Most Memorable Story

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish soldier who went to the New World in the early 16th century as part of an expedition. After spending eight years exploring and trying to survive in what is now the southern part of the United States, he returned to Spain and wrote down, from memory, his adventures, hence the title of his work-Adventures by Cabeza de Vaca.

In the account, he relates how after being separated from most of his party, he and some other men had to survive by living with various Native American tribes.  In most tribes they were made slaves. In others Cabeza de Vaca was able to become a trader. In yet others he and his men were revered because of their special “powers”.

These “powers” were their ability to cure sick indians. They would go to the sick person, pray over them and the person would miraculously heal. The indians of course were in awe. Cabeza and his friends just prayed that God would allow them to continue doing this so that they could survive.

To me, the part of the account that struck me most was his faith and trust in God. He really had faith that whatever happened, God would protect him, and He did. Cabeza still needed to take care of himself, but incredibly, through many dangerous adventures, he never died. Cabeza de Vaca lived to tell the story and then became the governor of modern-day Argentina. He died in 1540 in Seville, Spain.

The Song of Roland

The Song of Roland (written after 1095) is a heroic epic about an honorable knight, Roland, and his king, Charlemagne, who are fighting against the invading Muslims in Spain.

The thrilling story begins with the advisor of the Muslim King Marsilie, wanting to deceive Charlemagne, the Frankish Holy Roman Emperor, into leaving Spain. When the Islamic king agrees, Blancandrin (the king’s advisor) goes to tell Charlemagne, who in turn asks advice from his closest men: Roland, Ganelon (Roland’s father) and the prominent Barons. Roland strongly advises against accepting the offer but a duke and Ganelon convince the King otherwise.

When Ganelon goes to the Islamic camp to tell Blancandrin of the Franks’ decision, the two wicked advisors plot against Roland and decide to kill him. When Charlemagne and his troops leave Spain, Roland is left behind in the rearguard with twenty thousand troops.

The Muslims attack Roland with 400,000 troops. After a heroic and amazingly even-sided battle, Continue reading

The War of the Spanish Succession

The War of the Spanish Succession (1701 – 1714) began because the Spanish emperor, Charles II, had no heir to the throne. When Charles died, Louis XIV of France suggested that his own grandson, Philip of Anjou (later Philip V), should be the next Spanish king. He reinforced his argument by stating that Charles had accepted this proposal in his will. On the other hand, Leopold I of the Holy Roman Empire brought forth his own candidate for the Spanish throne. The two sides (Holy Roman Empire and France) then became rivals, both wanting an alliance with Spain.

Another factor leading to this war was a general concern that if France joined with Spain, it would become too powerful—both economically and militarily. Lastly, in order to avoid this war, there was a proposal to break up the Spanish lands: the Netherlands, Italian lands, and Spain. England and Louis XIV agreed to this, but  Continue reading

The Political Centralization of the States of the Iberian Peninsula

The political centralization (act of gathering political power under one rule) of the States in the Iberian Peninsula occurred during the fifteenth century with three key developments.

The first was the unification of the kingdoms of Aragon and Castille through the marriage of Ferdinand, prince of Aragon, and Isabella, princess of Castille, in 1469.  When both attained their thrones ten years later they brought both kingdoms under one rule. Continue reading