Hispano Hatred: Ok, why didn't Spain (Castille?) ever take over Portugal?

I always wondered, when looking at the distinct profile of the Hispanic peninsula, why all of Spain managed to be united into one country, with the exception of PORTUGAL! It can’t be the language that is the problem since Spain proper has several non-Castillian languages, like Extramaduran.

So my question is, why didn’t Spain take over Portugal and suck into the vortex along with the rest? Why not include it in the reconquista, or some other invasion or land grab? You would have thought sometime in the last 1,000 years Spain would have completed the Borgian process of bringing Portugal into the mothership.

It wasn’t for lack of trying:

Well, Spain did invade Portugal in 1580, and occupied it until 1640, during which time the king of Spain also set himself up as the king of Portugal.

On the Atlantic side of Iberia, with a fantastic harbor at Lisbon, Portugal had an easier time maintaining trade and military links with countries other than Spain. England in particular long supported Portuguese independence, to maintain a burr under the Spanish saddle.

England (now part of the UK) and Portugal have the oldest official alliance still on the books: Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373 - Wikipedia. Pretty cool.

Not knowing much about European history, I just notice that Europe is full of diminutive countries next to bigger ones that didn’t swallow them. Maybe they were just not all into that. Or it wasn’t always easy to do.

Heck, it took Castille over 3 centuries to swallow Navarre, counting from the time they started having the same ass on the thrones until the Treaty of Brotherhood… and the “swallowing” had to accept letting Navarre keep her own legal system.

The British alliance has been an important factor. Britain was always very keen to keep an independent ally on the peninsula, seeing as the English and the Spanish were at each others throats for centuries. In part it was important to maintain a trade route through to the Mediterranean. If Spain held the whole peninsula (and Gibraltar) then Britain wouldn’t have had access to the Med at all.

As noted it did, in 1580 ( via pretty solid claims of rightful inheritance backed up by a judicious show of force ). The core of the Spanish Armada that threatened England in 1588 was formed by the Portuguese navy ( Spain up to that period had not maintained a standing fleet ). It separated again in 1640 when Spain was was badly weakened in the terminal stages of both the Thirty and Eighty Years Wars, the union having had a disastrous effect on the Portuguese overseas empire by exposing it to Dutch attacks.

There were also failed attempts. And it was included in the reconquista - as a participant ;). The reconquista was to drive out ( actually conquer ) the Moors - the Pope would have frowned on other definitions.

You have to remember how very, very legalistic the Middle Ages were - kings did not go off on conquering sprees on their Christian neighbors willy-nilly. Or at least not often and not without complications. Some valid legal reason had to be manufactured.

Beyond that the Iberian dynasties were chained by frequent intermarriage. With the partial exception of Navarre, which as Nava notes was chopped up piecemeal over a long period ( which towards the end involved conflicting dynastic claims nonetheless as cover ), Spain was created by marriage inheritances. As it happened Portugal came very close to being incorporated into Spain in the generation after it was conceived. The eldest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella married the king of Portugal. She died giving birth to the heir of the combined thrones of Portugal, Castile and Aragon - Michael of Paz. Had he lived, there would have been no Hapsburg connection and the Iberian peninsula would have had a single ruler.

It’s because of the cooking. Bacalhao con natas (salted cod with cream: this is from a Norwegian site, but is essentially the same dish) is reason enough to run screaming for the borders. Seriously, some of the worst food I had in Europe was during the two years I spent in Lisbon.

I think a good additional quesiton is how did the rest of Spain manage to be united, while Portugal didn’t. Galicia directly above Portugal for instance, is in Spain but the residents speak Galician, which some consider to be a dialect of Portuguese.

Galicia was part of the kingdom of Leon as well as independent at times, as was what is today northern Portugal. Portugal actually split off during/as a result of the events noted in the second link above. The county of Portugal became rapidly the duchy, the principality, then the completely independent kingdom of Portugal, breaking away from the union of Leon ( including semi-separate Galicia ) and Castile extent at that time. A diminshed Leon and Castile later separated again, before finally being definitively united by a combination of inheritance and force a couple of generations later.