1. Early Kingdom in northern Spain between the Cantabrian Mountains and the Bay of Biscay; 
  2. A province until 1833;
  3. An autonomous community (O) in modern Spain, capital Oviedo.
Flag of the Asturias.

Flag of the Asturias. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Asturias was the first of the Christian Kingdoms to emerge after the Moslem conquest of most of Spain in  the 710s.   It was formed in the 720s and united with Cantabria, to the east, through marriage in 739.  It also spread westwards into Galicia in the later 8th century.   The Kingdom was protected against the Moslems by the Cantabrian Mountains and by an extensive devastated and largely depopulated frontier zone beyond the mountains, extending southwards beyond the River Duero.  

It was sometimes called the Kingdom of Oviedo from the city that became its capital late in the 8th century.   In the 9th century the Kingdom extended southwards into the old frontier zone and towards the River Duero;  the old Roman city of León was recovered, and became the capital of a sub-kingdom when Asturias was divided amongst brothers.  Its forward position led to its becoming capital of the whole Kingdom in the early 10th century, which then became known by its name.

In 1388 the title of Prince of the Asturias was borne by the heir of Castile for the first time;  it remains the title of the heir to the Spanish throne.   The Principality of Asturias was regarded as a province of the Kingdom.    From 1805 a Captain General was at its head..    In 1833 Asturias d’Oviedo, the greater part of the Principality, became the province of Oviedo, but Asturias de Santillana, the eastern district, became the west of that of Santander.   Asturias de Santillana had at times been linked with Castile rather than León, as for example in the partition after Alfonso VII’s death when it formed part of the Kingdom of Sancho III of Castile, not that of his brother, Ferdinand II of Leon.

In 1983 the province of Oviedo became the autonomous community of Asturias.  Its government is designated the Principado de Asturias.   It is 10th in area and 11th in population of the 17 communities.

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