Pelayo a noted mediaeval royal character, and a convert to Christianity, is said to have been the first Christian king in Spain after the conquest of that country by the Arabs. Contemporary historians make no mention of him, but this may be accounted for on the ground of the insignificant size of his kingdom, which comprised only the mountainous district of Asturias. He is said to have been a scion of the royal Visigothic line, and to have retired before the conquering Arabs to the mountains of Asturias, where he maintained himself against the armies which were sent to attack him, defeating them in various pitched battles, and in numberless minor engagements. One of his most famous exploits was the destruction of a large army sent against him by Tarik, near Cangas-de-Onis. His men were posted on the heights bounding the valley through which the Arabs were to pass, and, waiting till the enemy had become involved in the defile, at a given signal overwhelmed them with enormous masses of rock. This great success caused Pelayo to be recognized as sovereign by the surrounding districts, and the Christians flocked to him from all parts of Spain. He was much engaged in contests with the Arabs, but nevertheless found time to reanimate agriculture, superintend the reconstruction of churches, and the establishment of a civil administration. He died in 737. Such is the account given us by later historians, who trace from him the genealogy of the royal family of Spain.

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