This essay focuses on the political, economic, cultural, and gastronomic history of Spain, especially of the Rioja and Catalunya regions. It is written for the participants in Stanford Travel/Study’s programs, Food and Wine of Spain, October 15-25, 2015, and Catalunya Food and Wine, April 18-28, 2018.
The four sections of the essay deal with political and economic transitions in Roman Hispania (2nd century), Islamic Spain (10th century), Imperial Spain (16th century), and Modern Spain (20th century). In each period, I look at conquest, governance, sources of wealth, and food patterns of the rich and poor. Roman Hispania was imperial Rome’s most valuable source of silver, olive oil, and wine. Muslim Al-Andalus created a medieval agricultural revolution based on new crops, better irrigation, and improved techniques. Imperial Spain exploited Peruvian silver and Mexican gold. Modern Spain rebounded from a disastrous civil war and dictatorship to become a prosperous democracy and a member of the European Union. I append a time line, a bibliography, and a description of sites that I visited in Spain.
Roman Spain, Settlement and Roman Conquest, Sources of Wealth – Contrasts in Food Patterns, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Islamic Spain, Islamic Conquest of Iberia, Political Evolution in al-Andalus, Moorish Wealth and Legacy, Christian Re-conquest of Iberia, Imperial Spain, Preconditions for Empire, Political Evolution and Imperial Administration, Imperial Wealth, New World Food and Drink in Spain, Decline of Imperial Spain, Modern Spain, Shattering Wars, Controversy over Catalonian Independence, Barcelona, Spain, La Jonquera, Spain and Collioure, France, Carcassonne, France, Empúries, Figueres, and Girona, Spain, Penedés and Priorat Regions, Cambrils, and Reus, Spain, Madrid, Segovia and Salamanca, Villabuena de Alara, Rioja, Pamplona, San Sebastián and Bilbao,