The history of Andalusia

From the times of the first Bronze Age, in the third millennium BC or BCE (Before Common Era), this land situated between two seas and two continents was a preferred destination for different peoples and civilizations. The ancient kingdom known as Tartessos was established in the south of Spain from the 11th century BC/BCE, based on the influence of the Phoenicians and Greeks. From this epoch comes the foundation of the oldest city in the west, Cádiz, scarcely 40km from Conil. Agriculture, pastoral farming as well as mineral mining and the production of bronze and silver artefacts were the chief activities in this merchant culture.

They were succeeded by the Turdetanians, an Iberian people, and after them the Carthaginians, who established their own settlements here.

In the 3rd century BCE, the Romans, after their victories in the Punic Wars, supplanted the sovereignty of the Carthaginians, creating and dominating over the following 700 years the province of ‘Baetica’, the name given to the area now known as Andalucía under the Roman region of Hispania, that is, Spain. Andalucía supplied the Roman Empire with foods, oil, wine and metals. The philosopher Seneca and the two first emperors to have been born outside of Rome, came from Itálica (Seville province): Trajan and Adrian. From the 3rd century BCE onwards, Rome looked east, towards Constantinople.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the Vandals from northern Germany arrived in the south. Riven by war, or at least localized struggle, between the Visigoths and the future Muslim rulers from north Africa, it was this epoch that created a new name for the region: Vandalucia. The German hegemony did not last long, followed by the conquest by the Visigoths, who under the reign of Alaric the Second established themselves in the Iberian peninsula and reached their peak during the times of the bishops Leandro and Isodoro.

The Mezquita of Cordoba

At the beginning of the 8th century, the Muslims crossed the ‘estrecho de Gilbraltar’, Straits of Gibraltar, and spread rapidly through the Iberian Peninsula. The independent Emirate of al-Andalus and, much later, the Caliphate of Cordoba, mark the apogee of the Umayyad dynasty and with that the apogee of Muslim culture in Andalucía. Cordoba was converted into the centre and crucible of these different cultures and religions. Commerce, science, craft and art experienced a great flowering in this period. From the year 1031 on, the Caliphate divided into tiny Islamic kingdoms, the Taifa or party states. The Almoravids and Almohads (Maghreb societies dubbed ‘Berbers’) succeeded one another in controlling al-Andalus until the 13th century. After the reconquest of Cordoba (1236) and Seville (1248), the Nasrid dynasty reigned for two and a half centuries, establishing their seat in Granada. The last Moorish king, Boabdil, following the entry into Granada in January 1492 of the ‘Reyes Catolicos’, the Catholic monarchs Isabel and Fernando, handed over the keys to Granada and took refuge in the Alpujarras.

Torre del Oro Sevilla

When Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus) discovered the New World in the autumn of 1492, the Edad de Oro, Golden Age, began in Andalucia. Seville was the axis of commerce with the Indias, as well as the cultural centre of Spain. From the year 1503 onwards, the ships loaded with gold and silver from the New World would tie up and unload in the river port of Seville. With the arrival of new crops and foodstuffs to the Old Continent, a radical change began in the agriculture and alimentary customs of the Europeans. Much later, with the silting up of the river Guadalquivir at Seville, Cadiz would come to monopolize Spain’s global commerce.Under the influence of the Renaissance and early Baroque, construction began on splendid cathedrals, churches, palaces, public buildings and squares. With the loss of control over the oceans, the political rivalries, mismanagement in government and four major epidemics of the Black Plague, the middle of the 17th century saw the start of a political and economic decay in Seville and, with that, across the rest of Spain.

13th century, 1248

The crisis of the 18th century began with the Spanish War of Succession, in the course of which England attacked Gibraltar. The court of Philip V, the first king of the Bourbon dynasty, was established over several years in Seville. In the middle decades of the century, the first stirrings of the Enlightenment began in Seville and, then, across Spain. In 1788 Cádiz lost its dominance in the commerce with the Indies. At the beginning of the 19th century, Andalucia suffered from the effects of the Napoleonic Wars, which affected the entire continent. The colonial empire of Spain began to crumble, and at the same time the Carlist Wars saw a new battle for the succession to the throne. At mid-century the situation led to social revolt and with that a liberal revolution. After just two years of government under the First Republic, the monarchy was restored. At the end of the century, there were peasant revolts and uprisings across Andalucia. The war with the United States put an end to the colonial empire, and in 1898 the Spanish crown lost Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

Rey de Espalña Felipe V Primer miembro del casa borbón

Felipe V, the first king of the House of Bourbon. The break up of the Spanish kingdoms

In the first half of the 20th century Spain was still basically an agrarian country. During this period the country was immersed in social revolt and internal conflict. The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera followed the shortlived Second Republic. While the two World Wars had no military effect on Spain, the country could not avoid the Civil War. With the victory of the Nationalists, General Franco came to power and with him the dictatorship, which continued until his death in 1975. With the proclamation of Juan Carlos I as King of Spain, and the restoration of democracy, many new possibilities opened up for all the regions of Spain. Thus Andalucia gained the stature of an autonomous region after the referendum of 28 February 1982. The rising economic and social achievements of the 1960s end 1970s were seen to intensify, over the whole of southern Spain, with the powerful growth of the tourism industry. Since Spain’s entry into the European Union, new perspectives for its agriculture have also opened up across the south, and the country itself.

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