Castile (historical region)

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A former kingdom, Castile (Spanish: Castilla, pronounced [kasˈtiʎa]) gradually merged with its neighbors to become the Crown of Castile and later the Kingdom of Spain with the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Navarre. In modern-day Spain, it is usually considered to comprise a part of the autonomous community of Castilla y León in the north-west, and Castilla-La Mancha and Madrid in the center and south of the country, including sometimes Cantabria and La Rioja as well, for historical reasons. However, there are different versions about the exact boundaries of Castile, and since it lacks an official recognition, it has no official borders. It is traditionally divided between Old Castile, which is the eastern half of Castilla y Leon and New Castile, which is Castilla-La Mancha and the Community of Madrid. Modern Spanish monarchs are numbered according to the system of Castile.

Castile's name is thought to mean land or region of castles, in reference to the castles built in the area to consolidate the Christian Reconquest from the Moors. The Spanish word for castle is actually castillo.



Historically, the Castilian Kingdom and people were considered to be the main architects of the Spanish State by a process of expansion to the South against the Muslims and of marriages, wars, assimilation, and annexation of their smaller Eastern and Western neighbours. From the advent of the Bourbon Monarchy following the War of the Spanish Succession until the arrival of parliamentary democracy in 1977, the Castilian language was the only one with official status in the Spanish State.

Originally an eastern county of the kingdom of León, in the 11th century Castile became an independent realm with its capital at Burgos and later Valladolid, and the leading force in the northern Christian states' 800-year Reconquista ("reconquest") of central and southern Spain from the Muslim rulers who had dominated most of the peninsula since the early 8th century.

The capture of Toledo in 1085 added New Castile to the crown's territories, and the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) heralded the Muslim loss of most of southern Spain. León was finally reunited with Castile in 1230, and the following decades saw the capture of Córdoba (1236), Murcia (1243) and Seville (1248). By the Treaty of Alcaçovas with Portugal on March 6, 1460, the ownership of the Canary Islands was transferred to Castile.

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