Standard Article


Migration A–Z


  1. Matthias Maser

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm434

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Maser, M. 2013. Reconquista. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


In 711 ce Muslim troops from North Africa invaded the Iberian peninsula. Within a few years they had conquered the former Visigothic kingdom of Toledo and made the land, which they called al-Andalus, part of the pan-Islamic caliphate. As a result of this invasion Christian rule was abruptly reduced to a small residual area in the Iberian northwest. A military re-expansion of Christian dominion could be achieved only in slow steps: it took almost eight hundred years until in 1492 Granada, the last Muslim stronghold in the Iberian peninsula, fell back into the hands of the Christians. Western historical narratives often portray this centuries-long Christian (re-)expansion as a monolithic “reconquest,” an incessant process of territorial recuperation and the moral recovery of a “Spanish nation” (Tolan 2002). This highly ideological view presents the Reconquista as the most defining event of the Iberian Middle Ages, and even in scientific parlance the term “reconquest” is frequently used as a synonym for the whole epoch. This equation, however, is problematic: During the Middle Ages the Iberian peninsula witnessed a multitude of migrations, settlements, and cultural entanglements, which were far more varied than the biased narrative of a unidirectional Christian “reconquest” suggests.


  • Reconquista;
  • archaeology;
  • diaspora;
  • empire;
  • faith;
  • Atlantic world;
  • cultural diversity;
  • war