E. Already, united Christian conquerors had launched the Reconquista in a bid to recapture Spain from Islamic rule. The twin threats of united Christian armies and rivalries between the smaller kingdoms eventually led to the demise of Islamic rule in Spain. The fall of the kingdom of Granada in the reign of Isabella and Ferdinand marked the official end of Islamic rule on the Iberian Peninsula. Between the Islamic conquest and expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula, a significant body of developments occurred throughout Spain in myriad fields. As commercial centers and centers of learning opened up their doors to all and sundry, the level of commercial advancement and research took on a new shape altogether. The developments in medieval Spain opened up the doors of Europe’s enlightenment and growth centuries later. The kingdom of Al-Andulas and the various kingdoms in its legacy gave rise to a number of cosmopolitans such as Seville, Cordoba, Toledo and Granada. All of these cities became centers of excellence in terms of economics, culture, science and religious tolerance. However, amongst these cities perhaps Toledo remained the most significant in terms of political and cultural development. Toledo first became a center of excellence under the Islamic regime of Al-Andulas after which King Alfonso VI conquered it in 1085 in his Reconquista bid. Unlike other regions where Christian takeovers incited bloodshed, violence and persecution, the takeover of Toledo was markedly different. Alonso placed no compulsion on the local Muslims and Jews to convert or immigrate to other lands. The real motives behind Alfonso’s actions have been questioned with some labeling them as altruism while others label them as commercial interests attached with the Muslims. Whatever the case, Alfonso allowed the Muslims to use the great mosque of Toledo and appointed a Christian governor (who spoke Arabic) to “oversee civil authority”. Muslim chronicles from the time indicate that Alfonso proclaimed himself as the King of two religions (Islam and Christianity as Jewish populations were too small). This declaration even by a king was revolutionary for the time as the Church considered all other religions as paganism alone. Alfonso’s recognition of Islam meant that he was ready for tolerance and peaceful coexistence. It must also be mentioned that Toledo served as an important commercial center on the important Spanish crossroads for trade and other commercial pursuits. Over the centuries Toledo’s centralized location as well as its commercially savvy population were able to transform the city into a massive commercial hub. The onset of commercial activities meant that Toledo had money to spare and that there were various cultural streams interacting with each other. Consequently, Toledo transformed into a vibrant commercial and cultural center. In contrast, the new rulers of cities such as Barbastro subjected their populations to inhumane and barbaric treatment that reduced these cities to dark ages. An-Andulas had managed to remove these cosmopolitan centers from abject poverty and backwardness, but the Reconquista managed to throw them back into poverty. This remained true for nearly all of the Iberian Peninsula except for Toledo. Toledo’s ruler Alfonso had captured the city in order to enhance his standing based on the city’s vibrant commercial and cultural activities. The Muslim population in the city was the very reason for its
A.1. Summarize the history of Medieval Spain as described in the book, paying special attention to the role of the city of Toledo in political and cultural history. The North African Moors in 711 C. E. captured the Iberian Peninsula after which the foundations for the Islamic state came into being…
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