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Reconquista and Islam in Spain

History >> Middle Ages for Kids

What was the Reconquista?

The Reconquista is the name given to a long series of wars and battles between the Christian Kingdoms and the Muslim Moors for control of the Iberian Peninsula. It lasted for a good portion of the Middle Ages from 718 to 1492.

What is the Iberian Peninsula?

The Iberian Peninsula is located in the far southwest of Europe. Today the majority of the peninsula includes the countries Spain and Portugal. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Pyrenees Mountains.

Who were the Moors?

The Moors were Muslims who lived in the northern African countries of Morocco and Algeria. They called the land of the Iberian Peninsula "Al-Andalus".

The Moors Invade Europe

In 711 the Moors crossed the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa and invaded the Iberian Peninsula. Over the next seven years they advanced into Europe and controlled the majority of the peninsula.

Map of Granada and Al-Andalus
The division of the land before Granada was retaken
from the Atlas to Freeman's Historical Geography

Start of the Reconquista

The Reconquista began in 718 when King Pelayo of the Visigoths defeated the Muslim army in Alcama at the Battle of Covadonga. This was the first significant victory of the Christians over the Moors.

Many Battles

Over the next several hundred years the Christians and the Moors would do battle. Charlemagne would halt the Moors advance at the borders of France, but taking back the peninsula would take over 700 years. There were many battles won and lost on both sides. Both sides also experienced internal struggles for power and civil war.

The Catholic Church

During the latter part of the Reconquista it was considered a holy war similar to the Crusades. The Catholic Church wanted the Muslims removed from Europe. Several military orders of the church such as the Order of Santiago and the Knights Templar fought in the Reconquista.

Fall of Granada

After years of fighting, the nation of Spain was united when King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile were married in 1469. The land of Granada was still ruled by the Moors, however. Ferdinand and Isabella then turned their united forces on Grenada, taking it back in 1492 and ending the Reconquista.

Reconquista conquers Grenada
The Moors surrendering to Ferdinand and Isabella
by Francisco Pradilla Ortiz

Timeline of the Reconquista
Interesting Facts about the Reconquista Activities

More subjects on the Middle Ages:

Feudal System
Medieval Monasteries
Glossary and Terms

Knights and Castles
Becoming a Knight
History of Knights
Knight's Armor and Weapons
Knight's coat of arms
Tournaments, Jousts, and Chivalry

Daily Life in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages Art and Literature
The Catholic Church and Cathedrals
Entertainment and Music
The King's Court

Major Events
The Black Death
The Crusades
Hundred Years War
Magna Carta
Norman Conquest of 1066
Reconquista of Spain
Wars of the Roses

Byzantine Empire
The Franks
Kievan Rus
Vikings for kids

Alfred the Great
Genghis Khan
Joan of Arc
Justinian I
Marco Polo
Saint Francis of Assisi
William the Conqueror
Famous Queens

Works Cited

History >> Middle Ages for Kids

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