Middle Ages: 8th-15th centuries

 

Arqueta de Palencia

Islamic culture

 

During the Middle Ages, the Iberian Peninsula was a mosaic of peoples and cultures with two territorial spheres of control, Islamic and Christian. After 711 and, especially, 756 when al-Andalus was founded, it changed from being a society with a Christian majority using the Latin language to another, Arabic-speaking and of Muslim religion, with Christian and Jewish minorities.

The proclamation of the Caliphate of Cordoba in 929 took the artistic achievements of al-Andalus to their peak. It was succeeded by small states, the taifa kingdoms and principalities (11th century) which culminated its cultural and economic development. Between the first half of the 12th century and the middle of the 13th, the North African Almoravid and Almohad dynasties were indebted to the Andalusian cultural tradition which they continued, enriched and extended.
T

he Nasarid Kingdom of Granada contributed an extraordinary environment in architecture and the industrial arts, until its definitive conquest in 1492. Its disappearance did not bring a radical break with the former tradition: Muslim communities continued to live in the Christian kingdoms and their command of agricultural, craftwork and architectural techniques enabled them to continue to carry out intensive creative work at the service of the dominant Christian culture, one manifestation of this situation being what is called Mudejar art.

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Cucifijo de Don Fernando y Doña Sancha

Christian culture

 

From the core of Asturian resistance and the counties in the north-east of the Peninsula, various kingdoms formed which took on the common task of reconquest from Islam, and at the same time, repopulation of the territory. These kingdoms maintained contacts with the culture of other European kingdoms, from where arrived the Romanesque and Gothic styles.

The Church and monasteries collaborated in conservation of the old culture. The Hispanic cathedrals are the manifestation of the reception of the new styles. The pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela reinforced the cultural and economic exchanges with mediaeval Europe. The royal courts and feudal aristocracy, with their laws and concessions of privileges, agglutinated the territory with its different cultures, Christian, Muslim and an influential Jewish minority.

The wool trade, fairs, agricultural development and guilds brought flourishing wealth which was also reflected in civil buildings, luxury goods and offerings to churches. The reconquest began in the middle of the 8th century was culminated in 1492.

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