What Were the Effects of the Spanish Reconquista?

The immediate consequence of the Reconquista was the conquest of all remaining Muslim political polities and their entailing territories by Spanish Roman Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. Subsequently, Spain became increasingly potent as a dominant world military, naval and colonial power.

Muslims had been living on the Iberian Peninsula since 711 A.D. and interactions between the major religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, while sometimes violent and intolerant, had also been both culturally and intellectually productive. But by the 15th century, much of the peninsula had been re-conquered by Catholic forces, leaving the relatively weak and often fractured Nasrid state of Grenada as the only remaining Muslim polity. By 1492, that too had been vanquished, leaving Isabella and Ferdinand with virtually unquestioned dominion.

While the events of 1492 eventually helped to further unite Spain under a single ethno-religious identity, it also meant disaster for members of those minority religions previously protected under Muslim rule and then, to varying degrees, under Christian rule as well. Most importantly, 1492 marked the dramatic expulsion of all remaining Spanish Jews, the Sephardim, who were robbed of most their property and given the choice of either leaving or death.

With the religious zeal fostered by the Reconquista, Spain's monarchy zealously embarked on continued exploration and colonization projects, beginning with the Columbus expedition financed in 1492. Subsequent territorial acquisitions captured most of South and Central America for Spain, along with their raw materials and precious metals. The latter, in particular, ultimately made early modern Spain wealthy.