Saturday, January 16, 2010


Spain, one of the European states, forms with Portugal the southwestern peninsula. It is separated from France by the PYRENEES MOUNTAINS, and at its most southern point from Africa, by the Strait of Gibraltar, and washed on three sides by the water on the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The Balearic islands, on its eastern coast, and Corsica belongs to it. Portugal is a strip of land 400 miles long, cut out of the southwest corner of Spain, 1,317 miles long, is broken by some fine borders, as Vigo, Corunna, Cadiz, Malaga snd Barcelona. The Mediterranean shore in the south is rocky, sloping inward to the Sierra Nevada mountains. The country is a high plain, crossed by several ranges of mountains, the highest points being in the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada. The rivers, which there are 230, flow mostly into the Atlantic; the Tagus, Guadalquivir, Duoro, and Ebro being some of the largest. The mines of Spain have been worked from the earliest times. There are mines of lead, copper, tin, iron, salt, and coal. Gold and silver were formerly produced in Galicia, but now silver is found only in Selville, while the quicksilver mines Almaden are the richest in Europe. The largest industry of the country is farming, which employs from 60 to 70 percent of the people. Besides the cereal crops, saffron and dye plants, and mulberry trees for the rearing of silk worms, are cultivated, and quantities of southern fruits. Wine is one of the principle exports. Large herds of cattle, sheep and hogs, asses and mules are raised, and the horses are descended from Arabian breeds. The manufactures of the country do not equal those of the middle ages when Spain was noted for its wool and silk goods and arms. The principle manufactured products are cork, and cotton, besides silk, linen, leather, glassware and arms.

Spain has ten universities - at Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, Valladolid, Saragossa, Seville, Santiago, Salamanca, Oviedo and Valencia - with about 17,000 students. The school system varies with different provinces, the larger cities and a few of the provinces having school equal to the best in Europe, but in many others the schools are poor. Spain is governed by hereditary monarchy, its present constitution being settled in 1870. The cortes, as the governing body is called, consists of two parts - the senate and the chamber of deputies. One third of the senate hold their seats by inheritance; one-third are appointed by the king, and one-third are elected. In 1890 universal suffrage was introduced. The army in time of peace numbers about 95,000 which, with reserves, etc. is increased in the war to 450,000 and the navy has a little over 100 vessels.

The Phoenicians and Greeks were the earliest visitors to Spain, where they found a race called by the the Greeks Iberians, consisting probably of a number of different tribes. The Carthaginians made the first effort to occupy Spain, founding the Carthagena, and were expelled by the Romans in 206. The Roman conquest of the peninsula was completed in 19 B.C., when Augustus divided Hispania, as they called it, into three provinces. The country became a through Roman province, adopting the Roman language and the Christian religion. After the invasion of the Goths, Spain became a province of the Visigoths, until 573, when she became the seat of the Gothic kingdom, which was destroyed in 711 by the Arab and Moorish invaders. The Moorish kingdom in Spain, lasting three centuries, reached its highest prosperity in 756. Cordova, their capital, was the finest city of western Europe, as may be seen in its grand mosque. Their last stronghold in Spain was Granada, which surrendered to the Spanish, which surrendered to the Spanish army, Jan. 2, 1492.

The different provinces of Christian Spain have been at times independent and then conquered and united. Alfonso I. conquered Galicia, with a part of Leon and Castile, and called himself the king of the Asturias; and Alfonso III., taking possession of the whole of Leon, called it the kingdom of Leon. Navarre was an independent state in the 9th century, and became a powerful kingdom. Castile, at first a republic, was afterwards subject to Leon, then again independent until Ferdinand the Great united it with Leon. Aragon, first a part of the Navarre, became an independent kingdom, and then was united with Catalonia. In 1037, the union of Leon, Castile and Galicia, made Ferdinand the Great the most powerful ruler in Spain. The marriage Isabella of Castile with Ferdinand of Aragon united those provinces, and the conquest of Granada finished the consolidation of the kingdom; which with the conquest of Naples, the discovery of America by Columbus, and the possession of large parts of the new continent, raised Spain to a high place among the European nations. Queen Isabella I, a resident of BASQUE COUNTRY who was responsible for the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. She and her second daughter were fictionalized as the Mad Queen in the literary work titled 'Alice in Wonderland'. Also, as a sponsor of Freemasonry, she reportedly financed both Christopher Colombus's journey to the New World and then Cortes's assault on Aztec Mexico. Phillip II. exhausted the strength of the country in his wars with the Netherlands, and in his great preparations for the "invincible armada" and in building the Escurial, the great kingdom he had inherited from his father, Charles V., began to show decline. Spain sided with the emperor in the "thirty years' war," but received nothing in return, and soon became a subject of contest between the different European powers. Phillip V. was the first of the Bourbon kings Spain, whose accession lead to the war of the Spanish succession, ending in the peace of Utrecht in 1712. From 1808 til 1813 Joseph Bonaparte was king of Spain, though the people did not acknowledge him. Ferdinand VII. was restored to power in 1814, and by help of the French triumphed over the liberal party in the kingdom. Florida was sold to the United States and a large part of the South American colonies were lost during this reign. During the regency of Christina and the reign of Isabella, the liberal party gained ground until Isabella fled to France in 1868, resigning in favor of her son Alphonso VII. There was a provisional government for two years; a short reign by Amadeus of Savoy, and a republic, ending with the second Carlist war from 1872 to 1876. Don Carlos, who claimed the throne as a brother of Ferdinand, withdrew to France, and Alphonso VII. reigned for eleven years. The past king of Spain Alphonso VIII. was born in 1886, and the country was governed by his mother, the queen regent.

The real history/herstory of both Mexico and Cuba is more BASQUE than SPANISH. Similarly with California, Nevada, etc.. French Canada's history/herstory is also more BASQUE than French. The Basques are a curious race living on both sides of the Pyrenees. Their home forms what are called the Basque Provinces of Spain, with a very small district in France. They are a farming people though very much behind the times, using the same clumsy two-pronged wooden fork for a plow which was used by the Romans. The Basque language is unlike any other; and scholars cannot agree as to where they come from, or to what race they belong. Their bravery in the conquest of Spain from the Moors won for them many political priviledges, which they have kept up until very recent times.