The Middle Ages
The area of land that modern day Madrid is located on has been occupied since the prehistoric times. The diocese of Complutum, which is present day Alcala de Henares, controlled the territory during the Roman Era. Archeological remains of a small village have been discovered from the Visigoth period. It is believed that the name may have been adopted by the Arabs at a later time. Muhammad I ordered a small palace to be built during the 9th century, which is where the current Palacio Real stands today. A small citadel, al-Mudaina, was constructed around the palace. In 1085, Christian King Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile conquered the citadel in an effort toward advancing to Toledo. The mosque that was there was repurposed into a church named the Virgin of Almundena. Alfonse XI of Castile sought the advice of the Cortes Generales in 1329. At the end of the 15th century, the Sephardi Jews and Moors were expelled from the city. Henry III of Castile, who reigned from 1390 to 1406, had to reconstruct the city after trouble occurred and a large fire took place. El Pardo, located outside the walls of Madrid, was the new home of Henry III.
The end of the problems between Castile and Aragon ended when Ferdinand and Isabella came to Madrid. The Renaissance period began to take place in Spain.
The Modern Age
Modern day Spain was put together when two Catholic monarchs, Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, married. Castile's capital was at Toledo and Aragon's capital was at Zaragoza. Charles I of Spain, the grandson of Queen Isabella and Ferdinand, who was also known as Charles V the Holy Roman Emperor, favored the town of Seville. Philip II, who was the son of Charles and reigned from 1554 to 1598, moved the kingdom to Madrid in 1561. The seat of the court was the de facto capital, even though there was no formal declaration made. Commerce with Spain's various colonies was controlled by Seville, but Seville was controlled by Madrid.
From 1601 to 1606, Felipe III moved the court to Valladolid. The fortunes of Madrid have continually mirrored the fortunes of Spain, except for the period of Felipe.
During the 16th and 17th century, the Golden Century or Siglo de Oro, Madrid had its ultimate glory. King Philip II of Spain had constructed a great royal monastery, El Escorial, which invited some attention from Europe's greatest painters and architects. One of the most influential painters of European history, Diego Velazquez, who painted the Las Meninas and The Surrender of Breda, formed a relationship with King Philip IV and the Count Duke of Olivares, his chief minister. He left Spain several paintings that featured his style and skill. Another respected artist from the period, El Greco, mixed Spanish art with the styles of the Italian Renaissance, which created a unique style of Spanish painting.
Throughout the Spanish Golden Century, Madrid was seen as one of the cultural centers. Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote de la Mancha, and Diego Velazquez as well as other top Spanish artists, were attracted to Madrid, because of the Spanish court. Many of the great writers were born in the city at this time. Lope de Vega, Francisco de Quevedo, Calderon de la Barca, and Tirso de Molina were some of the writers of the time. Claudio Coello was the last of the great painters of the Golden Age. Juan de Herrera, a renowned Renaissance architect, designed the Plaza Mayor. It was constructed in the Habsburg period and served as the central plaza. The location of the Plaza Mayor is near the Puerta del Sol, another famous Spanish plaza.
Philip V constructed new palaces, including the Palacio Real de Madrid, during his reign. Madrid would not become a modernized city until the reign of Charles III, who ruled the country from 1759 to 1788. Throughout the history of Madrid Charles III remained one of the more popular kings. During his reign the saying "the best mayor, the king" was born. There was a revolt that took place when Charles IV, who reigned from 1788 to 1808, took over the throne. Ferdinand VII, Charles IV's son, led the Mutiny of Aranjuez against his father. Charles IV retired from the throne at the end of the mutiny. Ferdinand VII took the throne for only a short period of time. Napoleon's troops conquered the city in May of 1808.
The 19th Century to Present Day
The people of Madrid formed a rebellion against the French occupation of the city on May 2, 1808. The Spanish War of Independence took place after the rebellion forced a repression by the French Imperial Forces.
In 1814, when the war of independence ended, Ferdinand VII took the throne again. There was a liberal military revolution that took place, which was led by Rafael del Riego, who made Ferdinand VII swear to respect the Constitution that was put in place. Liberal and conservative governments would alternate power in the period following the revolution. In 1833, at the age of 3, Isabella II was crowned Queen, reigning until 1868. During her reign, the First Spanish Republic, a revolt, took place, because she was unable to suppress the political tension. This led to the monarchy returning to Madrid. The Second Spanish Republic took place after the monarchy was restored, which led to the Spanish Civil War.
The Civil War, which lasted from 1936 to 1939, took a toll on Madrid. In July 1936, the Republicans had a stronghold on the city. In November of 1936, there was an all out battle in the suburbs of Madrid. Madrid was the first European city to be hit by bombs from airplanes during the Civil War, which targeted the civilians of warfare. At Shanghai in 1932, Japan was the first to bomb civilian cities.
From 1959 to 1973, Spain saw and economic boom. The city experienced an evolution of population and wealth, which allowed Madrid to become the largest GDP city in Spain and ranking it third throughout Western Europe. The city expanded its size by attaching itself to the neighboring districts. The city is now 607 square km (234.36 square miles). The people who lived in the rural areas of Spain migrated to the south of Madrid when industrialization took place in that area. The economic boom of the 1960s allowed a good portion of Madrid to become middle class, which led to the construction of the north western districts. As the base of an active cultural and political reform, the south eastern portion of the city was the home for the working class.
King Juan Carlos I was accepted as Franco's successor after his death by the emerging democratic parties, including the left wing and republican ideology. The new king was also accepted as the heir of the historic dynasty, which helped to secure stability and democracy. Spain's current position as a constitutional monarchy, with Madrid as its capital, was brought on by the securing of stability and democracy.
Madrid consolidated its position as an important economic, cultural, industrial, educational, and technological center of the European continent after the prosperity the city saw in the 1980s and 1990s.