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        The Iberian World in the Age of the Reconquista

        Approximately 1,000 years ago, the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) was a largely Muslim land; half a millennium later, the last Muslim kingdom in Iberia was defeated and Catholicism dominated the entire peninsula. This 500 year period of history has become reduced to the narrative of Reconquista (reconquest), a narrative that interprets the many events of the era as a gradual and deliberate Christian conquest of Muslim Iberia. While the actual events that occurred over this long period of time are far more complex than the narrative of Reconquista presents, it is undeniable that the history of this transformation from Muslim to Christian has greatly influenced how Spaniards in particular understand their history and culture. This story of Don Quixote de La Mancha, arguably the first modern novel, is an excellent example of how this narrative of Reconquista is reflected in the artifacts of early modern Spanish culture. Review the images and descriptions in this Media Gallery to better understand the process of Reconquista in Spain. Then read through the background essay that further explores the process of this transformation. The information in both will help you complete the associated worksheet. Both the background essay and the worksheet are in the Support Materials. 

        The Stages of the Spanish Reconquista

        Over the course of several centuries, the Muslim occupation of Spain gradually receded. As Christian kingdoms in the north expanded and grew more powerful, they constructed the narrative of the Reconquista. This narrative presented the territorial expansion of the northern Christian kingdoms at the expense of theMuslim kingdoms as a deliberate strategy to rid the peninsula of Muslims. This map shows the stages of this Reconquista.

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        Alhambra de Granada

        By the end of the thirteenth century, the Muslims in Spain had been reduced to holding only the kingdom of Granada in the far south. The center of this kingdom was the great city of Granada. This photograph shows the Alhambra of Granada city, a beautifully decorated Muslim fortress and palace. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel made it their mission to conquer Granada. After a months-long siege of the city, it finally fell to the armies of Ferdinand and Isabel on January 2, 1492.

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        The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, 1605

        The excerpt below is taken from arguably the most famous work ever penned in Castilian (Spanish), The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes in 1605.

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