Between 718 and 1492 AD, various Christian kingdoms of Hispania waged war against the triumphant forces of
Islam. This Reconquista
traditionally began with a Visigothic victory at Covadonga. The victor,
Pelagius, became the first king of Asturias. The Franks under King
Charlemagne helped liberate a portion of the area from
Islamic control, although he kept control of Marca Hispanica (Spanish March).
In 1431 AD, the forces of Castile defeated troops under the Sultan of Granada at
Between 1402 and 1496 AD, Spain acquired its first overseas conquest: the Canary Islands
from Portugal. Portuguese forces defeated a Castilian fleet at
Guinea in 1478 AD and resulted in the Peace of Alcáçovas.
The treaty recognized Portugal's right over the Azores,
Madeira and trade routes in Africa and the
Indian Ocean. Spain maintained the Canaries and could exploit any lands west of the African coast. Isabella and Ferdinand
thus sponsored exploration by men such as Christopher Columbus
and Ferdinand Magellan. Columbus made four voyages to the "New World"
and stimulated Spain's quest for empire. Magellan's ships circumnavigated the earth, although he died in the
the Philippines during a battle with Chief
Lapu Lapu at Mactan in 1521 AD.
By 1515 AD Spanish settlements flourished in the Caribbean.
Conquest of Mexico:
In 1519 AD, a Spanish expedition under Hernán Cortés
originally landed at Cozumel, then proceeded to
Campeche. He intended to conquer the
wealthy Aztec Empire. A local king gave a slave woman named
Malintzin to interpret between Cortés and the Aztecs. Cortés
convinced leaders of the Totonacs at Cempoala, and eventually the Tlaxcala,
to ally with him. While at Cholula, Cortés ordered a
massacre of suspected enemies. The conquistadors entered Tenochtitlan
as guests, but fought Aztec soldiers while Cortés made a brief return east.
He and a Spanish contingent battled their way into and out of the capital during the battle of
La Noche Triste. After their expulsion, 50% of the
city population died from smallpox and Cortés returned with an army of 100,000 to complete the conquest by 1521 AD.
Conquest of the Incas:
In 1532 AD, Spanish conquistadors and native allies under Francisco Pizarro
defeated Incans in battle at Cajamarca.
They captured Emperor Atahualpa and received a huge ransom in gold, however,
Pizarro ordered Atahualpa's execution. He later conquered Cusco
and ended the Incan Empire. Conquistadors founded Santiago in 1541 AD.
In 1588 AD, Philip II determined to end piracy against his treasure ships,
which Queen Elizabeth I of
England sponsored. He directed a fleet of 130 ships under the command of
Alonso Pérez de Guzmán (Duke of Medina) to invade England.
Sea captains such as Francis Drake defeated the fleet in battle at
Gravelines. Many Spaniards died of disease and their ships later sank in a
storm during their return route. Philip abandoned further plans to
Spain's "Golden Age" (16th to mid 17th century AD) was during the Habsburg
reign. After Isabella's death in 1504 AD, the royal court spurned Ferdinand and selected the daughter,
Joanna as queen. She later was declared insane, her husband died suspiciously,
and Ferdinand ascended the throne. He waged war against Venice and
France prior to his death in 1516 AD. Joanna's son, Charles I,
founded the monarchy of Spain and eventually inherited Habsburg territory, becoming the most powerful ruler in Christendom
and head of the Holy Roman Empire. This prompted
Francis I of France to war unsuccessfully against Spain and fall captive in
the Battle of Pavia. A freed Francis in 1543 AD allied with the
Ottoman sultan, Suleiman,
against Charles I. King Henry VIII of England allied with Spain
and made gains to offset a Spanish defeat at Ceresole. In 1631 and 1632 AD,
Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus
won victories against Spanish troops at Breitenfeld and
Lützen. After Gustavus death, Swedish forces decisively defeated a
Catholic and Spanish army at Nördlingen in 1634 AD.
Protestants weary of the Thirty Years' War received support when France,
under the direction of Cardinal Richelieu, declared war on the
Habsburgs and Holy Roman Empire. Spanish general Olivares launched a lightning campaign that threatened
Paris. French troops succeeded in pushing
Olivares back to Spain, and the Dutch navy
destroyed the Spanish fleet at The Downs in 1639 AD. Between 1647 and 1652 AD, a
plague killed 25% of the population in Seville and devastated the economy of
Andalucia. Spain stagnated and decayed during the late 17th century AD. This situation improved in the 18th century,
including the Spanish seizure of British Pensacola in 1781 AD.
SOUTH AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE:
Spain suffered a major loss of Louisiana Territory
to Napoléon Bonaparte in 1800 AD.
He also installed his brother on the Spanish throne and conducted a costly campaign throughout the
peninsula, which he later abandoned. But the war severed Spain's connections to its overseas colonies.
Wars of Independence in the Americas eventually
ousted Spanish control during the early 19th century AD. Revolutionaries in Latin America resisted royal control.
Key leaders included: José de San Martin and
In 1911 AD, France and Spain agreed upon demarcation of Morocco.
Spain suffered a defeat against Berbers at Annual in 1921 AD, which
exposed further weakness of Spanish forces. Between 1936 and 1939 AD, a Spanish Civil War
resulted in general Francisco Franco seizing control of Spain.