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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Evidences of the Cromagnon man are numerous in Spain


Geographical isolation the cause of Spanish individuality.]

The most marked result of these natural conditions has been the isolation, not only of Spain from the rest of the world, but also of the different regions of Spain from one another. Spaniards have therefore developed the conservative clinging to their own institutions and the individuality of an island people. While this has retarded their development into a nation, it has held secure the advances made and has vitalized Spanish civilization. For centuries the most isolated parts were also the most backward, this being especially true of Castile, whereas the more inviting and more easily invaded south and east coasts were the most susceptible to foreign influence and the most advanced intellectually as well as economically. When at length the centre accepted the civilization of the east and south, and by reason of its virility was able to dominate them, it imposed its law, its customs, and its conservatism upon them, and reached across the seas to the Americas, where a handful of men were able to leave an imperishable legacy of Spanish civilization to a great part of two continents.

[Sidenote: Events traceable to geographic conditions.]

Specific facts in Spanish history can also be traced very largely to the effects of geography. The mineral wealth of the peninsula has attracted foreign peoples throughout recorded history,

and the fertility of the south and east has also been a potent inducement to an invasion, whether of armies or of capital. The physical features of the peninsula helped these peoples to preserve their racial characteristics, with the result that Spain presents an unusual variety in traits and customs. The fact that the valley of the Guadalquivir descends to the sea before reaching the eastern line of the Portuguese boundary had an influence in bringing about the independence of Portugal,--for while Castile still had to combat the Moslem states Portugal could turn her energies inward. Nevertheless, one must not think that geography has been the only or even the controlling factor in the life and events of the Iberian Peninsula. Others have been equally or more important,--such as those of race and, especially, the vast group of circumstances involving the relations of men and of states which may be given the collective name of history.



[Sidenote: Prehistoric Spain.]

The Iberian Peninsula has not always had the same form which it now has, or the same plants, animals, or climate which are found there today. For example, it is said that Spain was once united by land with Africa, and also by way of Sicily, which had not yet become an island, with southern Italy, making a great lake of the western Mediterranean. The changes as a result of which the peninsula assumed its present characteristics belong to the field of geology, and need to be mentioned here only as affording some clue to the earliest colonization of the land. In like manner the description of the primitive peoples of Spain belongs more properly to the realm of ethnology. It is worthy of note, however, that there is no proof that the earliest type of man in Europe, the Neanderthal, or Canstadt, man,[4] existed in Spain, and it is believed that the next succeeding type, the Furfooz man, entered at a time when a third type, the Cromagnon, was already there. Evidences of the Cromagnon man are numerous in Spain. Peoples of this type may have been the original settlers of the Iberian Peninsula.[5] Like the Neanderthal and Furfooz men they are described generally as paleolithic men, for their implements were of rough stone. After many thousands of years the neolithic man, or man of the polished stone age, developed in Spain as in other parts of the world. In some respects the neolithic man of Spain differed from the usual European type, but was similar to the neolithic man of Greece. This has caused some writers to argue for a Greek origin of the early Spanish peoples, but others claim that similar manifestations might have developed independently in each region. Neolithic man was succeeded by men of the ages of the metals,--copper, bronze, and iron. The age of iron, at least, coincided with the entry into Spain of peoples who come within the sphere of recorded history. As early as the bronze age a great mixture of races had taken place in Spain, although the brachycephalic successors of the Cromagnon race were perhaps the principal type. These were succeeded by a people who probably arrived in pre-historic times, but later than the other races of those ages--that dolichocephalic group to which has been applied the name Iberians. They were the dominating people at the time of the arrival of the Phoenicians and Greeks.

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