apr., 2017, the ETA, which had announced it would disarm, turned over information on arms stockpiles through intermediaries in France, and the group disbanded in May, 2018. Spain's worst terrorist attack since 2004 occurred in Barcelona in Aug., 2017, when a jihadist drove a van at pedestrians, killing 14 and injuring more than 100. Catalonia held an independence referendum in October despite court challenges and a Spanish police crackdown; 43% of Catalonians voted, 92% in favor. Subsequently, as the Spanish government moved to take control of the region, Catalonia's parliament declared independence before it was dissolved. The declaration was generally rejected internationally, and Spain charged Catalonian officials with rebellion and sedition, but pro-independence parties won the subsequent Catalonian elections.

In June, 2018, Rajoy lost a confidence vote in 2018 after the PP was fined and a former party treasurer was convicted in a major corruption case. Socialist Pedro SánchezSánchez Pérez-Castejón, Pedro,
1972–, Spanish political leader, b. Madrid, Ph.D. Camilo José Cela Univ., 2012. A professor of economics and a member of the Socialist Workers party (PSOE), he served in parliament (2009–11, 2013–16)
..... Click the link for more information.
 succeeded Rajoy as prime minister and formed a minority government. Sánchez, although opposed to Catalonian independence, took a more moderate approach with respect to its government. Failure to secure passage of a budget in Feb., 2019, led Sánchez to call a snap election for April, when the Socialists won a plurality, but a divided parliament made forming a new government difficult. In October the conviction of 12 Catalonian separatist leaders involved in 2017 referendum on various charges (including sedition in nine cases) sparked days of sometimes violent Catalonian protests. New elections in November again produced a divided parliament, but now with increased support for the far-right Vox party. In Jan., 2020, Sáchez formed a coalition government with the left-wing Podemos-led alliance; the new government was dependent on the acquiescence of the pro-independence Catalan Republican Left (ERC). Spain was extremely hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.


A standard historian of Spain is R. Altamira y CreveaAltamira y Crevea, Rafaél
, 1866–1951, Spanish jurist and historian. He was appointed professor of the history of the law in the universities at Oviedo (1897), Madrid (1914), and Mexico City (1945), and he served (1921–45) as a judge of the Permanent Court of
..... Click the link for more information.
. See also R. B. Merriman, The Rise of Spanish Empire (4 vol., 1918–36; repr. 1962); A. Castro, The Spaniards (tr. 1971, repr. 1980); R. Menéndez Pidal, The Cid and His Spain (tr. 1934, repr. 1971); G. Jackson, comp., The Spanish Civil War (1972); R. Collins, Early Medieval Spain (1987); R. Clark and M. Haltzel, ed., Spain in the 1980s (1987); P. Preston, The Triumph of Democracy in Spain (1988); S. M. Ellwood, Spanish Fascism in the Franco Era (1988); P. J. Donaghy and M. T. Newton, Spain (1988); J. H. Elliott, Spain and Its World, 1500–1700 (1989); L. A. Benton, Invisible Factories: The Informal Economy and Spanish Industrial Development (1990); H. Kamen, Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492–1763 (2003); H. Thomas, Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire (2004), The Golden Empire: Spain, Charles V, and the Creation of America (2011), and World without End: Spain, Philip II, and the First Global Empire (2014); W. Maltby, The Rise and Fall of the Spanish Empire (2009); M. Carr, Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain (2010); B. A. Catlos, Kingdoms of Faith (2018).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


Official name: Kingdom of Spain

Capital city: Madrid

Internet country code: .es

Flag description: Three horizontal bands of red (top), yellow (double width), and red with the national coat of arms on the hoist side of the yellow band; the coat of arms includes the royal seal framed by the Pillars of Her­cules, which are the two promontories (Gibraltar and Ceuta) on either side of the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar

National anthem: “Grenadier March” or “Royal Spanish March”

Geographical description: Southwestern Europe, border­ing the Bay of Biscay, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and Pyrenees Mountains, southwest of France

Total area: 194,884 sq. mi. (504,750 sq. km.)

Climate: Temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast

Nationality: noun: Spaniard(s); adjective: Spanish

Population: 40,448,191 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Composite of Mediterranean and Nordic groups; distinct ethnic groups within Spain include the Basques, Catalans, and Galicians

Languages spoken: Castilian Spanish (official) 74%, Cata­lan 17%, Galician 7%, and Basque 2% are official regional­ly

Religions: Roman Catholic 94%, other (including Protes­tant and Muslim) 6%

Legal Holidays:

All Saints' DayNov 1
Assumption DayAug 15
Christmas DayDec 25
Constitution DayDec 6
EpiphanyJan 6
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Immaculate Conception DayDec 8
Labor DayMay 1
National DayOct 12
New Year's DayJan 1
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a kingdom of SW Europe, occupying the Iberian peninsula between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic: a leading European power in the 16th century, with many overseas possessions, esp in the New World; became a republic in 1931; under the fascist dictatorship of Franco following the Civil War (1936--39) until his death in 1975; a member of the European Union. It consists chiefly of a central plateau (the Meseta), with the Pyrenees and the Cantabrian Mountains in the north and the Sierra Nevada in the south. Official language: Castilian Spanish, with Catalan, Galician, and Basque official regional languages. Religion: Roman Catholic majority. Currency: euro. Capital: Madrid. Pop.: 41 128 000 (2004 est.). Area: 504 748 sq. km (194 883 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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