History Majorca Mallorca Travel Destinations Spain

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Historical information on Majorca's human settlements has yet to determine the date of man's arrival on the island with any great accuracy. Recent archaeological finds have suggested 7,000 BC, which contradicts the previously accepted idea that humans settled around 4,000 BC.

From the first millennium BC the island was used by traders roaming the western Mediterranean, and came under Phoenician, Greek, Carthaginian and then Roman influence. The Romans held the islands from the second century BC until the fifth century AD.

The Vandals overran Majorca in 425, destroying all the early Christian buildings before being themselves defeated a century afterwards by the avenging Byzantines. However, these latest conquerors never consolidated their position and the Moors took to raiding the Balearics from the eighth century. They finally conquered them in their entirety in 902 with an expedition sent from Cordoba.

In 1229 the Spanish king James of Aragon and Catalunya invaded and after a three month siege he took Palma and then the rest of the island from the Moors. Various machinations between contender kings kept the Kingdom of Majorca a hot topic, until its reunification with Aragon and subsequently Spain in the 14th century.

The discovery of a sea route to India focused attention away from the Mediterranean from the early 16th century, and many merchants left Majorca. The island also came under increasing attack from Muslim raiders, both Turkish and Moorish.

The island lost its title of 'kingdom' after supporting the losing claimant in the 18th century War of the Spanish Succession, although its lack of a decent deep sea harbour meant that the English and French concentrated their tussles on Menorca rather than its larger sister.

19th century Majorca was impoverished, losing many of its people to emigrations, but an upturn in the island's agricultural prosperity and a flourishing of Catalan culture signalled an improvement in its fortunes. The 1929 opening of the Hotel Formentor kick started the arrival of the rich and famous, and tourists' demand for information on Majorca grew from the early 20th century.

Unlike Menorca, Majorca supported the fascists during the Spanish Civil War, but the Balearics saw little fighting and played no meaningful role.

Tourism boomed in the 1960s; thanks in part to Majorca's cheapness compared to many other parts of Europe, and development has continued since then.