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Mallorcan history



The early history of Mallorca

The island of Mallorca was first inhabited in pre-Christian times. The earliest traces date back to 3500 BC, while some researchers estimate the first visits took place 3,000 years earlier. The settlers crossed the Mediterranean, coming presumably from mainland Spain or the south of France, and lived in the caves which still exist on the coast of Mallorca. Numerous firestone and bone findings in Sóller and Valldemossa account for the colonization in the pre-ceramic period, which is referred to as Archean by archaeologists. The first findings that suggest the use of ceramics and metals date back to 2000 BC.


The first advanced civilization of the Balearics

Around 1400 BC the first buildings were erected. Some of the stone ruins can still be seen today in the Talayot settlement. The period until the first century is known as Talayotikum and was named after the Talayot watchtowers built during this time. This period comprises the Bronze Age and the Iron Age on the Balearic Islands. As some buildings have strong similarities with older findings from the Mediterranean region, immigration from Malta, Corsica and Sardinia is assumed. Trade relations with Phoenicia and Greece were in place during this period. Starting with the seventh century, the islands came under the influence of the commercial republic of Carthage, after having been attacked by the Vandal King Genseric in 409. The inhabitants of the island had fought on their side in the Punic Wars against the Romans. There they became notorious as "Els Foners Balears", catapultists, such that the Latin word for throwing, ballein, was the origin of the archipelago’s current name, the Balearic Islands.


From Antiquity to the Roman Empire

123 BC Mallorca was occupied by the Romans. This helped stop pirate attacks led by the residents of Mallorca during the two decades after the fall of Carthage against Roman ships. The Romans also founded the first cities on Mallorca, the present capital of Palma as Palmaria Palmensis and Pollentia in the north of Mallorca at Alcudia. Following, the local people mingled with the Romans. Mallorca experienced an economic and cultural blooming period as part the Roman Empire, far away from the wars led by the emperor. Between the second and the fourth century AD, the Christianization of the archipelago took place. Through the separation of the Roman Empire into two halves, Mallorca became part of the Western Roman Empire in 395.


Mallorca in the Early Middle Ages

During the Great Migration in the fifth century, Mallorca fell in the realm of the Vandals and Alans. As this was incorporated in the Byzantine Empire after the surrender of the Vandal King Gelimer in 534, Mallorca was for two centuries the western part of the Eastern Roman Empire. The peripheral location allowed the inhabitants of Mallorca to live largely independently. In the seventh century, the Catholic Mallorca became the refuge for Christians fleeing the early spread of Islam. Arabic troops repeatedly tried to conquer Mallorca, but failed again and again. Middle of the eighth century, Mallorca was disconnected from the Eastern Roman Empire. Mallorca received protection from further attacks, first from France and then from the Count of Apulia. In the ninth century, a truce with the Moors was negotiated. The truce was temporarily broken by the inhabitants of Mallorca. Abd ar-Rahman II, the Emir of Córdoba, held a punitive expedition in 848. After heavy losses, a new non-aggression pact was closed. However, Mallorca recognized a tribute duty. Although the renewed truce lasted over 50 years, this period was not entirely peaceful for the residents of Mallorca. The Vikings discovered the Mediterranean and also attacked the Balearic Islands in 859.


From theMoors to the Kingdom of Mallorca

In 908 the Moors took over the rule of Mallorca once again. Their reign lasted over 300 years, until it was lost against James I of Aragon, during the Reconquista in 1229. His descendant, James II, declared Mallorca a kingdom in 1276. Between 1285 and 1295, the island was once again under the rule of Aragon. The Kingdom of Mallorca was definitively dissolved in 1349 with the Battle of Llucmajor, when King James III was deadly wounded. The island was conquered by the King of Aragon, Pere IV, and added to his empire.


From the Middle Ages to present

Mallorca was an independent part of the Crown of Aragon until modern times, and then a region of Spain. However, beginning of the 18th century Mallorca lost its independence. During the Spanish Civil War, Mallorca came under the rule of the fascist Falange Espanola. In the 19th century the island had already become an attraction for tourists. Today's mass tourism began in the 60s of the last century. After the end of the regime of General Franco, Mallorca was again an autonomous state within the Spanish Republic. In 1983, the Balearic Islands received their own government in which each island forms a separate council. The language Mallorquin which had been forbidden under Franco was reinstated as the official language.