Monday, May 11, 2015

A History of Burgos

So we were actually in Burgos about a week ago, but spotty internet connection has only made posting possible until now. So I'll first guide you through some of the history of Burgos and its place in the province of Castilla.

Today, Burgos is one of the major cities of Northern Spain, and for the last one thousand years has held an important role in Spain. The area of Burgos, situated along the Arlanzon River, was territory held since the Roman times; however, it was not properly settled until the late 9th century when Alfonso III of Leon ordered the construction of a castle on the hill overlooking the river. As the century came to a close the Iberian Peninsula saw a rise in the conflict between the Christian kings and the "Moorish raiders." Now of course the fighting was not strictly between these groups and in fact there was much fighting between the Christian kings as well. Amidst the wars a small county named Castilla separated from Leon. One Fernan Gonzalez is credited with the formation of Castilla and fortifying and defended it from outside opponents and, as you can probably guess, he used castles  to do so. At this time Burgos became THE major city in Castilla and would become the center of activity (as well as an important vote) in the politics of the kingdom.

It's important to note that a unified Spain did not come about until 1516, so prior to that country remained divided among several kingdoms. There was a great drive to unite the kingdoms and at one point, Ferdinand I "El Magno," ruled over Castilla, Leon, Galicia and Navarra by the mid-11th century. Now Ferdinand had five children: three sons and two daughters, and trying to be a good father, he provided all of them with either a territory (the sons) or a city (the daughters). One would think then everything should be alright, but clearly Ferdinand was not the best father in the world as all five siblings went to war with each other in order to control their father's former territory. In fact, one brother, Alfonso VI was rumored to have killed his brother, Sancho. As the fighting continued to grow, a Castilian noble arose from Burgos. His actual name is Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, but history and Spanish literature would remember him as El Cid. After much trial, El Cid was successful in calming the tensions that had divided the kingdoms, and in the aftermath, Burgos was declared the official capital of Castilla.

By the 15th century Castilla & Leon was the most powerfull city in the united kingdom and its heiress, Queen Isabella was determined to keep it that way. The climate of Burgos made it difficult to develop any internal source of revenue and instead it prospered as a commercial city. At any time a person could walk down its streets and hear a variety of dialects spanning from Spanish to Arabic. However, in 1560, after Spain was united, the capital of the country was moved to the more central location of Madrid. As a result, the power Burgos had experienced was significantly reduced. Nevertheless, in the 20th century, Francisco Franco directed Burgos as a city that specialized in textiles, chemicals, and metallurgy. These trademarks have remained even in the present.

No comments:

Post a Comment