The Christian Peninsular Kingdoms
In the 8th century, the majority of the Iberian Peninsula was occupied by Muslims, who had created the kingdom of al-Andalus. In the Cordillera Cantábrica, a small group of Christians survived the Muslims conquests and established the Kingdom of Asturias. In the Pyrenees, the group of counties known as the Marca Hispánica gained independence from Frankish rule. In the 11th century, the Muslims began losing territory to the Christian kingdoms. The reconquest of the Peninsula had begun.
During the 12th and 13th centuries, the Christian kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal, Castile and Leon, Navarre and the Crown of Aragon) became more powerful. These kingdoms extended their power by conquering Muslim territory. In Castile, the economy was based on wool and the nobles had great social influence. At the same time, the Crown of Aragon became an important centre of trade with a powerful bourgeoisie.
In the second half of the 14th century, a social and economic crisis affected Europe, including the Peninsular kingdoms. These power of the nobility grew in this period at the expense of the peasants.
The Christian kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula were made up of Christians, Muslims and Jews. This mix led to the development of a rich, diverse culture and art.
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