Unit 13 - The Middle Ages in Spain

Alfonso X as a judge, from his Libro de los Dados

Under the Roman Empire, Hispania adopted Roman customs and laws. Its inhabitants spoke Latin. They became Christians.

The Invasion of barbarian tribes




The Suebi or Suevi were a Germanic people who at one time lived near the Baltic Sea and south thereof. In 409, their king Hermeric established his people in territories making up the northwestern part of the Iberian peninsula, and eventually received official recognition from the Romans for their settlement there. The Suebic kingdom in Spain lasted for 175 years after that, and seems to have enjoyed relatively stable government for most of that time. There were occasional clashes with the Visigoths, who arrived in Spain in 416 and came to dominate most of the peninsula, but the Suevi maintained their independence until 584 when the Visigothic King Leovigild invaded the Suevi kingdom and finally defeated it.


The very word "vandal" has a pejorative meaning in our lexicon. On October 13, 409 they crossed the Pyrenees into the Iberian peninsula.



Alans_against_romans.jpgThe Alans or Alani were a group of Sarmatian tribes, nomadic pastoralists of the 1st millennium AD who spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian.

The Visigoths

The Visigoths (Latin: Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, or Wisi) were one of two main branches of the Goths, an East Germanic tribe;

First, the visigoths crossed the Pyrenees into Hispania, and settled in the centre of the peninsula. Toledo became their capital.

Later, they conquered the territories occupied by other Germanic tribes, such as the Suevs.Finally, they extended Visigothic rule over the entire peninsula. The visigoths changed their language, religion and laws to unify their new kingdom. They adopted the Hispano-Roman culture and converted to Christianity. The Visigoths lived in villages.The Visigothic kingdom ended after the Muslim invasion in 711 A.D.

Muslims and Christians

In 711 A.D., a small army of Muslims from northen Africa invaded Visigothic Spain. In seven years, they conquerd most of the peninsula and the Balearic Islands. Under the Muslims, Hispania was called Al Andalus.

Averroes, founder of the Averroism school of philosophy, was influential in the rise of secular thought in Western Europe.


For almost eight hundred years, the centre and south of the peninsula were Muslim.
The Muslims built cities, protected by walls, on hills. They built palaces, such as the Aljaferia in Zaragoza.They also built mosques, such as the Great Mosque of Cordoba, to practice their religion.
The most important muslim city was Cordoba, the capital of Al Andalus.The great philosopher Averroes was born there.

The Christian kingdoms

After the Muslim conquest, small, independent Christian kingdoms grew on the Cantabrian coast , and in the Pyrenees. The first was the kingdom of Asturias, wich later became the Kingdom of Leon. Next, The Kingdoms of Aragon, Navarre, and the Catalonian Counties were created. Finally, the Kingdom of Castille was formed.

The Christian reconquest

The Christian kingdoms

  • The Kingdom of Navarra

  • The Crown of Aragon

  • The Crown of Castila

  • Portugal

The Kingdom of Granada

Spain after 1492

Middle ages timeline

External links