It's complicated. In summary:

  • Divided into North and South.
  • About 450 years ago, the Almohads invaded, founding the caliphate of Andalusia
  • About 70 years ago internal divisions resulted in the fracturing of Andalusia into several smaller kingdoms.
  • The northern kingdoms of Navarre, Castile, Aragon and newly created Portugal are engaged in the Reconquista, reclaiming European lands long lost to the Almohad Empire.
  • As such, the cultures of north and south are very different.


Spain/Hispania was happily feudal, fairly rich, and Visigothic until an army of Almohads stunned and shattered it and its feudal European society. Thus was created al-Andalus, or Andalusia.

The Andalusian emirate then tried to expand across the Pyrenees, but were repulsed by the then-duke of Aquitaine, Eudes. Charles Martel also repulsed an invasion near Poitiers. With these failures, and Charlemagne setting up a buffer zone north of Barcelona, an area which he set some of the newly-pacted seelie to hold, the emirate decided that they would concentrate on the Iberian peninsula.

Andalusia became a full caliphate and rivalled Baghdad in its legitimacy as THE caliphate of caliphates, its learning, and its population—the capital, Cordoba, had roughly 300,000 people, the same size as Constantinople.

The common people of Hispania mostly dealt with their Muslim overlords as they had dealt with any other change of overlords over the centuries. The displaced nobles were pushed across the Pyrenees into Occitania, the Aquitaine, and lesserly into France. Even then the south of France had a reputation for tolerance, and welcomed the Spanish nobles—but the latter found that they could not really crack into the landowning society, as they had neither dowries nor income left to encourage intermarriage.

Thus, they gathered together armies, promising soldiers land, and giving the disaffected warlords and soldiers of Western Europe a cause, and started what came to be known as the Reconquista, the perhaps greatest, most extended land reclamation scheme ever.

At the time of Misrule, Portugal, Aragon, Navarre, and Castile now account for the northern half of Spain (roughly); the south is still Andalusia.


Allegedly, all the northern kingdoms are equal working partners. In practice, Castile is expanding faster and more fiercely than the other three; Navarre is expanding, but slowly, as it's sandwiched between Castile and the heavily fey areas of Aragon, where the fey have learned they really rather like being the important people in a region, and will not relinquish the task set to them by Charlemagne—to hold the buffer zone against Andalusia.

Tacticians have pointed out that the buffer zone, due to the lessening borders of Andalusia, should be further south—at which point the fey decided that that meant the buffer zone had stretched rather than relocated, and tried to claim central Spain as well. Only some very swift talking by the rulers of Aragon and Castile, and Castile agreeing to use fey shock troops on the border itself, prevented pretty much total takeover of central Hispania. To this day, the human ruling classes often go to Paris to study argumentative logic before taking up the mantle of kingship (or support thereof), and enter into sworn oaths rarely.

Aragon is a staunch supporter of the Church, and many of its fey have signed the accord the Church offered them. In fact, some have taken to religious argument so well that they have gone to teach at the university in Paris, contributing to the growing body of ecclesiastical law, debate, and scholarship there. Once a year there is a public debate based on current papal policy. It is held in the royal palace, consists mainly of fey and one or two hardy and/or masochistic humans, and is called the Pontification. (It's actually officially named something else, a long-winded name, but it got dubbed the Pontification early on, and it stuck.)

Portugal is less than 80 years old, and is still finding its feet. It is trying to establish itself without compromising its young identity as a Christian model and proselyte mixed with economic might. It controls half the western seaboard and is building a navy. Very quickly its sailors have acquired a reputation for skill. Portugal intends to take the place in Western Europe that Venice holds in the Mediterranean.

Andalusia is fighting a losing battle, and its politics have turned into full-scale defence of its culture and civilisation. The caliphate has fallen, devolved into half a dozen petty kingdoms, which would be ateach other's throats if it weren't for the universal threat. Currently it is looking at Castile as the least worst option, as Eleanor of Castile appears to appreciate the learning (including the great libraries) that Islam is trying to keep alive. This does not mean the Muslims are blind to the word “appropriation,” or to the fact that Castile is twice the size a) it was a hundred years ago and b) of its fellow kingdoms.



In the north, trade is in might and money, and in military knowledge and prowess. The Navarrese have developed a reputation for being shrewd strategists for the might of Aragon and especially Castile. Castile is also developing an economic strength its neighbours do not yet have, due to the royal court encouraging the assimilation of Muslim and Mozarab tradesmen, artists, and crafts.

Portugal, as stated above, has a rapidly-expanding navy for hire, and is not above lending a quarter of to England, a quarter of it to France, and then pirating both quarters, taking its own ships back (along with any supplies/money/booty/hostages), and blaming it on rogue Byzantines. Portugal also has a near-monopoly on the best cork trees.

In Andalusia the arts of ancient Greece are kept alive in great libraries, and debated in the many schools; here doctors and surgeons practice medicine—actual medicine based on science and observation, rather than herbcraft and silly humoural theories. Andalusia produces better-quality steel than anywhere else, better even than Damascus. Toledo has fallen to Castile, which has given them an edge (if you'll pardon the expression), but the knowledge and true craftsmen still reside in Andalusia. The leather-working rivals that of Florence (see Italy). They also produce other things: astrolabes, telescopes, surgical implements—which, to be frank, the rest of Europe could well afford to pay attention to.


The Mozarabs

Andalusia is tolerant as far as faith and custom is concerned, and has close ties with Occitania. These two regions are in fluid social contact, especially in the arts and sciences.

Mozarab culture is a syncretistic culture of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim customs, whereby people have been happily rubbing together to the benefit of each other and an advanced civilisation, more advanced even than Byzantium or Baghdad, for centuries. Andalusia has the highest concentration of Jews in Europe.

Northern Iberia

Four hundred years of constant warfare and expansion has created a hardy frontier society, especially in Castile and Aragon, who have seen and perpetrated most of the fighting. A society built on warfare, however, has little time left actually to run its lands, so the cities of the northern kingdoms, the urban nobles and patricians, have won remarkable freedoms and privileges.

Castile is notable, as it's cottoned on to the fact that it is much easier to roll over a rival civilisation if you study and assimilate bits of it. To this end, Castile is attempting to transition to a much more cultured civisilsation, whilst still retaining its military might. This is a precarious balance, but is helped by the fact that a particularly warrior-like troop of fey have taken over bolstered their fighting forces on the front. The current Queen of Castile, Eleanor (daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine) and her husband are encouraging a more French—or at least Aquitainian—style of court, full of learning, music, courtesy, courtly love, and beauty, regardless of the background of its practitioners. People of all faiths hold prominent places in Eleanor's court, and it is said that with her husband on Crusade, Eleanor's best friend is Lady Jahanara, a Muslim doctor.

Tales of Place, of Folk and Fey

Santiago de Compostela

The holiest site of pilgrimage save only for the Holy Land (and some argue Rome). There is a thriving trade of those who support pilgrims—innkeepers, bodyguards, and the like—along the entire length of the Camino (pilgrimage trail) that crosses northern Spain. The last few miles of the Camino are loaded with merchants selling holy relics, pardons–anything that people with mortality and/or expiation of sins on their mind could possibly wish to buy.

Saint James the Greater made his way from the Holy Land to what was then Galicia (and now, with the recent death of the last King of Leon, is now Castile), preached there, and then returned to the Holy Land, where he was promptly martyred (beheaded by unbelievers). His acolytes and followers managed to smuggle his remains to the coast, where a remarkable stone ship was waiting for them, which brought them back to Galicia. Some say that the local pagans put up a resistance to the relics becoming established, but it is known that several acolytes married several pagans after both sides seeing what they took to be divine omens that this was the correct path. Even in various ensuing wars between the Old Ways and the church, the relics were never disturbed. Even the invading armies of Islam, though they conquered the area and looted it, left the sanctuary, church, and relics untouched. What other explanation can there be? Are not even these just part and parcel of the many miracles the saint has wrought?

Saint James is the patron saint of Spain, and it is said his influence spreads wider than other, more local saints. Some say that Castile is especially blessed of the Saint, and this accounts for its success.


Want to buy something pretty, something well-crafted, something useful that no other European city produces? Come to Cordoba, the capital of Andalusia and the central seat of learning and craftsmanship. This is where to buy your weapons of finest steel, your texts on the great literature of ancient Greece, your pretty young companion for the night. It is not uncommon for the most prominent folk of Cordoba to have in their family service a hob or hobs, taking care of the housework while they study more, sing more, craft more, love more.


Now belonging to the kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona was the southernmost border of the buffer zone Charlemagne created against the armies of Islam. He then set a troop of newly-pacted fey to patrol and keep it, figuring it would be no great loss if they fell.

They didn't fall. They became fierce and war-like (and in the case of some less human-bodied, more sharp and jagged). Over a couple of hundred years, as the border moved south, they calmed down a bit, rounded off some edges; others moved in from France of a more intellectual bent, especially once Barcelona was pretty much entirely given over to their keeping.

But the warriors and shards pined, and started quietly offering their services further and further south and, it is rumoured, even further abroad. They were expensive. But they were effective. Now, under two notable fey, Throatstrike and Eyebright, they serve the Castilian queen, Eleanor.

As result, if you want to hire a fey in Spain, or learn something of or from them, Barcelona is the place to do it. But beware. Aragonese fey are sharp lawyers and logicians. They will split hairs you didn't knew you had, and they will ALWAYS get the best of the bargain. And they are hungry. They want things.

Eleanor of Castile

Much has been said of her above, but let it be said here that she acquired her father's impatience, her mother's intelligence and way with words, and the desire for empire of each. She has two young daughters, Bianca and Urraca.

Throatstrike and Eyebright

Nobody knows exactly what sort of fey Throatstrike is. Keen and sharp as a sword, eager as the wind, precise as a pin, he seems never to have the same shape twice. He always, however, strikes at the throat, often severing the head of his opponent. Sometimes he merely punctures the throat and watches the blood pour out, making a sort of wailing noise he won't explain. He is, however, loyal to a fault, even if the letter of a law or contract would forgive him, or even the spirit, he will act scrupulously in his employer's favour.

Eyebright is, for sake of a word to call her, his partner. She excels in gaining tactical knowledge and acts as a scout. The locals say she turns into a flower and plants herself along highways a camp edges, and listens. She rarely speaks. Those who have heard her speak cannot ever remember exactly what she said, only that for a week afterward they fell cold in warm climates and warm in cold ones. Or so they say. How much truth can you place in stories?

Lady Jahanara

Lady J is the personal physician of Eleanor of Castile, and delivered both of her daughters. She is quiet, knowledgeable, and her smile has melted the hearts of more than one noble at the Castilian court. She is a great patroness of the arts.

El Cid

El Cid was the great warlord and warrior of the last century. The great Spanish epic describes his nobility and quintessential Spanish-ness. In reality he fell out with his Spanish overlord and went to work for the Muslims for a while until enticed back.

It is said he did not die, but was preserved in a near-death state, his wounds still weeping quietly, in the care of nine fair maidens. When the time comes, he will be restored, and Spain will be whole again.

spain.txt · Last modified: 2015/10/04 23:22 by gm_cecily
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