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Madrid Spain History

Madrid was founded in 9th century AD. Primarily the Iberian Peninsula was conquered by Romans, who, however, could not hold it for long and abandoned as the barbarian attacks became more severe. The territory was colonized by Arabic tribes, who founded a settlement on the banks of the Manzanares river. Visigoth tribes took control over the territory.

The first historical data on the city comes from 9th century, Muhammad I offered the construction of a small palace on the site of the present-day Palacio Real. The name of the city originates from Arabic al-Majrit – “source of water”.  The citadel was conquered in 1085 by Alfonso VI of Castile on his way to Toledo. The city expanded and became one of the administrative centres of Spain. In the Middle Ages the city became a thriving economic and ecclesiastic centre. Its population comprised Spanish, Sephardi Jews, Moors, the last two groups were expelled in 15th century, which resulted in severe decline of crafts and economy. After troubles and great fire Henry III of Castile established the order and built fortified royal residence, El Pardo. The triumphant entry of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile in the city marked the end of the strife between Castile and Aragon.

The city was considered the capital, as the place of Royal Court. Unlike most European cities, the population in it depended greatly on the activity of the court. During the reign of Carlos IV, one of thee most popular and benevolent monarchs, Madrid was expanded, rebuilt and acquired the features of modern European city.

During Napoleonic wars it was conquered by French army, whose atrocities led to mass rebellion. After the war for independence in 1814 the first Constitution was adopted. Conservative and liberal governments constantly alternated until the enthronement of Isabel II. During her reign accumulated political tension, which furthermore led to Second Spanish Republic and Spanish Civil War. During the war Madrid was one of the most affected cities and great part of it was ruined. During the rule of Francisco Franco, especially during the 1960s, the south of Madrid became very industrialized and there were massive migrations from rural environments into the city.

Madrid's south-eastern periphery became an extensive working class settlement, which was the base for an active cultural and political reform. After his death the rule of Juan Carlos I was established, giving Spain its status of constitutional monarchy. Madrid consolidated its position as leading economic, cultural and technological centre on the Iberian Peninsula.

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