Kingdom of Castile

The Kingdom of Castile (/kæˈstiːl/; Spanish: Reino de Castilla, Latin: Regnum Castellae) was a large and powerful state located on the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages. Its name comes from the host of castles constructed in the region. It began in the 9th century as the County of Castile (Condado de Castilla), an eastern frontier lordship of the Kingdom of León. During the 10th century its counts increased their autonomy, but it was not until 1065 that it was separated from León and became a kingdom in its own right. Between 1072 and 1157 it was again united with León, and after 1230 this union became permanent. Throughout this period the Castilian kings made extensive conquests in southern Iberia at the expense of the Islamic principalities. Castile and León, with their southern acquisitions, came to be known collectively as the Crown of Castile, a term that also came to encompass overseas expansion.

Kingdom of Castile

Reino de Castilla (in Spanish)
Regnum Castellae (in Latin)
*   The Kingdom of Castile in 1210.
  •   The Kingdom of Castile in 1210.
CapitalNo settled capital[n. 1]
Common languagesCastilian, Basque, Mozarabic, Andalusian Arabic
Roman Catholic (99%),
Paganism (0.5%), Judaism (0.3%), and Islam (0.2%)
GovernmentFeudal monarchy
• 1065–1072
Sancho II (first)
• 1217–1230
Ferdinand III (last)
Historical eraMiddle Ages
• Established
• Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of León
Kingdom of Navarre
Crown of Castile
Today part ofSpain


9th to 11th centuries: The beginnings

According to the chronicles of Alfonso III of Asturias; the first reference to the name "Castile" (Castilla) can be found in a document written during AD 800. In Al-Andalus chronicles from the Cordoban Caliphate, the oldest sources refer to it as Al-Qila, or "the castled" high plains past the territory of Alava, more south to it and the first encountered in their expeditions from Zaragoza. The name reflects its origin as a march on the eastern frontier of the Kingdom of Asturias, protected by castles, towers or castra.

The County of Castile, bordered in the south by the northern reaches of the Spanish Sistema Central mountain system, just north of modern-day Madrid province. It was re-populated by inhabitants of Cantabria, Asturias, Vasconia and Visigothic and Mozarab origins. It had its own Romance dialect and customary laws.

From the first half of the 9th century until the middle of the century, in which it came to be paid more closer attention to, its administration and defense by the monarchs of Leon – due the increased incursions from the Emirate of Córdoba – its first repopulation settlements were led by small abbots and local counts from the other side of the Cantabrian ridge neighbor valleys, Trasmiera and Primorias and smaller ones, being its first settlers from the contiguous maritime valleys of Mena and Encartaciones in nearby Biscay, some of whom had abandoned those exposed areas of the Meseta a few decades earlier, and taken refuge by the much dense and intractable woods of the Atlantic valleys, so they were not that foreign to them.

A mix of settlers from the Cantabrian and Basque coastal areas, which were recently swelled with refugees, was led under the protection of Abbot Vitulus and his brother, count Herwig, as registered in the local charters they signed around the first years of the 800's. The areas that they settled didn't extend far from the Cantabrian southeastern ridges, and not beyond the southern reaches of the high Ebro river valleys and canyon gores.

The first Count of a wider and more united Castile was Rodrigo in 850, under Ordoño I of Asturias and Alfonso III of Asturias, who settled and fortified the ancient Cantabrian hill town of Amaya, much farther west and south of the Ebro river to offer a more easy defense and command of the still functional Roman Empire main highway passing by, south of the Cantabrian ridge all the way to Leon, from the Muslim military expeditions. Subsequently, the region was subdivided, separate counts being named to Alava, Burgos, Cerezo & Lantarón, and a reduced Castile. In 931 the County was reunified by Count Fernán González, who rose in rebellion against the Kingdom of León, successor state to Asturias, and achieved an autonomous status, allowing the county to be inherited by his family instead of being subject to appointment by the Leonese king.[2]

11th and 12th centuries: Expansion and union with the Kingdom of León

Map Iberian Peninsula 1037-es
Kingdom of Castile (Castilla) in 1037

The minority of Count García Sánchez led Castile to accept Sancho III of Navarre, married to the sister of Count García, as feudal overlord. García was assassinated in 1028 while in León to marry the princess Sancha, sister of Bermudo III of León. Sancho III, acting as feudal overlord, appointed his younger son (García's nephew) Ferdinand as Count of Castile, marrying him to his uncle's intended bride, Sancha of León. Following Sancho's 1035 death, Castile returned to the nominal control of León, but Ferdinand, allying himself with his brother García Sánchez III of Navarre, began a war with his brother-in-law Vermudo. At the Battle of Tamarón Vermudo was killed, leaving no surviving offspring.[3] In right of his wife, Ferdinand then assumed the royal title as king of León and Castile, for the first time associating the royal title with the rule of Castile.[4]

When Ferdinand I died in 1065, the territories were divided among his children. Sancho II became King of Castile,[5] Alfonso VI, King of León and García, King of Galicia,[6] while his daughters were given towns, Urraca, Zamora, and Elvira, Toro.

Sancho II allied himself with Alfonso VI of León and together they conquered, then divided Galicia. Sancho later attacked Alfonso VI and invaded León with the help of El Cid, and drove his brother into exile, thereby reuniting the three kingdoms. Urraca permitted the greater part of the Leonese army to take refuge in the town of Zamora. Sancho laid siege to the town, but the Castilian king was assassinated in 1072 by Bellido Dolfos, a Galician nobleman. The Castilian troops then withdrew.

As a result, Alfonso VI recovered all his original territory of León, and now also became the king of Castile and Galicia. This was the second union of León and Castile, although the two kingdoms remained distinct entities joined only in a personal union. The [oath taken by El Cid] before Alfonso VI in Santa Gadea de Burgos regarding the innocence of Alfonso in the matter of the murder of his brother is well known.

During the first years of the 12th century Alfonso VI only son Sancho died leaving only his daughter. Due to this Alfonso VI took a different approach to the rest of Europeans kingdoms, including France.[2] He gave his daughters, Elvira, Urraca and Theresa, in marriage to Raymond of Toulouse, Raymond of Burgundy and Henry of Burgundy respectively. In the Council of Burgos in 1080 the traditional Mozarabic rite was replaced by the Roman one. Upon his death, Alfonso VI was succeeded by his daughter the widowed Urraca, who then married Alfonso I of Aragon, but they almost immediately fell out, and Alfonso tried unsuccessfully to conquer Urraca's lands, before he repudiated her in 1114. Urraca also had to contend with attempts by her son (offspring of her first marriage), the king of Galicia, to assert his rights. When Urraca died, this son became king of León and Castile as Alfonso VII. During his reign, Alfonso VII managed to annex parts of the weaker kingdoms of Navarre and Aragón which fought to secede after the death of Alfonso I of Aragon. Alfonso VII refused his right to conquer the Mediterranean coast for the new union of Aragón with the County of Barcelona (Petronila and Ramón Berenguer IV).

12th century: A link between Christianity and Islam

The centuries of Moorish rule had confirmed the high central tableland of Castile as a vast sheep pasturage; the fact that the greater part of Spanish sheep-rearing terminology was drawn from Arabic underscores the debt.[7]

The 8th and 9th centuries was preceded by a period of Umayyad conquests, as Arabs took control of previously Hellenized areas such as Egypt and Syria in the 7th century.[8] At this point they first began to encounter Greek ideas, though from the beginning, many Arabs were hostile to classical learning.[9] Because of this hostility, the religious Caliphs could not support scientific translations. Translators had to seek out wealthy business patrons rather than religious ones.[9] Until Abassid rule in the 8th century, however, there was little work in translation. Most knowledge of Greek during Umayyad rule was gained from those scholars of Greek who remained from the Byzantine period, rather than through widespread translation and dissemination of texts. A few scholars argue that translation was more widespread than is thought during this period, but theirs remains the minority view.[9]

The main period of translation was during Abbasid rule. The 2nd Abassid Caliph Al-Mansur moved the capital from Damascus to Baghdad.[10] Here he founded the great library with texts containing Greek Classical texts. Al-Mansur ordered this rich fund of world literature translated into Arabic. Under al-Mansur and by his orders, translations were made from Greek, Syriac, and Persian, the Syriac and Persian books being themselves translations from Greek or Sanskrit.[11]

Kingdom of Castile in 1214
Territories of Castile, Christians and Muslims during 12th Century

Owing to the legacy of the 6th century King of Persia, Anushirvan (Chosroes I) the Just had introducing many Greek ideas into his kingdom.[12] Aided by this knowledge and juxtaposition of beliefs, the Abassids considered it valuable to look at Islam with Greek eyes, and to look at the Greeks with Islamic eyes.[9] Abassid philosophers also pressed the idea that Islam had from the very beginning stressed the gathering of knowledge as important to the religion. These new lines of thought allowed the work of amassing and translating Greek ideas to expand as it never before had.[13]

During the 12th century, Europe enjoyed a great advance in intellectual achievements sparked in part by the kingdom of Castile's conquest of the great cultural center of Toledo (1085). There Arabic classics were discovered, and contacts established with the knowledge and works of Muslim scientists. In the first half of the century a program of translations, traditionally called the "School of Toledo", was undertaken which rendered many philosophical and scientific works from the classical Greek and the Islamic worlds into Latin. Many European scholars, including Daniel of Morley and Gerard of Cremona travelled to Toledo to gain further education.

The Way of St. James further enhanced the cultural exchange between the kingdoms of Castile and León and the rest of Europe.

The 12th century saw the establishment of many new religious orders, after the European fashion, such as Calatrava, Alcántara and Santiago; and the foundation of many Cistercian abbeys.

Castile and León

13th century: Definitive union with the Kingdom of León

Alfonso VII restored the royal tradition of dividing his kingdom among his children. Sancho III became King of Castile and Ferdinand II, King of León.

The rivalry between both kingdoms continued until 1230 when Ferdinand III of Castile received the Kingdom of León from his father Alfonso IX, having previously received the Kingdom of Castile from his mother Berenguela of Castile in 1217.[14] In addition, he took advantage of the decline of the Almohad empire to conquer the Guadalquivir Valley whilst his son Alfonso X took the taifa of Murcia.[15]

The Courts from León and Castile merged, an event considered as the foundation of the Crown of Castile, consisting of the kingdoms of Castile, León, taifas and other domains conquered from the Moors, including the taifa of Córdoba, taifa of Murcia, taifa of Jaén and taifa of Seville.

14th and 15th centuries: The House of Trastámara

Crown of Castile - Map
Crown of Castile through the years

The House of Trastámara was a lineage that ruled Castile from 1369 to 1504, Aragón from 1412 to 1516, Navarre from 1425 to 1479, and Naples from 1442 to 1501.

Its name was taken from the Count (or Duke) of Trastámara.[16] This title was used by Henry II of Castile, of the Mercedes, before coming to the throne in 1369, during the civil war with his legitimate brother, King Peter of Castile. John II of Aragón ruled from 1458 to 1479 and upon his death, his daughter became Queen Eleanor of Navarre and his son became King Ferdinand II of Aragon.

Union of the Crowns of Castile and Aragon

The marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, in 1469 at the Palacio de los Vivero in Valladolid, began a familial union of the two kingdoms. They became known as the Catholic Monarchs (los Reyes Católicos). Isabella succeeded her brother as Queen of Castile and Ferdinand became jure uxoris King of Castile in 1474.[17] When Ferdinand succeeded his father as King of Aragon in 1479, the Crown of Castile and the various territories of the Crown of Aragon were united in a personal union creating for the first time since the 8th century a single political unit referred to as España (Spain). 'Los Reyes Católicos' started policies to diminish the power of the bourgeoisie and nobility in Castile, and greatly reduced the powers of the Cortes (General Courts) to the point where they 'rubber-stamped' the monarch's acts, and brought the nobility to their side. In 1492, the Kingdom of Castile conquered the last Moorish state of Granada, thereby ending Muslim rule in Iberia and completing the Reconquista.

16th century

On Isabella's death in 1504 her daughter, Joanna I, became Queen (in name) with her husband Philip I as King (in authority). After his death Joanna's father was regent, due to her perceived mental illness, as her son Charles I was only six years old. On Ferdinand II's death in 1516, Charles I was proclaimed as king of Castile and of Aragon (in authority) jointly with his mother Joanna I as the Queen of Aragon (in name).[18] As the first monarch to reign over both Castile and Aragon he may be considered as the first operational King of Spain. Charles I also became Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1519.

Government: Municipal councils and parliaments

As with all medieval kingdoms, supreme power was understood to reside in the monarch "by the grace of God", as the legal formula explained. Nevertheless, rural and urban communities began to form assemblies to issue regulations to deal with everyday problems. Over time, these assemblies evolved into municipal councils, known as variously as ayuntamientos or cabildos, in which some of the inhabitants, the property-owning heads of households (vecinos), represented the rest. By the 14th century these councils had gained more powers, such as the right to elect municipal magistrates and officers (alcaldes, speakers, clerks, etc.) and representatives to the parliaments (Cortes).

Due to the increasing power of the municipal councils and the need for communication between these and the King, cortes were established in the Kingdom of León in 1188, and in Castile in 1250. In the earliest Leonese and Castilian Cortes, the inhabitants of the cities (known as "laboratores") formed a small group of the representatives and had no legislative powers, but they were a link between the king and the general population, something that was pioneered by the kingdoms of Castile and León. Eventually the representatives of the cities gained the right to vote in the Cortes, often allying with the monarchs against the great noble lords.

Arms of the Kingdom of Castile

During the reign of Alfonso VIII, the kingdom began to use as its emblem, both in blazons and banners, the canting arms of the Kingdom of Castile: gules, a three towered castle or, masoned sable and ajouré azure.

Heraldic Sign of the King of Castile (1171-1214)

Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Castile, 1171-1214

Royal Arms of Castille (1214-15th Century)

Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Castile, 1214-1230

Coat of Arms of the Heir of the Crown of Castile (1230-1284)

Coat of Arms of the Crown of Castile (1230-1284)

Royal Coat of Arms of the Crown of Castile (1284-1390)

Coat of Arms of the Crown of Castile (1284-1390)

Coat of Arms of Henry III of Castile (1390-1406)

Coat of Arms of King Henry III of Castile (1390-1406)

Arms of the Crown of Castile (15th Century)

Arms of the Crown of Castile (design of 15th Century)

Arms of the Crown Castile with the Old Royal Crest

Arms of the Castile with the Royal Crest (1366-1406)

Coat of Arms of John II and Henry IV of Castile with Supporters

Coat of arms with supporters (1406-1474)

See also


  1. ^ Burgos, Valladolid and Toledo were centres of royal authority of the Kingdom and the later Crown of Castile.[1]


  1. ^ Guillén, Fernando Arias. (2013). "A kingdom without a capital? Itineration and spaces of royal power in Castile, c.1252–1350". Journal of Medieval History, Vol. 39(4).
  2. ^ a b Strayer, Joseph (1983). Dictionary of the Middle Ages. American Council of Learned Societies. p. 128.
  3. ^ Bernard F. Reilly, The Contest of Christian and Muslim Spain, (Blackwell Publishers, 1995), 27.
  4. ^ Bernard F. Reilly, 27.
  5. ^ Bernard F. Reilly, 39.
  6. ^ Bernard F. Reilly, 39
  7. ^ H.C. Darby, "The face of Europe on the eve of the great discoveries", in The New Cambridge Modern History vol. I, 1957:23.
  8. ^ Rosenthal 2
  9. ^ a b c d Rosenthal 3–4
  10. ^ Lindberg 55
  11. ^ O'Leary 1922, p. 107.
  12. ^ Brickman 84–85
  13. ^ Rosenthal 5
  14. ^ Bianchini, Janna (2014). The Queen's Hand : Power and Authority in the Reign of Berenguela of Castile. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 209–210.
  15. ^ O'Callaghan, Joseph (1993). The learned king : the reign of Alfonso X of Castile. Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press.
  16. ^ Ruiz, Teofilo F. (2007). Spain's Centuries of Crisis: 1300–1474. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-4051-2789-9.
  17. ^ Guardiola-Griffiths, Cristina (2010-12-10). Legitimizing the Queen : Propaganda and Ideology in the Reign of Isabel I of Castile. Bucknell University Press.
  18. ^ Estudio documental de la Moneda Castilian de Carlos I fabricada en los Países Bajos (1517); José María de Francisco Olmos Archived 2006-05-26 at the Wayback Machine, pp. 139–140

External links

Battle of Linuesa

The Battle of Linuesa was an action fought on 21 December 1361 in the municipality of Huesa, Jaén, Spain (contemporary Kingdom of Jaén. The battle was fought between the Kingdom of Castile and the forces of the Emirate of Granada. The battle resulted in a victory for the forces of the Kingdom of Castile.

The Castilian forces were commanded by Diego García de Padilla, the Grand Master of the Order of Calatrava, Enrique Enríquez "el Mozo", the Adelantado Mayor of the frontera de Andalucía, and by Men Rodríguez de Biedma, the head Caudillo of the Bishop of Jaén.

Battle of Los Alporchones

The Battle of Los Alporchones was a battle of the Spanish Reconquista that took place on 17 March 1452. The battle was fought between the troops of the Emirate of Granada and the combined forces of the Kingdom of Castile and its client kingdom, the Kingdom of Murcia. The Moorish army was commanded by Malik ibn al-Abbas and the Castilian troops were commanded by Alonso Fajardo el Bravo, the head of the House of Fajardo and the Alcalde of Lorca Castle. The battle was fought in the area around the city of Lorca and resulted in a victory for the Kingdom of Castile.

Castile (historical region)

Castile (; Spanish: Castilla [kasˈtiʎa]) is a historical region of Spain divided between Old Castile and New Castile. The area covers the following modern autonomous communities: the eastern part of Castile and León, Castile-La Mancha, and Community of Madrid as well as Cantabria and La Rioja.

Castile's name derives from the Spanish for "land of castles" (castle in Spanish is castillo) in reference to the castles built in the area to consolidate the Christian Reconquest from the Moors.


Castilian (sometimes spelled Castillian) usually refers to something of, from, or related to Castile, including:

Castilian people, an ethnic group from Castile

Spanish language, or Castilian language, a Romance language that originated in Castile

Crown of Castile, a former state on the Iberian Peninsula

Kingdom of Castile, a former kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula

Castile and León, an autonomous community of Spain

Castile–La Mancha, an autonomous community of Spain

Castilian Spanish, a variety of the Spanish language

SS Castilian, a 1919 British ship

The Castilian, a 1963 film

Castilian Kingdom of Toledo

The Kingdom of Toledo (Spanish: Reino de Toledo) was a realm in the central Iberian Peninsula, created after Alfonso VI of León's capture of Toledo in 1085. It continued in existence until 1833; its region currently is within Spain.


Castilians (Spanish: castellanos) are certain inhabitants in regions of central Spain: Castile and León, Castile-La Mancha, and the Community of Madrid, who are the source of the Spanish language (Castilian) among other aspects of cultural identity. West Castile and León, Albacete, Cantabria and La Rioja are often also included in the definition, but this is controversial for historical reasons and the strong sense of unique cultural identity of those regions.

A broader definition is to consider as Castilians the population belonging to the Peninsular territories (and Canary Islands) controlled by the Crown of Castile, which is a large part of the Iberian Peninsula.

However, not all people in the regions of the medieval Kingdom of Castile or Crown of Castile think of themselves as Castilian. For this reason, the exact limits of what Castile is today are disputed. As an ethnicity, they are most commonly associated with the sparsely populated inner plateau of the Iberian peninsula, which is split in two by the Sistema Central mountain range and Northern or Old Castile from Southern or New Castile, the latter being somewhat closer in terms of culture and dialect to southern regions of Spain such as Andalusia, Extremadura and Murcia.

Through the Reconquista and other conquests in the Middle Ages, the Kingdom of Castile (later Crown of Castile) spread over a large part of the Iberian Peninsula, especially towards the southern Spanish regions. After this, since the 15th century, through the Spanish colonization of the Americas, the Castilians also spread over the New World, bringing with them not only their language, but also elements of their culture and traditions.

Crown of Castile

The Crown of Castile was a medieval state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and, some decades later, the parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then Castilian king, Ferdinand III, to the vacant Leonese throne. It continued to exist as a separate entity after the personal union in 1469 of the crowns of Castile and Aragon with the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs up to the promulgation of the Nueva Planta decrees by Philip V in 1715.

The Indies, Islands and Mainland of the Ocean Sea were also a part of the Crown of Castile when transformed from lordships to kingdoms of the heirs of Castile in 1506, with the Treaty of Villafáfila, and upon the death of Ferdinand the Catholic.

The title of "King of Castile" remained in use by the Habsburg rulers during the 16th and 17th centuries. Charles I was King of Aragon, Majorca, Valencia, and Sicily, and Count of Barcelona, Roussillon and Cerdagne, as well as King of Castile and León, 1516–1556.

In the early 18th century, Philip of Bourbon won the War of the Spanish Succession and imposed unification policies over the Crown of Aragon, supporters of their enemies. This unified the Crown of Aragon and the Crown of Castile into the kingdom of Spain.

Even though the Nueva Planta decrees did not formally abolish the Crown of Castile, the country of (Castile and Aragon) was called "Spain" by both contemporaries and historians.

"King of Castile" also remains part of the full title of Felipe VI of Spain, the current King of Spain according to the Spanish constitution of 1978, in the sense of titles, not of states.

First Siege of Gibraltar

The First Siege of Gibraltar was a battle of the Spanish Reconquista that took place in 1309. The battle pitted the forces of the Kingdom of Castile (mostly those from the military councils of the city of Seville) under the command of Juan Núñez II de Lara and Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, against the forces of the Emirate of Granada who were under the command of Sultan Muhammed III and his brother, Abu'l-Juyush Nasr.

The battle resulted in a victory for the Kingdom of Castile, one of the few victories in what turned out to be a disastrous campaign. The taking of Gibraltar greatly increased the relative power of Castile on the Iberian Peninsula though the actual city was later recaptured by Muslim forces during the Third Siege of Gibraltar in 1333.

Flag of Los Angeles

The flag of Los Angeles, California, consists of a background of three notched stripes of green, gold and red. The colors represent olive trees (green), orange groves (gold) and vineyards (red). The flag was designed by Roy E. Silent and E.S. Jones in 1931 for the Los Angeles sesquicentennial from 1781.

The city seal is shown in the center of the flag. Surrounding the shield are representations of three major Californian crops: grapes, olives, and oranges. The seal contains a heraldic shield quartered showing:

an approximation of the shield shown on the Great Seal of the United States, though the blue chief features thirteen stars;

an approximation of the flag of California;

an approximation of the coat of arms of Mexico;

a tower and lion of the Kingdom of Castile and the Kingdom of León, representing the arms of Spain.The flag received brief international prominence when, during the closing of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, it was raised instead of the United States flag as a symbol of the next Olympic host. The move was seen as a response to the American-led boycott of the Moscow Olympics.

Kingdom of León

The Kingdom of León (UK: , US: ; Spanish: [leˈon]; Astur-Leonese: Reinu de Llïón; Spanish: Reino de León; Galician: Reino de León; Portuguese: Reino de Leão; Latin: Regnum Legionense) was an independent kingdom situated in the northwest region of the Iberian Peninsula. It was founded in AD 910 when the Christian princes of Asturias along the northern coast of the peninsula shifted their capital from Oviedo to the city of León. The County of Castile separated in 931, the County of Portugal separated to become the independent Kingdom of Portugal in 1139 and the eastern, inland part of León was joined to the Kingdom of Castile in 1230.

From 1296 to 1301, the Kingdom of León was again independent and after the re-union with Castile remained a Crown until 1833, but as part of a united Spain from 1479. In the Royal Decree of 30 November 1833, the Kingdom of León was considered one of the Spanish regions and divided into the provinces of León, Zamora and Salamanca. In 1978, these three provinces of the region of León were included along with six provinces of the historic region of Old Castile to create the autonomous community of Castile and León. However, significant parts of the former kingdom today integrate these three provinces and the autonomous communities of Extremadura, Galicia and Asturias.

List of Castilian monarchs

This is a list of kings and queens of the Kingdom and Crown of Castile. For their predecessors, see List of Castilian counts.


The Mesta (Spanish: Honrado Concejo de la Mesta, literally "Honorable Council of the Mesta") was a powerful association of sheep ranchers in the medieval Crown of Castile.

The sheep were transhumant, migrating from the pastures of Extremadura and Andalusia to León and Castile and back according to the season.

The no-man's-land (up to 100 km across) between the Christian-controlled north and Moorish-controlled south was too insecure for arable farming and was only exploited by shepherds. When the Christians conquered the south, farmers began to settle in the grazing lands, and disputes with pastoralists were common. The Mesta, set up in the late 13th century, can be regarded as the first, and most powerful, agricultural union in medieval Europe.

The export of merino wool enriched the members of the Mesta (the nobility and religious orders) who had acquired ranches during the process of Reconquista. Two of the most important wool markets were held in Medina del Campo and Burgos.

The kings of Castile conceded many privileges to the Mesta. The cañadas (traditional rights-of-way for sheep that perhaps date back to prehistoric times) are legally protected "forever" from being built on or blocked. The most important cañadas were called cañadas reales (or "royal cañadas"), because they were established by the king.

Some Madrid streets are still part of the cañada system, and there are groups of people who occasionally drive sheep across the modern city as a reminder of their ancient rights and cultures, although these days sheep are generally transported by rail.

Monarchs of Castile family tree

The family tree of the Castilian monarchs of the Kingdom of Castile (1065–1230), in the historical region of Castile in Spain.


An oidor (Spanish pronunciation: [oiˈðoɾ]) was a judge of the Royal Audiencias and Chancillerías, originally courts of Kingdom of Castile, which became the highest organs of justice within the Spanish Empire. The term comes from the verb oír, "to hear," referring to the judge's obligation to listen to the parts of a judicial process, particularly during the phase of pleas.


The Reconquista (Spanish and Portuguese for "reconquest") is a name used in English to describe the period in the history of the Iberian Peninsula of about 780 years between the Umayyad conquest of Hispania in 711 and the fall of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada to the expanding Christian kingdoms in 1492. The completed conquest of Granada was the context of the Spanish voyages of discovery and conquest (Columbus got royal support in Granada in 1492, months after its conquest), and the Americas—the "New World"—ushered in the era of the Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires.

Traditional historiography has marked the beginning of the Reconquista with the Battle of Covadonga (718 or 722), the first known victory in Iberia by Christian military forces since the 711 military invasion of Iberia by combined Arab-Berber forces. In that small battle, a group led by the nobleman Pelagius defeated a Muslim patrol in the mountains of northern Iberia and established the independent Christian Kingdom of Asturias. In the late 10th century, the Umayyad vizier Almanzor waged military campaigns for 30 years to subjugate the northern Christian kingdoms. His armies, mostly composed of Slavic and African Mamluks (slave soldiers), ravaged the north, even sacking the great shrine of Santiago de Compostela. When the government of Córdoba disintegrated in the early 11th century, a series of petty successor states known as taifas emerged. The northern kingdoms took advantage of this situation and struck deep into Al-Andalus; they fostered civil war, intimidated the weakened taifas, and made them pay large tributes (parias) for protection. After a Muslim resurgence in the 12th century the great Moorish strongholds in the south fell to Christian forces in the 13th century—Córdoba in 1236 and Seville in 1248—leaving only the Muslim enclave of Granada as a tributary state in the south.

After 1491, the entire peninsula was controlled by Christian rulers. The conquest was followed by the Alhambra Decree (1492) which expelled Jews who would not convert to Christianity from Castile and Aragon, and a series of edicts (1499–1526) which forced the conversions of the Muslims in Spain, although later a significant part of them was expelled from the Iberian Peninsula.The concept of Reconquista, consolidated in Spanish historiography in the second half of the 19th century, was associated with the development of a Spanish national identity, emphasizing nationalistic and romantic, and occasionally, colonialist, aspects.

Siege of Algeciras (1309–10)

The Siege of Algeciras was a battle of the Spanish Reconquista that occurred between July 1309 and January 1310. The battle was fought between the forces of the Kingdom of Castile, commanded by King Ferdinand IV of Castile and his vassals, and the Emirate of Granada commanded by Sultan Abu'l-Juyush Nasr. The battle resulted in a humiliating defeat for the Kingdom of Castile whose army was obliged to lift the siege due to the atrocious conditions of life in the Castilian camp and the desertion of Infante John of Castile. The battle marked one of the many battles fought at Algeciras where the Christian forces would try to take the city unsuccessfully from the Muslims.

Siege of Jaén (1245–46)

The Siege of Jaén was the final siege on the city during the Spanish Reconquista. The siege, was carried out from 1245 through 28 February 1246 by forces of the Kingdom of Castile and the Order of Santiago commanded by Ferdinand III of Castile and the Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Pelayo Pérez Correa, against a combined defending force of the local Taifa of Jaén (جيان) and the Emirate of Granada under Muhammad I. The battle resulted in a Castilian victory with the city of Jaén being handed over to the Kingdom of Castile and Leon after the signing of the Treaty of Jaén.

Taifa of Baeza

The Taifa of Baeza was a medieval taifa Moorish kingdom. It existed only from 1224 to 1226, when it fell to the Christian Kingdom of Castile.

War of the Two Peters

The War of the Two Peters (Spanish: La Guerra de los Dos Pedros, Catalan: Guerra dels dos Peres) was fought from 1356 to 1375 between the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. Its name refers to the rulers of the countries, Peter of Castile and Peter IV of Aragon. One historian has written that "all of the centuries-old lessons of border fighting were used as two evenly matched opponents dueled across frontiers that could change hands with lightning speed."

Monarchs of Castile
House of Jiménez
House of Burgundy
House of Trastámara
House of Habsburg

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