Main Square of León (España)

History of León


León has its origin in the year 29 BC when the Roman legions of Augustus established themselves to wage war against the Cantabrians. They remained in that territory for a century with the aim of forming a camp to monitor and control gold mining in the region.

During the following 400 years, this fortification was abandoned and repopulated over and over depending on the fluctuations of the empire until, finally, the camp was dissolved by Constantine's reforms. This left an itinerant population without a centralized organization.

In the year 846, the Muslim invaders created an organized and fortified urban nucleus to establish a city. However, after a series of attacks, and without a supply line, they abandoned the territory.

The Kingdom of León and the Middle Ages

Finally, in the year 856, King Ordoño I of Asturias retook the territory and fortified it, considering that it was a strategic and decisive enclave in the fight for reconquest. It became part of the Kingdom of León.
 
Cathedral of León (Spain)
During the following decades, León expanded territorially in difficult circumstances between fighting and a lack of workers.

However, with the arrival of Alfonso IX to the throne, the city experienced a boost that consolidated it from 1188.

In addition to being a strategic enclave, León acquired unusual importance because it was part of the Camino de Santiago, which was the most important commercial and communication route in the Middle Ages.
 
However, by the 14th century, the city was going through a severe socioeconomic crisis produced by decades of bad harvests and the continuous indebtedness of the peasants, which resulted in a general famine.

This situation was aggravated by the plague that devastated the city between 1349 and 1350, wiping out a third of the population. Serious political instability led to bloody armed conflicts that severely affected the civilian population.

By the 15th century, León had managed to recover its economic and demographic momentum. This accompanied an urban reorganization of the city and a new expansion of its limits, such that it competed in size with Burgos and Valladolid.

The modern age

Along with its demographic and territorial expansion, León began to experience an economic boom, as did the entire Kingdom of Castile. This produced tensions between the different neighbouring kingdoms and their circles of power and led to a complex armed confrontation known as the War of the Communities.

At the end of the conflict, León experienced a demographic stagnation that lasted until the 17th century when the increase in agriculture in the neighbouring rural areas brought about a slight improvement in the situation. However, the economic and industrial decline it experienced was very pronounced.

In the middle of the 17th century, the Church was the only economic engine of the city, and it was necessary to build a series of hospices and sanctuaries to care for the poor and needy.

The War of Independence and the 19th century

León's distressing situation worsened after the invasion of Napoleonic troops in 1808 after the city had demonstrated a clear loyalty to Ferdinand VII.

From that date on, the city would continually pass among the hands of the French, English and Spanish, until the invading French troops finally withdrew in defeat in 1813.

During the rest of the 19th century, León lived through a period marked by the confiscation of land belonging to the Church, which promoted a new territorial extension in the city.

Coal mining and the appearance of the railway were decisive in inciting a dramatic urban change in the city, which still maintained its medieval proportion, size and layout.

The turbulent 20th century and the future

The commercial expansion that originated the railway and the early appearance of vehicles motivated the streets and spaces of the city to adapt to modernity, which translated into ambitious plans. One of them was “El Ensanche” in 1904, whose results were doubtful and of limited success.
 
Cathedral of León (Spain)
After the 1929 crisis, León was caught up in the political upheaval that gripped all of Spain. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the city rose up in favour of Franco's troops, who quickly defeated the Republican side in 1937.

When the Franco side triumphed, the economic and industrial engine of León was greatly diminished. It took several decades for the city to recover some of the momentum of the beginning of the century. In the 1970s, mining and industrialization originated a new economic flourishing but also plunged the city into urban chaos.
 
The arrival of the democratic period brought with it a new socioeconomic boom that could be seen in artistic and academic matters, in addition to an urban boost achieving the definitive take-off thanks to modern and better-planned developments.

With the arrival of the new century, León faces challenges of great magnitude when it comes to competing with the new technologies applied to the industrialization and trade of goods and services.
 
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    A Coruña
    Alicante
    Almeria
    Barcelona
    Bilbao
    Burgos
    Caceres
    Cadiz
    Cordoba
    Girona
    Granada
    Huelva
    Leon
    Madrid
    Malaga
    Murcia
    Oviedo
    Palma
    Salamanca
    Santander
    Santiago
    Segovia
    Seville
    Toledo
    Valencia
    Valladolid
    Zaragoza