Iberia

PLATE NO. 3

Navarre, Portugal, Spain, Elvire, Aragon, Sobrarba, and Gibraltar with surrounding countries.

The Iberian Peninsula is encased by mountains and seas. Separated from Libya by the narrow strait known since antiquity as the Pillars of Heracles, Iberia's history is marked by long periods of contestation between various powers projecting from both Libya and Europea, the times of intensive contact having been churned and baked into the area's cultures, landscapes, and memories. The Iberian Peninsula's location at the edge of the Ecuminan landmass, and its strategic location between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic, spurred later rulers to focus on developing maritime might to circumvent the spice trade coming from the Emporic Rim through the eastern Mediterranean. By adopting the ocean-going ship hull designs of southern Libyan peoples, the first fleets of caravels and carracks of Iberia effectively launched the Age of Exploration and put Spain and Portugal at the centre of world history for much of the early modern period.


I. Land


The Iberian Peninsula is a land baked in dry heat in summers and relieved by short mild and moist winters. Much of the climate here is classified as Mediterranean, a dry subtropical regime found usually at similar latitudes on the western halves of continents, such as Araucania, California, Tasmania, Siluria, and Rhodesia. It contrasts with the more common humid subtropical climate—often just termed as subtropical—found usually on the eastern halves of continents at those same latitudes. Owing to mountains that cap much of the peninsula in the north, the climate becomes maritime oceanic or temperate on the windward side of the Cantabricas and Pyrenees. In parts of the northern interior—particularly the parts closer to the Atlantic—which are less affected by the rain shadow of the mountains, a wetter and cooler type of the Mediterranean climate is the norm. Only Navarre and Galicia in northern Portugal are treated with this cooling effect, rendering these lands far lusher than the grassy plains and open woods and scrublands of the south. In contrast, to the eastern extremes, the land gets far drier and steppe-like due to the added effects of the Iberian System—the mountains which hem in the Ebro River—and the Guadarrama Range in the centre.

Open woods dominated by pines and evergreen oaks, such as holm and oak, characterized much of the Iberian interior in the past. Today, agricultural lands dominate low plains and valleys, rendering much of the oak growth to shrubby stands interspersed by sclerophyllic scrubs, a kind of woodland known locally as maquis. The uneven and hilly ground of much of the peninsula eventually culminates at the Pyrenees and the Cantabricas, the two northern ranges sealing much of the land to the south from cold and moist weather fronts coming down from northern Europea. In these mountains, as well as in the Beticas at the southern portion of the peninsula, a high diversity of conifers and relic pines persist, but much of the more accessible strips of land have been rendered into grazing fields for livestock. On the eastern edges and southeastern coast, the land becomes marsh and open woods of olive and carob are the norm. Iberia's last remaining natural areas boast a high diversity of birds of prey, amphibians and salamanders, as well as large European mammals such as wolves, lynxes, and ibexes, which have gone extinct in much of western Europea. Curiously, the monolithic promontory in Gibraltar known as Mount Calpe—which, together with Mount Abila across the strait in Tangeria, makes up the two Pillars of Heracles—is home to Europea's only remaining population of monkeys, the Barbary macaque.

The high passes of the Cantabricas, colloquially called the Picos de Europa.

Derived from the photo by Mick Stephenson, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Just as wolves, lynxes, and macaques found refuge in the remote mountains and scraggy corners on the peninsula, Christian kingdoms found safety in the high passes of the Cantibricas and Pyrenees in the north during the Moorish Period. Likewise, the last of the Muslims, the mudéjars of Elvire, persevered well afterwards in the Alpujarra, the southern slopes of the Beticas in the south, where the highest peak on the peninsula, Mount Mulhacen, is located. Thus, true to the etymologies of historic kingdoms such as Castile, Catalunya, or even the Cantabrian Marches—which are pegged to references to fortifications and rocky abodes—much of the landscape of Iberia is made up of hilly expanses dotted with castles and fortifications atop rock outcrops and high vantage points. The Ebro, Guadalquivir, and Tejo rivers supported the main population centres, and were frequently fought over by rivaling Christian kingdoms and Muslim taifas—such is the value of water in this part of the world. In the northeast of the peninsula, the Ebro valley, from which Iberia takes its name, had long been an isolated pocket more connected with the Mediterranean than the rest of Iberia. The Aragonese language here evolved from a common dialect continuum that used to be spoken from Valencia in Spain to Provence in France. Much of Portugal in the west is mountainous and made up of a plateau cut by parallel fertile valleys that run to the Atlantic, including the fertile lower reaches of the Tejo River, which empties into the Atlantic by Lisbon. In the southwest, the plains of Algarve and Andalusia made up the cultural core of post-Visigothic Castile not only during the Moorish Period, but also later under Christian rule, when Castile and later the the united kingdoms of Spain came to dominate much of the Atlantic from armadas sent forth from as far up the Guadalquivir River as Seville.

II. Folk


The main and official languages spoken in the countries in Iberia.

The people of Iberia have been, ever since the times of the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage, seen through a lens of exoticism. To Libyans, Iberians were often noted for having paler skin despite having familiar builds and facial features, while to other Europeans, native Iberians were often seen as having darker features, frequently compared to the Moors, that is, the Muslim people of Libya and Asea that conquered Iberia. It is most likely that in antiquity, before the migration of Vandals, Visigoths, and Alans into the area, most of the native peoples of Iberia shared a prehistoric heritage with the Tamazic peoples of Atlasia. And yet, this understanding is further complicated when considering the fact that the Navarrese, concentrated in the north, and originally inhabiting both sides of Pyrenees, may be relic peoples who inhabited much of Western Enauropea before the arrival of Indo-European tribes, who migrated over from the southeastern steppes of Europea and Anatolia in Asea. They are the descendants of the Aquitani—for which Gallia Aquitania, that is southwest Gallia, is named—and it may have been that the Aquitani and the southern indigenous peoples of Iberia have divergent prehistoric lineages. In any case, both Iberia and Atlasia share further similarities in being briefly settled by both Theodic and Iranic tribes hailing from as far as Sarmatia, as well as Arabic and Tamazic peoples, some hailing as far south as Mazicia, while others as east as Syria. Thus, it is quite possible for light eyes, and less frequently light hair, to manifest in the population, just as much as it is quite common to find darker skin complexions in the populace.

Iberia's linguistic and cultural makeup is a curious snapshot of geographical ironies, where the interplay of politics, culture and religion, and the natural landscape produced one of the most diverse areas in modern Europea. Ausonic-speaking Jews, Muslim and Arabic-speaking mudéjars otherwise indistinguishable from their Christian neighbours, and the culturally and linguistically distinct Navarrese people call this peninsula home. Much of the north of Iberia was neglected and sparsely populated due to its rugged landscapes, allowing for the linguistically distinct Aquitanian peoples of Navarre to thrive mostly unimpeded during periods of rule by the Carthaginians, Romans, and Visigoths, while during the Castilian period, both the isolated nature of the land and its geopolitical value as a frontier between France and Spain allowed for some degrees of legal autonomy to be granted in the form of the fuero. Likewise, in the southern mountains of the Beticas, especially around the Alpujarra, religious conflict was often muffled by the fact that the landscape favoured guerilla warfare and helped hide Muslim rebels during the Inquisition period. In contrast to the repression and eventual expulsion of the Muslim mudéjars and morisco converts of Valencia, this allowed for less zealous and more pragmatic political positions in dealing with the largely Muslim and Arabic-speaking people of the Reino de Elvire, which came about as a special autonomous territory after the fall of the last Muslim emirate in Iberia and the signing of the Treaty of Granada.

Furthermore, in the extreme southern point of the peninsula, the geopolitical importance of Mount Calpe jutting out as a narrow peninsula in the Mediterranean, led the opportunistic English, who already held the equally strategic port of Tingas, to capture Gibraltar in the turmoil of the War of the Spanish Succession. English intervention in this part of the peninsula is credited for the reintroduction of Sephardic Jewry back into the peninsula from across the sea in Atlasia, where many Jews had been been forced to emigrate at the closing stages of the Reconquista some three centuries prior. Meanwhile, the microstate of Sobrarba on the other end of the peninsula can be seen as a foothold of France on the Iberian-side of the Pyrenees, where the French president, out of pragmatic continuation with the otherwise archaic political existence of the tiny mountain nation, acts as a cap d'estat or co-prince along with the Bishop of Urgell, the leader of a Catholic diocese in modern-day Aragon. The microstate's long-enjoyed autonomy and diarchical arrangement for its head-of-state is a historical and international oddity that stems from the unique way of resolving a medieval dispute between powers two competing powers for a unprofitable territory, and is thus a lesson in how marginal lands can on occasion benefit from their marginality. The microstate is also the last remaining bastion of the Pyrenean language.

Bielsa, the capital of Sobrarba, has all the characteritics of a typical mountain village in the Pyrenees.

Derived from the photo by Basotxerri, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Despite early ties to colonies overseas, Portugal and Spain experienced lower rates of emigration compared to places like Britain. And yet, much of Iberia's history is dominated by the narrative of people, mostly men, moving overseas. This is true for even Navarre, which did not have its own colonies outright. Though it was in union with Spain for much of the early modern period, Navarre's ports were often frequented by Portuguese fishing boats looking to recruit men to work in fisheries off of marginal archipelagos throughout the Atlantic, a continuation of the early days when Navarrese whalers went off to faraway lands still unclaimed by European colonial powers. Combined with a lack of intensive industrialization—apart from in Aragon, which saw a burst of investment and development out of its existing pre-industrial calico factories—this meant that the population of Iberia never grew in a way that outpaced rates experienced during feudal times.

Outsiders often remark that much of Iberia seems to be still slowly transitioning from the golden age of rapid change and development following the Reconquista, and apart from the more modern and neoclassical Madrid and Barcelona, the cities of Iberia seem to closely resemble those in adjacent Atlasia, where roads are narrow, winding, and buildings are packed and stacked tightly. The most famous cities of Iberia—Lisbon, Porto, Zaragoza, Fraga, Toledo, and of course, in the south, Sevilla, Cordova, Granada, Cadiz, and Cartagena—continue to reflect a wondrous mix of Moorish themes. The northern trading and fishing ports of Baiona, Donostia, Sanandere have more distinct architectural traditions due to geographic isolation, which is also the case for Bielsa and the villages of Sobrarba, Bielsa. In contrast to its neighbours, most of Aragon saw much of its rural areas converted to intensive industrial use and settlement, with many Aragonese people often remarking that their colonies were not found overseas, but in the industrial company towns that took root in the country in the latter half of the 19th century.

III. Yore


Not much is known about the ancient languages and cultures that predated the Punic Wars in southern Iberia. The northern part of the peninsula was inhabited by both Celtic peoples, known as Celtiberians, and tribes related to the Aquitani to the north of the Pyrenees in Gallia, which were better documented by the Romans. Very little of their culture made its way into the successor Christian Ibero-Roman culture, and the Latin dialects that came to be spoken in the area have scant traces of native words. With the waning of Rome’s power in western Europea, Theodic tribes like the Visigoths, Vandals, and Suebis, as well as associated tribes from eastern Sarmatia, like the Alans, migrated from the eastern marches away from the armies of the Huns and carved out kingdoms for themselves in former Roman territories. The Suebi people erected a successor kingdom in western Iberia, centred around the northern corner of Galicia, the Vandals created the Kingdom of Vandals in the southern lands surrounding the Beticas—which the Muslims took to refer to all of the peninsula as Al Andalus, giving way later to the part known as Andalusia—and the Visigoths controlled much of the rest of the peninsula, as well as the southern part of Gallia known as Septimania, already culturally quite similar to the Ibero-Roman culture in the Ebro Valley.

Protected by the high mountain passes and valleys of the Cantabricas and Pyrenees, the Aquitanic and Celtic peoples remained relatively independent during both the Roman and Visigothic periods, though the Celtiberians of the Cantabricas eventually switched to the Latin language in the medieval period, and later on to Navarrese starting in the early modern period. When the Moors crossed the Pillars of Heracles and quickly subjugated most of Iberia, these mountain peoples again maintained their independence. Even when the cities were occupied, the uneven grounds of the countryside sheltered bands of guerrilla fighters, and shepherding districts and remote villages continued to shelter nobles and their warriors. Once the Tamazic-native regiments of the Moors abandoned their positions in the northern mountains due to internal instability, local Aquitanic and Celtic rulers emerged out of the centres of Asturias and Navarre and the Christian Reconquista of Iberia began in earnest, launching a new era marked by fragmentation, of petty Christian kingdoms and Muslim taifas jockeying for power. The feudalism and succession of rulers in both the Christian and Muslim realms of Iberia encouraged the fragmentary nature of politics in the area, with minor territories evolving into kingdoms and back into principalities or counties in successive generations. Ironically, contrary to later commentaries portraying the period as as struggle between Christianity and Islam, the political landscape of Iberia in this period was also fraught with unholy Muslim-Christian alliances.

And yet, in the grand scheme of things, the Reconquista was still about Christian European nobles regaining control of the richer southern lands of the peninsula from ruling dynasties that originated from across the Mediterranean. Supported in manpower, settlers, and funds by the Carolingian Frankish Empire north of the Pyrenees, the Reconquista taken up by Asturias and Navarre—and later their associated feudal political entities—would lead to the reversion of most of Iberia to Christian territory, controlled by four major kingdoms, Navarre, Aragon, Leon, Castile, and the County of Portugal. Curiously, after a series of territorial shuffling from political marriages, the initially less important territories of Portugal and Castile were the ones that would blossom into the two great powers on the peninsula, both states eventually charting and gaining territories over a great swath of the world in the Age of Exploration.

The fortified gorge of Ronda was one of the last Moorish bastions in Iberia to fall in the Reconquista.

The languages of Iberia shifted during the Reconquista parallel to religious and territorial gains. At first, the language of Moorish Iberia was Mozarabic—a native dialect which shared similar features to contemporary Portuguese and Spanish—which co-existed with foreign Tamazic and Arabic vernaculars as a result of policies of tolerance known together as La Convivencia. In contrast, these languages of the Moorish Period were rapidly uprooted after reconquest in favour of the vernaculars of the northern Christian polities. The exception to this was mostly in the far south. Despite numerous attempts, the eradication of the local Arabic vernacular was unsuccessful in Elvire. Off the coast of Aragon, Mozarabic lingered on a while longer in Baleare until Catalan came to replace the local language in the subsequent generations after the Conquest of Baleare by Aragon, which, for some scholars, marks the reassertion of Christian dominance in the Mediterranean just as much as the Conquest of Grenada marks the beginning of the Age of Exploration. Mozarabic, Arabic, and Tamazic words are more noticeably present in the Balearese dialect of Catalan than on the mainland, and moreover, the Balearese have also incorporated Ligurian, Sardinian, and Italian into their everyday vocabulary—holdovers from the time when Aragon and later Castile came to dominate more than half of the Ausonian Peninsula.

In the far north, there was a parallel sequence of cultural shifts. As the Reconquista progressed, most of the old communities in the Cantibricas underwent linguistic shift from Ibero-Romance to Aquitanic, paralleling the Christian principalities' shift in their powerbases from the mountains to the plains of the traditional territories of Leone and Castile. Today, the language politics of western Navarre continue to dog Navarrese society, and the state of Navarre provides one of the few examples of an Indo-European language being dominated by a language from another linguistic family—a language isolate too, for that matter. And while the sphere of Navarrese language shifted westwards along the Cantibricas, the Occitano-Roman Catalan language of Aragon eventually came to take hold in much of the eastern Pyrenees and extend up the entire Ebro Valley, supplanting much of the Pyrenean language range so that today, only in the remote villages of Sobrarba is where it is taught as a primary language in schools. . Ironically, the traditional heartland of Pyrenean was in the area that is the namesake of the modern state of Aragon, which is culturally and linguistically Catalan, due to centuries of political unity between the eastern Catalan-speaking and western Pyrenean-speaking parts of the Ebro Valley. Moreover, the expansion of the Crown of Aragon out of the Ebro Valely and into the Mediterranean cemented a culture that had just as many similarities with that of the other side of the mountains in French Septimania as with neighbouring Portugal and Leon-Castile. The latter would later be fashioned as Spain, signifying the kingdom as the successor of the historic Roman province of Hispania.

Moorish architecture, like that of the Alahambra, characterize much of Elvire's landscape.

Though Portugal evolved to be largely culturally homogenous, Castile came to engulf its surrounding polities and stylize itself its as Spain, the political inheritor of the Roman province of Hispania. The patchwork of incorporated territories were held together by a legal system based in fueros. The fueros, it is often remarked, would be the thorn in Castile's side for much of the early modern period, as numerous attempts made by the Crown of Castile to centralize like its powerful opponent, France, were thwarted by this legal system of pragmatic concessions and compromises to local elites or peasantry bodies. In the north, the fueros often lent themselves as a a basis for rebellion and even foreign intervention from the other side of the French border, while in the south, the fuero that was later attached to the Treaty of Granada allowed for the Anglo-Mauretanian Alliance to intervene in local politics from English-controlled Tingas, and later, Gibraltar.

The Reino or Kingdom of Elvire, is particularly noteworthy, as its people are the only contemporary Iberians who are a continuation of the Moors of Iberia. In Elvire, Catholic zeal could never reach the point of mass violence, forced conversions, and expulsion, as it did in Valencia, due to the legal basis of the Treaty of Granada. Though the treaty was applicable only to the Cora de Elvira, or what was known as the remaining territories of the Emirate of Granada at its downfall, it provided a rallying point for Muslim elites, tolerant Catholic nobles and clergy, and pragmatic nobles who were economically vested in the new Muslim peasantry they were awarded in the aftermath of the Reconquista. Expulsions of both Muslims and the recently converted moriscos in other parts of the peninsula for the next two centuries would often lead to resettlement in Elvire just as much as across the strait in the ports of Atlasia, leading to the once largely rural Alpujarra and the city of Granada to become one of the most densely populated parts of the peninsula. Furthermore, due to constant threats of a backdoor invasion through Alpujarra, first from the new threat of the Zarathustran Ottomans and their Muslim vassals in Sicatia and eastern Atlasia, and then from the Protestant-Muslim alliance between England and Mauretania, the Spanish crown never had a clear opportunity in enacting expulsion or even well documented plans for genocide without risking a full on invasion of the peninsula. Losing Wahran and all its possessions in Tangeria led to politically astute Spanish officials to even advocate Elvire to be granted its own fuero, and to seek common ground with the often rebelling Muslims of Alpujarra, who were, ironically, often just as much targeted by piracy and corsair activity as their Christian counterparts. This did not mean that periods of Inquisition zeal did not penetrate Elvire, of course, for the Inquisition was one of the only tools of Crown of Castile to trump the local laws granted by the fueros in the increasingly autonomous territories of Navarre, Aragon, and Elvire. It only meant that, with every attempt of ratcheting control, there was always a way for forces both inside and outside of the peninsula to align and undermine the centralization of the Spanish state. An illustrative case in point is that even at its might as a world-spanning empire, and having just successfully uprooting the much larger morisco population of Valenica, the Spanish army was once again decisively defeated by guerilla fighters in Alpujarra, leading to appeasements and retrenchments.

The Haka language of the Gibraltarese, interestingly, is not directly from the Moorish Period, but instead, comes from the Ibero-Gallic lect of expelled Sephardi Jews who integrated with the Tochavi Jews of Atlasia. These Jews later migrated back to Andalusia after the British capture of Gibraltar and the desertion of the Spanish town and garrison there. The British colonial policy of building up and settling the micro territory with foreign peoples benefited the Jews of Libya greatly, partly because of the territory's proximity to Libyan Jewry, but also because colonial policies promoted mercantile activity and more or less ignored religion. Despite people from Ligury, Sardiny, as well as Spain, migrating over as well, the Sephardo-Tochavi community became the most numerous and dominant one in that corner of Iberia. The lect of the resulting pluralistic city-state became the language of this Jewish community. Their language, now heavily laced with Arabic, Italic, and Tamazic words, became the de facto language for both the workers of the port and the bustling mercantile centre there, and their position gave them connections to both the Muslim and Christian coasts of the Mediterranean.

Porto's famed bridges are markers of the history and tragedies of Portugal's turbulent 19th century.

Derived from the photo by Olegivvit, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

The 19th century saw significant changes to the political landscape of Iberia. A pivotal moment during the Napoleonic Wars was when the Portuguese nobility organized what was left of the kingdom’s navy and, with the help of the British navy, evacuated thousands of Portuguese soldiers, nobility, and farmers to its colonies, with the Portuguese cortes finding a new home in Brazil, only to eventually split in the aftermath of the wars with the largely disastrous return of the Portuguese crown to the peninsula, which resulted in a century of political strife between liberals and conservatives. Though the Congress of Vienna penalized France for invading Spain and awarded parts of French Navarre to Spain—reuniting Navarre’s core territories for the first time in half a millennium—Spain, however, soon devolved into a series of wars known as the Carlist Wars. The competing parties were the absolutist Carlists, mostly based in Navarre, Elvire, and Aragon—who wished to retain the political autonomy and rights guaranteed by the old crown-backed fuero system—and the liberals, who founded a new state and constitution during the tumult of the Napoleonic Wars, and who sought to shape Spain into a centralized state under a constitutional monarchy. The tumultuous period finally concluded with the formation of two successor kingdoms, the Kingdom of Navarre and Aragon, which retained the islands of Baleare, and the Kingdom of Spain, which was able to retain Valencia and Elvire.

By the turn of the 20th century, however, the political scenes of Iberia came to be destabilized by more radical notions of breaking with history, especially against the conservative nature of religion and extreme wealth disparity generated in industrialization. While Navarre escaped from this fate and remained monarchist, the Carlist-liberated core of Aragon came to be a hotbed for Anarchist thought, with the leftist political fervor burning from Barcelona all across the industrial towns of the Ebro Valley. This radical shift was in a similar turn experienced in Portugal and Spain, the liberal politics in those two states having finally led them to transform into nascent but unstable republics. In contrast to the the nearly bloodless coup d'etat in Portugal, which went in favour of the conservative corporatists, the Spanish and Navarro-Aragonese civil wars were drawn out and bloody, eventually merging into the Iberian War, an international conflict that united the opponents of not only both states but also other states in Europea and Asea vested in similar ideologies. The reactionary Fascist movements nearly succeeded in winning the war if it were not for the crossing of the Pillars of Hercales by the Jamahiriyist expeditionary armies of Punice, Alania, and Tangeria, as well as the financial support of the Soviet Union and the Okist government of Turcia. Thus, the Iberian political struggle became just as much a proxy war between communist Soviet Union and fascist Italy and Greater Germany as it was another extension of the political struggle stemming out of territories of the recently collapsed Ottoman Empire, where European-derived ideas of socialism merged with local threads of nationalism, cultural resurgence, and political self-determination—a sort of socialist-informed renaissance. As part of the conditions of the withdrawal of the Atlasian expeditionary force, however, Elvire was, once and for all, guaranteed political self-determination.

Ironically, the self-determination of Elvire came at a time when the prevailing political movement in the country no longer identified with Islam, though the Arabic language perseveres under the new state. Despite the communist and anarcho-syndicalist coalition succeeding in Spain, Elvire, and Aragon, political exiles and refugees launched guerilla campaigns from the Cantabricas and the French-side of the Pyrennes for another decade. This period of conflict would be one of the most challenging times in Sobrarbese history, for not since the Reconquista had warfare manifested its high vales. During the height of the Second World War, the religiously conservative locals of Sobrarba even coordinated with fascist allies in Rome and Berlin, a sore point in political relations between Sobrarba and its Spanish and Aragonese neighbours to this day. Baleare, for its part, became the more natural bastion for not only the majority of exiled Aragonese conservatives, but also many moderate liberal Aragonese and Spanish intelligentsia, hoping to make the crossing across the Catalunan Channel once more to retake the mainland. And yet, after being separated by the sea for many years, a good share of these individuals would choose to make their contributions to the islands' arts and literary scenes instead of picking up arms, leading to a sort of counter-renaissance that was as contextually confusing as the Chernarusian cultural scene in the late 20th century. The Anarchists on the peninsula, meanwhile, came out on top in the struggle for which form of anti-capitalist ideology would dominate in Spain and Aragon, leading to largely insular left-wing politics in those parts of Iberia. Finally, peace settled on the peninsula in preparation for a rather stable latter half of the century, and all the while the rest of Europea became engulfed in the horrors and compelling drama of the Second World War.

IV. Scape


Iberian culture is similar to other parts of the Mediterranean. Though the mountainous parts of Navarre, as well as Sobrarba are more reliant on their dairy, the foodways of much of Iberia is united around the ease of producing wine, olive oil, and massive fishing fleets and numerous canneries for mackerel, tuna, and, most importantly, sardines. And apart from Baleare off the coast, the corn or most relied upon grain in most parts of the peninsula is wheat, and though the Spanish did introduce the potato to the rest of Europea, they much prefer a secondary grain known as nipa (Distichlis palmeri), which serves as an analogue to rice in the eastern Mediterranean. The nipa plant is a salt tolerant grass that naturally grows in saline marshes and estuaries in the Gulf of Sonora. Spanish conquistadors on an expedition to the Sonora Coast, then still very much a frontier part of the Spanish Main, came across this semi-domesticated grain from the Cocopah people who inhabit modern-day Comica in Arizona. The obscure crop was brought back to peninsular Spain as a novelty, but quickly came to be a favoured crop in the poor coastal soils of Andalusia, Valencia, and also in Aragon, where it soon became the main feature of a favourite dish, paella. In the islands of Baleare, nipa is commonly eaten in a stew-form, brut, and contrary to the paella dish, the local cookware is a claypot that more resembles the tagines of Atlasia. In fact, much of Balearese cuisine seems to be a reflection of its historic ties, the pizza-like coca flatbread dish showing the influence of Aragon on the Ausonian Peninsula in the early modern period. And unlike in Iberia, durum is more commonly grown than wheat on these dry isles, giving both pasta and couscous analogues. As for the Portuguese, the local diet is now highly reliant upon their own analogue of rice, sieve (Oryza glaberrima), introduced to the local palette from the early days of Portuguese contact with Guinea. Apart from the Americans, the Portuguese are the only other culture to rely upon this grain outside of Nigeria and western Guinea. Interestingly, both the Navarrese and Elvirese seem to be the most conservative, and apart from adopting the potato, stick to wheat and barley as their staples.

Pea is a common pulse in the area and the staple legume in Navarre, Sobrarba and, due to the ease of importing grain, Gibraltar. For the rest of Iberia, there is much more variety. The most favoured legume in Portugal and Elvire is treme. In Aragon it is chich, and in Spain, it is still quite common to buy vetch mixes called comuña, consisting of witpea (Lathyrus sativus), ervil (Vicia ervilia), and tare (Vicia sativa). The legumes in this mix are usually bitter and require leaching and being ground into flour. They can cause a deadly health condition known as lathyrism if overly relied upon as the main caloric intake of a person, but such is the cultural importance of these vetches—now obscure in other parts of the world—that careful nutrition balancing is engrained in everyday meals in Spain. Though once more commonly fed to livestock than humans, comuña came to be associated with the common people, anarcho-republicanism, and the liberal cause in Spain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Portugal also makes use of niebean (Vigna unguiculata), and compared to its former colonies, beans to a lesser extent. The people of Aragon, as well as Gibraltar, are more loving of beans. Ironically, peninsular Spanish cuisine does not make much use of the crops of their former colonies. Similar to France, preserved meats like sausages and hams are commonly eaten in the peninsula, and pork is by far the most common source of meat, though poultry, rabbit, beef, and mutton are also common. But by far the most eaten source of protein in all of Iberia, other than legumes, is fish, especially sardine and mackerel, with the exception of landlocked Sobrarba, of course. Octopus, squid, and crustaceans are favoured seafoods, and the most prized delicacy of the sea is the gooseneck barnacle. In Elvire and Gibraltar, there is, of course, the practice of abstaining from pork products, although the influence of Christian minorities has historically meant that pork products are still produced in these parts. Interestingly, similar to the Egyptians, the Elvirese are one of the few peoples from the Muslim world that have rind-formed and aged cheeses.

The taste buds of Iberians have not much changed since antiquity. Apart from the adoption of nipa and the tomato, much of the palette remains the same, and even the use of tomatoes in dishes is quite sparing when compared to other parts of the world. Like their Atlasian counterparts, as well as the people of Sicily and Greece, the Elvirese and the Spanish, particularly in Andalusia, never stopped using both garum and liquamen to get salty and savoury notes in their food. The former is a fish sauce made from fermented fish entrails and blood, and the latter refers to sauce made from whole fish. The Spanish also do not particularly love the intensity of the chili pepper, despite coming into contact with it first in Columbea, and thus, often use flakes or smoke the peppers to grind them into paprika. Apart from paella and gachas, a boiled flour and oil dish eaten since ancient times, bread eaten with small plates historically served in bars or taverns—called tapas in Spain and Aragon, pinxtos in Navarre, and petiscos in Portugal—is what Iberian cuisine is most known for. Though there is a strong preference for lager beers, the main type of drink in much of the peninsula has for centuries been wine, including in Elvire, an outlier in this regard for the Muslim world. Sherry and other brandies, as well as port and other kinds of fortified wines, are also commonly consumed with meals. As far as steep is concerned, the Spanish and Elvirese prefer to drink chocolate, while the Portuguese, who at first introduced the consumption of tea to the British, switched to guarana (Paullinia cupana), as did the Navarrese and even the Sobrarbese. The former was a prized commodity produced in Nicaragua for millennia and further aggrandized by Spanish conquistadors, while the latter, was a great discovery at first kept secret by Portuguese colonists in northern Brazil. In Aragon and Baleare, owing to historic ties to Ausonia—which became a major dissemination point for commodities from Erythrea due to Venetian or Isturian mercantile activity in the Red Sea—coffee has firmly established itself as the caffeinated drink of choice.

Saragossa, at the centre of the Ebro basin, has long been the cultural epicentre of northern Iberia.

Derived from the photo by Gregorio Puga Bailon, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Much of the fashion, aesthetics, and architecture of Iberia is defined by traditions from the Moorish Period and Reconquista, sown into the collective memory of the people. Silk, cotton, and linen lace are commonly used for clothing, indicative of how in Portugal and Spain, fashion rather than taste was much more reliant on global colonial networks. The fashion style of Spain still emanates from Andalusia, despite the political capital being far to the north, and brilliant colours, ornate skirts, and frills are still commonly worn for festive occasions and during religious holidays. The fashion sense of the Navarrese is much more simplistic and sombre, due to influences from France and England, while Aragon, Baleare, Elvire, and Portugal take much after Spanish tastes.

The architectural style of Navarre and northern Portugal is the most distinct in the peninsula, with styles being least affected by Moorish influence and showing a strong continuation of Roman traditions. Buildings in Navarre, however, are quite a lot bigger and superficially look like the countryside houses found in farming communities in Bavaria in Germany or even the countries of Tibet. The look of villages and cities in Iberia south of the Cantabricas is similar to other Catholic Mediterranean places, but there is a striking resemblance to the cities and towns of western Libya, especially in the countryside. The pueblos blancas or white towns of Andalusia are quite similar to the painted towns in the Atlas mountains and the seaside port towns of Libya. Stone, terracotta tiles, and to a lesser extent, adobe walls, are common features in buildings throughout the peninsula. Apart from Gothic motifs, many cathedrals sport Moorish designs and elements due to them either having been converted to mosques during the Moorish Period or because they were mosques repurposed as cathedrals, such as the mesquita in Cordoba. Furthermore, the mosques of Libya already have a general Roman influence in design, having lone minarets that function just as much as Roman lighthouses as towers to make the calls to prayer. Curiously, some of these Moorish architectural elements of Andalusia like ornate wooden balconies or walled gardens with fountains made it into the urban planning and hacienda designs of Spanish and Portuguese colonies despite Iberian monarchs being notoriously fervent Catholic rulers, often barring the settling of non-Christians in their colonies.



Footnotes

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