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CHAPTER 2 Reconquest Hispania Territorial Organization: Kingdoms and Counties Hand in hand with reconquest and repopulation went the creation of the territorial units that provided the main source of identity for their inhabitants, as well as the spatial framework for civil and ecclesiastical government, economic production, and the formation of societies. The kingdoms and autonomous counties that appeared in the early medieval centuries constituted the superior territorial entities. These included the Kingdom of Asturias, which was created by Pelayo and his descendants in the Cantabrians and which, as the Reconquest moved out onto the tablelands of the Duero, metamorphosed into the Kingdom of Leon; ancient Galicia, a county dependent on Leon that aspired to the status of kingdom and occasionally achieved it; the Kingdom of Navarre, created in the tenth century by Romanized Basques in the western Pyrenees; and the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, both formed in the first half of the eleventh century, Castile from the eastern marchesof Leon, Aragon from a county of Navarre in the central Pyrenees. Two other polities warrant particular mention. The first was the County of Barcelona, which faced the Mediterranean between the eastern Pyrenees and the lower Ebro River and was more or less coterminous with the geographical region later known as Catalonia. It had its origins in the Hispanic March of the Franks. Toward the end of the tenth century it broke away from Prankish domination but its rulers, although sovereign, continued to hold the title of count. The county retained close ties with France and maintained its ancient Mediterranean associations; it was in Hispania but not entirely of it. 13 1 4 R E C O N Q U E S T H I S P A N I A The second unit was the Kingdom of Portugal. Its nucleus consisted of Galicians who during the ninth and tenth centuries pushed south to occupy the lands between the Minho and Douro rivers (theMino and Duero in Spanish). In the late ninth century it became a county dependent first on Leon, later on Castile, and by the early tenth century it was known as Portucale (Portugal in the vernacular) after Porto, one of its principal towns. In 1096 or possibly 1097, Alfonso VI of Leon (1065-1109) and Castile (1072-1109) gave it as a fief to Henry of Burgundy, a French knight who married Alfonso's illegitimate daughter, Teresa. Henry and Teresa had a son, Afonso Henriques, who rebelled against both his mother and his suzerain, now Alfonso VII of Leon and Castile (1126-57), and who in 1139 proclaimed himself king of Portugal. Castile resisted his pretension by invasion and negotiation but when neither prevailed, in 1143 accepted the de facto arrangement. Portuguese independence became official when it was recognized by the papacy in 1179. These events themselves were not particularly portentous or even noteworthy . They represented one of those dynastic squabbles, very common at the time, that created or dismembered kingdoms. The problem, and a major one in Hispanic historiography, is how Portugal managed to sustain its sovereignty against an increasingly powerful and imperialistic neighbor. Spanish historians attribute the phenomenon to Leonese and Castilian preoccupation with grander affairs, an oversight that could have been corrected with proper attention and enterprise. Portuguese historians regard it, if not as providential, at least as predetermined by geography, which gave their nation a territorial framework and an "Atlantic convergence," and by historical experiences that endowed it with a cultural identity proof against Castilian invasions andconspiracies .1 The Spanish interpretation, however, appears to be too casual and the case for the uniqueness of Portuguese culture is difficult to sustain. Other Hispanic kingdoms and counties were at one time or another politically independent and possessed individualities just as sharply defined. Yet all of them save Portugal eventually became incorporated into a Greater Spain. The American geographer Dan Stanislawski offers a better-balanced explanation, which may be summarized as follows.2 Geographically, Portugal was cut off from the rest of Hispania by tumbled terrain and the absence of east-west roads, the same conditions that frustrated Napoleon's marshals centuries later. During the early stages of the Reconquest, moreover, the depopulation of the valley of the Duero created a demographic gap between the incipient nation and its eastern neighbors. Thus, an isolated people could nurse their individuality unmolested. When Afonso Henriques R E C O N Q U E S T H I S P A N I A 1 5 and his barons won...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780816681907
Related ISBN
9780816612185
MARC Record
OCLC
230205479
Pages
620
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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