Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)


Capital : Madrid

Size: 195 000 sq m Popn: 39 085 000

Alava, Albacete, Alicante, Almeria, Andalucia, Aragón, Asturias, Avila, Badajoz, Pais Vasco (Basque), Barcelona, Burgos, Cáceres, Cadiz, Catabria, Castellón, Castilla-la-Vieja / y Leon, Castilla-la-Mancha /la Nueva, Cataluna (Catalonia), Léon, Ciudad Real, Cordoba, Cuenca, Extremadura, Galicia, Granada, Guadajara, Guipuzcoa, Orense, Navarra, Murcia, Jaén, Malaga, Madrid, La Rioja, La Coruna Huelva, Oviedo, Palencia, Pontevedra, Salamanca, Segovia, Sevilla, Soria, Tarragona, Teruel, Valencia, Valladolid, Vizcaya, Zamora, Zaragoza, Baleares (Balearics),


Early inhabitants of the Iberian peninsula included the Iberians, Basques, Celts and Celtiberians. From the C7th BC, Greeks and Phoenicians established colonies on the coast and Carthage was dominant from the C5th, trying to found an empire in the south-east. Rome conquered this around 200 BC and although there was a long struggle, eventually the whole of the peninsula was absorbed into the Roman Empire. In Republican Roman times, it was divided into two provinces, Hispania Ulterior (Further Spain) and Hispania Citeria (Nearer Spain). The latter was less prosperous and not therefore as important to Rome but it was the only land route to the richer part of Hispania so was kept subdued.

Under the Roman Empire, the Iberian Peninsula was divided into Tarraconensis, Lusitania and Baetica, which became united as Hispania. As the Empire broke up, waves of Germanic migrants (Alans, Vandals and Sueves from the Theiss valley and Silesia, Visigoths from further west) established kingdoms. These were eventually absorbed by the Visigoths who had been invited by Rome to set up a kingdom in Spain at the beginning of the C5th.

An independent Christian church became established but this was corrupt and secularised by the C6th. Papal authority was strengthened by an offensive against the Islamic Moors, who had moved into Spain from North Africa after 711, and many new monastic orders (the Cluniacs were particularly strong in Spain) grew up. This did not prevent Islam from gaining a firm hold on the Mediterranean coasts with only Aragon and Castile remaining outside the Caliphate of Cordoba but the 'repoblación' did not begin until around 1150.

The Reconquista (reconquest) soon established new Christian kingdoms in the Iberian peninsula: Portugal (independent by 1139), Navarre, Castile (originally a tributary of Léon) and Aragon. By the mid-C13th, Castile under Alfonso X controlled over half the peninsula (Asturias, Galicia, Estremadura, Andalusia, Murcia, the Basque states), Aragon controlled the East (Catalonia, Valencia, the Balearics) and Portugal to the West but Navarre in the North and the Muslim kingdom of Granada in the South were still independent.

The C14th was a crisis for monarchies all over Europe. The Trastámura Usurpation in 1369 was an aristocratic reaction to Castile's royal authority. Regionalism strengthened with the death of Martin IV of Aragon in 1410 and the 1412 settlement established boundaries despite the Trastámura invasion of Portugal (decisively ended in 1385 at Aljubarrota). It was during this time that resentment towards the Jewish population strengthened. Castile and Aragon were united by the marriage of their rulers Isabella and Ferdinand in 1479 and combined to expel the Moors, reconquering Grenada in 1492. They also financed Columbus' expedition to the New World and many lucrative additions to the kingdoms were made by such 'conquistadores' as Cortes and Pisarro, making Spain one of the greatest world powers. Naples and Sicily were annexed in 1503, Milan in 1535 and Portugal in 1580. All these new conquests became part of the Habsburg lands under Emperor Charles V who also inherited the Netherlands. The Netherlands revolt from 1568 and the defeat of Armada in 1588 began to weaken Spain and constant wars, inflation and a corrupt bureaucracy undermined the economy. The expulsion of Jews and Moors and the loss of religious and civil freedoms also contributed. After the Peace of Utrecht ended the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713, it lost Naples, Sicily, Milan, Gibralter and the remaining possessions in the Netherlands.

There were reforms and economic growth during the C18th but Spain became involved in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, first as an ally, then as an opponent of France. France occupied Spain in 1808 but was expelled with British help in 1814. There was conflict between the monarchists and liberals throughout the C19th and there were revolutions and civil wars in 1820-3, 1833-9 and 1868 as well as many minor revolts and the temporary establishment of a republic in 1873-4. The American colonies were lost between 1810 and 1830 and after the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Philippines and Cuba were ceded to the USA. In the early C20th, there was an increase in republicism and socialism and the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera 1923-30 could not preserve the monarchy under Alfonso XIII. A republic was declared in 1931 and a centre-left alliance, the Popular Front, took office in 1936, introducing agrarian and other reforms which antagonised the landlords and the Catholic Church. General Francisco Franco led a military rebellion which caused the Spanish Civil War of 1936-9. He was victorious, with the help of the Nazis in Germany and the Fascists in Italy, and established a military dictatorship.

In 1947, Franco allowed the legislature to be revived with limited powers and announced that the monarchy would be restored when he died, naming Alfonso XIII's grandson, Juan Carlos, as his successor. Franco died in 1975, King Juan Carlos became head of state and there was a steady progress towards democracy with a new constitution supported by a referendum in 1978. The main internal problems were the demands for independence by regional extremists and the danger of a right-wing military coup. Adolfo Su« rez, leader of the ruling Democratic Centre Party (UCD), resigned in 1981 and his deputy, Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo, immediately faced an attempted coup by the army in Madrid. At the same time, the military commander of Valencia declared a state of emergency and put tanks on the streets but both uprisings failed and the two leaders were tried and imprisoned. Sotelo's decision to join NATO in 1982 was widely criticized and in October, he was forced to call a general election which he lost to the Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) under Felipe Gonz« lez. The PSOE had fought the election on the promise of removing Spain from NATO and bringing in nationalization but Gonz« lez's nationalization programme was extremely selective and the decision on NATO was put to a referendum which voted to remain a member. Spain became a full member of the European Community in January 1986 and Gonz« lez was re-elected in July. The country became a member of the Western European Union in November 1988. Although the PSOE gained only 175 out of the 350 seats in parliament, it retained power under Prime Minister Gonz« lez. In 1991, major tax reforms were made to try to help the economy.

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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