LEON. A former kingdom in the northwest ern part of Spain, embracing the modern prov inces of Salamanca, Zamora, and LASH, and bounded on the north by Asturias, on the east by Old Castile, on the south by Estremadura, and on the west by Portugal and Galicia. Its area is 14,775 square miles. The river Duero crosses the region from east to west, among its affluents heing the Esla on the right and the Tonnes on the left. From the central valley the land rises in broad and level terraced plateaus toward the rugged gra'nite mountains of the Sierra de Fran cia and theSierra de Gata on the southern bound ary; and a more uneven region, cut by narrow valleys, rises toward the lofty Cantabrian chain on the northern boundary. The climate is ex tremely varied, almost subtropical in the valley of the Duero, changing to a severe continental climate with not unusual snows on the southern highland and a more humid and unstable one toward the north. The vegetation varies as much as the climate; oranges, lemons, olives, and vines thrive in the central valley, while the slopes yield abundant crops of wheat and other cereals and a fine quality of flax. The whole region, with the exception of a sterile plateau in the northeast, is well watered and the highlands are clothed with extensive forests. in which the oak, walnut, and chestnut are predominant. The mineral wealth is not very large except in the north west, where considerable quantities of coal and iron and some copper are mined. The industries are unimportant, though there are some flour and textile mills and iron-works. Trade is more active, and the exports include coal, iron, build ing-stone, timber, cork, hides and cattle, linen and woolen goods, olives, and wines. The inhabi
tants are of pure Spanish descent, proud. indo lent, and ignorant, as well as hospitable and brave. The population in 18S7 numbered 975,181, and in 1900, 1,007.839.
lfisTonr. Leon first appears in history as an independent kingdom about 910. when the King dom of Asturias (q.v.) was divided among the three sons of Alfonso 111., Garcia receiving Leim. It suffered in the following years to a great ex tent from the Arabs, for the various rulers were weak, and rebellions were frequent. The first signs of vigor appeared under Alfonso V. (999 1027), who is known in Spanish history as the Restorer of Lein. In 1037 the male line of the House of Leon became extinct, and Ferdinand I., Icing of Castile. succeeded. his son, Alfonso V1., the Valiant. wrested large territories from the Mohammedans. Until 1157 the history of Leon is a part of that of Castile (q.v.). in 1157 Alfonso Vllf., known as the Emperor. 'lied. and Leon became again an independent kingdom under his son Ferdinand. His son was Alfonso IX_ who married his cousin Bereugaria of Cas tile in 1197 without Papal license, so that Inno cent III. placed the whole country under an interdict. For seven years the couple remained firm, but finally separated, and a long series of wars between Leon and Castile began. In 1217 Berengaria became Queen of Castile in her own right, but immediately abdicated in favor of the eldest on of her union with Alfonso of LeOn, Ferdinand. In 1230 he also succeeded to the throne of Leon, ruling the two countries as Fer dinand 111. Leon and Castile were never again separated.