History of Spain Essay

One question from each of the three themes below will appear, you will pick one to write. See the sample IDs below for how to write a good ID. Model ID answers: Below are two sample ID answers from a different class.

Trireme—Triremes were the ships of the Greek navy (and other Mediterranean navies also), especially from the city of Athens.  The trireme was a ship which was maneuvered primarily through rowers in three banks of oars, but the ships could also sail.  The Athenian navy was the most powerful in Greece during the fifth century BC.  Serving in the navy as a rower was the duty of a citizen of the Athenian polis, though other navies often used slaves.  This is significant because it shows the effects of the poleis emphasis on citizenship on the military, and was key to Athenian power in the Classical Period (6th-4th centuries).  The Peloponnesian War was essentially a mismatch between Sparta’s army and Athens’s navy.

Medina al-Zahara—Medina al-Zahara was the palace-city of the Caliphs of Cordoba, built by Abd al-Rahman III in the tenth century.  Located in the hills outside of Cordoba, the huge palace was designed to be the splendid, dazzling center of Al-Andalus, which was at its economic, cultural, and political height under Abd al-Rahman III.  The palace was eventually destroyed in the civil wars which fractured Al-Andalus in the first three decades of the eleventh century.  The palace is significant in that it was the symbol of the wealth and grandeur of Al-Andalus at its height in the 900s.
Potential IDs
Las Navas de Tolosa
Fernando III
Hernando Cortes
Peace of Augsburg
San Lorenzo del Escorial
Francisco Goya
Trafalgar
Guerilla
Cuban Revolution
Anticlericalism
The End of Convivencia
The Crisis of Modern Spain (1814-1975)

The History of Spain - Answers to the Question

Las Navas de Tolosa

Las Navas de Tolosa, a sheltered plain in Southern Spain witnessed one of the largest battles in the European medieval history. The battle was between Christian soldiers and Muslim soldiers from Northern Africa. The King of Castile combined his forces with those of his Christian archrivals such as the kings of Portugal, Aragon, and Navarre, mustering a battalion of more than 100,000 soldiers. On the other side, Caliph Muhammad Al-Nasir was in control of a force of more than 120,000 troops. The Christian army resulted from the calls to have an allied army to fight the Almohads from Nothern Africa. The Almohads had camped in Navas de Tolosa, a valley on the northern side of Jaen City. The Almohads had closed off the valley, but the crusaders managed to enter it through Puerto Del Rey and took the Muslim army by surprise. At the end of the battle, more than 100,000 of the Muslim soldiers had been killed, with others being taken as prisoners. The caliph died a few days after the battle. The battle was renowned across Europe because of the decisive nature of its main characters, and the success that was achieved because of combining forces.

Fernando III

Fernando III, who was also called the Saint served as the king of Castile, Leon, and Galicia. The Fernando was born in 1199/1201 and died in 1252. Fernando II was one of the most successful kings of Castile. He masterminded one of the most expansive campaigns of Reconquista era. Besides, he was instrumental in the unification of the crowns of Leon and Castile. Through his military and democratic efforts, Fernando III significantly expanded Castile further into southern Spain, capturing many medieval cities such as Seville and Cordoba. The king also established boundaries for the Castilian State. In 1671, Fernando III was canonized by Pope Clement X and became known as Fernando el Santo. In his respect, major places are named in his name across the world. These include cities such as San Fernando and San Fernando in Pampanga. Besides, Fernando III is known more for establishing the oldest university in Spain, the University of Salamanca, which also happens to be the third oldest university in the world.

Hernando Cortes

 Hernando Cortes was a Spanish conqueror who led expeditions that resulted in the fall of the Aztec empire while bringing much of Mainland Mexico under control of the King of Castile in the 16th century. Cortes was born in 1485. Cortes was amongst the first generation of Spanish colonizers in the Americas. Hernando was born to a family of a lesser nobility. He later became one of the most successful expediters of his time, amassing vast amounts of wealth in the process. He started by going to Hispaniola, and then later to Cuba where he became a magistrate for some time in the second Spanish city in Cuba.  In 1519, he was elected and funded the third expedition to mainland Cuba, but the King of Castile recalled him because of his differences with the governor of Cuba, but he ignored. Cortes was a good strategist in that he allied with some indigenous people to be able to conquer others. The Cuban governor’s attempts to arrest him failed, and with a reinforcement of extra troops, he overthrew the Aztec Empire. He updated the King of Castile of his progress in Cuba, for which he was awarded the title of Marques del Valle de for his success in toppling the Aztec empire. Cortes died of dysentery and he was buried in Mexico.

Peace of Augsburg

            The Peace of Augsburg was a temporary treaty in the Holy Roman Empire during the religious conflict that had arisen during the reformation. With the treaty, every prince was to determine whether either Roman Catholicism or Lutheranism was to prevail in his land. Those who dissented were allowed to emigrate, with some cities being designated as free where both Catholics and Lutherans could practice their religions. However, Calvinists were ignored. Under a provision that was known as the ecclesiastic reservation, the abbots, bishops, and archbishops who had become Protestants after 1552 had to surrender their offices as well as their incomes. The treaty was between Charles V and the Schmalkaldic League, and it officially ended the struggle between the Catholics and the Lutherans by making Christendom permanent in the Holy Roman Empire. The treaty was important as it marked the beginning of religious tolerance and freedom in the Roman Empire. Besides, the endless killings of people who were opposed to the Catholic Church ended. This was instrumental in the establishment and the spread of Lutheranism and other non-catholic denominations in Spain and the rest of Europe.

San Lorenzo del Escorial

            San Lorenzo del Escorial is a town and a municipality in Madrid, Spain. The monastery of El Escorial, a major Spanish Renaissance monument, is found in the city. The royal library, one of the oldest libraries is found in this monastery. Construction of the El Escorial monastery started in 1558. The monastery is a major landmark in the municipality. Construction of the monastery lasted for 21 years and completely transformed the social Urban and social environment of El Escorial. Initially, the monastery the Archbishop of Toledo controlled the monastery, but Prior later replaced him. San Lorenzo del Escorial is major tourism hub especially because of the monastery. The monastery has a rich medieval history. The city was also a center of political power, especially with the help of the El Escorial, which was powerful in Catholicism.

Francisco Goya

Francisco Goya was a highly respected Spanish romantic painter, often regarded as the most prominent Spanish artists of the 18th century. Besides, he is regarded as one of the most talented portraitists of the modern times. Besides, he is considered as one of the last old painting masters, and first of the modern ones. Francisco was born in 1746. Francisco was a royal painter because of his talent. He, for instance, made many paintings of King Charles III and his family. Although he started with jolly and lighthearted pieces of art, his later works were characterized by a deep pessimism. After the French empire under Napoleon, Bonaparte invaded Spain, and Goya used his paintings to depict the suffering that was meted on the Spanish people who opposed the French invasion. However, these paintings were private at the time, probably because of the repercussions that they would have attracted from the French rule. Through his work, Goya had become a friend of the royals, and especially Crown Prince Don Luis. In his mid-career, he became a respectable court painter, attracting a salary from the Spanish kingdom, rather than the commissions that he had been accustomed to. Furthermore, he used his art to protest against the evils of the society. This is despite the fact that he had become deaf from an illness. In one of his paintings, for instance, he depicts Lot and his daughters, probably echoing the corruption and decay that was in the Spanish empire. After the end of the French invasion, he made his war paintings public. He later migrated to France where he lived the rest of his live painting.

Trafalgar

            The battle of Trafalgar that took place in 1805 was naval engagement between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of Spanish and French Navies during the Napoleonic wars. 27 British ships, with the Admiral Lord Nelson being in the lead, defeated 33 Spanish and French ships under the stewardship of Admiral Villeneuve. The battle took place in the Atlantic Ocean on the southern coast of Spain, in the west of Cape Trafalgar. The Spanish and French fleet lost 22 ships in the battle, with the British losing none. The battle was the most prominent naval battle at the time. The battle was a significant success to the English empire because it ended the French’s plans to invade England. The victory by the Britons confirmed Britain’s naval supremacy that it had established in the 18th century. To win the battle, the British digressed from the conventional naval tactics that were being employed at the time. Rather than having his fleet in a single line, Admiral Nelson divided his fleet into two columns, and perpendicularly against the enemy fleet. However, Nelson never enjoyed his heroism because he was short by a French Musketeer during the battle. He died in the battle.

Guerilla

            During the Peninsular war, the non-regular Spanish troops employed guerrilla tactics to fight off Napoleon’s Grand Armee during his invasion of Spain. The armed guerillas were a frequent source of harassment to the French army. These guerillas had no tangible central location, which made it impossible for the French to locate or to attack them. In the open field, the French army was largely undefeated. However, with the guerilla warfare tactics, the guerillas defeated the French army in places such as Sierra Morena. These victories were instrumental in convincing the British army that Napoleon can be defeated. The irregular army comprised of more than 32,000 men, who were divided into 22 groups. The guerillas were so effective that in instances such as the Battle of Arlaban, a Spanish guerilla of around 3,000 men ambushed the central part of a convoy of more than 1,600 French troops, freeing more than 1,042 Hispanic, British, and Spanish soldiers. The guerilla was probably most prominent since it established basis through which the Napoleon army could be defeated. Defeating the French army in the open battlefield was nearly impossible, but with the guerilla tactics, it became apparent that the French could be defeated.

Cuban Revolution

            Out of the dissatisfaction from the inefficient Spanish administration, political oppression, and high taxes, Cubans from the Eastern provinces, under Carlos Manuel de Cespedes united, signaling the start of a resistance war that lasted for more than ten years. More than 200,000 people died in the rebellion. Wealthy landowners who wanted political and economic freedom from the Spanish, and the laborers who wanted the abolition of slavery supported the battle. In 1876, General Arsenio Martinez was sent by the Spanish regime to crush the revolution. Because of lack of outside support by external parties and the in-organization of the rebels, the Spanish forces quelled the rebellion, and the rebels agreed to enter into a pact. The struggle was instrumental in the abolishment of slavery in Cuba in 1886. Besides, the Spaniards allowed the Cubans to have representation in the parliament. The revolution led to a better life for the Cubans and the cessation of the Spanish oppression, although some of the things that were agreed on in the treaty were never fulfilled.

Anticlericalism

            In Roman Catholicism, Anticlericalism is the opposition to the clergy because of its alleged or real influence on social and political affairs, docronairism, property or just any other reasons. The term originates from between the 12th and the 13th centuries. In Spain, the Napoleonic invasion of 1808 started the anticlerism in the country. The 1812 constitution put an end to the Inquisition, and restrictions on the number of religious orders, but also recognized Catholicism as the only established church within Spain. However, this constitution was abrogated in 1814 when Ferdinand VII took the throne. The anticlerical movement was very bitter with this abrogation, and from that time up to 1939, the religious conflict between the right and the left in Spain was incomparable. Anarchist groups were formed in Barcelona, which was considered as the center of anticlericalism. Churches were burned, and even priests attacked. After 1870, the conflict became fiercer, often resulting in the slaying of priests and nuns. To curtail the increasing attacks, anticlerical laws were passed. Besides, religious orders were restricted in number, with taxes being levied on religious institutions. Perhaps, the anticlerical movement led to the less influence of the church on political and social matters. The church is constrained to deal with more of the spiritual matters, rather than the political as well as social issues as was the case in the past.

The End of Convivencia

The Convivencia was characterized by the coexistence amongst the Christians, Jews, Muslims, and the Moorish-Iberian Kingdoms. Religious diversity and tolerance characterized the period from the eighth century up to 1492. The relative peace between the different religions was entirely different with the later years of the Spanish history where Catholicism became the only religion in the Iberian Peninsula. The Convivencia, however, ended in the 15th century after the fall of Granada. Even before the fall of Granada, the Spanish Inquisition had been established as early as 1478. With the Inquisition, the non-catholic Jews were expelled, with their majority settling in Portugal in 1492. In 1497, however, they were also expelled from Portugal. Just like the Jews, the Muslims who lived in Iberia were forced to convert to Catholicism or be expelled or killed. From 1500 to 1502, the Muslims who remained in Granada and Castile had converted to Catholics and were known as Moriscos. Despite their conversion, the old Christians still suspected them and consequently expelled more than 300,000 Muslims between 1609 and 1614.

The Crisis of Modern Spain (1814-1975)

From 1814 to 1975, Spain has been faced with various crises, ranging from religious intolerance to political instability. It is in this period that Spain lost control over its territories in contrast with its earlier successes and political power. Furthermore, during this period, various dictators ruled Spain. For instance, Francisco Franco ruled the country from 1936 to 1975, where many of opponents were killed. More than 310,000 people lost their lives in the struggle. Besides, the period witnessed the fall of the Spanish monarchy. This period witnessed major catastrophic events in Spain’s modern history. Instances such as the Cuban revolution led to the death of many Spaniards. Besides, it was in this period that the Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Spain. Oppression of the Spaniards characterized the French invasion. Many people, especially those who were rebellious to the French, were killed in this struggle..