Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Castile (Spanish, Costilla), an ancient kingdom occupying the centre of Spain, its name being derived from the forts (castilloa) that protected its frontiers against the Moors. It extended about 300 miles from N. to S., and 160 miles from E. to W., and had an area of 45,000 square miles. The northern portion, which was first wrested from the Moors, was called Old Castile, the southern half, conquered later, being known as New Castile. The former is bounded by the Bay of Biscay on the N., by Leon and Asturias on the W., and by Biscay, Alava, Navarre, and Aragon on the N.W. and W. Its area of 25,409 square miles is divided into the provinces of Burgos, Logrono, Santander, Soria, Segovia, Avila, Palencia, and Valladolid. Most of this tract consists of a lofty, bare plateau, flanked by the Cantabrian range on the N., and the Sierra Guadarama on the S. The climate is subject to extremes of heat and cold, but wheat grows well under proper cultivation; wine, oil, and fruits are also produced, and there is plenty of good pasturage. Timber is rare, but stunted oak-groves cover the lower ranges of the hills. The only large rivers are the Douro and Ebro. The mountains yield various minerals, but want of enterprise and of roads checks mining operations. The manufactures are inconsiderable, cloth being the chief.

New Castile is bounded on the S. by La Mancha, on the W. by Estramadura, and on the E. by Aragon and Valencia. It has an area of 20,178 square miles, and is divided into four provinces, Madrid, Toledo, Guadalajara, and Cuenca. Occupying a table-land that stretches from the Sierra Guadarama to the Sierra Morena, it has much the same climate as the northern province, but the heat in summer is more intense, and the broken nature of the ground towards the S. offers greater varieties of soil and temperature. Grain, oil, and wine, are produced abundantly, the Val-de-Penas vineyards being most highly esteemed. Saffron, madder, hemp, and fruit are successfully cultivated. The Sierra Morena is rich in marble and minerals, and the silver mines of Almaden have been celebrated for centuries. Cattle and horses are raised in great numbers, and merino wool is a valuable export. Manufacturing industries are at a low ebb. The chief rivers are the Tagus, Guadiana, Guadalquivir, Segura and Jucar, but water is everywhere scarce.

Castile was erected into a kingdom in the eleventh century under Sancho the Great of Navarre, who gave it to his son Ferdinand I. This latter added by conquest Leon, Asturias, and Galicia to his domains, and New Castile was also acquired. Ferdinand III. (1230) drove the Moors out of Estramadura and Andalusia, but the fortunes of the monarchy were variable until Isabella, sister and successor of Henry IV., married Ferdinand of Aragon (1474). Granada was soon afterwards annexed, the Moorish domination came to an end, and the kingdom of Castile merged into that of Spain.