Iberia: Spain & Portugal

The southwestern corner of Europe, presently comprising Spain and Portugal. Iberian history and culture is a complex weave of Celtiberian, Phoenician, Roman, Gothic, and Berber influences. This page delineates the Classical and Christian states of Iberia. For the Muslim states, see al-Andalus.

Contains: Algarve, Ampurias, Andorra, Aragon, Asturias, the Azores, Barcelona, Besalu, Biscay, Britonia, Cadiz, Cantabria, Castile, Cerdana, Coimbra, Galicia, Gerona, Leon, Navarre, Oporto, Pallars, Pamplona, Portugal, Roman governors, Sobrarbre, Spain (general survey), Tartessos, Toledo (Archbishops), and Urgel.


ALGARVE (al-Gharb) The extreme southern end of Portugal. The name derives from the Arabic appellation, which means "the western country".

AMPURIAS A locale in extreme northeastern Spain, at the southern end of the Golfo de Rosas, about 20 miles (32 km.) east-northeast of Gerona.

ANDORRA This tiny Principality, nestled high in the Pyrenees Mountains on the French-Spanish border, was established in 1278 by the Treaty of Joint Suzerainty between the Spanish Bishop of Urgel and the French Count of Foix, whose descendants inherited Navarre in 1479 and then France in 1589. The listing is designed to reflect this joint sovereignty.

ARAGÓN The eastern coast of Spain, as well as the upland valleys and reaches of the eastern Pyrenees. It comprises the Catalan speaking portion of the nation.

ASTURIAS The north coast of Iberia, fronting on the Bay of Biscay. Asturias is the oldest of the Christian Kingdoms, the region from whence resistence to the Arabs first erupted.

The AZORES  A group of small islands lying in the North Atlantic, about 750 miles (1200 km.) west of Portugal.

BARCELONA A county in northeastern Spain, nominally attached to France but more-or-less independent until it joined Aragon in the 12th century.

BESALU An early Christian state in northeast Iberia, north of Barcelona.

BISCAY (Vizcaya, Basque Bizaiko) A district on the northern coast of Spain, centered on the city of Bilbao, 50 miles (80 km.) east of Santander, 63 miles (101 km.) east of the French border, and 75 miles (120 km.) northwest of the old Navarrese capital of Pamplona. There was an autonomous county here in the Middle Ages, first associated with Navarre and then with Castile.

CADIZ A port in the far south of Spain, facing the Atlantic coast on a narrow strand enclosing Cadiz Bay from the mouth of the Guadalete River. It is one of the oldest cities in Iberia.

A region on the northern coast of Spain, west of the present-day Basque country.

CASTILE Most of the central Spanish plateau. The Gonzalez succession were Counts of Castile; previous rulers were purely local castellans in nominal subsurvience to Asturias or Leon. In 930 the territories of Castile, Burgos, Alava, Cerezo and Lantario were united under a single count, Fernan Gonzalez.

CERDAÑA An early Christian state in northeast Iberia, north of Barcelona.

GALICIA The extreme northwest corner of Iberia. A Kingdom was established here during the Middle Ages, a division of Asturias in 910, but it had only an intermittent existence. One of the most sacred shrines in Mediaeval Christendom, Santiago de Compostela, is located here. Britonia (Bretoña) Note also the Romano-British settlement usually called Britonia or Brittaniensis, located around the bulge of land east of El Ferrol, in the far northwestern corner of  Galicia. Settled in the 6th century by refugees from Anglo-Saxon incursions in much the same manner as Brittany (Armorica) in France, the community came to be overseen by their own bishops. The ecclesiastic establishment and the community in general, is obscure, and little is known of it.

GERONA A town in far northeastern Spain, 50 miles (80 km.) northeast of Barcelona and about 30 miles (48 km.) south of the French border.

LEON Freed from Muslim control in 855, it emerged as a separate division of Asturias in 910. It held a sporadic existence until its final absorption into Castile in the 13th century.

NAVARRE The region of Navarre is a pocket Kingdom lying alongside the western Pyrenees. Isolated at an early stage from direct contact with Muslim Spain, it has been thereby less involved with the process of the reconquista, and more open to other influences, particularly those of France, and those of the native Euskeran (Basque) folk. Finally, the succession of French Navarre, a small fragment of territory of the old Kingdom within  the Department of Bearn and based at Pau. Henry III succeeded to the throne of France in 1589; French Navarre enters into personal union with France thereafter.

PALLARS An early Christian countship in northeast Iberia, between Barcelona and Jaca.

PORTUGAL A vitally important state in western Iberia, facing the Atlantic. The Portuguese owe a considerable debt for their culture to Celtic influences; and Europe owes much to the Portuguese for their extraordinary feats of navigation and exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries.

ROMAN SPAIN Here is a record of the provincial authorities in Roman Iberia.

SOBRARBRE One of the divisions of Navarre in 1035 (along with Aragon, Castile, and Navarre), it's king had no heirs, so it disappeared almost immediately.

SPAINA general survey of the entire state. Here is an express back to areas you may have come from within this archive:

Alabama, Arizona, Argentina, Arkansas, The Bahamas, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brabant, Burgundy, California, Chile, Colombia, Colorado, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Flanders, Florida, Franche Comte, Gelders,Guatemala, Hainault, Haiti, Holland, Honduras, Idaho, Iowa, Jamaica, Kansas, Louisiana, Luxembourg, Mexico, Milan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Montferrat, Namur, Naples, Nebraska, Nevada, Netherlands, New Mexico, Nicaragua, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Sardinia, Sicily, South Dakota, Tenochtitlan, Texas, Texcoco, Uruguay, Utah, Venezuela, Wyoming.

SPANISH EMPERORS Mention should be made of a series of Mediaeval Iberian rulers who styled themselves as Emperors - of Spain, or occasionally more local regions. The overall notion was that of a kind of "High King", a first among equals, similar to the Ardry of Ireland, or the Bretwalda in Anglo-Saxon Britain. Nevertheless. the dignity was never formalized in terms who among the Christian Spanish monarchs was authorized assume the title, and fairly often more than one would claim it at the same time. While on the subject, it should also be noted that the Spanish State as presently established only dates in a constitutional sense from 1808 - previous to which, the Spanish monarchs from 1555 utilized the style of "King of the Spains and the Indies" (note the plural), with many local regions possessing their own autonomous legislatures and charters.

TARTESSOS A native Iberian city and Kingdom, once controlling much of southern Spain, The location of the city is not known exactly; the best estimates place it in or near the La Marismas wetlands, close to the modern estuary of the Guadalquivir River, by the southern coast of Iberia and facing the Atlantic. Established prior to 800 BCE, the place was an important source of copper and silver to the ancient world, and was a well-known, if very distant, port-of-call to many peoples: Biblical notes regarding the city of Tarshish are probably refering to this place.

TOLEDO The ecclesiastic leaders of this ancient city. The Cardinal-Archbishops of Toledo are the Primates of the Spanish Church. For secular rulers during the Moorish era, go here.

URGEL A County in northern Spain, with varying levels of autonomy during it's history.