The Kingdom of Spain is located in the extreme southwest of the European continent, and occupies approximately 85-percent of the Iberian Peninsula. Spain is bordered on the west by Portugal, in the Northeast by France, and by the great wall of the Pyrenees Mountains. The Iberian Peninsula that the Spanish inhabited was occupied by various other civilizations, including the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, and Muslims, and Spain is now associated with having a very rich, eclectic culture as a result.
The development of Christian society and culture in the first 300 years following Islamic conquest in Spain was slow, but major changes occurred for the Spanish in the 12th and 13th centuries. The population grew, communication with northern Europe intensified, commerce and urban life gained in importance, and the kingdoms of the Castile, Aragon, and Navarre, and Portugal emerged as the governing bodies of the Iberian Peninsula. These kingdoms reached the frontiers that they would keep, with minimum amount of alteration, until the end of the Middle Ages, when Isabella I became Queen of Castile.
Isabella began participating in the royal court at the age of 13; and when Portugal, Aragon, and France offered their marriage candidates, she favored Ferdinand of Aragon. Isabella ascended to the throne as Queen of Castile to rule sensibly and with a prudent political program. Her unification of the states of the Iberian Peninsula into a single entity, the maintenance and control over the Strait of Gibraltar, policy of expansion into Muslim North Africa, reform of Spanish Catholicism, and support for the exploration and expansion in the unknown was evidence of her wisdom and capabilities as Queen.
On October 12, 1492 Columbus, with the blessing and financial backing of Isabella, sought a route to the legendary rich markets of China and Japan, but instead discovered what would become known as "The New World", the present day Americas. This voyage gave way to a new golden age of expeditions and conquest, as the Americas contained gold, a valuable resource that Spain happened to be desperately bereft of at the time.
Following Columbus’ lead, a Spanish military group known as Los Conquistadores, ‘The Conquerors’, were directed by Hernan Cortes to the New World with the soul purpose of seeking out new frontiers and riches in the unknown. The Conquistadores undertook their expeditions in the vast landmasses of the Americas at their own expense, risking their lives without aid from the Spanish royalty. Their conquests included campaigns in Guatemala, Peru, Cuzco, Columbia, Chile, the Bay of Honduras, and as far as the Pacific Coastal regions. The Conquistadors, however, were given to fighting and searching for gold, and were swiftly replaced by administrators and settlers from Spain who governed in their place.
Once the Spanish Kingdom established its presence in the Americas their operations inevitably became high-profile targets of pirates and other raiders who were endorsed by European powers such as England. The Monarchy of Spain endeavored to retaliate by building an armada of warships that was dubbed "The Invincible Armada". The armada was a collection of over 130 naval warships and transport-ships, which contained approximately 8,000 seamen and 19,000 soldiers. King Philip II directed this armada to invade England when the various and frequent raids on Spanish commerce in the Caribbean became intolerable. England’s success in repelling the Spanish fleet saved England and the Netherlands from potential consolidation into the Spanish empire, but despite the armadas’ defeat, the blow dealt by the Spanish upon England’s reputation as the greatest European power was palpable.
Thereafter, Spain declined in power quickly; and by the 19th century, Spain became somewhat marginal in international politics. Spain’s period of imperial power and exploration left a legacy that consisted of 18 Latin American states, Puerto Rico, and the ever-growing Spanish-speaking population in the United States today. In 1975 Spain transitioned into a constitutional monarchy by way of a democratic constitution and is now recognized for its eclectic culture as well as for the glory and mystique that it once possessed in its youth.
In Civilization III: Play the World, the Spanish are considered a Commercial and Religious civilization, therefore, they start with Alphabet and Ceremonial Burial and have significant bonuses to cultural and commercial activities.
Unique Unit: The Conquistador
Following Columbus, a Spanish military group known as Los Conquistadores, ‘The Conquerors’, were directed by Hernan Cortes to the New World with the soul purpose of seeking out new frontiers and riches in the unknown. The Conquistadores undertook their expeditions in the vast landmasses of the Americas at their own expense, risking their lives without aid from the Spanish royalty. Horses adorned with many bells enabled the Conquistadores to launch indomitable offenses against the American Indian natives who had never seen a horse before the arrival of the Conquistadores. Spanish-Conquistador conquests included campaigns in Guatemala, Peru, Cuzco, Columbia, Chile, the Bay of Honduras, and the Pacific Coastal regions.
A Spanish city must have horses to build a Conquistador. They replace the Explorer and are fast, military scouts that treat all terrain as if it were a road.