site stats
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
HomeLatest NewsTo the reconquest of the definition of "Reconquista"

To the reconquest of the definition of “Reconquista”

Dictatorship is an encroachment on reality and truth, present and past, from which even dictionaries are not immune. Almost 50 years have passed since the death of Francisco Franco, and the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) has terms awaiting the Transition. The definition of “conquest” is one of them. The second meaning reads: “The restoration of the Latin American territory captured by the Muslims in 711 AD. BC, which ends with the capture of Granada in 1492. This is the 2014 version (in the 23rd edition), but it is not considered the correct historical definition.

Two historians have launched a campaign for the RAE to respond to and overcome the anachronism that historiography banished a few decades ago. One of them is Ana Isabel Carrasco Manchado, professor of medieval history at the Complutense University of Madrid, author of a dozen reference books on Al-Andalus, Islam and the Crown of Castile. The other is Alejandro Garcia Sanjuan, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Huelva, specializing in the history of Al-Andalus and the author of numerous essays, including “The Islamic Conquest of the Iberian Peninsula and the Distortion of the Past” (Marcial Pons , 2013). A few days after its launch, they have already gathered a hundred supporters from scientists from different countries (France, Great Britain, Mexico, USA or Chile) from disciplines such as social sciences, anthropology, political sciences, Arabic studies and, of course, history. In Spain, the signatories are currently owned by CSIC and 26 different universities.

Scholars have claimed the change in the RAE dictionary as yet another step in a claim that comes from afar: García Sanjuan himself published two tribunes in this newspaper in 2018 and 2021 warning that the Reconquista’s “link” with Spain is “the result of a biased and biased reading past identity” and that the term is firmly established on the ideological agenda of the extreme right.

Historical and non-ideological proposal

Proponents of the spelling clarify that the dictionary’s meaning of “recapture” indicates anthonomasia “does not reflect the scholarly development of historiographical knowledge or its use as accepted by much of historical criticism.” For these specialists and all those who have already joined the cause, this is “an outdated and obsolete definition”.

“For today’s historical criticism, “Reconquista” is a historiographical concept with which one can designate a certain ideology of legitimizing the expansion and conquests carried out by the Christian powers of the peninsula in Muslim territory,” say Ana Isabel Carrasco and Alejandro Garcia. That is, “this is not a historical period, but an ideological discourse.”

They suggest that the RAE and the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language (ASALE) consider an alternative definition for the current word “reconquest”. The version was built on the basis of research and historiographic research, which for decades tried to neutralize Francoism in the narrative of the past, and would read as follows: territory.

definition history

The reconquista is an idea created by nationalist historiography in the 19th century and restored by Francoism after the republic passed without question. Until then, it did not exist, and it did not begin with the rebellion of Don Pelayo in Covadonga against the Arabs in 718 and did not end with the capture of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492. This is Franco’s invention.” crusade” used to associate it with “the restoration of Spanish territory”.

It was with the 16th edition of the Dictionary of the Spanish Language, held in 1936 by the Academy (still under the government of the Second Republic), that the RAE added a second meaning to the word “conquest”. In the reprint of 1939, already under the dictatorship, it was republished. “In this sense, the nationalist ideology of the 19th century survived during the Republic and took advantage of the Franco regime.” Thus, a clear connection of the word with the medieval past of the Iberian Peninsula was built. The definition was: “The return of the Spanish territory captured by the Muslims, the epilogue of which was the capture of Granada in 1492.”

In the latest 2014 version, there was a slight change, and the idea of ​​”Spanish territory” was replaced with the idea of ​​”Hispanic territory”, which, let’s say, weakens the “strongly Spanish” aspect of the 1936 version. experts, historians. Not enough. Modern scholarly historiography no longer considers “reconquest” a synonym for the Hispanic medieval historical period, and no longer defines it as a process of conquest that lasted eight centuries.

Franco’s story

The Distortion of the Past has now been restored by Vox. “The reconquista is not over yet,” said Javier Ortega Smith, general secretary of the far-right party, two years ago. The threat was launched at the door of the Royal Chapel of the Cathedral of Granada, where Catholic Monarchs are buried. That day showed that the idea of ​​reconquista was a partisan invention. The historical manipulation of the party was also carried out at the Congress of Deputies.

Last February, the Commission for Culture and Heritage of the Andalusian Parliament approved, at the request of Vox, the declaration of the Day of the Capture of Granada, which is celebrated on January 2, as an object of cultural interest (BIC) and proceeded to register it as such in the General Catalog of the Historical Heritage of the Autonomous Community. But parliament rejected (with votes against PSOE, Ciudadanos and United We Can and abstaining from PP) promoting it as a national holiday. The party’s rationale was to “value its historical and cultural significance to the Andalusian heritage”. On the far right, the left denies the “roots, culture and traditions” of the Andalusian people. “They intend to oppose the Andalusian identity to the victory of the Catholic Monarchs over the Islamic kingdoms,” Vox assured at the time.

“History is used by false political interests and reaches public institutions that create a distorted discourse of medieval history,” explains Alejandro Garcia. He believes in the social responsibility of historians to curb the jingoistic use of the past. “This is a return to the Francoist narrative,” he points out. Prior to this institutional regression to an instrumentalized past, two historians have already put forward their initiative, which they hope to send to the RAE in the coming weeks with sufficient support.

Carlos Ayala, professor of medieval history at the Autonomous University of Madrid, explains that “reconquest” is a new word, not a medieval one. He was born ideologically tinged, with a deep nationalist tinge. “It is absurd and anachronistic to support this meaning, because it does not obey reality. The so-called “Reconquista” is not a historical fact, but an ideological discourse created at the end of the IX to justify war. But to think that the war between Christians and Muslims lasted 800 years is a simplistic and false opinion. It was very effective propaganda of the time, which was revived in the 19th century with new nationalist aims,” he comments to the newspaper.

For medieval historians consulted by this paper, what is most disturbing about this misuse of the term is the ideological nature of the expression. This determines that Islam was an accident and aggression that had to be overcome, and not an essential part of our cultural identity. According to experts, the term is coined in an undesirable direction, as it sees Islam as the reason that delayed the birth of Spain. There was no Spain to recover.

Vocabulary that develops

This will not be the first time the RAE has responded to civil society inquiries. In 2017, the expression “weaker sex” was updated and no longer has that macho prejudice that defined it simply as a “group of women.” Today it is “a group of women who are used with humiliating or discriminatory intent.” Amendments or clarifications usually change the meanings of words that have been collected over the years. This also happened in 2015, when academics realized that society does not define “gypsy” as “trapacero”. A note was added to the meaning explaining the use of the term “offensive and discriminatory”.

Language and history evolve according to usage and research. As medieval scholars explain: “All historians are presentists because we are in the present. But not all of us are equally strict with the past,” they clarify. In order to understand our past, we must know how to properly name it, and this is the responsibility of the historian. “You cannot be a good historian if you do not fulfill your social obligations. You must honestly do your job and fight against the abuse of history and the past. I don’t know if we will succeed in our statement, but at the very least we should capture the error and discuss it among everyone to testify that we do not agree,” says Ana Isabel Carrasco, who is optimistic that RAE will listen to the historiographical academy and correct the mistake.


*The article has been translated based on the content of If there is any problem regarding the content, copyright, please leave a report below the article. We will try to process as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the author. Thank you very much!

*We just want readers to access information more quickly and easily with other multilingual content, instead of information only available in a certain language.

*We always respect the copyright of the content of the author and always include the original link of the source article.If the author disagrees, just leave the report below the article, the article will be edited or deleted at the request of the author. Thanks very much! Best regards!


Most Popular

Recent Comments

%d bloggers like this: