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|Reconquista (Castilian, Portuguese, Galician and Leonese)|
|الاسترداد (Arabic: al-ʼIstirdād)|
|Recuperatio Hispanica (Latin)|
The Reconquista ("Reconquest") is a period in the history of the Iberian Peninsula starting with the Islamic conquest of the peninsula in the 710s.
Catholic, Spanish, and Portuguese historiography, from the beginnings of historical scholarship in Christian Spain, stressed the existence of a continuous phenomenon by which the Christian Iberian kingdoms opposed and conquered the Muslim kingdoms, understood as a common enemy who had militarily seized Christian territory. The concept of a Christian reconquest of the peninsula first emerged, in tenuous form, at the end of the 9th century.
A landmark was set by the Christian Chronica Prophetica (883–884), a document stressing the Christian and Muslim cultural and religious divide in Iberia and the necessity to drive the Muslims out.
Nevertheless, the difference between Christian and Muslim kingdoms in early medieval Spain and Al-Andalus was not seen at the time as anything like the clear-cut opposition that later emerged. Both Christian and Muslim rulers fought amongst themselves. Alliances between Muslims and Christians were not uncommon. Blurring distinctions even further were the mercenaries from both sides who simply fought for whoever paid the most. The period is looked back upon today as one of relative religious tolerance.
The ideology and Propaganda of a Crusade and Jihad
The Crusades, which started late in the 11th century, bred the religious ideology of a Christian reconquest, confronted at that time with a similarly staunch Muslim Jihad ideology in Al-Andalus by the Almoravids, and to an even greater degree by the Almohads. In fact previous documents from the 10th and 11th centuries are mute on any idea of "reconquest". Propaganda accounts of Muslim-Christian hostility came into being to support that idea, most notably the Chanson de Roland, a fictitious 12th-century French version of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass (778) dealing with the Iberian Saracens (Moors), and taught as historical fact afterwards.
The ideology of a Crusade also served as means to attract resources from outside the Iberia by the states of Spain. The Jihad also provided legitimacy to the previous Muslim and current Almohad rule in Al-Andalus.
Many recent historians dispute the whole concept of Reconquista as a concept created a posteriori in the service of later political goals. It has been called a "myth".
Stages and main event of the Reconquista
- Political fragmentation of Al-Andalus (1031–1195)
this period marks the beginning of successful campaigns that recover christian lands. Notable are the conquests of Toledo (1085), Lisboa (1147), Zaragoza and Tarragona (1188), and most lands of the Central and Iberian systems.
- Almohad recovery (1195-...)
The battles of Alarcos (1195) and Las Navas de Tolosas (1212) marks the end and limit of the expansion of the Christian Kingdoms. The last battle also ends the military union against Moors and marks the beginning of a series wars between the Spanish kingdoms of Castile and León. The reconquest of Alentejo by the summer campaigns of the Almohads marks the end of the maximum expansion of Portugal. Aragon shifts its resources and attention to the north of the Pyrenees (Toulouse and Occitania) and occasionally campaigns in Valencia and Murcia. The recapture of Toledo in 1218 also established the demarcation of the Tagus and the control of part of the Meseta Central ("Inner Plateau") of the Iberian Peninsula.
The military orders become the most engaged in the warfare and Crusade.