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.
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