The Reconquista

  • For five centuries, after the Moorish victory in 711, Spain was part of Islamic empire that ranged from the Middle East, across North Africa and into Europe. There were several benefits to being a part of this empire. While the remainder of Europe was in the midst of what is often called the "Dark Ages," the Islamic Empire flourished.

  • Within Islam at this time, learning was seen as a way of understanding the universe and leading an ethical life.

  • The first university, Al-Azhar, was established in Cairo, Egypt, in 970.

  • It was a part of Muslim belief to show religious tolerance to other "people of the book," or those who believe in a monotheistic (single) god.


The Islamic Empire in Spain was centered on the city of Cordoba, and was called al-Andalus. Over the centuries of Muslim control, this region was responsible for advances in trigonometry, astronomy, surgery and pharmacology. Since its first inception, al-Andalus and its administrative rulers, the Caliphate of Cordoba, was constantly at war with the Christian kingdoms of the north. These wars, which gradually eroded Muslim power and brought Spain back into the Christian fold, were known as the Reconquista.

  • The Spanish Reconquista began as a way to extend power and influence of Christian kingdoms. It was a series of wars fought between 718 and 1492 (less than a decade after the Moorish victory) based on religious differences

  • The Reconquista was a long series of wars and battles to control the Iberian Peninsula between the Christian Kingdoms and the Muslim Moors.










Timeline of the Reconquista

  • 711 - The Moors conquer the Iberian Peninsula.

  • 718 - The Reconquista begins with the victory of Pelayo at the Battle of Covadonga.

  • 721 - The Moors are turned back from France with a defeat at the Battle of Toulouse.

  • 791 - King Alfonso II becomes King of Asterieas. He will firmly establish the kingdom in northern Iberia.

  • 930 to 950 - The King of Leon defeats the Moors in several battles.

  • 950 - The Duchy of Castile is established as an independent Christian state.

  • 1085 - Christian warriors capture Toledo.

  • 1086 - The Almoravids arrive from North Africa to help the Moors in pushing back the Christians.

  • 1094 - El Cid takes control of Valencia.

  • 1143 - The Kingdom of Portugal is established.

  • 1236 - By this date half of Iberia had been retaken by Christian forces.

  • 1309 - Fernando IV takes Gibraltar.

  • 1468 - Ferdinand and Isabella unite Castile and Aragon into a single united Spain.

  • 1492 - The Reconquista is complete with the fall of Granada.


El Cid (Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar) was a Christian military leader made famous by his remarkable military ability and gained respect from both Christians and Muslims.  The legend of El Cid, meaning “The Lord” describes his life as a series of battles to regain the favor of his King from exile. According to Spanish tradition, his unwavering alliance and trust in God has made him one of the most famous Spaniards of all time.