Spain History Timeline
Timeline Description: The country of Spain is situated on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal on the west, the Bay of Biscay to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and France to the east. It has been subject to land and sea invasions through the years from many cultures including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Iberians, Celts, Romans, Muslims, and Visigoths who each left some mark of influence on this land known by its citizens as Espana.

Date Event
711 A.D. Muslims conquer Iberia (About 711 A.D.).

The Muslims from North Africa push their way into the Iberian peninsula, defeating the Visogoths living in the south. Known as the Moors, the invaders name their new land al-Andalus. In 766 they make Cordoba their capital.
722 A.D. The Reconquista begins (About 722 A.D.).

Christians rulers try to take back the Iberian peninsula. This is the beginning of the Reconquista, or Reconquest. Asturias in the north becomes a haven for Christians escaping the Muslim rule. As more Christians flee the south, the northern regions become more powerful.
1000 A.D. Battles continue (10th century to 13th century A.D.).

The Christian kings unify to push the Muslims out of the land. In 1037 Fernando of Castile conquers Leon. In 1094 the Muslims attack El Cid's fortress in Valencia. After ten days El Cid emerges with 4,000 knights and defeats the Muslims. By the 13th century, Valencia is a Christian region.
1200 A.D. Muslim control weakens (1200s - 1400s A.D.).

By the 1200s Muslim control over the region has broken. The only stronghold left is in Granada in southern Spain.
1469 A.D. Ferdinand and Isabella marry (1469 - 1516 A.D.).

In 1469 Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile marry, leading to the unification of the kingdoms. In 1479 they start the Spanish Inquisition where non-Christians are considered enemies. In 1492 they oust the Muslims from Granada, and they sponsor Christopher Columbus' voyage.
1492 A.D. Spanish exploration (1492 - About1823 A.D.).

Starting with Christopher Columbus in 1492, Spain opens doors for exploration in the Americas. Although their conquests are to spread Christianity, they also seek gold and riches to support the kingdom back home. Spain becomes the first European power with an overseas empire.
1588 A.D. The Spanish Armada sinks.

Tensions for control of the seas erupt between Spain and England. In 1588 the two fleets meet in the waters off England. At first it seems like the Spanish Armada is too strong with over 100 ships, but then problems arise and eventually the Armada is defeated by the English navy.
1701 A.D. The War of the Spanish Succession (1701 - 1714 A.D.).

When Charles II dies, he leaves no heir to the throne. Louis XIV of France wants his grandson, Philip, to rule Spain, but other nations fear that this French and Spanish union will bring too much power to France. When the war ends, Philip can be king, but he can no longer be in line to be king of France.
1808 A.D. War of Independence (1808 - 1814 A.D.).

Also known as the Peninsular War, the Spanish War of Independence occurs after Napoleon tries to invade Spain but finds resistance. Britain and Portugal join the war and eventually defeat Napoleon.
1810 A.D. A loss of colonies (1810 - 1898 A.D.).

During the 1800s many of Spain's colonies throughout the world declare independence. At the end of the Spanish American War of 1898, Spain loses Guam, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Cuba.
1914 A.D. World War I and beyond (1914 - 1926 A.D.).

During the Great War, Spain declares itself neutral. At the end of the war Spain has trouble with rebel Abd el-Krim in Morocco who tries to liberate the land from foreign control. His plans backfire when France and Spain join together and expel him from the country.
1931 A.D. King Alfonso XIII steps down.

Unrest and dissatisfaction with royal rule grows. King Alfonso flees the country when the Second Spanish Republic comes to power. He eventually settles in Rome.
1936 A.D. The Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939 A.D.).

Spain holds an election and the Popular Front candidate wins. The military, headed by General Francisco Franco, revolts. The Spanish Civil War lasts for three years with over 600,000 people killed. Franco declares the war over on April 1, 1939 and names himself head of state.
1939 A.D. World War II (1939 - 1945 A.D.).

Spain declares itself neutral during the war. However, Franco makes 40,000 soldiers available to help Hitler's cause. Ammunition is also sent until the U.S. threatens Spain's oil supply. Franco changes allegiance to the allies when Hitler begins to lose. Economic sanctions are then imposed on Spain.
1939 A.D. Franco's government (1939 - 1975 A.D.).

Franco sets up a dictatorship. Though there is stability in the government, the people have limited freedoms. In the 1950s and 1960s he relaxes his stiff control a bit. This allows for economic growth. Franco dies in 1975.
1975 A.D. A New Rule.

Franco wants Juan Carlos, the grandson of Alfonso XIII, to rule after him. But when Juan Carlos becomes king, he does not follow Franco's wishes. Instead he sets up a democratic process. Though no longer the world power it once was as in the days of Spanish Conquest, the Spain of today is a land rich in heritage, yet eager to approach tomorrow with hope for its future.