What Was the Spanish Reconquista?


Quick Answer

The "Reconquista" or Spanish Reconquest was a period lasting more than 700 years, from the completion of the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula around 711 to the fall of the last Islamic state on the peninsula, Granada, in 1492. The idea behind the Reconquista is that the Christians took back the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims.

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Full Answer

The Muslims were Moors, mainly North African Berber soldiers and some Arabs. They crossed the Strait of Gilbraltar to conquer the Visigothic Kindgom in the eighth century, extending themselves over most of the peninsula, save for portions of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Catalonia and the Basque Country. The Christian kingdoms fought to recapture the lands. Part of the Christians' strategy was not only to wage war but also to repopulate the peninsula. Five centuries later, the only Muslim or Moor rulers left in Iberia were the Nasrid dynasty, who controlled the Kingdom of Granada. They were defeated in 1492, meaning the entire peninsula was back under Christian rule. Thus, the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella completed the Reconquista. Under Muslim rule, Christians and Jews were allowed to retain their religions if they paid a tax. Under the new Christian rule, Jews were expelled and the only Muslims with rights were Moors in Granada. This idea of a continuous "Reconquista" struggle that lasted for around eight centuries has sometimes been called into question by historians.

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