España Britannia reveals how much more there is to Anglo-Spanish history than the Armada and Gibraltar.
Britain and Spain, two ancient kingdoms on the western seaboard of Europe, both once great imperial powers, share a long and colourful history. Over the centuries their royalty, seafarers, soldiers, politicians and merchants have crossed paths, often as allies, sometimes as enemies. España Britannia brings together for the first time in a single book many fascinating strands which have linked these two nations over the last eight hundred years.
One of the first surprises is to be reminded that once the lands of the Kings of England in Gascony bordered on those of Castile in the Pyrenees. Dynastic alliances, such as that between Edward I and Eleanor of Castile were arranged to secure this boundary. The Queen's death is commemorated by the Eleanor crosses, one of which, Charing Cross, is in Central London not far from Trafalgar Square – another Spanish link. Catherine of Aragon was the first of Henry VIII’s six wives.
Later religion, imperial rivalry and piracy made Britain and Spain bitter enemies both in the Old and the New Worlds, culminating in the Armada and Spain’s attempted conquest of England. During the War of the Spanish Succession, and again in the Peninsular War, British troops fought beside the Spanish. Spain played a part in Britain’s victory in the Second World War and the present Spanish king’s grandmother was a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria.
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