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People have lived in Spain since the Stone Age. Later, the Roman Empire controlled Spain for about five hundred years; then as the Roman Empire broke up, groups of Germanic people including Visigoths moved in and took control.

In 711, the Umayyads took over, and later groups from North Africa, called the Moors. At first the Moors ruled most of Spain, but the reconquista* slowly forced them out over seven centuries. They called the land Al-Andalus. They were Muslims, and Muslim Spain was the farthest western point of Islamic civilization. The Caliphate of Córdoba fell apart in the early 11th century and Muslim rulers sometimes fought each other when they were not fighting the Christians. Muslim Spain was focused on learning. They had the greatest library system outside Baghdad.

The Christian Kingdom of León, the most important in the early Spanish Middle Ages, was started in 910. This Kingdom developed the first democratic parliament (Cortes de Llión) in Europe in 1188. After 1301, León had the same King as the Kingdom of Castile. The various kingdoms remained independent territories until 1833, when Spain was divided into regions and provinces.

In 1492, the Christians took the last part of Spain that still belonged to the Moors, Granada. Boabdil, the last Moorish King of Granada, surrendered to King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile on 2 January 1492. Ferdinand and Isabella then ruled all of Spain.

Before this, there were a number of Christian countries in what is now called Spain. Two of these countries, Castile and Aragon, came together when Ferdinand II of Aragon married the queen Isabella of Castile. The King ruled as much as the Queen.

In the same year, they sent Christopher Columbus to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. He found the islands of the Caribbean Sea.

When other Europeans explored, like Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro, they found out that there were two continents there - North America and South America. Spanish conquistadores# took over very large parts of those two continents. This empire did not make Spain a rich country, for most of the money had to be spent in wars in Italy and elsewhere. Some of these wars were fought against other European countries who were trying to take over parts of the Americas.

Meanwhile, at home, the Muslim manuscripts had been either burnt or taken to other countries. Jews had also been expelled from Spain. Some Jews remained but they had to become Christians. Among the few old things kept and respected in Spain were in music: harmony and stringed instruments. The buildings that had been built by the Moors were kept, and many Muslim religious buildings (mosques) were turned into churches. Some Jewish religious buildings were also turned into churches. Many Arab words became part of the Spanish Language

The grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella was Charles. When his grandfather died he inherited Castile and Aragon. He also inherited many territories at the death of his other grandfather, Maximilian I of Austria. Charles received from Maximilian the Austria state and the territory of Burgundy, in France. He was named Charles I in Spain, but he was elected as the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and was called Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. This made the empire bigger than ever. However, it was not a single country, but a personal union of many independent countries with a single King.


*reconquista – a war fought against occupying forces to take back control.

#conquistadores – Spanish explorers who conquered many native American civilisations.


Text adapted from Wiki.Kidzsearch.com, which is in the public domain.


For what was Muslim Spain noted?