Location of SpainSpain is located in the south west of Europe, the largest country on the Iberian Peninsula. France and Andorra are to the north-west, the Mediterranean is to the west and south, the Gibraltar Straits to the south, the Atlantic to the south-west and west with Portugal inbetween, and the Bay of Biscay is to the north.
Historical Summary of SpainThe Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from Muslim rulers, who had been active in the region since the early eight century, left Spain dominated by two large kingdoms: Aragon and Castile. These were united under the joint rule of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1479, and they added other regions to their control, forming what would, in a few decades, evolve into the country of Spain. During the rule of these two monarchs Spain began to acquire a massive overseas empire, and the Spanish ‘Golden Age’ occurred in the sixteen and seventeenth centuries. Spain became part of the Habsburg family inheritance when Emperor Charles V inherited it in 1516, and when Charles II left the throne to a French noble the War of the Spanish Succession occurred between France and the Habsburgs; the French noble won.
Spain was invaded by Napoleon and saw struggles between an allied force and France, which the allies won, but this triggered independence movements among Spain’s imperial possessions. During the nineteenth century the political scene in Spain came to be dominated by the military, and in the twentieth century two dictatorships occurred: Rivera’s in 1923 – 30 and Franco’s in 1939 – 75. Franco kept Spain out of World War 2 and survived in power; he planned a transition back to monarchy for when he died, and this occurred in 1975 – 78 with the re-emergence of a democratic Spain.
Key People from the History of Spain
- Ferdinand and Isabella 1452 – 1516 / 1451 - 1504
Known as the Catholic Monarchs because of their faith, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile married in 1469; both came to power in 1479, Isabella after a civil war. They united the kingdoms of Aragon, Castile and several other regions under one monarchy and sponsored the journeys of European explorers, helping to establish a wealthy Spanish empire.
- Franco 1892 - 1975
Franco came to power after emerging as leader of the victorious right wing Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. He cannily avoided entering World War 2 on the side of Hitler, who many regarded as a natural ally, and instead survived in power until 1975. He harshly suppressed many supposed enemies.