History of Spain: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April DeBord

April has taught Spanish and English as a Second Language and she has her Ed. S. in Foreign Language Education.

Spain has a rich history, full of kings and queens, empires, and various cultures. Let's learn about the history of Spain and find out more about the stories Spain has to tell.

The Hidden Land

Imagine that the people in the next town over from you had their own president and spoke a different language than you. Imagine they wore different clothing and learned completely different things in school.

That is kind of like what Spain was at the beginning. Spain was made up of many different kingdoms. Some of the first settlers of Spain, the Phoenicians, named it 'Span', meaning 'hidden land'. This was a very long time ago, in the year 800 BCE.

In Medieval times, Spain was made up of many different kingdoms
Medieval Spanish Kingdoms

The Roman Empire

When the Romans first came to Spain in 218 BCE, they saw a beautiful place and they knew they wanted to live there too. The Romans were a very powerful people who began in Italy and conquered many places in Europe. The small kingdoms of Spain kept their culture, but they became part of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire lasted about a thousand years, from 753 BCE to 476 CE, with the Romans conquering Spain in 19 BCE. The Romans brought the Catholic religion to Spain. They called the country Hispania, which is where the word 'Hispanic' comes from.

The Moors of the South

The African Moors invaded the south of Spain in the 8th century. This caused lots of problems with the now Catholic kingdoms in the north, and these problems lasted for centuries. Moors brought new education, the religion of Islam, and techniques for architecture to Spain. They also knew a lot about art, mathematics, and astronomy, which is the study of planets and the stars.

This castle, El Alhambra, was built by the Moors and is still standing today in Granada, a city in the south of Spain
El Alhambra

Northern Catholic Kingdoms

In 1469, a catholic king and queen of different kingdoms got married. Fernando and Isabella were 19 and 18, and they were cousins. When they got married, the two kingdoms became even more powerful.

Ferdinando and Isabella, Spanish King and Queen
Ferdinando and Isabella

Fernando and Isabella's armies took Granada from the Islamic Moors in 1492, which meant that Christianity became the major religion in those kingdoms. That was the same same year that Ferdinand and Isabella gave Christopher Columbus money to sail the seas to try to discover a shortcut to the East Indies, and he ended up in the Americas.

The Habsburg Family

Ferdinand and Isabella's daughter, Juana, married a man named Philip Habsburg. They were very excited because Philip was inheriting two different kingdoms, and he was going to be rich and powerful. This meant that Spain could keep its place as the most powerful kingdom.

Today, this doesn't make a lot of sense, because if our president's daughter married the son of Mexico's president, they would not be able to control both countries. However, this is how things worked in Europe at the time. The Habsburg family stayed in power by marrying other people within their family. They did this so they could keep the power within their family. During this time they wasted a lot of Spain's money.

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