THE HISTORY OF MALLORCA
We all know this beautiful island to offer a modern day haven for many with its beautiful climate, scenery and culture, but have you ever wondered how all this was discovered?
The name ‘Mallorca’ derives from the Latin name ‘Insular Major’ meaning the larger island (as opposed to Menorca and Ibiza, the smaller islands). Little is recorded of the earliest inhabitants on the island, however burial chambers tracking back to the Palaeolithic period have been discovered. The man’s arrival on the island could be as far as 7.000 BC. The prehistoric settlements named ‘talayots‘, Bronze aged megaliths can be seen on various locations all over the island.
Seafaring people from the Levant, the Phoenicians, were the first to colonise the island arriving around the 8th century BC. However it eventually went under the ruling of the Carthage (Tunisia, North Africa). Carthage lost all of its overseas possessions after the second Punic war ( a series of 3 wars between Rome and Carthage 264 BC – 146 BC) and the Romans then took over all the Balearic Islands for five hundred years.
In 123 BC the islands were occupied by Rome and flourished, Alcudia and Palma were founded and the local economy was driven by olive cultivation, salt mini and viticulture (growing of grape vines).
In 425 the Vandals – tribes of Central Asia moving to the West – captured the island, sweeping off the traces of Roman culture and infrastructure from the islands. A century later, in 534, they have been defeated by Byzantines and the Balearics were part of the Byzantine empire until the spreading of Islam to North Africa in 7th century, conquering of Spain by the Moors and definite taking over of the Balearics in 902, starting a period of nearly 400 years of Arabic rulership. The Balearics became part of Emirate of Córdoba, an independent emirate on the Iberian Peninsula (756 – 929). Palma became ‘Medina Mayurqa’, the agriculture flourished with great arabic irrigation systems and local industries were developed.
In 1229, Mallorca was conquered by King James of Aragon (James the Conqueror) and ruled by the Crown of Aragon becoming a part of Catalan Empire, which we can still recognise in the local culture and customs. Mallorca has been given a name of ‘Regnum Maioricae’, Latin for ‘Kingdom of Mallorca’. During the ruling, many of the watchtowers that can be still found today were erected due to the constant attacks from North Africa. This was as well the era when the most important historic sites of the island were built (mostly replacing the Moorish sites), like Almudaina Palace or Bellver Castle.
At the beginning of the 18th century a war of the Spanish succession resulted in the Spanish Monarchy taking over the island and Mallorca became one of the Balearic Islands.
At the start of the Second World war being a Nationalist stronghold, Republicans aimed to reclaim the island as a Republican Island. Known as the ‘Battle of Mallorca’, eventually Republicans were forced to retreat from Mallorca with Nationalists being joined by fascist Italy. During 1939 – 75 Mallorca was ruled under the the dictatorship of Franco, after which the monarchy was re-established.
Mallorca, as we know it today, forms part of ‘Balearic Islands’, one of the autonomous communities of Spain.