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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote The Phoenicians in Spain


It

is not yet possible to distinguish clearly between Iberian and Celtic civilization; in any event it must be remembered that primitive civilizations resemble one another very greatly in their essentials. There was certainly no united Iberian or Celtic nation within historic times; rather, these peoples lived in small groups which were independent and which rarely communicated with one another except for the commerce and wars of neighboring tribes. For purposes of war tribal bodies federated to form a larger union and the names of these confederations are those which appear most frequently in contemporary literature. The Lusitanians, for example, were a federation of thirty tribes, and the Galicians of forty. The social and political organization of these peoples was so similar to others in their stage of culture, the world over, that it need only be indicated briefly. The unit was the gens, made up of a number of families, forming an independent whole and bound together through having the same gods and the same religious practices and by a real or feigned blood relationship. Various gentes united to form a larger unit, the tribe, which was bound by the same ties of religion and blood, although they were less clearly defined. Tribes in turn united, though only temporarily and for military purposes, and the great confederations were the result. In each unit from gens to confederation there was a chief, or monarch, and deliberative assemblies, sometimes aristocratic, and sometimes
elective. The institutions of slavery, serfdom, and personal property existed. Nevertheless, in some tribes property was owned in common, and there is reason to believe that this practice was quite extensive. In some respects the tribes varied considerably as regards the stage of culture to which they had attained. Those of the fertile Andalusian country were not only far advanced in agriculture, industry, and commerce, but they also had a literature, which was said to be six thousand years old. This has all been lost, but inscriptions of these and other tribes have survived, although they have yet to be translated. On the other hand the peoples of the centre, west, and north were in a rude state; the Lusitanians of Portugal stood out from the rest in warlike character. Speaking generally, ancient writers ascribed to the Spanish peoples physical endurance, heroic valor, fidelity (even to the point of death), love of liberty, and lack of discipline as salient traits.

[Sidenote: The Phoenicians in Spain.]

The first historic people to establish relations with the Iberian Peninsula were the Phoenicians. Centuries before, they had formed a confederation of cities in their land, whence they proceeded to establish commercial relations with the Mediterranean world. The traditional date for their entry into Spain is the eleventh century, when they are believed to have conquered C?diz. Later they occupied posts around nearly all of Spain, going even as far as Galicia in the northwest. They exploited the mineral wealth of the peninsula, and engaged in commerce, using a system not unlike that of the British factories of the eighteenth century in India in their dealings with the natives. Their settlements were at the same time a market and a fort, located usually on an island or on an easily defensible promontory, though near a native town. Many of these Phoenician factories have been identified,--among others, those of Seville, M?laga, Algeciras, and the island of Ibiza, as well as C?diz, which continued to be the most important centre. These establishments were in some cases bound politically to the mother land, but in others they were private ventures. In either case they were bound by ties of religion and religious tribute to the cities of Phoenicia. To the Phoenicians is due the modern name of the greater part of the peninsula. They called it "Span," or "Spania," meaning "hidden (or remote) land." In course of time they were able to extend their domination inland, introducing important modifications in the life of the Iberian tribes, if only through the articles of commerce they brought.


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