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Spain is officially called the Kingdom of Spain. It is primarily located on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe with territories on its two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the African Atlantic coast and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It also has two cities on the African mainland, Ceuta and Melilla, and numerous small islands in the Alboran Sea near the African coast. Spain's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea and Gibraltar, to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay, and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. The official language is Spanish. It is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy.

In the early 8th century, the Muslims controlled most of Iberia, and they kept control of it until 1250, when most of Iberia was back in the hands of Christians with the exception was the Kingdom of Granada, which remained in Muslim hands.

There were two kingdoms in Iberia: Castile, which contained the northern and central parts of the Iberian Peninsula, and Aragon, which was in the northeastern section of the peninsula.

In the late 14th century, there was a push to convert the region's Jews to Christianity More than 80,000 Jews converted over the next century. In 1391, large massacres were executed in all of the major cities except for Avila.

The death of Henry IV of Castile caused the War of the Castilian Succession from 1475 until 1479. There were two contenders for the Castilian were Queen Isabella of Castile. On the one hand, there was Henry's half-sister who was backed by Castilian nobility as well as the Kingdom of Aragon. On the other was a woman who was once Henry's heir Joanna la Beltraneja, who had the support of France and Portugal. Isabella was married to King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Isabella retained the throne. The fact that Ferdinand and Isabella ruled over the two kingdoms caused Aragon and Castile to be united in 1479.

Known as the "Catholic Monarchs" after Pope Alexander VI gave them that title, the couple sponsored the voyages of Christopher Columbus. They oversaw the conquest of Granada and the Canary Islands. They brought the Jewish explosion to an end with the signing of the Alhambra Decree which ordered Spain's remaining practicing Jews to convert or be expelled. Between 40,000 and 120,000 were expelled.

Sixty years later, Muslims in Spain were in the same position as the Jews of the 15th century. The kingdom's male gypsies between the ages of 18 and 26 were compelled to work in galleys, or long boats, rowing. This were was a virtual death sentence, and many were able to hide and avoid being arrested.

The Spanish Inquisition officially began during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs and ended in the 19th Century.

Isabella arranged marriages of her five children in order to keep the control of Spain stable. Her oldest daughter, Isabella, married Alphonso, Prince of Portugal in order to forge an alliance with their neighbor, but she died before she could have children. Her second daughter, Juana, married Philip the Handsome, a member of the House of Habsburg who was the heir presumptive to the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor. Juan, the queen's only son, married Margaret of Austria. Her fourth child, Maria, married Manuel I, King of Portugal and the Algarves. And her youngest child, Catherine, married King Henry VIII and eventually gave birth to Mary I, who would become Queen of England and Ireland and order in excess of 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake during what would become known as the Marian persecutions.

The War of Succession to the Spanish Crown fought from 1701 until 1714, was the end of the Habsburg dynasty and the entry of the Bourbons. The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht formalized the British occupation of Gibraltar, and in 1808, following the invasion by Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte was installed on the throne. But the people were not happy with that decision, and they restored the Bourbons in the person of Fernando VII. Amadeo of Savoy was on the throne for a short while, but in 1873, he abdicated, whereupon the First Republic was declared. The monarchy in 1874, the military restored the monarchy and put Alfonso XII on the throne. He was succeeded by his son Alfonso XIII in 1886, effective on the day he was born, so his mother, a Hapsburg, was his regent until he was 16. The Spanish monarchy was ended in 1931.

From 1939 until his death in 1975, General Francisco Franco ruled Spain as a military dictator with support from Nazi Germany as well as Fascist Italy. He implemented policies which were directly responsible for as many as 400,000 dissenters and political enemies via concentration camp executions and forced labor. He restored the monarchy just before his death, naming Juan Carlos I as his successor.


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