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History of Madrid, Spain, Europe
Though the lands of modern day Madrid were thought to have been inhabited by pre-historic man the first evidence of the city did not appear until the 9th Century AD. It was then that a small palace was constructed there by a Moor; Mehmed I. A small fortified settlement followed this construct and became known as al-Mudaina. Over time, due to the proximity of the settlement to a major water source it became known as Majerit; after the Arabic al-Majrit meaning "source of water". It is from this that the name Madrid is derived.
In 1085 Moorish Madrid was captured by the armies of King Alfonso VI of Castile in his advances to conquer the then greater Toledo. Madrid prospered under Christian rule, retaining much of it's Jewish and Muslim populace until their expulsion at the end of the 15th century. In the early years of Christian domination on the peninsular Madrid's central location made it vulnerable to strife caused by a clash between the great Spanish empires of Castile and Aragon. Both owned significant lands, Castile (with both the largest land mass and army) dominated in central Spain, the south and the west, while Aragon ruled much of the east coast and northern lands from their capital at Barcelona. Eventually in 1410AD Marti I of Aragon died heirless and a marriage of his successor (Ferdinand) to the queen of Castile (Isabel) followed. Christian unity in Spain was now complete, though some would say at great expense, as Castile took the upper hand in governance.
It was not until the coming to the throne of their grandchild King Charles V (also known as Carlos I) that Spain was to have a singular ruler. By then the Moors had been successfully pushed out of Europe, the Spanish Inquisition established, the Americas discovered, and Spain's status as a major world power was undeniable. The city of Seville was the then capital of Spain and the main entry point for all bullion from the Americas. However Charles V, through dynastic inheritance owned lands transcending national borders. He was after all King of Spain with all it's American territories, King of Naples, King of Sicily, Holy Roman Emperor, and ruler of all the Burgundian lands. He required a more central location for his court, and under his son Philip II this was achieved in the moving of all state business to Madrid in 1561.
From this time on Madrid became the administrative centre for Spain, and at that time for an empire that stretched farther than any other around the globe. However this was built from humble beginnings and during the 16th and 17th centuries (unlike any other city) it's population was almost entirely dependant on the the business of the royal court. However this dependance gradually lessened as years went by, and many grand buildings and palaces were erected.
The next major happening in the history of Madrid was it's invasion in 1808 by the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte for the French. Their eventual ousting in 1814 after Spain's War of Independence saw the reinstatement of a monarch, King Ferdinand VII. The next hundred or so years were a time of tension with a number of revolts against the monarchy and the forming on two occasions of a Spanish Republic.
In the later Republican period great confusion and argument between left wing and right wing parties led to a civil war in Spain (1936-39). This was a disasterous time for the country and for Madrid, which became the first city to be bombed specifically to target civilians. Spain's civil war ended with General Francisco Franco taking power and the country enduring a dictatorship which lasted until 1973. Madrid grew considerably in the later part of this period, though this was largely due to industrialization and the work created by factories and industry in the city.
The death of Franco, re-introduction of a democratic government, and the subsequent lifting of sanctions by the United Nations saw Madrid's fortunes change for the better. Throughout the late 1970's and the 80's Madrid prospered greatly, regaining much of the ground that it had lost to other European capitals, and building it's economy into one of Spain's most progressive. Today it remains the administrative and political heart of the country, and a great European capital. Madrid is much loved as a short break tourist destination and has much to offer in terms of its cultural offerings, architecture, entertainment, and atmosphere.
Madrid Tourist Office
If there is any tourist information we have not provided on Madrid please contact the Madrid Tourist Office directly on telephone number 0034 915 881 636 or 0034 913 665 477.
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History of Madrid, Spain, Europe
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