España: Timeline

This timeline of the history of España is adapted from the Official website of the president of the Government of Spain and the Council of Ministers. It is posted here for educational purposes only. Prof Bailly changed the names from their English versions to the original Spanish (ex: Charles III to Carlos III) and added a few dates relevant to España: Ida y Vuelta


800,000 BCE
“Based on the findings at Atapuerca (Burgos province), estimated to be around 800,000 years old, the presence of hominids on the Iberian Peninsula dates back to the Lower Palaeolithic period. Experts are still debating the origin of these early settlers, who may have entered the peninsula directly from Africa via the Straits of Gibraltar, but more likely arrived by crossing over the Pyrenees.” La Moncloa

40,000-15,000 BCE
Altamira cave paintings

1,200-800 BCE
Indo-Europeans, Phoenicians and Greeks invade the Iberian Peninsula

218 BCE – 19 BCE
“The Roman invasion and eventual conquest of the peninsula took place over the long period between 218 and 19 BCE Hannibal’s defeat by Publius Cornelius Scipio (209 BCE) not only marked the beginning of the end for his army in Italy; it was also the beginning of the Roman conquest of Spain.” Montcloa

Jewish and Christian communities begin to appear in Iberia. Jews that fled Judea after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem settle in Roman cities and Christians follow them.
“Of fundamental importance for the later history of Spain, Christianity came early to Iberia, certainly as early as the second century. There are even traditions that Saint James and Saint Paul preached in Spain. The early history of Iberian Christianity is obscure, though it was probably linked initially with the establishment of Jewish communities in eastern and southern Spain during the early Jewish diaspora in the second century. By the third century, the details of Christian history in Iberia become clearer. By then, Christian communities were large enough to have their own bishops and to maintain ties with the papacy in Rome. The persecution of Christians by Roman authorities in Hispania occurred sporadically. The bishop of Tarraco, Fructuosus, and two of his lieutenants suffered martyrs’ deaths by burning in 259 CE, and the patron saints of Hispalis, Justa and Rufina, also fell victim to martyrdom under the Romans in the late third century.” Phillips, Jr, William D.; Rahn Phillips, Carla. A Concise History of Spain (Cambridge Concise Histories) (pp. 37-38). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Visigoths enter the Iberian peninsula and conquer it. The Visigoths are originally a Northeastern European people. For three centuries this minority will rule Spain.

This passage from the BBC briefly summarizes the Moorish conquest of Spain
“The traditional story is that in the year 711, an oppressed Christian chief, Julian, went to Musa ibn Nusair, the governor of North Africa, with a plea for help against the tyrannical Visigoth ruler of Spain, Roderick. Musa responded by sending the young general Tariq bin Ziyad with an army of 7000 troops. The name Gibraltar is derived from Jabal At-Tariq which is Arabic for ‘Rock of Tariq’ named after the place where the Muslim army landed. The story of the appeal for help is not universally accepted. There is no doubt that Tariq invaded Spain, but the reason for it may have more to do with the Muslim drive to enlarge their territory. The Muslim army defeated the Visigoth army easily, and Roderick was killed in battle. After the first victory, the Muslims conquered most of Spain and Portugal with little difficulty, and in fact with little opposition. By 720 Spain was largely under Muslim (or Moorish, as it was called) control.” BBC

01 November 1478
Pope Sixtus IV issues the Bull Exigit Sinceras Devotionis Affectus which starts the Spanish Inquisition. The targets of the Spanish Inquisition are Jews that have converted to Catholicism.
“We learn that in various cities, sections and regions of the Spanish Kingdoms, many of those who of their own accord were born anew in Christ in the sacred waters of Baptism, while continuing to comport themselves externally as Christians, yet have secretly adopted or returned to the religious observances and customs of the Jews, and are living according to the principles and ordinances of Judaical superstition and falsehood, thus falling away from the true orthodox Faith, its worship, and belief in its doctrines.” Pope Sixtus IV

Union of the Crowns of Castile and Aragón with the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel I de Castilla y Fernando II de Aragón. This consolidation of power made Spain one of the most powerful kingdoms in Europe.

02 January 1492
King Boabdil of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada surrenders to Ferdinand and Isabella. The Reconquista of Spain is complete, as the last Islamic ruler capitulates.

31 March 1492
The Alhambra Decree expelled all Jews from España. It was signed the Hall of the Ambassadors in the Alhambra.
“Ferdinand and Isabella promulgated a decree ordering the expulsion of Jews from all their kingdoms. Jewish subjects were given until July 31 of the same year to choose between accepting baptism and leaving the country definitively. Although the decree allowed them to take all their possessions with them, land-holdings, of course, had to be sold, and gold, silver and coined money were forfeit. The reason given to justify this measure was that the proximity of unconverted Jews served as a reminder of their former faith and seduced many conversos into relapsing and returning to the practice of Judaism.”

12 October 1492
Columbus enters the Western Hemisphere. Earlier in the year, Columbus had an audience with Ferdinand and Isabella in the Hall of the Ambassadors to request funding for his voyage.

11-13 May 1513
Ponce de Leon sails into Chequescha (Miami & Biscayne Bay). He names the land Florida and claims it for Spain. Antonio de Herrera’s 1601 text is the oldest record describing Ponce de Leon’s entry in Biscayne Bay. Below is a passage, translated by Florence P. Spofford. Bailly has inserted the likely contemporary names of places.

“On Sunday, the 8th of May, they doubled the cape of La Florida, which they named Cabo de Corrientes (Lake Worth Inlet), because the water ran so swift there that it had more force than the wind, and would not allow the ships to go for- ward, although they put out all sails. They anchored behind a cape close to a village called Abaioa. All this coast from Punta de Arracifes as far as this Cabo de Corrientes runs north and south a quarter by southeast, and it is quite clear with a depth of six fathoms; and the cape is in twenty- eight degrees and fifteen minutes. They sailed on until they found two islands (Virginia Key and Key Biscayne) to the south in twenty- seven degrees. The one having an extent of one league they named Santa Marta (Key Biscayne, and there they found water. On Friday, the 13th of May, they hoisted sail, running along the coast of a sandbank and reef of islands as far as the vicinity of an island that they named Pola (Key Largo), which is in twenty-six’ and one-half degrees, and between the shoal, the reef of islands, and the mainland, the open sea extends in the form of a bay. On Sunday, the day of the Feast of the Holy Spirit, the 15th of May, they ran along the coast of rocky islets ten leagues, as far as two white rocky islets. To all this line of islands and rocky islets they gave the name of Los Martires (The Florida Keys) because, seen from a distance, the rocks as they rose to view appeared like men who were suffering; and the name has remained fitting, because of the many that have been lost there since.”

Christianity is introduced to Miami. In 1567, Governor Pedro Menendez de Aviles establishes a Jesuit Mission in Tequesta. Jesuit Francisco de Villarreal is in charge of the Tequesta Mission.

29 January 1568
Villarreal writes a letter to fellow Jesuit Brother Rogel.
Villarreal letter of 29 January 1568

“Spanish/Indian friendships were renewed when the brother of Tequesta, one of those that had been baptized in Spain (and given the name “Don Diego”) arrived back at his village on the Miami River, accompanied by Father Juan Bautista de Segura.” Swanson

Chief Cosmographer-Chronicler of the Indies, Juan López de Velasco (c. 1530–1598) described Tequesta, present day Miami, in the following manner in 1571.

“At the very point of Tequesta there enters into the sea a freshwater river, which comes from the interior, and to all appearances runs from west to east. There are many fish and eels in it. Alongside it on the north side is the Indian settlement that is called Tequesta. A settlement of Spaniards was established here in the year of 1567, which was abandoned later, in the year of 1570. They say it would be advantageous to build a fort there for the security of the ships that might have to come out of the (Bahama) Channel and because the land is good for settlement.”

Florida becomes part of Britain. The remaining Tequesta at the mouth of the Miami River depart Miami with the Spanish. It is hypothesized a few may have resettled in the Everglades. The Tequesta, as a culture and people, become extinct.

03 September 1783
The Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution, and Britain relinquished rule over the thirteen colonies. Florida returned to Spanish rule.
Treaty of Versailles 1783

Napoleon invades Spain. The Spanish rebel against the French occupation, as documented in Goya’s paintings 02 May and o3 May.

Napoleon’s arrogance led to delusion: “With my banner bearing the words ‘Liberty and Emancipation from Superstition’, I shall be regarded as the liberator of Spain.”

After the defeat of Napoleon, Fernando VII returns to the throne of Spain.

22 February 1819
Spain and Florida sign the Florida Purchase Treaty, effectively ceding Florida to the United States in exchange for about $5 million in debt claims. The treaty would be ratified in 1821 and Florida would be formally admitted as a US territory in 1822 and as a slave state in 1845.

“On April 25, 1898 the United States declared war on Spain following the sinking of the Battleship Maine in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. As a result Spain lost its control over the remains of its overseas empire — Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines Islands, Guam, and other islands.” Library of Congress

10 December 1898
Independence of Cuba recognized by Spain.

12 April 1931
“Republican and Socialist candidates triumph overwhelmingly in municipal elections. They demand Alfonso’s abdication, and the military withdraws its support from the embattled king. Two days later, facing the prospect of a violent insurrection, Alfonso flees the country.” Encyclopedia Britannica

17 July 1936
General Francisco Franco declares a rebellion against the Republican government. The Spanish Civil War begins.

26 April 1937
The bombing of the Basque city of Guernica by the German air force occurs. It is considered the first aerial bombardment of a civilian target.

28 March 1939
The Nationalist forces of Franco defeat the Republican forces. Franco establishes a military dictatorship.

20 November 1975
Death of Franco Proclamation of King Juan Carlos I

15 June 1977
Spain holds first elections in 40 years.


Ham, Anthony; Quintero, Josephine. Lonely Planet Madrid (Travel Guide). Lonely Planet Global Limited, 2021.

Phillips, Jr, William D.; Rahn Phillips, Carla. A Concise History of Spain (Cambridge Concise Histories). Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Shields, Graham. Madrid (World Bibliographical Series). ABC-CLIO, 1996.

Steves, Rick. Rick Steves Spain (Travel Guide). Avalon Travel, 2016.

John William Bailly 28 November 2022

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: