The Christian Reconquista - The Organized Effort to Drive the Muslims Out of Spain
During the Middle Ages, Christian kingdoms in northern Spain attempted to restore their dominance. Their rivals were Moors, who had held most of the Iberian Peninsula since the 8th century. A series of Christian campaigns dubbed the Reconquista ended in 1492.
The campaigns had two major elements. The first was an ideological basis, where Christians were seen as a special class of rulers who owed their power to their faith. The second was a financial aspect, where cash rewards and forced tribute were offered to soldiers who took part. The popes promoted the campaigns by granting the promise of a direct route to heaven to any Christians who were killed.
The campaigns also provided a source of income, as Catholics raised church taxes to fund the armies. Cash rewards were often in the form of booty or forced tribute. Recruiting soldiers was made easier by mass preaching.
The main military orders included knights, who were recruited from all over Europe. They were not allowed to fight during holy days. The Catholic church established the Holy Office, a Roman Catholic body charged with protecting the faith. It enforced Catholic orthodoxy.
The Muslim threat to the Mediterranean area, including Iberia, was a major concern. Muslim Moors and Berbers invaded the region in the early 8th century. They conquered nearly the entire Iberian Peninsula. Several Muslim states ruled in the region, including the Muslim kingdom of Granada, which was forced to pay tribute annually to Castile. The Moors eventually lost their control over Granada in the mid-13th century.