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.
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.
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.
The Moors surrendering to Ferdinand and Isabella by Francisco Pradilla Ortiz
Timeline of the Reconquista
711 - The Moors conquer the Iberian Peninsula.
718 - The Reconquista begins with the victory of Pelayo at the Battle of Covadonga.
721 - The Moors are turned back from France with a defeat at the Battle of Toulouse.
791 - King Alfonso II becomes King of Asterieas. He will firmly establish the kingdom in northern Iberia.
930 to 950 - The King of Leon defeats the Moors in several battles.
950 - The Duchy of Castile is established as an independent Christian state.
1085 - Christian warriors capture Toledo.
1086 - The Almoravids arrive from North Africa to help the Moors in pushing back the Christians.
1094 - El Cid takes control of Valencia.
1143 - The Kingdom of Portugal is established.
1236 - By this date half of Iberia had been retaken by Christian forces.
1309 - Fernando IV takes Gibraltar.
1468 - Ferdinand and Isabella unite Castile and Aragon into a single united Spain.
1492 - The Reconquista is complete with the fall of Granada.
Interesting Facts about the Reconquista
During the Second Crusade, Crusaders passing through Portugal helped the Portuguese army to retake Lisbon from the Moors.
The national hero of Spain, El Cid, fought against the Moors and took control of the city of Valencia in 1094.
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were called the "Catholic Monarchs".
It was Ferdinand and Isabella who authorized the expedition of Christopher Columbus in 1492.
After the Reconquista, Muslims and Jews who lived in Spain were forced to convert to Christianity or they were expelled from the country.