The History of Andalucia
Iberian Prehistory - Moors
The History of Andalucia
The History of Andalucia was of paramount importance to the
Golden Ages of Spain.
The Bronze Age
The Suebis Vandals and the Alanos
the Visigoth invaders
The Ancient Iberian region - which later became known as Andalucia Spain
- lies south-west of the Eurasian continent.
This area was of Prime Importance:
It was the Key of the Earliest Intercontinental Commerce on the Iberian Peninsula
Discoveries of Prehistoric cave art in Altamira 15,000 BCE and Palaeolithic archaeological remains in Atapuerca confirm modern man had settlements on the Iberian Peninsula.
Ancient Greek historians recorded that the Iberians originated from Africa. However, other theories point to the Ancient Kingdom of Iberia: Caucasus Iberia as the origin of the Iberians.
The Iberian Peninsula has been referred to as "Iberia" since ancient times. Iberia was a direct reference to the peoples who created settlements alongside the river Ebro: Ibērus its original Greek name, while Ibēr was the name the natives referred to.
The Tartessians who settled in Southern Iberia. History is a little conflictive as to their exact origins: some sources point to the Tartessians as a group of Iberians who separated and latterly mixed with the Celts.
The Tartessians erroneously believed that the Guadalquivir river originated in the Pyrenees. Possibly, this could point to how Iberia became a universal nomenclature-terminology - "known throughout The Iberian Peninsula."
The Celts were Indo-Europeans, who were nomads and warriors originating from Central Europe. They entered through the Pyrenees, occupying the Barcelona area and reached as far as the Valle del Ebro. They also settled on the Atlantic side of of the Iberian Peninsula, in Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia, descending further into Portugal.
On the Mediterranean side (the meseta), in Levante and in Andalucía, they mixed with the Iberians and became known as Celtiberians.
Galicia and Portugal stayed independent of the Iberians. Another ethnic group inhabited the western area of the Pyrenees, and were known as Basques. Their existence on the Iberian Peninsula predates that of the earliest known tribes. The Basque country is termed as el Pais Vasco.
originated from the area which spans: present-day Syria, Israel and Lebanon.
Who Were They?
were highly successful sea-faring Merchants.
They were a brave, courageous and physically, clever civilization who were the first to colonize (peacefully) areas of the Mediterranean.
Their notorious bartering and trading became easier and far more lucrative, after they developed the first (22 lettered) Alphabet (1,000BC).
- Master Temple-builders (Phoenicians built King Solomon's Temple 953 - 960 BC), and experts in the construction of lavish cities and Palaces
- Expert Seafarers and Boat Builders
- Amazing Navigators
- Metallurgic Specialists
- They minted coins
- Expensive tint was extracted, by crushing two mollusc shells: Buccinum lapillus and the Murex brandaris
- Glass manufacture was discovered by accident. The Phoenicians became expert glass manufacturers - even discovering how to make transparent glass. Glass-tinting was developed into a fine art
- Gem engravers
- Until the Moors arrived with the sugar cane, honey was a very important trading article. The Phoenicans studied and documented the 'Science of Managing Apiculture.'
Navigation and Extreme Adventures
The Phoenicians would have matched the remarkable achievements of: Christopher Columbus, Di Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Marco Polo.
They exploited the tin and silver routes, shipping and supplying the Mediterranean with precious merchandises of gold, silver, minerals and bronze: Financial freedom enabled them to develop numerous coastal colonies: Sicily, Sardinia and Iberia.
The Phoenicians built their own harbour on a jutting-out island: Gades – Cadiz, Andalucia. It was puposely-built, constructed on the water for heightened enemy-observation.
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The Phoenician Blockade Watchpoints
Gades (became Cadiz in the history of Andalucia), situated on the Atlantic side - was outside of the Straits of Gibraltar.
The Ancient Naval Station of the Iberians: Carteia was situated - bordering the Mediterranean edge of the Straits.
The exit-entry point of the Mediterranean was strictly guarded by the Phoenicians.
The History of Andalucia: Tartessos and its Silver
Huelva was discovered to have an enormous amount of silver and gold in the Rio-Tinto mines. Trading settlements grew.
The mythical, vanished harbour city: which became legendary in the history of Andalucia was Tartessos. Tartessos was situated in western Andalucía (now believed to be buried beneath the wetlands of Doñana).
Tartessos means in Basque Translation: between seas - Atlantic and Mediterranean.
The history of Andalucia and Tartessos was associated with incredible wealth. The city is believed that it was lost due to a Tsunami or an earthquake. Scant records are left. Testimony of El Carambolo Jewellery, however, bears witness to its existence.
Tartessians and Phoenicians Imported and Exported
The Tartessians Traded:
Cadiz Marine salt,
The Phoenicians Traded
Grape-Vines and Wine. (Eventually, when they created their inland settlements, their wine-making knowledge was shared),
Quality Olive Oil,
Unguents and Perfumes,
They introduced the Tartessians to carved Ivory and Ostrich Eggs.
They took Slaves.
Initial bartering was done by leaving goods on the beach.
The Phoenicians would row back to their boats.
The Tartessians would lay their goods - in exchange - on the beach.
The Phoenicians would return. Either be satisfied with the exchange or - expect more. They knew the value of the precious metals: the locals had no idea. They sold the metals to the Greeks.
A Fire Started the Silver Trade
Early Tartessian mining was panned from the Rio Tinto.
Fires had melted the silver, it drifted downstream. Phoenicians traded the Tartessian silver: for bagatelle jewellery. Eventually, they took-over the mining, in Rio Tinto.
Silver extraction under the Phoenicians attained industrial levels. Vast shipments of Silver were transported to Tyre. In order to lighten the heavy silver cargoes, galley anchors (made of lead) were replaced with pure silver anchors.
Phoenician Settlements of Andalucian Shores
There were no habours: anchorage was difficult.
(approximately 770 - 550 BC)
- Gadir: Cadiz, (1110 BC) - The largest and most important
- Calpe: Gibraltar
- Carmona: Carmo (Sevilla)
- Malaca: Málaga
- Sexi: Almuñécar
- Abdera: Adra, (Almeria)
- Baria: Villaricos, (Almeria)
- Cartagena: (Murcia)
Phoenician settlements were based on headlands, with vantage observation points, on principal Andalucian river-Deltas.
Tints and Dyes
Phoenicians were nicknamed "phoinikes" by the Greeks.
The Phoenicians were Canaanites. However, the Greek name stayed and became the root of Phoenician-name etymology.
Phonix meant purple-red. Phoenicians were renowned for their fabric-tinting skills. They monopolised a particular Purple-red dye: their characteristic dress colour.
This distinctive colour was obtained from a small sea-snail: Tyrian Purple or imperial purple; was more expensive than gold to obtain.
Breath-holding divers harvested the Murex sea-snails. It was an expensive source: the price exhorbitant. The purple-red colour became identified as a "royal colour", only the very rich could afford it.
The use of Tyrian purple continued by emperors until the final collapse of the Eastern Roman Empire in 1453 AD. Meanwhile in Europe, Medieval Kings wore Royal Purple - which is more predominantly blue.
The Phoenicians: a Serious Power for over 900 yrs in the Ancient World their knowledge was transmitted into the History of Andalucia.
Phoenicians fell into decadence.
The Greeks, seeking advantage, began trading with the Tartessians.
Greeks took-over the Phoenicians' littoral colonies: Malaga, Alicante, Ampuira, Rosas, Mainaké and others.
The Greeks and Phoenicians, finally, fought over the jurisdiction of the Mediterranean.
See: Spanish Carthage
Carthage was situated in Tunisia, founded, by exiled Phoenicians. The country flourished and began to extend its boundaries. They also established themselves in the Balearic Islands.
The Carthaginians Razed the Tartessians
They enslaved much of the Iberian territory. (Three members of the Carthaginian dynasty were: Amilcar, Asdrúbal and Hannibal.) See: Roman Spain
Amilcar Barca created and ruled Barcelona,
Asdrúbal founded Cartago Nova (Cartagena), and
Hannibal reached the Ebro.
By the end of the 3rd Century the lower half of the Iberian Peninsula was under Carthaginian dominion. The second Punic war evolved as Hannibal advanced towards Italy.
The Romans reacted and pushed back the Carthaginians, defeating them. Iberian dominion was lost as a result.
Cartago was completely destroyed after the third Punic war.
The Roman Republic viewed 'Hispania' as a future Roman province; they captured the Iberian Coastal areas. Fierce campaigns in repelling the Carthaginians resulted. Roman boundaries expanded far into the Iberian Peninsula.
Baelo Claudio, Bolonia, Spain
The Prinicpal Roman Spain Divisions of the Iberian Peninsula
Political Map of Spain
Physical Map of Spain
For administrative purposes, in 197 BC, the Romans divided Hispania into two provinces:
Hispania Citerior: Nearer Hispania
Hispania Ulterior: Farther Hispania
Senior magistrate: a praetor ruled each province. Rome had control of Hispania after two hundred years during the time of Augustus.
Hispania: Three Provinces
In 27 BC Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa sectioned Hispania Ulterior
to divide into: Hispania Baetica
Hispania Citerior grew.
Divided Hispania into 4 Provinces in 27 BC
- Provincia Hispania Ulterior Baetica:
Hispania Baetica entailed most of Andalucia, excepting Almeria, parts of Granada and Jaen. The capital of Hispania Baetica was Corduba. The Guadiana river was used as a boundary line between Lusitania (Portugal) and Hispania Baetica
- Significance Baetica: in the history of Andalucia. The Romans found a Turdetano region (which, originally was the kingdom of Tartessos), the Romans named it "Baetica." The Tartessian river, was denominated: the "Baetis" river, to later become known as the Guadalquivir river
The north and northeast Celtic Galicia and the Basques kept their customs and habits, Roman influence did not reach these areas. Romans maintained supremacy for over 500 years.
The Romans organised the Iberian Peninsula as a New Rome.
The colonization effects in the History of Andalucia were impressive; many structures of roman art and architecture as seen in the remains of Italica
which remain to this day:
- Roman roads
- Roman Aqueducts
- Romance lingua (the core of the Spanish language)
- Use of Roman architecture techniques greatly improved existing cities and villages
- Irrigation systems were created (many of which, are still in use today)
Commercial trading improved and the country prospered. The Iberian Peninsula became Rome’s granary. The importance of this was reflected in the History of Spanish Food
Principal Roman exports were: silver, gold, olive oil, wool and wine.
The legal system laid down at this period, largely remains, as indeed the conversion persuasion to Christianization, which developed into the main religion.
Statue of Roman Philosopher Seneca in Cordoba
The prosperous Roman Empire fell into corruption casuing its decline. It was invaded by various Germanic tribes.
The Suebis Vandals and the Alanos.
Iberia in 410 AD, fell to the power of the barbarians
The Suebi, Vandals and the (Sarmartian) Alans, invaded the Roman Empire and then crossed the Pyrenees at different points. The barbarians terrorized wherever they passed.
They carved-up the country:
- The Suebis occupied Galicia
- The Alanos took Lusitania and Cartagena
- The Vandals established themselves in the Betica parte of the Iberian Peninsula which became renamed Vandalusia, changing the history of Andalucia once again
The Vandals were persuaded to leave there when the Visigothic invaders (also allies to them) arrived, to take their place.
The Vandals then went further south and entered North Africa.
Visigoths were Arian Christians. The capital of the Iberian Peninsula Kingdom capital became Toledo. Toledo was the first Spanish capital, situated, so far north.
The Vandals and Alans marched on down and proceeded to invade North Africa.
In the history of Andalucia Visigoth impact on the Iberian society was not as impressive as had been during the Romanic occupation. However, it lasted well over 200 years. In itself, there was a continuously (renewing distraction) ongoing insurrection for the Visigoth Kingdomship.
The Catholic Church during this ruling played an important and oppressive role. Until the Moors invaded, the Visigoths had barely mixed with the Catholic society.
Jews were mercilessly persecuted by both the Arian invaders AND by Orthodox Christians (regardless of their sect). This reign of terror for the Spanish Jews, resulted in an exodus of many Sephardic Jews in the History of Andalucia to Ceuta.
These very Jews formed an alliance with some Berbers...
During the reign of King Roderick, an "unglorious" crime was commited. The consequences of this crime, flung the Iberian Peninsula and the history of Andalucia into seven hundred years of chaos.
King Roderick’s vassal was Count Julian of Ceuta.
Count Julian had sent his daughter, Florinda, to the Toledo court for her education. She was raped, dishonoured and impregnated by King Roderick.
Thereafter, she was ignominiously nicknamed as "La Cava": (the harlot), blame was hurled and heaped on her, as the responsible party, for the loss of of the Iberian Peninsula.
Other Political Motives
There may well have been 'other' reasons why Count Julian betrayed the Iberian Peninsula. The power of the Catholic church was stifling. Visigoth King Wittiza died (or was murdered) in 710 AD.
Wittiza's family and supporters fled to Ceuta when the Catholic church selected Roderik to become King. Count Julian's action 'maybe' was to achieve returning a rightful Wittiza-born son to the throne.
Outraged at the continually abusive 'status quo' Julian, (with allegiances with other aristocratic fleeing adversaries of the Visigoths and the Jews), bargained with the North African Muslim governor, Musa ibn Nusair. Musa agreed to send his deputy, General Tariq ibn Ziyad to invade, with the intention of deposing King Roderick and liberating the Iberian Peninsula.
This was pacted - in exchange for the lands - which were conquered by the Moors.
Julian's pact, was to provide shipping and safety for Moorish troops, enabling them, to cross the Straits of Hercules, (Gibraltar, then, was known as the European Pillar of Hercules - the other situated in Northern Africa).
Medieval Times: The importance of the history of Andalucia
Two Incursions into the Iberian PeninsulaLed by General Tariq the Moors landed in Tarifa in 710 AD.
That first incursion was highly successful. Although the idea of invasion had started out as a reconnaissance trip, to General Tariq’s amazement victories were easy.
After some indecision, during the spring of 711 AD, the Moors invaded again. They morphed into the Iberian Peninsula's conquerors. Constantly victorious, they vanquished the Visigoths, further and further inland.
Algeciras was overthrown.
Many allies flocked to the Muslims' aid, especially, persecuted Jews, discontented serfs and slaves (who were forced Visigoth surrogate fighters) and who loathed King Roderick. Visigoths too, pledged their loyalty. One notable was: The Bishop of Sevilla, (Count Julian's brother).
King Roderick was caught unaware and unprepared. Christian solidiers numbered over 60,000 against 14,000 Moors.
The Growth of Islam
facts about the prophet muhammad and Holy wars.
The Moors, in their Islamic expansion (were exhalted, fresh from conquering: Syria, Eygypt, Persia and the Eastern Empire). They finalised the outcome of the History of Andalucia, at the The Battle of Guadalete July 19, 711 AD, where King Roderick fell at the sword of General Tariq, however, doubt prevails whether he actually perished there, thus initiating rule of Moorish Spain on the Iberian Peninsula.
Palaces and priceless treasures fell into the Moors hands. Countless churches were seized. Taxes were enforced.
The History of Andalucia and of Spain, was wrought through a general persecution/horror of their invaders.
Christians, observed astonished, how their places of worship were left - intact. To say, Iberia cohabitated peacefully under Moorish rule was a Moorish myth (and quite incompatible with a modern-day conception of equality). The Moors invasion proceeded as a classical Muslim jihad: holy war.
To maintain control there was substantial plunder, enslavement, deportations and killings.
Co-Existence of The Three Religions
However, according to the myth, an era of unaccustomed cohabitation began - especially - with the three monotheistic religions. Churches had to donate half their building, thus creating mosques.
In stable areas, unconverted al-Andalus Christians, were denominated dhimmi or Mozarabs. For them land taxes were high. They had the choice to convert to Islam, face the death penalty or, be protected by the special jizya taxation - applied especially to the nobles. Dhimmi were (otherwise) referred to, as "people of the book."
An area could exist a lng period without fighting but there were frequent opressive incursions towards the Christians. If one dhimmi hurt a Moor, the whole community were tyrannicaly sanctioned and set as an example to the other Christians of the Iberian Peninsula.
A small area in the north-west was not captured, Asturias.
See the Political Map of Spain
One man led a small group of men, Don Pelayo, son of an exhiled nobleman. He was captured early on by the Moors and released in 717 AD. On his release, he assumed leadership for the resistence-movement, against the Moors.
He and his men fought from the depths of the caves inside the Picos de Europa, dodging the Moors; continually harrassing them. The Moors searched in vain, wasting valuable time. Believing those few men were fighting a lost cause, the Moors turned their attention, to more important issues and gave up seeking them.
The resistence, however, multiplied...
Don Pelayo's men scored a minor victory at the Battle of Covadonga in 722 AD when they captured and anhilated a Moorish patrol.
This victory was the link-point to the Spanish Reconquista. The Christians' first turn of The Key to Spain, fuelling the resistence with fresh morale.
al-AndalusWithin the space of seven years, most of the Iberian Peninsula was absorbed into the Umayyad Empire. Territory conquered was referred to as al-Andalus.
The Moors advances came to a standstill at Poitiers, outside Paris, (France) where they were finally defeated.
All of Iberia succumbed to the Moorish jurisdiction - except for the Kingdom of Asturias, which Don Pelayo, proclaimed, after the Battle of Covadonga. He ruled 717 to 737 AD. The capital of the Kingdom was Cangas de Onís.
The Iberian Peninsula became a province in the Caliphate of Damascus in 716 AD.
Three-Year RuleThe Umayyad caliphate appointed governors for a three year period to rule al-Andalus.
The Umayyads had bitter enemies: the Hashims.
The Abbasid family (members of the Hashim clan), revolted and overthrew the Umayyad caliphate. Damascus fell to the power of the Abbasids.
In 750 AD, the Umayyad Damascus ruling family was brutally murdered by their enemies.
A young prince Abd ar-Rahman 1 escaped. For over five years he sought refuge travelling further and further from Damascus, while mercilessly pursued by his over-throwers. The young prince arrived at the furthest frontier of the new regime and crossed the African straights with the intention to settle in the new territories of al-Andalus changing the History of Andalucia forever...
This was a highly intellectual and culturally sophisticated era of the al-Andalus - all of which were major events in the History of Andalucia.
Sources of The History of Andalucia page:
Source Phoenician and Greek Trading Map
Phoenician Map -
Map Page Source
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