Umayyad conquest of Hispania

Umayyad conquest of Hispania

711 Jan 1
, Algeciras

The Umayyad conquest of Hispania was the initial expansion of the Umayyad Caliphate over Hispania (in the Iberian Peninsula) from 711 to 718. The conquest resulted in the destruction of the Visigothic Kingdom and the establishment of the Umayyad Wilayah of Al-Andalus. During the caliphate of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I, forces led by Tariq ibn Ziyad disembarked in early 711 in Gibraltar at the head of an army consisting of Berbers from north Africa. After defeating the Visigothic king Roderic at the decisive Battle of Guadalete, Tariq was reinforced by an Arab force led by his superior wali Musa ibn Nusayr and continued northward. By 717, the combined Arab-Berber force had crossed the Pyrenees into Septimania. They occupied further territory in Gaul until 759.

The Visigothic retreat in front of the Berber cavalry | ©Salvador Martínez Cubells

Battle of Guadalete

711 Jan 2
, Guadalete

The Battle of Guadalete was the first major battle of the Umayyad conquest of Hispania, fought in 711 at an unidentified location in what is now southern Spain between the Christian Visigoths under their king, Roderic, and the invading forces of the Muslim Umayyad Caliphate, composed mainly of Berbers as well as Arabs under the commander Ṭāriq ibn Ziyad. The battle was significant as the culmination of a series of Berber attacks and the beginning of the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. Roderic was killed in the battle, along with many members of the Visigothic nobility, opening the way for the capture of the Visigothic capital of Toledo.

19th-century depiction of Muhammad XII's family in the Alhambra moments after the fall of Granada


718 Jan 1
, Spain

The small army Tariq led in the initial conquest consisted mostly of Berbers, while Musa's largely Arab force of over 12,000 soldiers was accompanied by a group of mawālī, that is, non-Arab Muslims, who were clients of the Arabs. The Berber soldiers accompanying Tariq were garrisoned in the centre and the north of the peninsula, as well as in the Pyrenees, while the Berber colonists who followed settled in all parts of the country – north, east, south and west. Visigothic lords who agreed to recognize Muslim suzerainty were allowed to retain their fiefs (notably, in Murcia, Galicia, and the Ebro valley).;

The second invasion comprised 18,000 mostly Arab troops, who rapidly captured Seville and then defeated Roderick's supporters at Mérida and met up with Tariq's troops at Talavera. The following year the combined forces continued into Galicia and the northeast, capturing Léon, Astorga and Zaragoza.

Al-Andalus was the Muslim-ruled area of the Iberian Peninsula. The term is used by modern historians for the former Islamic states based in modern Portugal and Spain. At its greatest geographical extent, its territory occupied most of the peninsula and a part of present-day southern France.

Battle of Toulouse (721)

Umayyad expansion checked

721 Jun 9
, Toulouse

The Battle of Toulouse (721) was a victory of an Aquitanian Christian army led by Duke Odo of Aquitaine over an Umayyad Muslim army besieging the city of Toulouse, and led by the governor of Al-Andalus, Al-Samh ibn Malik al-Khawlani. The victory checked the spread of Umayyad control westward from Narbonne into Aquitaine. Arab historians agree that the Battle of Toulouse was a total disaster for the Arabs. After the defeat, some Umayyad officials and soldiers managed to escape, among them;Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi. However, the clash halted indefinitely the Umayyad expansion northwards.

Battle of Covadonga

Battle of Covadonga

722 Jan 1
, Covadonga

From the beginning of the Muslim invasion of Hispania, refugees and combatants from the south of the peninsula had been moving north to avoid Islamic authority. Some had taken refuge in the remote mountains of Asturias in the northwestern part of the Iberian peninsula. There, from among the dispossessed of the south, Pelagius recruited his band of fighters.

Pelagius's first acts were to refuse to pay the jizya (tax on non-Muslims) to the Muslims any longer and to assault the small Umayyad garrisons that had been stationed in the area. Eventually, he managed to expel a provincial governor named Munuza from Asturias. He held the territory against a number of attempts to re-establish Muslim control, and soon founded the Kingdom of Asturias, which became a Christian stronghold against further Muslim expansion.

For the first few years, this rebellion posed no threat to the new masters of Hispania, whose seat of power had been established at Córdoba. Pelagius was not always able to keep the Muslims out of Asturias but neither could they defeat him, and as soon as the Moors left, he would always re-establish control. Islamic forces were focused on raiding Narbonne and Gaul, and there was a shortage of manpower for putting down an inconsequential insurrection in the mountains. It was an Umayyad defeat at the Battle of Toulouse that probably set the stage for the Battle of Covadonga. This was the first serious setback in the Muslim campaign in southwestern Europe. Reluctant to return to Córdoba with such unalloyed bad news, the Ummayad wāli, Anbasa ibn Suhaym Al-Kalbi, decided that putting down the rebellion in Asturias on his way home would afford his troops an easy victory and raise their flagging morale.

The Battle resulted in a victory for the forces of Pelagius. It is traditionally regarded as the foundational event of the Kingdom of Asturias and thus the initial point of the Christian Reconquista.

Bataille de Poitiers en octobre 732 romantically depicts a triumphant Charles Martel (mounted) facing Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi (right) at the Battle of Tours | ©Charles de Steuben

Battle of Tours

732 Oct 10
, Moussais la Bataille - 732 (Bataille de Poitiers)

The Battle of Tours, also called the Battle of Poitiers and, was fought on 10 October 732, resulted in the victory for the Frankish and Aquitanian forces, led by Charles Martel, over the invading forces of the Umayyad Caliphate, led by Abdul Rahman Al-Ghafiqi, governor of al-Andalus. Details of the battle, including the number of combatants and its exact location, are unclear from the surviving sources. Most sources agree that the Umayyads had a larger force and suffered heavier casualties. Notably, the Frankish troops apparently fought without heavy cavalry. Al-Ghafiqi was killed in combat, and the Umayyad army withdrew after the battle. The battle helped lay the foundations of the Carolingian Empire and Frankish domination of western Europe for the next century.

Berber Revolt

Berber Revolt

740 Jan 1
, Tangier

The Berber Revolt of 740–743 AD (122–125 AH in the Islamic calendar) took place during the reign of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik and marked the first successful secession from the Arab caliphate (ruled from Damascus). Fired up by Kharijite puritan preachers, the Berber revolt against their Umayyad Arab rulers began in Tangiers in 740, and was led initially by Maysara al-Matghari. The revolt soon spread through the rest of the Maghreb (North Africa) and across the straits to al-Andalus. The Umayyads scrambled and managed to prevent the core of Ifriqiya (Tunisia, East-Algeria and West-Libya) and al-Andalus (Spain and Portugal) from falling into rebel hands. But the rest of the Maghreb was never recovered. After failing to capture the Umayyad provincial capital of Kairouan, the Berber rebel armies dissolved, and the western Maghreb fragmented into a series of small Berber statelets, ruled by tribal chieftains and Kharijite imams. The Berber revolt was probably the largest military setback in the reign of Caliph Hisham. From it, emerged some of the first Muslim states outside the Caliphate.

Emirate of Córdoba

Emirate of Córdoba

756 Jan 1
, Córdoba

In 756, Abd al-Rahman I, a prince of the deposed Umayyad royal family, refused to recognize the authority of the Abbasid Caliphate and became an independent emir of Córdoba. He had been on the run for six years after the Umayyads had lost the position of caliph in Damascus in 750 to the Abbasids. Intent on regaining a position of power, he defeated the existing Muslim rulers of the area who had defied Umayyad rule and united various local fiefdoms into an emirate. However, this first unification of al-Andalus under Abd al-Rahman still took more than twenty-five years to complete (Toledo, Zaragoza, Pamplona, Barcelona).

For the next century and a half, his descendants continued as emirs of Córdoba, with nominal control over the rest of al-Andalus and sometimes even parts of western Maghreb, but with real control always in question, particularly over the marches along the Christian border, their power vacillating depending on the competence of the individual emir. For example, the power of emir Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Umawi (c. 900) did not extend beyond Córdoba itself.

Battle of Roncevaux Pass

Battle of Roncevaux Pass

778 Aug 15
, Roncesvalles

The Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778 saw a large force of Basques ambush a part of Charlemagne's army in Roncevaux Pass, a high mountain pass in the Pyrenees on the present border between France and Spain, after his invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. The Basque attack was a retaliation for Charlemagne's destruction of the city walls of their capital, Pamplona. As the Franks retreated across the Pyrenees back to Francia, the rearguard of Frankish lords was cut off, stood its ground, and was wiped out. Among those killed in the battle was Roland, a Frankish commander.

Battle of the Burbia River | ©Angus McBride

Battle of the Burbia River

791 Jan 1
, Villafranca del Bierzo

The Battle of Río Burbia or the Battle of the Burbia River was a battle fought in the year 791 between the troops of the Kingdom of Asturias, commanded by King Bermudo I of Asturias, and the troops of the Emirate of Córdoba, led by Yusuf ibn Bujt. The battle occurred in the context of the Ghazws of Hisham I against the Christian rebels of the northern Iberian Peninsula. The battle took place near the Río Burbia, in the area which is today known as Villafranca del Bierzo. The battle resulted in a victory for the Emirate of Cordoba.

Alfonso II

Kingdom of Asturias

791 Jan 1
, Oviedo

Pelayo's dynasty in Asturias survived and gradually expanded the kingdom's boundaries until all of northwest Hispania was included by roughly 775. However, credit is due to him and to his successors, the Banu Alfons from the Arab chronicles. Further expansion of the northwestern kingdom towards the south occurred during the reign of Alfonso II (from 791 to 842). A king's expedition arrived in and pillaged Lisbon in 798, probably concerted with the Carolingians.

The Asturian kingdom became firmly established with the recognition of Alfonso II as king of Asturias by Charlemagne and the Pope. During his reign, the bones of St. James the Great were declared to have been found in Galicia, at Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims from all over Europe opened a channel of communication between the isolated Asturias and the Carolingian lands and beyond, centuries later.

Battle of Lutos

Battle of Lutos

794 Jan 1
, Grado

The Battle of Lutos occurred in 794 when the Emir of Cordoba, Hisham I sent military incursions against the Kingdom of Asturias under the command of the brothers Abd al-Karim ibn Abd al-Walid ibn Mugaith and Abd al-Malik ibn Abd al-Walid ibn Mugaith.

Abd al-Karim carried out a scorched earth campaign of aggression against the lands of Álava, whilst his brother Abd al-Malik directed his forces into the heart of the Asturian Kingdom without encountering significant resistance aside from the town of Oviedo. He ravaged much of the countryside, including churches built by Fruela I of Asturias. Upon their return to Al-Andalus, in the valley of Camino Real del Puerto de la Mesa, they were set upon by King Alfonso II of Asturias and the forces under his command. The Asturian forces ambushed the Muslim army in a part of the valley near Grado, Asturias that has been considered by historians to be the area around Los Lodos. The battle resulted in an Asturian victory and the majority of the invading Muslim army was wiped out. Abd al-Malik was killed in the action.

Siege of Barcelona 801 | ©Angus McBride

Siege of Barcelona

801 Apr 3
, Barcelona

In the beginning of the 8th century when the Visigothic Kingdom was conquered by the Muslim troops of the Umayyad Caliphate, Barcelona was taken by the Muslim wali of Al-Andalus, Al-Hurr ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Thaqafi. After the failure of the Muslim invasion of Gaul at the Battles of Toulouse in 721 and Tours in 732, the city was integrated into the Upper March of Al-Andalus.

From 759 onwards the Frankish Kingdom embarked on the conquest of the territories under Muslim domination. The capture of the city of Narbonne by the forces of the Frankish king, Pepin the Short, brought the border to the Pyrenees. The Frankish advance was met with failure in front of Zaragoza, when Charlemagne was forced to retreat and suffered a setback in Roncevaux in the hands of Basque forces allied with the Muslims. But in 785, the rebellion of the inhabitants of Girona, who opened their gates to the Frankish army, pushed back the border and opened the way for a direct attack against Barcelona. On April 3, 801, Harun, commander of Barcelona accepted terms to surrender the city, worn out by hunger, deprivation and the constant attacks. The inhabitants of Barcelona then opened the gates of the city to the Carolingian army. Louis entered the city preceded by priests and clergy singing psalms, processing to a church to give thanks to God.

The Carolingians made Barcelona the capital of the County of Barcelona and incorporated it into the Hispanic Marches. Authority was to be exercised in the city by the Count and the Bishop. Bera, son of the Count of Toulouse, William of Gellone, was made the first Count of Barcelona.

Kingdom of Pamplona

Kingdom of Pamplona

824 Jan 1
, Roncesvalles

The Battle of Roncevaux Pass was a battle in which a combined Basque-Qasawi Muslim army defeated a Carolingian military expedition in 824. The battle took place only 46 years after the first Battle of Roncevaux Pass (778) in a confrontation showing similar features: a Basque force engaging from the mountains a northbound expedition led by the Franks, and the same geographical setting (the Roncevaux Pass or a spot nearby). The battle resulted in the defeat of the Carolingian military expedition and the capture of its commanders Aeblus and Aznar Sánchez in 824. The clash was to have further reaching consequences than those of the 778 engagement: the immediate establishment of the independent Kingdom of Pamplona.

Battle of Valdejunquera

Battle of Valdejunquera

920 Jul 26
, Douro River

The Battle of Valdejunquera took place in a valley called Iuncaria between the Islamic emirate of Córdoba and the Christian armies of the kingdoms of León and Navarre. The battle, a victory for the Córdobans, was part of the "campaign of Muez" (campaña de Muez), which was directed primarily against León's southern line of defence, the county of Castile along the Duero river. The Leonese king encountered the Muslims—whom we know from other sources to have been under the command of their emir, ‘Abdarrahmān III—in the Valdejunquera and was routed.

Kingdom of Leon

Kingdom of Leon

924 Jan 1
, León

Alfonso III of Asturias repopulated the strategically important city Leon and established it as his capital. King Alfonso began a series of campaigns to establish control over all the lands north of the Douro river. He reorganized his territories into the major duchies (Galicia and Portugal) and major counties (Saldaña and Castile), and fortified the borders with many castles. When the Asturian king, Alfonso the Great was deposed, his kingdom was divided among the three sons of Alfonso III of Asturias: García (León), Ordoño (Galicia) and Fruela (Asturias). In 924, Galicia and Asturias was conquered thus forming the Kingdom of Leon.

The Caliphate of Córdoba was gaining power, and began to attack Leon. King Ordoño allied with Navarre against Abd-al-Rahman, but they were defeated in Valdejunquera in 920. For the next 80 years, the Kingdom of León suffered civil wars, Moorish attack, internal intrigues and assassinations, and the partial independence of Galicia and Castile, thus delaying the reconquest and weakening the Christian forces. It was not until the following century that the Christians started to see their conquests as part of a long-term effort to restore the unity of the Visigothic kingdom.

Sack of Pamplona 924

Sack of Pamplona

924 Feb 1
, Pamplona

Beginning in 920, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān led a series of campaigns that culminated in the sacking of the Navarrese capital at Pamplona in 924. This brought a period of stability to the Christian frontier, but the ascent of Ramiro II to the Leonese throne in 932 ushered in an era of renewed hostility.

Caliphate of Córdoba | ©Jean-Léon Gérôme

Caliphate of Córdoba

929 Jan 1
, Córdoba

The Caliphate of Córdoba also known as the Cordoban Caliphate and officially known as the Second Umayyad Caliphate, was an Islamic state ruled by the Umayyad dynasty from 929 to 1031. Its territory comprised Iberia and parts of North Africa, with its capital in Córdoba. It succeeded the Emirate of Córdoba upon the self-proclamation of Umayyad emir Abd ar-Rahman III as caliph in January 929. The period was characterized by an expansion of trade and culture, and saw the construction of masterpieces of al-Andalus architecture.

The caliphate disintegrated in the early 11th century during the Fitna of al-Andalus, a civil war between the descendants of caliph Hisham II and the successors of his hajib (court official), Al-Mansur. In 1031, after years of infighting, the caliphate fractured into a number of independent Muslim taifa (kingdoms).

Battle of Simancas | ©Angus McBride

Battle of Simancas

939 Jul 19
, Simancas

The Battle of Simancas unfolded after the army of Abd al-Rahman III launched toward the northern Christian territories in 934. Abd al-Rahman III had gathered a large army of caliphal fighters, with the help of the Andalusian governor of Zaragoza, Muhammad ibn Yahya al-Tujibi. The Leonese king Ramiro II led the counterattack with an army constituted of his own troops, those of Castile under Count Fernán González, and the Navarrese under García Sánchez I.

The battle lasted some days, with the allied Christian troops emerging victorious and routing the Cordovan forces. Furtun ibn Muhammad al-Tawil, wali of Huesca, withheld his troops from the battle. He was hunted down near Calatayud by Salama ibn Ahmad ibn Salama, taken to Córdoba, and crucified in front of its Al-Qasr.

Magyar Raid

Magyar Raid

942 Jan 1
, Lleida

A Hungarian raid in Spain took place in July 942. This was the furthest west the Hungarians raided during the period of their migration into central Europe; although, in a great raid of 924–25, the Hungarians sacked Nîmes and may have got as far as the Pyrenees.The only contemporary reference to the Hungarians crossing the Pyrenees into Spain is in al-Maʿsūdī, who wrote that "their raids extend to the lands of Rome and almost as far as Spain". The only detailed description of the raid of 942 was preserved by Ibn Ḥayyān in his Kitāb al-Muqtabis fī tarīkh al-Andalus (He Who Seeks Knowledge About the History of al-Andalus), which was finished shortly before his death in 1076. His account of the Hungarians relies on a lost tenth-century source. According to Ibn Ḥayyān, the Hungarian raiding party passed through the Kingdom of the Lombards (northern Italy) and then through southern France, skirmishing along the way. They then invaded Thaghr al-Aqṣā ("Furthest March"), the northwestern frontier province of the Caliphate of Córdoba. On 7 July 942, the main army began the siege of Lleida (Lérida). The cities of Lleida, Huesca and Barbastro were all ruled by members of the Banū Ṭawīl family. The first two were ruled by Mūsa ibn Muḥammad, while Barbastro was under the control of his brother, Yaḥyā ibn Muḥammad. While besieging Lleida, the Hungarian cavalry raided as far as Huesca and Barbastro, where they captured Yaḥyā in a skirmish on 9 July.

Sack of Santiago de Compostela

Sack of Santiago de Compostela

968 Jan 1
, Santiago de Compostela

The sack (plundering) of Santiago de Compostela occurred in 968 AD, when a Viking fleet led by Gunrod entered and sacked the city of Santiago de Compostela in northern Hispania (now Spain). The attack had been encouraged by duke Richard I of Normandy. Three years later Gunrod attempted to sack the city again; however, this time his fleet was met with a powerful army and the sacking was averted.

Siege of Barcelona | ©Angus McBride

Siege of Barcelona

985 Jul 1
, Barcelona

The siege of Barcelona was a military confrontation waged during July 985 , between the forces of the Caliphate of Córdoba commanded by Almanzor and those of the County of Barcelona led by Viscount Udalardo . It ended with the victory of the Muslim troops and the total destruction of the homonymous city.

Raid on Santiago de Compostela

Raid on Santiago de Compostela

997 Aug 1
, Santiago de Compostela

In the summer of 997, Almanzor devastated Santiago de Compostela, after the Bishop, Pedro de Mezonzo, evacuated the city. In a combined operation involving his own land troops, those of Christian allies and the fleet, Almanzor's forces reached the city in mid-August. They burned the pre-Romanesque temple dedicated to the apostle James the Great, and said to contain his tomb. The prior removal of the saint's relics allowed the continuity of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route that had begun to attract pilgrims in the previous century. The campaign was a great triumph for the chamberlain at a delicate political moment, as it coincided with the breakdown of his long alliance with Subh. The Leonese setback was so great that it allowed Almanzor to settle a Muslim population in Zamora on his return from Santiago, while the bulk of the troops in Leonese territory remained in Toro. He then imposed peace terms on the Christian magnates that allowed him to forego campaigning in the north in 998, the first year this happened since 977.

Fall of Caliphate of Cordoba

Fall of Caliphate of Cordoba

1031 Jan 1
, Córdoba

The death of al-Hakam II in 976 marked the beginning of the end of the caliphate. The title of caliph became symbolic, without power or influence. The death of Abd al-Rahman Sanchuelo in 1009 marked the beginning of the Fitna of al-Andalus, with rivals claiming to be the new caliph, violence sweeping the caliphate, and intermittent invasions by the Hammudid dynasty Beset by factionalism, the caliphate crumbled in 1031 into a number of independent taifas, including the Taifa of Córdoba, Taifa of Seville and Taifa of Zaragoza.

Kingdom of Aragon

Kingdom of Aragon

1035 Jan 1
, Jaca

The Kingdom of Aragon started off as an offshoot of the Kingdom of Navarre. It was formed when Sancho III of Navarre decided to divide his large realm among all his sons. Aragon was the portion of the realm which passed to Ramiro I of Aragon, an illegitimate son of Sancho III. The kingdoms of Aragon and Navarre were several times united in personal union until the death of Alfonso the Battler in 1135.

Rise of Leon and Castile

Rise of Leon and Castile

1037 Sep 4
, Tamarón

The Battle of Tamarón took place on 4 September 1037 between Ferdinand, Count of Castile, and Vermudo III, King of León. Ferdinand, who had married Vermudo's sister Sancha, defeated and killed his brother-in-law near Tamarón, Spain, after a brief war. As a result, Ferdinand succeeded Vermudo on the throne.

Battle of Atapuerca

Battle of Atapuerca

1054 Sep 1
, Atapuerca

The Battle of Atapuerca was fought on 1 September 1054 at the site of Piedrahita ("standing stone") in the valley of Atapuerca between two brothers, King García Sánchez III of Navarre and King Ferdinand I of Castile. The Castilians won and King García and his favourite Fortún Sánchez were killed in battle. Ferdinand reannexed Navarrese territory he conceded to García 17 years earlier after his brother's assistance at Pisuerga.

King Alfonso VI of León and Castile captures Toledo

King Alfonso VI of León and Castile captures Toledo

1085 May 25
, Toledo

In 1074, Alfonso VI's vassal and friend Al-Mamun, king of the Taifa of Toledo died of poisoning in Córdoba, and was succeeded by his grandson Al-Qádir, who asked for help from the Leonese monarch to end an uprising against him. Alfonso VI took advantage of this request to besiege Toledo, which finally fell on 25 May 1085. After losing his throne, Al-Qádir was sent by Alfonso VI as king of the Taifa of Valencia under the protection of Álvar Fáñez. To facilitate this operation and to recover payment of the parias owed by the city, which had failed to pay him since the previous year, Alfonso VI besieged Zaragoza in the spring of 1086. In early March, Valencia accepted the rule of Al-Qádir.

The occupation of Toledo led to the taking of cities such as Talavera and fortresses including the castle of Aledo. He also occupied Mayrit (now Madrid) in 1085 without resistance, probably by capitulation. The incorporation of the territory situated between the Sistema Central and the Tajo river would serve as the base of operations for the Kingdom of León, from where he could launch more attacks against the Taifas of Cordoba, Seville, Badajoz and Granada.

Almoravids: Muslim resurgence

Almoravids: Muslim resurgence

1086 Feb 1
, Algeciras

In 1086 Yusuf ibn Tashfin was invited by the Muslim taifa princes of Al-Andalus in the Iberian Peninsula to defend their territories from the encroachment of Alfonso VI, King of León and Castile. In that year, Ibn Tashfin crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to Algeciras, and defeated Castile at the Battle of Sagrajas. He was prevented from following up his victory by trouble in Africa, which he chose to settle in person.

He returned to Iberia in 1090, avowedly for the purpose of annexing the taifa principalities of Iberia. He was supported by most of the Iberian people, who were discontented with the heavy taxation imposed upon them by their spendthrift rulers. Their religious teachers, as well as others in the east (most notably, al-Ghazali in Persia and al-Turtushi in Egypt, who was himself an Iberian by birth from Tortosa), detested the taifa rulers for their religious indifference. The clerics issued a fatwa (a non-binding legal opinion) that Yusuf was of sound morals and had the religious right to dethrone the rulers, whom he saw as heterodox in their faith. By 1094, Yusuf had annexed most of the major taifas, with the exception of the one at Zaragoza. The Almoravids were victorious at the Battle of Consuegra, during which the son of El Cid, Diego Rodríguez, perished. Alfonso, with some Leónese, retreated into the castle of Consuegra, which was besieged for eight days until the Almoravids withdrew to the south.

Battle of Sagrajas

Battle of Sagrajas

1086 Oct 23
, Badajoz

After Alfonso VI, King of León and Castile, captured Toledo in 1085 and invaded the taifa of Zaragoza, the emirs of the smaller taifa kingdoms of Islamic Iberia found that they could not resist him without external assistance. In 1086, they invited Yusuf ibn Tashfin to fight against Alfonso VI. In that year, he replied to the call of three Andalusian leaders (Al-Mu'tamid ibn Abbad and others) and crossed the straits to Algeciras and moved to Seville. From there, accompanied by the emirs of Seville, Granada, and Taifa of Málaga, he marched to Badajoz.

Alfonso VI abandoned the siege of Zaragoza, recalled his troops from Valencia, and appealed to Sancho I of Aragon for help. Finally he set out to meet the enemy northeast of Badajoz. The two armies met each other on 23 October 1086.

The battle was a decisive victory for the Almoravids but their losses meant that it was not possible to follow it up although Yusuf had to return prematurely to Africa due to the death of his heir. Castile suffered almost no loss of territory and was able to retain the city of Toledo, occupied the previous year. However, the Christian advance was halted for several generations while both sides regrouped.

El Cid conquers Valencia

El Cid conquers Valencia

1094 May 1
, Valencia

In October 1092 an uprising occurred in Valencia, inspired by the city's chief judge Ibn Jahhaf and the Almoravids. El Cid began a siege of Valencia. A December 1093 attempt to break the siege failed. By the time the siege ended in May 1094, El Cid had carved out his own principality on the coast of the Mediterranean. Officially, El Cid ruled in the name of Alfonso; in reality, El Cid was fully independent. The city was both Christian and Muslim, and both Moors and Christians served in the army and as administrators. Jerome of Périgord was made bishop.

depiction of El Cid, who commanded the Aragonese forces in the battle.

Battle of Bairén

1097 Jan 1
, Gandia

The Battle of Bairén was fought between the forces of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, also known as "El Cid", in coalition with Peter I of Aragon, against the forces of the Almoravid dynasty, under the command of Muhammad ibn Tasufin. The battle was part of the long Reconquista of Spain, and resulted in a victory for the forces of the Kingdom of Aragon and the Kingdom of Valencia.

Battle of Consuegra

Battle of Consuegra

1097 Aug 15
, Consuegra

The Battle of Consuegra was a battle of the Spanish Reconquista fought on 15 August 1097 near the village of Consuegra in the province of Castile-La Mancha between the Castilian and Leonese army of Alfonso VI and the Almoravids under Yusuf ibn Tashfin. The battle soon turned into Almoravid victory, with the Leónese dead including the son of El Cid, Diego Rodríguez. Alfonso, with some Leónese, retreated into the castle of Consuegra, which was besieged for eight days until the Almoravids withdrew to the south.

Campo entre Tribaldos y Uclés, escenario de las batallas de 1108 y 1809

Battle of Uclés

1108 May 29
, Uclés

The Battle of Uclés was fought on 29 May 1108 during the Reconquista period near Uclés just south of the river Tagus between the Christian forces of Castile and León under Alfonso VI and the forces of the Muslim Almoravids under Tamim ibn-Yusuf. The battle was a disaster for the Christians and many of the high nobility of León, including seven counts, died in the fray or were beheaded afterwards, while the heir-apparent, Sancho Alfónsez, was murdered by villagers while trying to flee. Despite this, the Almoravids could not capitalise on their success in the open field by taking Toledo.

Battle of Candespina

Battle of Candespina

1111 Oct 26
, Fresno de Cantespino

The Battle of Candespina was fought on 26 October 1111 between the forces of Alfonso I of Aragon and those of his estranged wife, Urraca of León and Castile, in the Campo de la Espina near Sepúlveda. Alfonso was victorious, as he would be again in a few weeks at the Battle of Viadangos.

Zaragoza falls

Zaragoza falls

1118 Dec 18
, Zaragoza

In 1118, the Council of Toulouse declared a crusade to assist in the conquest of Zaragoza. Many Frenchmen consequently joined King Alfonso the Battler at Ayerbe. They took Almudévar, Gurrea de Gállego, and Zuera, besieging Zaragoza itself by the end of May. The city fell on 18 December, and the forces of Alfonso occupied the Azuda, the government tower. The great palace of the city was given to the monks of Bernard. Promptly, the city was made Alfonso's capital.

Battle of Cutanda

Battle of Cutanda

1120 Jun 17
, Cutanda

The Battle of Cutanda was a battle between the forces of Alfonso I the Battler and an army led by Ibrahim ibn Yusuf occurring in a place called Cutanda, near Calamocha (Teruel), in which the Almoravid army was defeated by the combined forces, mainly of Aragon and Navarre. Alfonso I was aided by William IX, Duke of Aquitaine. After this battle the Aragonese captured the fortified towns of Calatayud and Daroca.

Aclamação de D. Afonso Henriques

Battle of São Mamede

1128 Jun 24
, Guimaraes

The Battle of São Mamede is considered the seminal event for the foundation of the Kingdom of Portugal and the battle that ensured Portugal's Independence. Portuguese forces led by Afonso Henriques defeated forces led by his mother Teresa of Portugal and her lover Fernão Peres de Trava. Following São Mamede, the future king styled himself "Prince of Portugal". He would be called "King of Portugal" starting in 1139 and was recognised as such by neighbouring kingdoms in 1143.

Battle of Fraga

Battle of Fraga

1134 Jul 17
, Fraga

Since the second half of the 11th century, the kings of Aragón and the counts of Barcelona and of Urgel tried with obstinacy to conquer the Muslim held towns and frontier fortresses of the Marca Superior. Specifically, they targeted the low lands around the Segre and Cinca Rivers all the way to the mouth of the Ebro, an active and prosperous region with direct access to the Mediterranean Sea. The most important towns in this region were Lleida, Mequinenza, Fraga, and Tortosa.

The Battle of Fraga was a battle of the Spanish Reconquista that took place on 17 July 1134 at Fraga, Aragon, Spain. The battle was fought between the forces of the Kingdom of Aragon, commanded by Alfonso the Battler and a variety of Almoravid forces that had come to the aid of the town of Fraga which was being besieged by King Alfonso I. The battle resulted in an Almoravid victory. The Aragonese monarch Alfonso I died shortly after the battle.

Battle of Ourique

Kingdom of Portugal

1139 Jul 25
, Ourique

The Battle of Ourique was a battle that took place on 25 July 1139, in which the forces of Portuguese count Afonso Henriques (of the House of Burgundy) defeated those led by the Almoravid governor of Córdoba, Muhammad Az-Zubayr Ibn Umar, identified as "King Ismar" in Christian chronicles. After the battle, Afonso Henriques was proclaimed the first King of Portugal by his troops.

Battle of Valdevez

Battle of Valdevez

1140 Jun 1
, Arcos de Valdevez

The Battle of Valdevez took place between the Kingdom of León and the Kingdom of Portugal in the summer of 1140 or 1141. It is one of only two pitched battles that Alfonso VII of León is known to have fought, and the only of the two not coincident with a siege. His opponent at Valdevez was his cousin Afonso I of Portugal. An armistice signed after the battle eventually became the Treaty of Zamora (1143), and ended Portugal's first war of independence. The area of the battle became known as the Veiga or Campo da Matança, the "field of killing".

Establishment of the Portuguese Nationality (Treaty of Zamora). Tiles on the Jardim 1.º de Dezembro, Portimão, Portugal.

Portuguese Independence

1143 Oct 5
, Zamora

The Treaty of Zamora (5 October 1143) recognized Portuguese independence from the Kingdom of León. Based on the terms of the accord, King Alfonso VII of León recognized the Kingdom of Portugal in the presence of his cousin King Afonso I of Portugal, witnessed by the papal representative, Cardinal Guido de Vico, at the Cathedral of Zamora. Both kings promised durable peace between their kingdoms. By this treaty Afonso I of Portugal also recognized the suzerainty of the Pope. This treaty came as of a result of the Battle of Valdevez.

Almohads: Muslim counter-attack

Almohads: Muslim counter-attack

1147 Jan 2
, Seville

Al-Andalus followed the fate of Africa. Between 1146 and 1173, the Almohads gradually wrested control from the Almoravids over the Moorish principalities in Iberia. The Almohads transferred the capital of Muslim Iberia from Córdoba to Seville. They founded a great mosque there; its tower, the Giralda, was erected in 1184 to mark the accession of Ya'qub I. The Almohads also built a palace there called Al-Muwarak on the site of the modern day Alcázar of Seville.

The Almohad princes had a longer and more distinguished career than the Almoravids. The successors of Abd al-Mumin, Abu Yaqub Yusuf (Yusuf I, ruled 1163–1184) and Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur (Yaʻqūb I, ruled 1184–1199), were both able men. Initially their government drove many Jewish and Christian subjects to take refuge in the growing Christian states of Portugal, Castile, and Aragon. Ultimately they became less fanatical than the Almoravids, and Ya'qub al-Mansur was a highly accomplished man who wrote a good Arabic style and protected the philosopher Averroes. His title of "al-Manṣūr" ("the Victorious") was earned by his victory over Alfonso VIII of Castile in the Battle of Alarcos (1195).

Conquest of Santarém

Conquest of Santarém

1147 Mar 15
, Santarem

On 10 March 1147, King Afonso I of Portugal departed from Coimbra with 250 of his best knights intending to capture the Moorish city of Santarém, a goal that he had previously failed to achieve. The conquest of Santarém was of vital importance to Afonso's strategy; its possession would mean the end of the frequent Moorish attacks on Leiria and would also allow a future attack on Lisbon.

The Conquest of Santarém took place when the troops of the Kingdom of Portugal under the leadership of Afonso I of Portugal captured the Almoravid city of Santarém.

Siege of Lisbon | ©Alfredo Roque Gameiro

Siege of Lisbon

1147 Jul 1
, Lisbon

In the spring of 1147, the Pope authorized the crusade in the Iberian peninsula. He also authorized Alfonso VII of León and Castile to equate his campaigns against the Moors with the rest of the Second Crusade. In May 1147, a contingent of crusaders left from Dartmouth in England. They had intended to sail directly to the Holy Land, but weather forced the ships to stop on the Portuguese coast, at the northern city of Porto on 16 June 1147. There they were convinced to meet with King Afonso I of Portugal. The crusaders agreed to help the King attack Lisbon, with a solemn agreement that offered to the crusaders the pillage of the city's goods and the ransom money for expected prisoners.

The siege of Lisbon, from 1 July to 25 October 1147, was the military action that brought the city of Lisbon under definitive Portuguese control and expelled its Moorish overlords. It is seen as a pivotal battle of the wider Reconquista.

Siege of Almería

Siege of Almería

1147 Oct 1
, Almería

The Siege of Almería by the Kingdom of León and Castile and its allies lasted from July until October 1147. The siege was successful and the Almoravid garrison surrendered. The besieging force was under the overall command of King Alfonso VII. He was supported by forces from Navarre under their king, Catalonia under the count of Barcelona and Genoa, which provided most of the naval force. The city of Almería, known in Arabic as al-Mariyya, reached its zenith under the Almoravids in the latter half of the eleventh century and the first half of the twelfth. This period of commercial and cultural richness was cut short by the conquest of 1147. Large sections of the city were physically destroyed and most prominent residents emigrated to North Africa.

Álvaro de Luna, Constable of Castile, Grand Master of the military order of Santiago, and favorite of King John II of Castile

Military Orders

1170 Jan 1
, León

Alfonso I of Aragon (r. 1104-1134 CE) gave huge estates (in fact most of his kingdom as he had no heir) to the Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar, both military orders of professional warrior-monks who would make themselves indispensable to the defence of the Crusader States in the Middle East. The lure, although later reduced by Spanish nobles, eventually worked, and both orders would commit knights to the Reconquista; the Templars in 1143 CE and the Hospitallers in 1148 CE. In addition, the Iberian peninsula would see the formation of its own local military orders, starting with the Order of Calatrava in 1158 CE, the knights of which famously wore black armour. The 1170s CE proved to be a busier decade for new military orders with the formation of the Order of Santiago (1170 CE), Montjoy in Aragon (1173 CE), Alcantara (1176 CE) and, in Portugal, the Order of Evora (c. 1178 CE). The big advantage of these local orders was that they did not need to send a third of their revenue to a headquarters in the Middle East like the Templars and Hospitallers. A great deal more warriors would soon be on their way to help the Christian Spanish rulers, too, as the riches on offer in southern Spain attracted professional adventurers from other parts of Europe but especially northern France and Norman Sicily.

Battle of Alarcos

Battle of Alarcos

1195 Jul 18
, Alarcos Spain

Battle of Alarcos was a battle between the Almohads led by Abu Yusuf Ya'qub al-Mansur and King Alfonso VIII of Castile. It resulted in the defeat of the Castilian forces and their subsequent retreat to Toledo, whereas the Almohads reconquered Trujillo, Montánchez, and Talavera.

Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa | ©Francisco de Paula Van Halen

Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa

1212 Jul 16
, Santa Elena

In 1195, Alfonso VIII of Castile was defeated by the Almohads in the Battle of Alarcos. After this victory the Almohads took several important cities: Trujillo, Plasencia, Talavera, Cuenca, and Uclés. Then, in 1211, Muhammad al-Nasir crossed the Strait of Gibraltar with a powerful army, invaded Christian territory, and captured Salvatierra Castle, the stronghold of the knights of the Order of Calatrava. The threat to the Hispanic Christian kingdoms was so great that Pope Innocent III called Christian knights to a crusade.

The Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa was an important turning point in the Reconquista and in the medieval history of Spain. The Christian forces of King Alfonso VIII of Castile were joined by the armies of his rivals, Sancho VII of Navarre and Peter II of Aragon, in battle against the Almohad Muslim rulers of the southern half of the Iberian Peninsula. The caliph al-Nasir (Miramamolín in the Spanish chronicles) led the Almohad army, made up of people from all over the Almohad Caliphate.

The crushing defeat of the Almohads significantly hastened their decline both in the Iberian Peninsula and in the Maghreb a decade later. That gave further impulse to the Christian Reconquest and sharply reduced the already declining power of the Moors in Iberia. Shortly after the battle, the Castilians took Baeza and then Úbeda, major fortified cities near the battlefield and gateways to invade Andalusia.

Ramon Berenguer III thrusting the sign of Barcelona in the Fos castle (Fos-sur-Mer, Provenza), by Marià Fortuny (1856 or 1857), Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi (on trust at the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya).

Conquest of Majorca

1228 Jan 1
, Majorca

The Conquest of the island of Majorca on behalf of the Christian kingdoms was carried out by King James I of Aragon between 1229 and 1231. The pact to carry out the invasion, concluded between James I and the ecclesiastical and secular leaders, was ratified in Tarragona on August 28, 1229. It was open and promised conditions of parity for all who wished to participate.

After the conquest, James I divided the land among the nobles who accompanied him on the campaign, per the Llibre del Repartiment (book of distribution).Later, he also conquered Ibiza, whose campaign ended in 1235, while Menorca had already surrendered to him in 1231.While he occupied the island, James I created the Kingdom of Majorca, which became independent of the Crown of Aragon by the provisions of his will,until its subsequent conquest by the Aragonese Pedro IV during the reign of James II of Majorca.

Rise of the Nasrids

Rise of the Nasrids

1230 Jan 1
, Granada

The Emirate of Granada, also known as the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, was an Islamic realm in southern Iberia during the Late Middle Ages. It was the last independent Muslim state in Western Europe.

By 1230, the Almohad Caliphate in Morocco ruled the remaining Muslim territories in southern Iberia, which roughly corresponded to the modern Spanish provinces of Granada, Almería, and Málaga. Exploiting the Almohad's dynastic strife, the ambitious Muhammad ibn al-Ahmar rose to power and established the Nasrid dynasty over these lands. By 1250, the emirate was the last Muslim polity in the peninsula. Although effectively a vassal of the rising Crown of Castile, for over two centuries, Granada enjoyed considerable cultural and economic prosperity; much of the famed Alhambra palace complex was built during this period, and the Nasrids would be the longest-lived Muslim dynasty in Iberia.

Siege of Jaén

Siege of Jaén

1230 Sep 1
, Jaén

The siege was carried out from 24 June through September, 1230 by forces of the Kingdom of Castile commanded by Ferdinand III of Castile against the defending Taifa of Jayyān (جيان). The battle resulted in a Jayyānese victory after the Castilian withdrawal and abandonment of the siege immediately following the death of King Alfonso IX of León.

Battle of Jerez | ©Angus McBride

Battle of Jerez

1231 Jan 1
, Jerez de la Frontera

The Battle of Jerez took place in 1231 near the southern Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera during the Reconquista. King Ferdinand III of Castile and León's troops fought against those of Emir Ibn Hud of the taifa of Murcia. The Castilian forces were led by Ferdinand's brother, Prince Alfonso de Molina, assisted by Álvaro Pérez de Castro; according to some accounts Castro led the Castilians, not Molina. The battle is traditionally seen as marking the collapse of Ibn Hud's authority, and allowing the rise of his successor, Muhammad I.

Siege of Burriana | ©Giuseppe Rava

Siege of Burriana

1233 Jan 1
, Burriana

The Siege of Burriana was one of the battles that occurred during the Conquest of Valencia by James I of Aragon. Burriana was an important Muslim city, being the capital of La Plana, Valencia. It was known as the "Green City". The city was besieged for two months, finally falling to the forces of James I in July 1233.

Ferdinand III of Castile conquers Cordoba

Ferdinand III of Castile conquers Cordoba

1236 Jan 1
, Córdoba

During the reconquista, the siege of Córdoba (1236) was a successful investment by the forces of Ferdinand III, king of Castile and León, marking the end of the Islamic rule over the city that had begun in 711.In capturing the city, Ferdinand certainly benefited from the rivalry between the two main competing taifa rulers following the dissolution of the Almohad authority, itself triggered by the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa.

Battle of the Puig | ©The Battle of the Puig de Santa Maria

Battle of the Puig

1237 Aug 15
, El Puig

The Battle of the Puig of 1237 pitted the forces of the Crown of Aragon, under the command o Bernat Guillem I d'Entença, against the forces of the Taifa of Valencia, under the command of Zayyan ibn Mardanish. The battle resulted in a decisive Aragonese victory and the conquest of Valencia by the crown of Aragon.

Battle of the Puig

James of Aragon retakes Valencia

1238 Sep 28
, Valencia

Valencia capitulated to Aragonese rule on 28 September 1238, following an extensive campaign that included the Siege of Burriana and the decisive Battle of the Puig, where the Aragonese commander, Bernat Guillem I d'Entença, who was also the king's cousin, died from wounds received in action. Chroniclers say he used gunpowder in the siege of Museros castle.

Siege of Seville | © Flash Point History

Siege of Seville

1249 Nov 28
, Seville

The siege of Seville (July 1247 – November 1248) was a 16-month successful investment during the Reconquista of Seville by forces of Ferdinand III of Castile. Although perhaps eclipsed in geopolitical importance by the rapid capture of Córdoba in 1236, which sent a shockwave through the Muslim world, the siege of Seville was nonetheless the most complex military operation undertaken by Fernando III. It is also the last major operation of the Early Reconquista. The operation also marked the appearance of indigenous naval forces of Castile-León of military significance. In effect, Ramón de Bonifaz was the first admiral of Castile, although he never held an official title of that kind.In 1246, after the conquest of Jaén, Seville and Granada were the only major cities in the Iberian Peninsula that had not acquiesced to Christian suzerainty.

Mudéjar revolt | ©Angus McBride

Mudéjar revolt

1264 Jan 1
, Murcia

The Mudéjar revolt of 1264–1266 was a rebellion by the Muslim populations (Mudéjares) in the Lower Andalusia and Murcia regions of the Crown of Castile. The rebellion was in response to Castile's policy of relocating Muslim populations from these regions and was partially instigated by Muhammad I of Granada. The rebels were aided by the independent Emirate of Granada, while the Castilians were allied with Aragon. Early in the uprising, the rebels managed to capture Murcia and Jerez, as well as several smaller towns, but were eventually defeated by the royal forces. Subsequently, Castile expelled the Muslim populations of the reconquered territories and encouraged Christians from elsewhere to settle their lands. Granada became a vassal of Castile and paid an annual tribute.

James I of Aragon entering the city of Murcia after the surrender of its inhabitants, February 1266.

Conquest of Murcia

1265 Jan 1
, Murcia

A conquest of Murcia took place in 1265–66 when James I of Aragon conquered the Muslim-held Taifa of Murcia on behalf of his ally Alfonso X of Castile.

Battle of Río Salado

Marinid Invasion

1275 Jan 1
, Algeciras

In 1244, after being at their service for several years, the Marinids overthrew the Almohads which had controlled Morocco. After the Nasrids of Granada ceded the town of Algeciras to the Marinids, the Marinids supported the Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus to support the ongoing struggle against the Kingdom of Castile. The Marinid dynasty then tried to extend its control to include the commercial traffic of the Strait of Gibraltar.

The Marinids also strongly influenced the policy of the Emirate of Granada, from which they enlarged their army in 1275. In the 13th century, the Kingdom of Castile made several incursions into their territory. In 1260, Castilian forces raided Salé and, in 1267, initiated a full-scale invasion, but the Marinids repelled them.

Battle of Écija

Battle of Écija

1275 Sep 1
, Écija

The Battle of Écija was a battle of the Spanish Reconquista that took place in September 1275. The battle pitted the Muslim troops of the Nasrid Emirate of Granada and its Moroccan allies against those of the Kingdom of Castile and resulted in a victory for the Emirate of Granada.

Battle of Algeciras

Battle of Algeciras

1278 Jul 25
, Strait of Gibraltar

The Battle of Algeciras was a naval battle which occurred on July 25, 1278. The battle pitted the fleets of the Kingdom of Castile, commanded by the Admiral of Castile, Pedro Martínez de Fe, and the combined fleets of the Marinid dynasty and that of the Emirate of Granada, commanded by Abu Yaqub Yusuf an-Nasr. The battle was fought in the context of the Moorish naval expeditions to the Iberian Peninsula. The battle, which took place in the Strait of Gibraltar, resulted in a Muslim victory.

First University in Portugal

First University in Portugal

1290 Jan 1
, Coimbra

;In 1290, the king of Portugal, Denis, created the first university in Lisbon. It went through a number of relocations until moving permanently to Coimbra in 1537.

Battle of Iznalloz

Battle of Iznalloz

1295 Jan 1
, Iznalloz

The Battle of Iznalloz, was a battle of the Spanish Reconquista fought in the Province of Granada near the city of Iznalloz, north of the city of Granada in 1295. The battle pitted the troops of the Emirate of Granada, commanded by Muhammad II the Sultan of Granada against those of the Kingdom of Castile who were commanded by the Grand Master of the Order of Calatrava, Ruy Pérez Ponce de León on behalf of Sancho IV of Castile. The battle resulted in a catastrophic defeat for Castile and the Order of Calatrava, whose Grand Master died of wounds suffered in the battle.

Muhammad III conquers Cueta

Muhammad III conquers Cueta

1306 May 1
, Ceuta

In May 1306, Granada sent a fleet to capture Ceuta, sending their Azafid leaders to Granada, and declaring Muhammad III the city's overlord. Their forces also landed in the Marinid ports of Ksar es-Seghir, Larache, and Asilah and occupied those Atlantic ports. The conquest of Ceuta, together with control of Gibraltar and Algeciras, gave Granada a strong control of the Straits, but alarmed its neighbours the Marinids, Castile, and Aragon, who started considering a coalition against Granada.

Coalition against Granada

Coalition against Granada

1309 Jan 1
, Granada

The Christian kingdoms agreed to attack Granada, not sign a separate peace, and divide its territories between them. Aragon would gain one-sixth of the kingdom and Castile would gain the rest. James II also made a pact with Sultan Abu al-Rabi, offering galleys and knights for the Marinid conquest of Ceuta in return for fixed payments, as well as for receiving all movable goods gained in the conquest.

The three powers prepared for war against Granada and the two Christian kingdoms — without mentioning the Marinid collaboration — asked the Pope Clement V to grant a crusading bull and financial support from the church.

First siege of Gibraltar

First siege of Gibraltar

1309 Sep 12
, Gibraltar

The first siege of Gibraltar was a battle of the Spanish Reconquista that took place in 1309. The battle pitted the forces of the Crown of Castile (mostly those from the military councils of the city of Seville) under the command of Juan Núñez II de Lara and Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, against the forces of the Emirate of Granada who were under the command of Sultan Muhammed III and his brother, Abu'l-Juyush Nasr.

The battle resulted in a victory for the Crown of Castile, one of the few victories in what turned out to be a disastrous campaign. The taking of Gibraltar greatly increased the relative power of Castile on the Iberian Peninsula though the actual city was later recaptured by Muslim forces during the third siege of Gibraltar in 1333.

Castilian army is destroyed | ©Angus McBride

Castilian army is destroyed

1319 Jun 25
, Pinos Puente

In the late 1310s Castile was ruled by King Alfonso XI, a minor, under the joint regency of his grandmother Maria de Molina, of his granduncle infante John and of his uncle infante Peter. An agreement had been reached for a new expedition to begin in the late spring of 1319. This expedition was to be a large one, blessed by Pope John XXII who authorized it as a crusade.

The troops assembled in Cordoba in June 1319 and crossed the border under the command of infante Peter. With him were the Grand Masters of the Orders of Santiago, Calatrava and Alcántara and the Archbishops of Toledo and Seville.

A siege of the city of Granada was deemed impossible at the time. The withdrawal started on 25 June 1319, in very hot weather; infante Peter led the vanguard while infante John commanded the rearguard.

At this point Sultan Ismail decided to strike. A large force of elite Moorish cavalry, the "Volunteers of the Faith", led by Uthman ibn Abi al-Ula, exited from Granada and started harassing the retreating Castilians of infante John. These minor attacks turned into a general assault when the Granadines realized the Castilians were losing their cohesion during their retreat and were unable to fight back effectively. At this point the vanguard thought only of flight and to reach the Castilian border; in their panic, many men drowned while attempting to cross the river Genil in full armour. The unsupported rearguard collapsed, with infante John falling victim probably to stroke or heat stroke leading to a spectacular Moorish victory.

Battle of Teba

Battle of Teba

1330 Aug 1
, Teba

The Battle of Teba took place in August 1330, in the valley below the fortress of Teba, now a town in the province of Málaga in Andalusia, southern Spain. The encounter occurred during the frontier campaign waged between 1327 and 1333 by Alfonso XI of Castile against Muhammed IV, Sultan of Granada.

Third siege of Gibraltar 1333

Third siege of Gibraltar

1333 Jun 1
, Gibraltar

The third siege of Gibraltar was mounted by a Moorish army under the prince Abd al-Malik Abd al-Wahid of Morocco. The fortified town of Gibraltar had been held by Castile since 1309, when it had been seized from the Moorish Emirate of Granada. The attack on Gibraltar was ordered by the recently crowned Marinid ruler Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Othman in response to an appeal by the Nasrid ruler Muhammed IV of Granada. The onset of the siege took the Castilians by surprise. The stocks of food in Gibraltar were heavily depleted at the time due to the thievery of the town's governor, Vasco Perez de Meira, who had looted the money that was meant to have been spent on food for the garrison and to pay for the upkeep of the castle and fortifications. After over four months of siege and bombardment by Moorish catapults, the garrison and townspeople were reduced to near-starvation and surrendered to Abd al-Malik.

Battle of Cape St Vincent | ©Angus McBrie

Battle of Cape St Vincent

1337 Jul 21
, Cape St. Vincent

The Battle of Cape St Vincent of 1337 took place on 21 July 1337 between a Castilian fleet commanded by Alfonso Jofre Tenorio and a Portuguese fleet led by the Luso-Genoese admiral Emanuele Pessagno (Manuel Pessanha). The fledgling Portuguese fleet was defeated, bringing a quick end to the brief Luso-Castilian war that begun in 1336.

Battle of Río Salado

Last Moor invasion is driven back

1340 Oct 30
, Salado

After Alfonso XI of Castile's victory in the Teba campaign of 1330, Muhammed IV, Sultan of Granada sent to Abu al-Hasan 'Ali for help in maintaining his survival. Hasan sent a naval fleet and 5,000 troops that landed at Algeciras in early 1333. These set about helping the Granadan King to capture the Castilian outpost of Gibraltar, which he did after less than two months. They then conducted a limited campaign to reunite these territories to the realm of Granada. Back in Magreb, Abu Hasan amassed his biggest army to undertake an invasion of Castile with the intention of undoing the previous century's Christian advances.

This invasion was a final attempt by the Marinids to set up a power base in the Iberian Peninsula. The Marinids had mobilised a vast army and, after crossing the Strait of Gibraltar and defeating a Christian fleet at Gibraltar, proceeded inland to the Salado River near Tarifa, where they met the Christians. The Marinids had suffered a decisive defeat and moved back to Africa. Never again was a Muslim army able to invade the Iberian Peninsula. Control of the Straits of Gibraltar was now held by the Christians, specifically the Castilians and the Genoese.

Alfonso XI of Castile

Siege of Algeciras

1344 Mar 26
, Algeciras

The siege of Algeciras was undertaken by the Castillian forces of Alfonso XI assisted by the fleets of the Kingdom of Aragon and the Republic of Genoa. The city was the capital and the main port of the European territory of the Marinid Empire. The siege lasted for twenty one months. The population of the city, about 30,000 people including civilians and Berber soldiers, suffered from a land and sea blockade that prevented the entry of food into the city. The Emirate of Granada sent an army to relieve the city, but it was defeated beside the Río Palmones. Following this, on 26 March 1344 the city surrendered and was incorporated into the Crown of Castile. This was one of the first military engagements in Europe where gunpowder was used.

Black Death arrives in Spain

Black Death arrives

1350 Mar 1
, Gibraltar

The fifth siege of Gibraltar was a second attempt by King Alfonso XI of Castile to retake the fortified town of Gibraltar. It had been held by the Moors since 1333. The siege followed years of intermittent conflict between the Christian kingdoms of Spain and the Moorish Emirate of Granada, which was supported by the Marinid sultanate of Morocco. A series of Moorish defeats and reverses had left Gibraltar as a Moorish-held enclave within Castilian territory. Its geographical isolation was compensated for by the strength of its fortifications, which had been greatly improved since 1333.

Alfonso brought an army of around 20,000 men to dig in to the north of Gibraltar for a lengthy siege. In the New Year of 1350, the;Black Death;– which had been raging through western Europe for the previous two years – appeared in the camp. The outbreak caused panic as increasing numbers of Castilian troops began dying from the plague. The generals, nobles and ladies of the royal household begged Alfonso to call off the siege, but Alfonso refused to abandon the siege and fell victim to the plague on 27 March 1350, becoming the only monarch to die of the disease. His death meant the immediate end of the siege. The Moors recognised that they had had a narrow escape.

Castilian Civil War

Castilian Civil War

1351 Jan 1
, Nájera

The Castilian Civil War was a war of succession over the Crown of Castile that lasted from 1351 to 1369. The conflict started after the death of king Alfonso XI of Castile in March 1350. It became part of the larger conflict then raging between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France: the Hundred Years' War. It was fought primarily in Castile and its coastal waters between the local and allied forces of the reigning king, Peter, and his illegitimate brother Henry of Trastámara over the right to the crown.

War of the Two Peters | ©Angus McBride

War of the Two Peters

1356 Jan 1
, Valencia

At the beginning of the fourteenth century, Castile was suffering from unrest caused by its civil war, which was fought between the local and allied forces of the reigning king, Peter of Castile, and his half-brother Henry of Trastámara over the right to the crown.

Peter IV of Aragon supported Henry of Trastámara. Henry was also supported by the French commander Bertrand du Guesclin and his "free companies" of troops. Peter of Castile was supported by the English. The War of the Two Peters can thus be considered an extension of the wider Hundred Years' War as well as the Castilian Civil War.

The War of the Two Peters was fought from 1356 to 1375 between the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. Its name refers to the rulers of the countries, Peter of Castile and Peter IV of Aragon. One historian has written that "all of the centuries-old lessons of border fighting were used as two evenly matched opponents dueled across frontiers that could change hands with lightning speed."

Battle of Barcelona

Battle of Barcelona

1359 Jun 9
, Barcelona

The Battle of Barcelona (June 9–11, 1359) was a naval engagement fought in the coastal region of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, between the navies of the Crowns of Aragon and Castile, during the War of the Two Peters. A number of months beforehand, a large Castilian fleet had been assembled at Seville by order of the King of Castile, Peter I. Consisting of 128 warships including royal vessels, ships from the King of Castile's vassals, and several others that had been sent by the Castilian-allied monarchs of Portugal and Granada, this large fleet had been entrusted to the Genoese admiral, Egidio Boccanegra, who was seconded by two of his relatives, Ambrogio and Bartolome.

With Peter I also on board, as well as many distinguished noblemen and knights, the Castilian fleet set sail from Seville in April. Traversing the coast of Valencia and forcing the surrender of the Castle of Guardamar, it appeared before Barcelona on June 9. The king, Peter IV of Aragon and III of Barcelona, who was present at the city, organized the defense, together with the counts, Bernat III of Cabrera and Hug II of Cardona. The Aragonese disposed of ten galleys, a nau, and several small craft garrisoned by companies of crossbowmen, besides a line of siege weapons. Despite its inferior size, the fleet managed to repulse the Castilian attacks in a two-day battle that saw the first use of naval artillery: a bombard was mounted aboard the Aragonese nau and her shots heavily damaged one of the biggest naus of Peter I.

Battle of Araviana

Battle of Araviana

1359 Sep 22
, Ágreda

The Battle of Araviana was a cavalry action fought during the War of the Two Peters on 22 September 1359. Eight hundred Aragonese horse, many of them Castilian exiles in service of the Crown of Aragon under Henry of Trastámara, had launched a cavalgada in Castilian territory when, near the Castilian town of Ágreda, confronted and routed a Castilian force under Juan Fernández de Henestrosa set to guard the frontier. Numerous Castilian noblemen and knights were killed, including Henestrosa, while many other were captured.

Muhammad V returns from exile

Muhammad V returns from exile

1362 Jan 1
, Granada

During the three-year period of the reign of Muhammad VI, Muhammad V was plotting his return to power. A chance came in 1362 when King Peter I of Castile (Pedro el Cruel) lured Muhammad VI to his kingdom. There, in Seville, he was murdered and his head sent to Muhammad V as a gift upon his return to the throne. Muhammad V would then rule Granada for nearly the next 30 years in an age of peace and prosperity unrivaled in the history of the Nasrid dynasty.

Battle of Nájera | ©Jason Juta

Battle of Nájera

1367 Apr 3
, Nájera

The Battle of Nájera, also known as the Battle of Navarrete, was fought on 3 April 1367 near Nájera, in the province of La Rioja, Castile. It was an episode of the first Castilian Civil War which confronted King Peter of Castile with his half-brother Count Henry of Trastámara who aspired to the throne; the war involved Castile in the Hundred Years' War. Castilian naval power, far superior to that of France or England, encouraged the two polities to take sides in the civil war, to gain control over the Castilian fleet.

King Peter of Castile was supported by England, Aquitaine, Majorca, Navarra and the best European mercenaries hired by the Black Prince. His rival, Count Henry, was aided by a majority of the nobility and the Christian military organizations in Castile. While neither the Kingdom of France nor the Crown of Aragon gave him official assistance, he had on his side many Aragonese Soldiers and the French free companies loyal to his lieutenant the Breton knight and French commander Bertrand du Guesclin. Although the battle ended with a resounding defeat for Henry, it had disastrous consequences for King Peter and the Prince of Wales and England.

Miniature of the Battle of Montiel from the "Chronicles" of Jean Froissart (15th century)

Castilian War ends

1369 Mar 14
, Montiel

The Franco-Castilian force was led by Bertrand du Guesclin, while Peter of Castile led a Castilian-Granadine force. The Franco-Castilians were victorious largely thanks to the enveloping tactics of du Guesclin.

After the battle, Peter fled to the castle of Montiel, where he became trapped. In an attempt to bribe Bertrand du Guesclin, Peter was lured into a trap outside his castle refuge. In the confrontation his half-brother Henry stabbed Peter multiple times. His death on 23 March 1369 marked the end of the Castilian Civil War. His victorious half-brother was crowned Henry II of Castille.

The Trastamaran dynasty begins.

1383-1385 Crisis

Portuguese Civil War

1383 Apr 2
, Portugal

The 1383–1385 Portuguese interregnum was a civil war in Portuguese history during which no crowned king of Portugal reigned. The interregnum began when King Ferdinand I died without a male heir and ended when King John I was crowned in 1385 after his victory during the Battle of Aljubarrota. Portuguese interpret the era as their earliest national resistance movement countering Castilian intervention, and Robert Durand considers it as the "great revealer of national consciousness".The bourgeoisie and the nobility worked together to establish the Aviz dynasty, a branch of the Portuguese House of Burgundy, securely on an independent throne. That contrasted with the lengthy civil wars in France (Hundred Years' War) and England (War of the Roses), which had aristocratic factions fighting powerfully against a centralised monarchy. It is usually known in Portugal as the 1383-1385 Crisis (Crise de 1383-1385).

The Siege of Lisbon in the Chronicles of Jean Froissart

Siege of Lisbon

1384 Sep 3
, Lisbon

The Siege of Lisbon was a siege of the city of Lisbon from 29 May to 3 September 1384, between the Portuguese defenders of the city led by John I of Portugal and the Castillian army led by King John I of Castile. The siege ended in a disaster for Castile. A plague outbreak together with the constant attacks by Portuguese forces led by Nuno Álvares Pereira caused huge casualties among the Castilian ranks, who were forced to retreat four months after the start of the siege.

Illustration of the Battle of Aljubarrota by Jean de Wavrin

Battle of Aljubarrota

1385 Aug 14
, Aljubarrota

The Battle of Aljubarrota was fought between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Crown of Castile on 14 August 1385. Forces commanded by King John I of Portugal and his general Nuno Álvares Pereira, with the support of English allies, opposed the army of King John I of Castile with its Aragonese, Italian and French allies at São Jorge, between the towns of Leiria and Alcobaça, in central Portugal. The result was a decisive victory for the Portuguese, ruling out Castilian ambitions to the Portuguese throne, ending the 1383–85 Crisis and assuring John as King of Portugal.

Portuguese independence was confirmed and a new dynasty, the House of Aviz, was established. Scattered border confrontations with Castilian troops would persist until the death of John I of Castile in 1390, but these posed no real threat to the new dynasty.

Battle of Valverde

Battle of Valverde

1385 Oct 14
, Valverde de Mérida

The Battle of Valverde was fought on 14 October 1385, near Valverde de Mérida, Castile, between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Crown of Castile, and was part of the Portuguese Crisis of 1383–1385. The disaster that Castile experienced at Aljubarrota was thus quickly followed by another crushing defeat at Valverde. Most of the Portuguese towns that were still occupied by the Castilians soon surrendered to John I of Portugal.

Conquest of Ceuta

Conquest of Ceuta

1415 Aug 21
, Ceuta

The conquest of Ceuta by the Portuguese on 21 August 1415 marks an important step in the beginning of the Portuguese Empire in North Africa.

Battle of Los Alporchones

Battle of Los Alporchones

1452 Mar 17
, Lorca

The Battle of Los Alporchones was fought between the troops of the Emirate of Granada and the combined forces of the Kingdom of Castile and its client kingdom, the Kingdom of Murcia. The Moorish army was commanded by Malik ibn al-Abbas and the Castilian troops were commanded by Alonso Fajardo el Bravo, the head of the House of Fajardo and the Alcalde of Lorca Castle. The battle was fought in the area around the city of Lorca and resulted in a victory for the Kingdom of Castile.

Marriage portrait of Isabella and Ferdinand, who married in 1469

United Spain

1469 Oct 19
, Valladolid

Ferdinand II of Aragon marries Isabella I of Castile on 19 October 1469 in the Palacio de los Vivero in the city of Valladolid unifying a single united Spain.

War of the Castilian Succession

War of the Castilian Succession

1475 Jan 1
, Spain

The War of the Castilian Succession was the military conflict contested from 1475 to 1479 for the succession of the Crown of Castile fought between the supporters of Joanna 'la Beltraneja', reputed daughter of the late monarch Henry IV of Castile, and those of Henry's half-sister, Isabella, who was ultimately successful.

The war had a marked international character, as Isabella was married to Ferdinand, heir apparent to the Crown of Aragon, while Joanna was strategically married to King Afonso V of Portugal, her uncle, after the suggestion of her supporters. France intervened in support of Portugal, as they were rivals with Aragon for territory in Italy and Roussillon.

Despite a few initial successes by the supporters of Joanna, a lack of military aggressiveness by Afonso V and the stalemate in the Battle of Toro (1476) led to the disintegration of Joanna's alliance and the recognition of Isabella in the Courts of Madrigal-Segovia (April–October 1476): "In 1476, immediately after the indecisive battle of Peleagonzalo [near Toro], Ferdinand and Isabella hailed the result as a great victory and called Courts at Madrigal. The newly gained prestige was used to win municipal support from their allies ..." (Marvin Lunenfeld).

The war between Castile and Portugal alone continued. This included naval warfare in the Atlantic, which became more important: a struggle for maritime access to the wealth of Guinea (gold and slaves). In 1478, the Portuguese navy defeated the Castilians in the decisive Battle of Guinea.

The war concluded in 1479 with the Treaty of Alcáçovas, which recognized Isabella and Ferdinand as sovereigns of Castile and granted Portugal hegemony in the Atlantic, with the exception of the Canary Islands. Joanna lost her right to the throne of Castile and remained in Portugal until her death.

Batalla de Toro

Battle of Toro

1476 Mar 1
, Peleagonzalo

The Battle of Toro was a royal battle from the War of the Castilian Succession, fought on 1 March 1476, near the city of Toro, between the Castilian-Aragonese troops of the Catholic Monarchs and the Portuguese-Castilian forces of Afonso V and Prince John of Portugal. The battle had an inconclusive military outcome, as both sides claimed victory: the Castilian right wing was defeated by the forces under Prince John who possessed the battlefield, but the troops of Afonso V were beaten by the Castilian left-centre led by the Duke of Alba and Cardinal Mendoza.

15th-century painting of King Afonso V of Portugal

Battle of Guinea

1478 Apr 1
, Portugal

The Battle of Guinea took place on the Gulf of Guinea, in western Africa, 1478, between a Portuguese fleet and a Castilian fleet in the context of the War of the Castilian Succession. The outcome of the battle of Guinea was decisive for Portugal, continuing its dominance of the atlantic ocean, and reaching a very favourable sharing of the Atlantic and territories disputed with Castile in the Peace of Alcáçovas (1479). All with the exception of the Canary Islands stayed under Portuguese control: Guinea, Cape Verde, Madeira, Azores and the exclusive right of conquering the Kingdom of Fez. Portugal also won exclusive rights over the lands discovered or that were to be discovered south of the Canary Islands.

Granada War 1482

Granada War

1482 Jan 1
, Granada

The Granada War was a series of military campaigns between 1482 and 1491, during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, against the Nasrid dynasty's Emirate of Granada. It ended with the defeat of Granada and its annexation by Castile, ending all Islamic rule on the Iberian peninsula. The ten-year war was not a continuous effort but a series of seasonal campaigns launched in spring and broken off in winter.

The Granadans were crippled by internal conflict and civil war, while the Christians were generally unified. The Granadans were also bled economically by the tribute (Old Spanish: paria) they had to pay Castile to avoid being attacked and conquered. The war saw the effective use of artillery by the Christians to rapidly conquer towns that would otherwise have required long sieges.

Siege of Malaga

Siege of Málaga

1487 Aug 18
, Málaga

The siege of Málaga was an action during the Reconquest of Spain in which the Catholic Monarchs of Spain conquered the city of Mālaqa from the Emirate of Granada. The siege lasted about four months. It was the first conflict in which ambulances, or dedicated vehicles for the purpose of carrying injured persons, were used. Geopolitically, the loss of the emirate's second largest city—after Granada itself—and its most important port was a major loss for Granada. Most of the surviving population of the city were enslaved or put to death.

Siege of Baza | ©Angus McBride

Siege of Baza

1489 Jan 1
, Baza

In 1489, the Christian forces began a painfully long siege of Baza, the most important stronghold remaining to al-Zagal. Baza was highly defensible as it required the Christians to split their armies, and artillery was of little use against it. Supplying the army caused a huge budget shortfall for the Castilians. Occasional threats of deprivation of office were necessary to keep the army in the field, and Isabella came personally to the siege to help maintain the morale of both the nobles and the soldiers. After six months, al-Zagal surrendered, despite his garrison still being largely unharmed; he had become convinced that the Christians were serious about maintaining the siege as long as it would take, and further resistance was useless without the hope of relief, of which there was no sign. Baza was granted generous surrender terms, unlike Málaga.

The Capitulation of Granada | ©Francisco Pradilla Ortiz

Reconquista is complete

1492 Jan 2
, Granada

The combined Catholic forces of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile recapture from Moors the city of Granada, the last Muslim stronghold in Spain, completing Reconquista.


1493 Jan 1
, Spain

On the conclusion of Iberian victory over the Moors, Spain and Portugal extended the conflict against Islam overseas. The Spanish under the Habsburg dynasty soon became the champions of Roman Catholicism in Europe and the Mediterranean against the encroaching threat of the Ottoman Empire. In a similar vein, the conquest of Ceuta marked the beginning of Portuguese expansion into Muslim Africa. Soon, the Portuguese also warred with the Ottoman Caliphate in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia as the Portuguese conquered the Ottomans' allies: the Sultanate of Adal in East Africa, the Sultanate of Delhi in South Asia and the Sultanate of Malacca in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, the Spanish also went to war against the Sultanate of Brunei in Southeast Asia. The Spanish sent expeditions from New Spain (Mexico) to conquer and Christianize the Philippines, then a territory of the Sultanate of Brunei. Brunei itself was assaulted during the Castilian War. Spain also went to war against the Sultanates of Sulu, Maguindanao, and Lanao in the Spanish–Moro conflict.

Few Muslims were converted to Christianity in the reconquered territories of Iberia, and most were permitted to remain and practise their religion as a protected minority, in effect, reversing the status of Muslims and Christians of the past few centuries. Christians were encouraged to migrate southwards, Arab place names were replaced and many mosques were, naturally, converted to churches, but some remained and Muslim calls to prayer could be heard in many Spanish cities thereafter. The Christian states in Spain became mutually suspicious of each others' intentions with everyone fearing the dominant kingdom of Castile was intent on taking over its rivals. It also proved far from easy for the new states to control their new domains and especially the new class of magnates who prospered there. This may explain why many local military orders were nationalised by the Castilian crown in the second half of the 15th century CE.

Longer-lasting effects of the crusades in Spain included the fostering of an image of Christians as specially favoured to rule, and the idea would persist for many centuries thereafter in the institutions of Spanish government and fuel the religious intolerance that would mark the region in the 15th and 16th century CE. The ideology of the Reconquista and spread of Christianity through violence would also be applied to the Spanish and Portuguese conquests of the New World following Christopher Columbus' voyage of 1492 CE.


References for Reconquista.

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  • Bishko, Charles Julian, 1975.;The Spanish and Portuguese Reconquest, 1095–1492;in;A History of the Crusades, vol. 3: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, edited by Harry W. Hazard, (University of Wisconsin Press);online edition
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