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History of Spain

History of Spain - Franco

If we take a look at the history of Spain, it would appear that people have always flocked to this warm, colorful country!

Romans, Germanic tribes, Arabs to name but a few, have all left evidence of their occupation, giving Spain its glorious variety of art and architecture.

Nowadays, when other nationalities come to Spain, it is often just to spend happy holidays here, although many do come in search of a better way of life - be it for economic reasons, for the climate, or for a more relaxed life-style.

What the country s future will be ... who knows ... good, I hope! But below is a simple and concise history of Spain (sorry, am not up to an long/complicated one!) which, perhaps, will help give a better understanding of Spain as she is to-day.

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HISTORY OF SPAIN - Prehistoric

Spain s history goes back a long way! ... The first evidence of man being anthropoligical remains found in the Province of Burgos, dating back almost 1 million years!

In Cantabria you can visit the famous Altamira Caves, with its ancient cave paintings dating back about 15,000 years.

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Believe it or not, it was the Carthaginians who founded Barcio (Barcelona) when they arrived in Spain in 230 BC.

A little later, round about 218 BC to be precise, Roman occupation began and they gave Iberia the name "Hispania". The Roman Aquaduct in Segovia is one of the many marvellous examples remaining of their presence here.

All good things come to an end and, by the 4th century AD, the Roman influence in Spain was waning, culminating in the end of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD.

During the 5th century AD, the Peninsula saw some new inhabitants - this time it was Germanic tribes who invaded, in particular, the Visigoths. Who knows, perhaps the mild climate and good wine appealed to them as well!

It was in 711 AD that the Moorish conquest of Spain began - they just had to nip over from north Africa! They quickly conquered most of the Peninsula, except the mountainous regions of Cantabria and the Pyrenees, but an emirate was established in C rdoba.

"Al-Andalus" was the name given to the Peninsula by the Moors, its economy prospered and, as is well-known fact, much of their influence, culture and beautiful architecture remain in the country to-day - especially in the sultry south.

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The Moors held on to their power in Spain for a long time but, by the middle of the 11th century AD, the Christians were gaining strength against them and repossessing territories. During the 13th century were the great Christian conquests of the "Reconquista".

One great tragedy of the Middle Ages in Spain was the Black Death - the plague of 1348, which caused the deaths of many of Spain s inhabitants.

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HISTORY OF SPAIN - Renaissance

In 1474, under the reign of the "Reyes Cat licos" (Catholic Kings) - Isabel I of Castille and her husband Fernando II of Aragon - began the integration of Spain under one sovereign rather than several divided kingdoms. In fact, the beginning of Spain as we know it to-day.

Isabel and Fernando reigned until 1516. During their reign, the Inquisition was instituted (1481) and the Roman Catholics finally conquered Granada - the last Moorish kingdom in Spain.

The Canary Islands also became part of Spain during this period and the famous Crist bal Col n (Christopher Colombus) began his discovery of the Americas.

This was a golden era in the history of Spain: as a result of colonization in the Americas, the Hispanic Monarchy became one of the richest and most powerful countries in Europe.

In 1516, Carlos I reigned as King of Spain until his death in 1556 - he also inherited other European kingdoms and became Holy Roman Emperor.

On his death, Felipe II succeeded Carlos as King of Spain but not as head of the Holy Roman Empire. It was during the latter s reign, in 1587, that Sir Francis Drake attacked Cadiz and set fire to the Spanish fleet.

The prosperous era gradually declined: there was bad feeling between Catholic and Protestant countries for religious reasons and, in 1566, there began a long and costly war against the Netherlands - this wasn t to end until the mid-seventeenth century.

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HISTORY OF SPAIN - Introduction of the Bourbons

The 18th century heralded more fighting in the form of the War of Succession of 1700 - a general European conflict due to Carlos II dying childless. It was the old, old story of squabbling over who had the right of succession!

In the end, in 1713, under the Treaty of Utrecht, the throne was given to Felipe V, thus introducing the French Bourbon monarchy into Spain.

After the long and costly war, the 18th century was basically a period of economic recuperation and reform.

The well-known French Revolution was taking place towards the end of this century, which was to affect Spain. In fact, in 1808, good old Napoleon Bonaparte decided he fancied paying a visit to Spain - and took over power!

The Spaniards revolted against the French occupiers in the Spanish War of Independence, which lasted from 1808 until 1814, when Napoleon s brother - Jos Bonaparte - acceeded to power.

The Bourbons were to return, though, in 1814 - under Kind Fernando VII. Unfortunately, his death in 1833 sparked off further quarrels over succession. Eventually, Isabel II reigned until a revolution occurred in 1868, and she was forced into exile.

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HISTORY OF SPAIN - The First Republic

After the revolution of 1868 - headed by Juan Bautista Topete - Spain had its first taste of a Republic - although it was not to last long - and, from 1875 until 1923, Spain returned to Bourbon rule, first under King Alfonso XII and then, in 1902, under Alfonso XIII.

During these years, Spain lost many of her former colonies ... it was a time of general discontent, resulting in the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera between the years 1923 to 1930.

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HISTORY OF SPAIN - Second Republic and Civil War (1931-1939)

In 1931, Spain became a socialist republic and there was an end to the monarchy.

The Conservatives won the elections of 1933 but the following year, there was a General Strike led by the Socialist Trade Union - the UGT.

In 1936, Spain s army revolted, with General Francisco Franco at the head, and the terrible 3-year Spanish Civil War began.

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HISTORY OF SPAIN - Dictatorship of Franco (1939-1975)

The "charismatic" Franco took a firm hold of Spain as its dictator and Spain first had the long job of recovering from the hardships of its Civil War.

By the 1960s, however, Spain was becoming more prosperous - tourism was taking off.

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HISTORY OF SPAIN - Democratic Monarchy

At Franco s death in 1975, Spain became the democratic monarchy that it is to-day, under King Juan Carlos I.

Democratic elections are now the order of the day as far as the government is concerned and, in 1986, Spain joined the European Union.

Both the Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Conservative Party (PP) have held power for lengthy periods over recent decades, with the PSOE recently gaining the majority.

Spain s economy is relatively prosperous, in spite of reasonably high employment. One of the main worries in recent times is that of terrorism, in particular, ETA.

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And that is the history of Spain for you ... in a nutshell(!) ... explaining a little about how the charming minarets, the well-planned aquaducts, the marvellous monuments to Col n, etc etc, came to be here!

All about the Spanish Armada.

All about the Spanish Inquisition.

All about bullfighting.

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