The History of Spain

analytical Essay
1842 words
1842 words

What makes a Spaniard unique within Western civilization? Why is Spain

so different from other European countries? Some people look for a

simple geographic answer. But the fact is that its geography has not

changed that much since the days when Spain, as so many other European

lands, was but a piece in the grand imperial mosaic put together by

Rome. This common background persisted for several centuries as

northern European tribes - Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Franks - overran

southern Europe and established themselves there.

[IMAGE]What really made the difference was the arrival in Spain of the

Arabs early in the 8th century. From that moment on, Spains

development took on a distinctive character. While it is true that the

Arabs also reached up into France, they were soon thrown back. In

Spain it was a different story. The Moslems conquered much of the

Iberian peninsula and stayed on for nearly eight centuries.

Small Christian nuclei in northern Spain resisted the Moslem invaders

from the beginning. Over the centuries these rugged groups grew into

powerful Christian kingdoms that pushed the infidel ever southward.

During this prolonged struggle, Spain served as an advance post for

Christianity, a religious frontier. The main performers on this

medieval stage were the monk and the warrior - the man who prayed and

the man who fought; the man who reflected upon death and the man who

faced it on the battlefield. The victory achieved after nearly 800

years of effort gave the Spaniard a feeling of superiority, which was

reinforced by medieval chroniclers who were quick to remind them that

their country had once given great emperors to Rome. In that long

contest Spain put ideological values ahead of purely material

interests. Rivers were more often used as moats behind which to fight

raiders than as trade routes. Cities sprang up not because of

economics but because of strategic imperatives. Such was the case of

Segovia; and it was as a guardian of the mountain passes that Madrid

had its humble beginnings.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that spain's geography hasn't changed much since the days when it was just a piece in the grand imperial mosaic put together by rome.
  • Explains that the arrival of the arabs in spain in the 8th century gave spain a distinctive character. the moslems conquered much of spain.
  • Describes how small christian nuclei in northern spain resisted the moslem invaders from the beginning and grew into powerful christian kingdoms that pushed the infidel ever southward.
  • Analyzes how the medieval stage were the monk and the warrior - the man who prayed and fought; the victory achieved after nearly 800 years of effort gave the spaniard a feeling of superiority, reinforced by medieval chroniclers.
  • Explains that spain put ideological values ahead of purely material interests. rivers were more often used as moats behind which to fight raiders than as trade routes.
  • Explains that landscapes often have a warlike appearance. when the catholic sovereigns ended the war of reconquest from the moslems, the reconquista, and stood at the moorish towers of the alhambra at granada, they again turned their eyes southward.
  • Describes how the reconquista grew into the discovery, conquest and colonialization of the new world.
  • Explains that spain felt he had a godly mission to carry out, and this was to make it possible for him to withstand bitter defeats in later years.
  • Analyzes how cortes' counsel would have struck the flag that had let spain on a universal mission, but another ringing voice was heard.
  • Opines that spain must purify itself, without stopping its expansion abroad, so that "the nations of this europe of ours may once again flourish."
  • Explains that spain had shown a dynamic drive seldom paralleled in history, from the beginning of the internal restoration undertaken by fernando and isabel until the larval stage of 1588
  • Opines that the fact that he rode on horseback through the lands of the new world placed him ahead even of renaissance ideas and filled him with a proud spirit of progress.
  • Analyzes how the spaniards carried out the task of incorporating the new world into western civilization in an incredibly short time.
  • Explains how the canary islands were a small-scale prelude for the venture into the new world, involving overseas action, clashing with primitive cultures, preaching of the gospel and creation of new castillas.
  • Explains that europe entered a dynamic period of conquest and assimilation for which spain had shown the way. the hidalgos who fought under charles v in europe and under cortés in america were men of action.
  • Analyzes how felipe ii replaced the books on chivalry with a new breed more inclined to discourse than to action. while the most valuable works of the spanish baroque, both in literature and in the arts, were crafted after the armada's defeat, the underlying internal unity became apparent.
  • Explains that the deficiency of adequate organs to bring about the political union of the two former kingdoms of castilla and aragón was compounded by the catholic monarchy, in addition to the biological creation of an overseas spanish empire.
  • Explains that castilla was a modern state by controlling the nobility, insuring the loyalty of the cortes, and establishing new institutions or reviving old ones, but they failed to persuade the crown of aragón to integrate its different customs and traditions.
  • Explains that it is difficult to explain why aragón, which had displayed tremendous energies in the early middle ages, now flinched from the enterprises undertaken by the catholic sovereigns.
  • Explains that the marriage of isabel to fernando resulted in a fierce castilian arrogance and cold indifference, born of deep resentment, on the part of the aragonese, catalans and valencians.
  • Explains that castilla played a leading role in the supranational monarchy. it was convenient to embrace the policies of the dynastic habsburgs and bourbons.
  • Explains that the sailors and merchants of genoa and antwerp were not allowed to sail to or trade with the new world for hundreds of years.
  • Explains that castilla had such vitality that, even without the support of aragón, it was able to extend its supremacy over a large part of europe.
  • Explains that spanish foreign policy underwent a marked shift under charles v in the early 16th century. other than spanish interests came into play.
  • Explains that the new policies of the habsburgs meant the powerful old tericos would be used far away from their bases. the conquest of algiers would take second place to the defense of vienna.
  • Analyzes how spain exhausted its soldiers and economy after the armada and rocroi disasters. spain was the object of a campaign by europe to make it more european.
  • Explains that the country's primary need was the reconstruction of its social edifice.
  • Describes the arduous task of reconciling modernism with tradition during the period of enlightened despots, when the nation's destinies were placed in diligent and intelligent hands, with remarkable results.
  • Describes the consequences of the french revolution and of napoleon's ambitions. the french invasion of spain and the subsequent war of independence depleted the resources accumulated by good administrators in the 18th century.
  • Analyzes how the treaty of westphalia ended spain's supremacy over europe, and the war of independence brought the pruning down to the trunk of the tree.
  • Explains that there was no agreement of hoe to cure the country's ills. many spaniards looked back to the old political formulas, while others felt that the most urgent task was to bring spain up to date in accordance with the liberal systems adopted by western european countries
  • Explains that the liberals wanted to cut spain's roots in the past, which led to pronunciamientos and civil wars. the spanish monarchy was shocked by the loss of cuba, puerto rico, and the philippines.
  • Analyzes how spain's dilemma of reconciling the past with the present, as a prerequisite for facing the future with confidence, was to remain.
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