Castile (Span. Castilla, so called from the number of its castles). I. An ancient kingdom of Spain, situated in the centre of the peninsula, and the source and chief seat of the Spanish nation. It is divided into Old and New Castile. Old Castile was the northern part, which first shook off the yoke of the Moorish conquerors, while New Castile was so called because it was a later acquisition. The Castiles occupy a large portion of the great central plateau, and their area of 45,000 square miles is about one fourth of that of all Spain. The people, about 3,000,000 in number, are a fine race, the heart of the Spanish nation as they are proverbially called - proud, manly, brave, and self-respecting. Castile was perhaps never entirely subjugated by the Moors, and became fully independent after the middle of the 8th century, being ruled by counts. It was erected into a kingdom in 1033, when Ferdinand, son of Sancho III., king of Navarre, was made king. Upon the death of Bermudo III., king of Leon, in 1037, that kingdom was united to Castile. The two crowns of Castile and Leon were afterward separated and again united several times, until in 1479, Ferdinand II. of Aragon having married Isabella, queen of Castile and Leon, the three kingdoms were united into one. (See Spain.) II. Old, the northern division of Castile, bounded N. by the bay of Biscay and the Basque provinces, E. by Navarre and Aragon, S. by New Castile, and W. by Leon and Asturias; area, 25,409 sq. m.; pop. in 1867, 1,716,193. It is of very irregular shape, stretching from S. W. to N. E. In the north the Cantabrian range of mountains runs across the province.
On the south it is divided from New Castile by the Sierra de Guadarrama, the Somosierra, and a continuing chain, which under different names forms also the E. boundary. The rivers arc the I hiero (Douro) in its upper course, its affluent the Pisuerga in the centre, and the Ebro on the north. There are numerous minor streams: the Riaza, Cega, Piron, Eresma, and Adaja, tributaries of the Duero; the Oca, Tiron, and Oja, affluents of the Ebro. These are torrents after rains, but in summer many of them are insignificant. The climate is dry and hot in the summer, dry and cold in the winter. The plains are almost deserts, whose vegetation affords but a scanty pasturage, and disappears entirely under the summer sun. On the sea-coast, and in the mountains, valleys, and hill slopes, nature is much less sterile. Old Castile includes the provinces of Avila, Burgos, Lo-groflo, Paiencia, Santander, Segovia, Soria, and Valladolid. The general occupation of the people in the interior is agriculture and grazing. In the towns some inferior manufactures, chiefiy of coarse woollens, cotton, linen, leather, and glass, are carried on. Sheep and cattle are reared in large numbers and exported. Wheat and corn are also exported, and wines and fruits are produced in abundance.
HI. New, the southern division, bounded N. W. and N. by Old Castile, E. by Aragon and Valencia, S. by La Mancha, and W. by Estremadura; area, 20,178 sq. m.; pop. in 1867, 1,289,415. It is divided into the provinces of Madrid, Toledo, Guadalajara, and Cuenca. The principal rivers are the Tagus and its tributaries, the Tajufla, Henares, Jarama, Guadarrama, and Guadiela, and the Juear, which falls into the Mediterranean, and its tributaries, the Guadazaon and Cabriel. The climate is the same as that of Old Castle. Large crops of wheat are raised, and the mountain slopes afford abundant pasturage. The vine is cultivated, and olives and oil, saffron, honey, and hemp are produced in considerable quantities.
Woollens, paper, linen, cotton, and silk are manufactured.