Although Spain is the product of many cultures, it can be argued that Christianity has had the longest lasting influence. This lasting influence began to develop over the period of 500 years (ending in 1492) as the Christians gained more territory, beginning in the north and working toward southern Spain.
In the process of acquiring more territory, Muslims and Jews were forced to interact with the Christian conquerors. In many instances, there was a lot of social pressure for these Muslims and Jews to convert to Christianity. This intense social pressure lead to what is known as the Spanish Inquisition.
The root and purpose of the Inquisition was to unite all Christendom into a more homogeneous society by eliminating out heresy and dissent. The organizer of the Spanish Inquisition was Fray Tomas Torquemada. Torquemada was relentless in eliminating the Muslims and Jews from Spain. He was ultimately responsible for the expulsion of all Jews from Spain in 1492.
(History of Creativity, 368, 371-372)
The marriage between Isabella of Castilla and Ferdinand of Aragon marked the beginning of Catholic dominance in Spain. Under their rule, the Spanish Kings created a national union by declaring Catholicism as the central religion. This union ultimately led to the expulsion of the Jews and obligation of the Moors to convert to Christianity.
This period of time under the rule of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella was a crucial period in the history of Spain. It is during this era when the modern identity of Spain began to form. This era also marks the beginning of the Catholic Church's heavy influence on politics, history, customs and traditions. As discussed under the Spanish Discovery tab, we further understand King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella's influence in the discovery of the Americas.
(Cultures of Spain - Carmen Pereira-Muro, 79)
The origins of the Crusades began with battles between the Byzantines and Seljuk Turks in the late eleventh century. With the desire to open up trade to the Orient and to reclaim the Holy Land for Christian purposes, Pope Urban II called for a holy Crusade to free the Holy Land from Muslim control.
To encourage Christians to participate in the Crusades, the Pope offered indulgences to anyone willing to join the fight. The Crusades demonstrated medieval Europe's focus on the Catholic Church and following the will of God. The Crusades helped Spain and all of Europe escape from the darkness of medieval times.
(History of Creativiy, 358)
Although many Christians viewed the sacrament as a necessary means to becoming closer to God, many felt like there was more they could do to completely purge themselves of sin. That being said, many Christians participated in the Crusades with the promise of forgiveness of sin (indulgence) in trade for joining the fight. On top of all of this, the ultimate reforming act came from participating in a pilgrimage.
Santiago de Compostela (the burial site of St. James) is located in the northwestern tip of Spain and is known to be the most popular pilgrimage site. Pilgrimages usually lasted for months as the pilgrims traveled to far away destinations. It is recorded that these pilgrims would dress distinctly so that they could more easily be identified and protected. Typical pilgrim attire included a simple long cloak, a large hat, a walking stick with a gourd, and a necklace of scallop shells.
Cities that were located along these pilgrimage destinations began to recognize the economic, cultural and political advantage they had. These advantages were capitalized upon by building inns, expanding churches, assigning soldiers to protect and through the selling of religious artifacts and relics.
(History of Creativity, 366-367)