Galicians - History and Cultural Relations



The Iberians migrated to Spain in the third millennium B.C.E. , probably from the eastern Mediterranean, likely encountering the Basques in the peninsula. They lived in small tribal groups, isolated from one another by geography, and each with a distinct regional and political identity. When the Celts crossed the Pyrenees into Spain (sixth century B.C.E. ), their cultural influence, which included gender equality, ultimately triumphed. Augustus romanized the Iberians in 19 B.C.E. , cutting up the peninsula into a series of provinces. Galicia as a kingdom was founded by the Germanic Suevi in 409 after the Visigoths drove them into the peninsula. The Visigoths defeated the Suevi in 585. Early in the eighth century armies from North Africa began their invasion of Spain, initiating the Moorish epoch, which lasted until 1492 when Ferdinand and Isabella triumphed over Boabdil at Granada. Early in this period, the shrine of Saint James was established at Santiago de Compostela (813), with Saint James subsequently becoming the symbolic commander and Spain's patron saint in the reconquest struggle after the battle of Clavijo (844). Pilgrims flocked to the shrine from throughout Europe, bringing the region into contact with the Christendom of France and Italy for the first time. In the fifteenth century Ferdinand and Isabella unified Spain, and Galicia began to be considered an underprivileged, conservative province, remote from the Castilian center to the south; even the fact that Francisco Franco was born in Galicia and returned for frequent visits did notably little to change this attitude. A strong sense of autonomy now pervades the region, however, and Galicia is developing considerable self-esteem through its language, industry, and rising tourist business.


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