Gothic dominance lasted until 711, when Muslim armies crossed the Straight of Gibraltar and defeated Roderic, the last Visigoth king.
.They conquered the whole peninsula rapidly except for a small enclave in the North which would become the initial springboard for the Reconquest, which took eight centuries to achieve. They were defeated for the first time by Visigoth King Pelayo at Covadonga in northern Spain, 722.
The period of Muslim sway is divided into three periods: the Emirate (711 to 756), the Caliphate (756-1031) and the Reinos de Taifas (small independent kingdoms) (1031 to 1492).
Muslim Spain became politically independent of the Arabian empire, and in 10th century Abderraman III. made Al-Andalus his own caliphate. At this time it could be said that Cordoba was the cultural centre of Spain..
Decadence, the curse of all empires, started in 11th century, when the various Arabian noble families started to fight among themselves, and al-Andalus broke into numerous small caliphates.
The Christian kingdoms in the north started gradually to reconquer Spain. In 1212 a decisive Christian victory at battle of Navas de Tolosa spelt the beginning of the end of Moorish rule in Spain. Cordoba was taken from the moors in 1236, and in 1248 Ferdinand conquered Seville.
The marriage between Isabel of Castilia and Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469, uniting the two most important of the Christian kingdoms, was the turning point of the Reconquista. The Muslims rapidly lost territory, until they were finally expelled when they lost their last remaining caliphate, Granada, in 1492.
Spain Kings and Queens and Empire Find out about Spain under its Christian kings and queens and the rise and fall of the Spanish Empire
Return to Spain Calling Spain Calling front page