On July 16th, 1212, the Battle of Las Navas de Telosa took place in Andalusia. It was an important turning point in the history of Spain where the Muslims began to lose their hold on Spain.
On this day 800 years ago, King Alfonso VIII of Castille, under the proclamation of a Crusade from Pope Innocent III, and with the support of armies from Aragon, Navarre and Portugal, led his Christian armies to destroy the forces of the Almohads (a Muslim dynasty of North Africa and Spain). It was a significant victory, since the Almohads had already taken important cities such as Trujillo, Plasencia and Talavera and were growing in strength and impetus.
This particular defeat would give momentum to the Christian Reconquista, leading the Muslim forces to a permanent retreat, and re-establishing the Iberian Peninsula as Christian.
Interestingly, in memory of their King Sancho’s accomplishment in the defeat, the kingdom of Navarre, selected a new coat of arms of gold chains linked by an emerald. This depiction can be seen in Spain’s coat of arms today.
More information about the history of the Spanish language can be found in our new book, The Story of Spanish, (to be released in April 2013, St. Martin’s Press).