From Tyrants to Soldiers of Christ: the nobility of twelfth-century Leon-Castile and the struggle against Islam

Medieval LeonFrom Tyrants to Soldiers of Christ: the nobility of twelfth-century Leon-Castile and the struggle against Islam

Simon Barton (University of Exeter)

Nottingham Medieval Studies: v.44 (2000)

On 2 July 1120, Bishop Diego of León made a generous grant of property, money and other valuables to his cathedral church.[1]  The substantial largess included, amongst other things, the monasteries of Cistierna and San Cipriano de Fano and their respective properties, 50 silver shillings from the 500 the bishop was owed annually in taxes by the Jewish community of Puente Castro, the tithes, first-fruits and other dues which corresponded to a number of local churches, as well as quantities of wax, incense and oil.  In the charter that he had drawn up to record the endowment, the bishop declared that he had been prompted to make the donation both for the good of his own soul and for those of his royal patrons Alfonso VI (1065-1109) and Queen Urraca (1109-26), as well as for those of all the other monarchs of Christian Spain who had previously favoured his church.  He made the grant, moreover, in order that three altars within the cathedral of León might be repaired, embellished and illuminated.  Perhaps the most eye-catching feature of the document, however, is the historical exordium which precedes the donation proper, in which the Leonese prelate contrasted the peaceful and virtuous times which the kingdom of León had enjoyed in the days of Alfonso VI with the violence and greed which had marked the unhappy reign of his daughter and successor Urraca, when nobles had murdered, tortured and pillaged on a grand scale, and priests had been robbed and their churches burned to the ground.

            Bishop Diego was not alone in harking back to the reign of Alfonso VI as a golden age.  In his brief chronicle of the kings of León, which covered the years 982 to 1109, Bishop Pelayo of Oviedo portrayed the period as one of internal peace, boundless enterprise and large-scale territorial expansion.  He fondly remembered Alfonso VI as the father and defender of the Spanish church who had wrested numerous towns and castles from the impious grasp of the Muslims (notably the city of Toledo in 1085), who had engaged in a titanic struggle for ascendancy with the Berber masters of al-Andalus (Muslim Spain), the Almoravids, and who had given the resettlement of a large swathe of territory south of the River Duero, from Salamanca to Segovia, such a decisive impulse.[2]   Pelayo recounted that on 24 June 1109, only a week before the illustrious king’s death, while he and Bishop Pedro of León were celebrating mass in the church of San Isidoro in León, water had miraculously begun to flow from the stones which lay in front of the altar.  According to Pelayo, the marvel that he and Bishop Pedro witnessed that day in León was a portent of  ‘the sorrows and tribulations that befell Spain after the death of the aforementioned king; that is why the stones wept and water flowed forth.’[3]

            In stark contrast to the numerous and well-publicised achievements of Alfonso VI, the reign of his daughter Urraca was blighted by marital discord, a disputed succession and a bitter struggle for power involving Urraca herself, her estranged husband Alfonso I  ‘the Battler’ of Aragon (1104-34), the supporters of the queen’s son by her first marriage, Alfonso Raimúndez, and those who were loyal to Count Henry of Portugal and his wife Teresa, the illegitimate daughter of Alfonso VI.[4]  On paper, at least, the marriage of Urraca and Alfonso I of Aragon, which had been engineered by Alfonso VI shortly before his death in 1109, had much to commend it.  By combining the resources of the two most powerful Iberian Christian kingdoms, the alliance had offered the prospect of the creation of a powerful military counterweight to Almoravid expansionism.  In practice, however, the Aragonese alliance proved an unmitigated disaster.  It was not just that the couple was temperamentally unsuited to one another and that the marriage was promptly condemned as incestuous by Pope Paschal II and by the Leonese-Castilian ecclesiastical establishment; what undermined the marriage settlement above all was the fact that there were rival claimants to the throne within León-Castile itself who considered their own vital interests to be fatally threatened by the Aragonese alliance and were ready to take up arms to defend them.  Between 1110 and 1117 civil war raged throughout León and Castile, royal authority was virtually paralysed and near anarchy reigned in town and country alike.4  In April 1111, Alfonso of Aragon captured Toledo from Urraca and by dint of a series of military victories subsequently brought the territory of the Rioja and most of Castile as far west as Sahagún under his authority.  True, after 1117, thanks largely to some adroit diplomatic manoeuvring, as a result of which the queen ceded authority over the region between the Duero and the Tagus to her son Alfonso Raimúndez, Urraca’s position was largely secure; but the price of peace was high.  To the east large areas of Castile, as well as the Rioja and the Sorian highlands remained under Aragonese control, while to the west the county of Portugal had drifted out of the Leonese orbit for good.  Even within what remained of the vast imperium that Alfonso VI had so painstakingly constructed, political unrest and lawlessness did not immediately subside.  Hardly surprisingly, the Leonese civil war, or the grandis guerra as a monk of the Cluniac house of Sahagún subsequently referred to it, left deep physical and psychological scars.[5]   In an earlier charter of Bishop Diego of León, issued in January 1116, the prelate movingly referred to the many calamities and injuries that his church had endured during the preceding years and to the overwhelming sense of desolation and dejection that then prevailed.[6]

            One man who experienced the political upheaval and civil strife of Urraca’s reign at first hand, and who would doubtless have sympathised with the sentiments expressed by his Leonese counterpart, was Archbishop Diego Gelmírez of Santiago de Compostela (1100-40).[7]  We know a great deal more about the long and remarkable career of Archbishop Diego than those of any of his shadowy episcopal colleagues thanks largely to the preservation of the Historia Compostellana.[8]  Commissioned by Diego Gelmírez, and compiled by a succession of authors, at least four, all of them canons of his cathedral chapter, the work comprises both a collection (registrum) of documents pertaining to the see of Compostela, as well as a celebration of the deeds of Bishop, from 1120 Archbishop, Diego. The Historia is a narrative source of extraordinary value – a veritable ‘oasis in the historiographical desert of twelfth-century León’ one historian has described it[9] - for not only does it furnish the most detailed account of the complex series of events that unfolded after the death of Alfonso VI, but it also provides a vivid portrait of Galician society in the first half of the twelfth century and is particularly informative about the activities of the local aristocracy and its frequently turbulent relationship with the church.

            Like his fellow bishop and namesake Diego of León, Diego Gelmírez appears to have been gravely concerned by the widespread lawlessness of his times.  Nowhere more so than in the territory of his native Galicia, where in the power vacuum that opened up after 1109 rival factions amongst the nobility jockeyed for power and influence and private war became endemic.  The Historia Compostellana describes in considerable detail how old scores were settled, enemies worsted and rights usurped.  What is more, if we are to believe the authors of the Historia, the lordship of the church of Compostela was itself the frequent target of attacks by Galician nobles.  The influential Traba family, in particular, is accused of leading such raids and of carrying off serfs and cattle.[10]   But the Historia was also keen to demonstrate that Diego Gelmírez was more than willing to fight fire with fire and to campaign vigorously against the aggressors.  Thus, in 1116 we can see Bishop Diego chasing Pedro Froilaz de Traba and his followers into the mountains of Deza because the count had trespassed within the boundaries of his see.[11]  In 1121 the archbishop razed to the ground the castle of Raneta which had been built by Count Fernando Pérez de Traba, allegedly because it was a threat to the well-being of the church of Compostela; and in the same year a fortress by the River Iso belonging to Count Muño Peláez, which is denounced as a den of robbers and bandits by the Historia, met the same fate.[12]

            But it was not just the church of Compostela that was vulnerable.  There are also complaints in the Historia of attacks by laymen on merchants and pilgrims making their way to the holy city.  That successive church councils between 1114 and 1129 found it necessary to legislate against such attacks suggests how widespread the problem must have been.[13]  In 1130 we learn that another member of the Traba clan, García Pérez, led an attack on a group of merchants from England and Lorraine who had journeyed to Galicia to sell their wares and left them stripped of all their merchandise to the value of some 22,000 silver marks.[14]  Even the humblest members of society, those men and women who are referred to under the generic term of pauperes in the Historia, were not spared the attentions of the predatory aristocracy.  The rapacity of secular lords and their oppression of the poor and defenceless is frequently denounced in the Historia.[15]  Indeed, it was in an attempt to save the peasantry from the worst excesses of lay lordship that Diego Gelmírez drew up a series of decrees in 1113, while legislation in similar vein was also drafted at the councils of León and Compostela in 1114 and at Palencia in 1129.[16]  The following year, reportedly considering all the lands of Galicia to be ‘oppressed by a cruel tyranny’, Archbishop Diego summoned the chief nobles of the region and exhorted them to correct the injustice that reigned within their lands.[17]  The nobles swore on oath that they would rectify anything that had been carried out unjustly or violently and that henceforth they would administer their lands more justly.

            It was a measure of Diego Gelmírez’s failure to curb private war within Galicia, that at the council he held in Santiago de Compostela in March 1124 he invoked the Peace of God.  The Peace of God movement, which had its origins in southern France towards the end of the tenth century, had been encouraged by churchmen who, just like Archbishop Diego, had been gravely concerned by the growing violence of the society in which they lived. At a series of ‘peace councils’ held in the eleventh century, the church had sought to regulate private war by teaching that warfare was a source of sin and by urging knights to abstain from fighting during specified periods such as Lent.[18] Similarly, at Compostela in 1124 the assembled clerics stipulated the periods of the year when no layman was to commit violent acts and required that all laymen swear an oath to keep the peace.  Campaigns against peacebreakers, invaders or pagans were excluded from the prohibitions.[19]

            For their part, the Galician nobles appear to have done what they could to restore their tarnished reputations in the eyes of the church by showering wealth upon the religious institutions of the region.  The authors of the Historia Compostellana made particular play of the many and munificent gifts that were made to the see of Compostela by Galician nobles for the good of their souls.  Among the benefactors were not only members of the most powerful families of the region, such as Vermudo Pérez de Traba, who granted his church at Entines to Compostela some time around 1126, but lesser nobles too, such as the knight Lucio Arias who, as he lay stricken with illness, made over numerous estates to Bishop Diego Gelmírez.[20]   The list of benefactions seems endless.  Indeed, the deathbed bequests to the see of Compostela by Count Pedro Froilaz de Traba in 1128 were so prodigious that the author of the Historia considered it wearisome to his readers to list them all.[21]  Yet despite this generosity, the compilers of theHistoria were not slow to point out that the giving of alms was the just price that had to be paid for sin and that the lay nobility was in more need of forgiveness than most. When, in 1128, Arias Pérez – a notorious rebel against the crown and a persistent thorn in the side of Diego Gelmírez – was upbraided by the archbishop for his persistent misconduct, the noble made a generous grant of lands to Compostela in repentance.  Yet, given his lamentable conduct hitherto, the archbishop remarked, his grant to the see was the very least he could do to stave off damnation in the next world.[22] 

            It hardly needs saying that the Historia Compostellana paints a less than flattering portrait of the lay nobility of its time.  In its account the Galician nobles are portrayed as violent, rapacious, vainglorious and domineering, almost to a man. The authors of the Historia had scarcely a good word to say about any of them.  Even Count Pedro Froilaz, a life-long friend and ally of Diego Gelmírez, whose generosity to the sees of Compostela and Mondoñedo is made so patently clear in the pages of the Historia, was not spared their vitriol. Whether this overtly critical portrayal of  aristocratic behaviour painted a wholly accurate picture, however, is very much a moot point.  The Historiawas conceived above all as a glorification of the deeds of Diego Gelmírez and is a notoriously tendentious witness to the events of its time.  We would do well to take many of its claims with a very large pinch of salt.  In any case, by voicing such outspoken criticism of the conduct of the lay nobility of Galicia, the Historia was merely following in a long polemical tradition.  The question of the ideal social role of the secular aristocrat was much to exercise the minds of ecclesiastics throughout the Middle Ages.  While churchmen were by and large willing to sanction the privileged position of the lay nobility within society, they were also quick to criticise what they saw as the gross moral turpitude of the warrior élite.[23]  Little enough was expected of the moral conduct of other laymen, but nobles, by virtue of their illustrious birth and privileged upbringing, were morally bound to set an example for the rest of lay society.  As Alexander Murray has succinctly put it, ‘wicked noblemen had to be whacked especially hard.  But that was partly because more was expected of them.’[24]

            But the current of criticism was soon matched by a more positive mood.  Led by the example of the Cluniacs, churchmen of the tenth and eleventh centuries sought to harness and legitimize the warlike behaviour of the overmighty bellatores.  The unruly nobles were increasingly encouraged to channel their energies towards more spiritually uplifting and praiseworthy tasks.  They were reminded of the benefits of endowing the church, of founding monastic houses, of helping the poor, or of going on pilgrimage. There emerged the concept of the ‘ideal warrior’, God-fearing, prudent, generous and brave, who defended the church and the poor against oppressors and brought the peacebreakers to book.  He was the forerunner of the miles Christi, the soldier of Christ, who at the end of eleventh century was urged to undertake an armed pilgrimage to the Holy Land in order to liberate his brethren from oppression and to make war on the enemies of Christendom.[25]

The men who answered Pope Urban II’s call to arms at the Council of Clermont on 27 November 1095 and took part in the military expedition to the East that we call the First Crusade were driven by a complex combination of secular values and religious impulses.  Recent research on the ideological motivation of the nobles and knights who went on the First Crusade has emphasised that the crusade ideal was closely bound up with traditional forms of pious expression.[26] Just as the laymen who entered, founded or endowed religious communities, or who went on pilgrimage were moved by a powerful sense of sinfulness, the demands of penances and the urge to secure their salvation in the next world, so it has been argued that those who travelled to the Holy Land after 1095 were overwhelmingly prompted to do so by deep-rooted eschatalogical fears. Contemporary commentators such as Guibert of Nogent may have viewed the armed pilgrimage as a novel way of attaining salvation, but the ideas of the crusaders themselves ‘were rooted in the commonplace and unexceptional.’[27]

            Although the Christian inhabitants of the Iberian peninsula had themselves been engaged in their own centuries-long military struggle against Islam, they did not remain immune to the appeal of  the crusading ethic.  Sigebert of Gembloux (d. 1112), from the Low Countries, was but one among several chroniclers to record the presence of Spanish knights on the First Crusade; and documentary evidence likewise reveals the names of a number of peninsular knights – from Catalonia in the east to Portugal in the west – who are known to have made their way to the Holy Land during the first half of the twelfth century.[28]  From the Leonese kingdom, one of the earliest putative crusaders we know of was Count Fernando Díaz, lord of the Asturias, who had returned from the Holy Land by 12 February 1101.[29]  Other likely crusaders included the nobleman Muño Pérez, who mortgaged a number of his lands to the abbey of Sahagún on 7 June 1100 in return for a loan of 1000 silver pieces to enable him to undertake the journey to Jerusalem, and Pedro Gutiérrez who made over a collection of estates to Sahagún in November of the same year shortly before he set off for the East.[30]   In the west of the kingdom, in Galicia, by 1120 large numbers of  knights are reported to have taken the cross in order to campaign overseas, and charter references to a number of possible Galician crusaders crop up in the succeeding years: men like Fernando Núñez, who endowed the church of Orense on 27 December 1127 shortly before he set off to Jerusalem; the nobleman Pedro who gave his share of the church of Trasmonte to the see of Compostela on 24 November 1134 when he was about to journey to the East; and Melendo Rodríguez, who made a donation to the Cluniac abbey of Jubia in 1137, declaring that it was his intention to travel to Jerusalem in order to purge himself of the sins that he had committed in his youth.[31]  For his part, Count Fernando Pérez de Traba made two journeys to Jerusalem, the second of them in 1153.[32]

        Yet, so fused together were the ideals and practices of pilgrimage and crusade, that it is mostly impossible to judge whether those who travelled to the East proposed to undertake a traditional pilgrimage or whether they saw themselves as pilgrims in the new Army of Christ.[33]  The likelihood is, however, that a good proportion of the twelfth-century Leonese-Castilian nobles who stated their intention to go to Jerusalem had taken a crusading vow.  One who did so for sure was the Castilian magnate Count Rodrigo González de Lara.  When the count fell from favour at the court of Alfonso VII of León-Castile (1126-57) in 1137, it is recorded that he ‘became a pilgrim and went overseas to Jerusalem for reasons of prayer.’[34]  Elsewhere, however, our same source reveals that Count Rodrigo’s pilgrimage had a clearly military dimension: ‘After he had kissed the king’s hand and said farewell to his family and friends, Count Rodrigo González went abroad to Jerusalem and there he joined in many battles with the Saracens and built a very strong castle near Ascalon, at Toron, which he fortified with knights and foot-soldiers and food, entrusting it to the knights of the Temple.’[35]  The count had returned to the peninsula by 1139 and sought asylum at the court of the king of Navarre and at those of the counts of Barcelona and Urgel, as well as at that of the Muslim emir of Valencia, before returning once more to the Holy Land where he died.

            Concern that the popularity of the crusading ethic among the peninsular nobility might lead excessive numbers of knights to abandon their own struggle with the Berber Almoravids in order to travel to the Holy Land appears to have surfaced early on.  Thus, in a letter drawn up some time between January 1096 and July 1099, which Urban II addressed to the counts of Ampurias, Besalú, Cerdaña and Rousillon and their knightly followers, the pope urged the Catalan magnates not to journey to Jerusalem but to devote their energies towards the recovery of the city of Tarragona, promising that those who died while doing so would receive remission of their sins and the prospect of eternal life: it was no virtue to rescue Christians from the Saracens in one place, only to expose them to the tyranny and oppression of the Saracens in another, the pope roundly concluded.[36]  Similarly, the letter Urban II sent to Bishop Pedro of Huesca in May 1098, in which he equated the campaigns in Spain with the First Crusade,  may have been partly designed to help the bishop dissuade would-be Aragonese crusaders from travelling to the Holy Land.[37]  And the same theme was taken up by Urban’s successor, Paschal II, who in separate letters to the Galician clergy and to King Alfonso VI on 14 October 1100 reiterated the papal view that Spanish knights were not to travel to Jerusalem and that those who did so were leaving the region vulnerable to further attack by the Almoravids.[38]  This blunt message was further amplified in the bull the pope dispatched to the canons of Compostela on 25 March 1101.[39]  It was at about this time that King Pedro I of Aragón (1094-1104) reportedly took the cross with a view to campaigning in the East, but subsequently had second thoughts, perhaps as a result of papal pressure, and instead led an expedition against the Muslim kingdom of Zaragoza in 1101.[40]

            The letters of Urban II and Paschal II provide clear evidence that although from an early date tentative comparisons were beginning to be made between the campaigns being waged in the peninsula and the Holy Land, the spread of crusading enthusiasm south of the Pyrenees may initially have been considered ‘more a problem than an opportunity for the crusade to be extended to new regions.’[41]  However, this was about to change, as a lull in military activity in the East encouraged the papacy to widen its crusading horizons.  In 1114, a joint Catalan and northern Italian expedition to conquer the Balearic islands was awarded the status of a crusade, and the same was true of the campaign to conquer Zaragoza in 1117-18.[42]  Finally, on 2 April 1123, presumably in an attempt to stem the haemorrhage of fighting men towards the eastern theatre once and for all, Pope Calixtus II took pains to emphasise that he regarded the wars waged against the Muslims in Spain to have the same salvatory character as those in the Holy Land.[43]  His pronouncement was promptly echoed at the legatine council celebrated at Santiago de Compostela on 18 January 1125, where Archbishop Diego Gelmírez delivered a rousing call to arms in which he urged an expedition to be organised against the Muslims of al-Andalus ‘for the humiliation and confusion of the pagans and for the exaltation and edification of Christianity.’[44]  In a letter he had drawn up for circulation at the same time the archbishop developed his theme further: ‘Just as those soldiers of Christ and faithful sons of the church have opened up the road to Jerusalem by much toil and bloodshed, so let us also become soldiers of Christ and by defeating his enemies, the evil Saracens, let us with his grace beat a shorter and much less difficult path through the regions of Spain to the same Sepulchre of the Lord’.[45]

Those who took part in such an expedition were promised full absolution and remission of sins and protection of their property during their absence, in accordance with the pope’s decree. However, the time was not ripe for holy war. On 8 March 1126, barely a year after Archbishop Diego’s dramatic proclamation at Santiago de Compostela, Queen Urraca died at Saldaña, whereupon her son Alfonso VII wasted no time in pressing his long-standing claim to the throne.[46]  Yet, although the new king was able to win early pledges of support from most of the leading members of the Leonese-Castilian aristocracy, his position during the opening years of his reign remained far from secure.  Like his mother before him, Alfonso was hamstrung by severe financial difficulties and had to resort to desperate measures in order to be able to pay his knights.[47]  To compound matters, he also had to face up to numerous challenges to his authority, notably by the Castilian counts of Lara, Pedro and Rodrigo González, who led a major rebellion against the crown in 1130.  By 1135, however, the king’s position had been transformed.  Rebellious elements within the ranks of the Leonese-Castilian nobility had either been brought to heel or cast into exile. Meanwhile, the death of Alfonso I of Aragón in 1134 had enabled Alfonso VII to recover the remaining Castilian territories that still lay in Aragonese hands after the war of 1110-17, as well as the Rioja, and to occupy Zaragoza.  It may also have been at this time that the Leonese monarch received oaths of obedience from King García Ramírez IV of Navarre and Count Ramón Berenguer IV of Barcelona, as well as from a number of trans-Pyrenean magnates.[48]  It was a mark of his restored authority both within León-Castile and the peninsula as a whole that on 26 May 1135, fifty years and a day after the reconquest of Toledo, Alfonso VII had himself crowned emperor in León.[49]

            With his own house in order and with his borders for the moment secure, Alfonso VII at last had a free hand to address the long-neglected question of the frontier with al-Andalus. In this he was encouraged by the fact that Almoravid power was now clearly on the wane.[50]  In 1133 and in 1138 the emperor led raiding expeditions deep into Muslim territory, and in 1139 captured the castle of Oreja east of Toledo after a seven-month siege.[51]  By the 1140s the Almoravid empire had begun to unravel and its authority was being challenged, not only by the rival Almohad confederation in North Africa, but by dissident elements within al-Andalus too. Seeking to profit from the political turmoil, Alfonso VII launched a series of attacks against the Muslim south: Coria in Extremadura was conquered in 1142, there were further sorties into al-Andalus in 1143 and 1144, and the emperor briefly held the city of Córdoba in May 1146.[52]  The following year campaigning reached a crescendo: in January, the fortress town of Calatrava on the Guadiana fell to the emperor; in August, Baeza and Ubeda on the Guadalquivir were overrun; and on 17 October, Alfonso VII’s forces combined with armies from Navarre, Barcelona, Montpellier and Genoa to conquer the Mediterranean seaport of Almería.[53]  A week later, Lisbon fell to a joint assault by Portuguese troops and a force of English, German and Flemish crusaders who, en route for the Holy Land, had paused to lend a hand.[54]

            The conquest of Almería was to be but the prelude to a frenetic but largely ineffectual bout of campaigning during the last decade of the emperor’s life.[55]  In 1150, Córdoba was subjected to a lengthy but fruitless siege; the following summer, Jaén received the same treatment, but with similar lack of success, and a campaign against Seville had to be called off when an army from overseas apparently failed to make an appearance as planned.[56]  In 1152, the emperor tried and failed to annex Guadix, east of Granada.  In the meantime, the Almohads, who had gained control of Seville in 1148, had begun to consolidate their position in southern Spain.[57]  Málaga fell to them in 1153 and Granada went the same way the following year.  In 1157, shortly before the emperor’s death, Almería itself fell to the advancing Berber armies.   As a later chronicler would tartly observe, Alfonso VII was far more successful at capturing places than at keeping them.[58]

            By far the most important narrative source for the reign of Alfonso VII is the anonymous Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris, a panegyric in prose and verse dedicated to the deeds of the king-emperor from his accession in 1126 down to the Almería campaign of 1147.[59]  The Chronica is a striking piece of historiography.  For one thing, the providential tone of the work, which is reinforced by a pastiche of biblical references drawn in particular from the Old Testament and the Apocrypha, portrays Alfonso VII as an instrument of divine will and as the leader of a chosen people.  Not only that, but the truncated Prefatio de Almaria, better known as the Poem of Almería, which is attached to the prose chronicle, is suffused with the spirit of holy war.[60]  Authorship of the Chronica has traditionally been ascribed to Bishop Arnaldo of Astorga (1144-53), who is mentioned both at the end of the prose section of the Chronica and at the end of its poetic colophon, although some doubts have recently been expressed on that score.[61]  In any case, the lengthy verse account of the preliminaries to the Almería campaign, with its detailed and well-informed account of the lay magnates who took part, certainly gives the impression of having been penned by someone, presumably a cleric, who had first-hand knowledge of the campaign, or who may even have accompanied the military expedition south.[62]

            For our own purposes, the Chronica is an illuminating work for it has much to tell us of the lay magnates who attended the court of Alfonso VII and of the military campaigns they waged on his behalf.  Furthermore, the Poem of Almería, in the truncated form it has come down to us, consists largely of a lengthy and stylised description of the chief members of the lay nobility who took part in the campaign of 1147.  In the first book of the prose part of the Chronica, which covers the events of the years 1126 to 1144, the Leonese king appears in the thick of the action, energetically crushing rebellions within his borders, and successfully campaigning against his hostile neighbours in Aragón, Navarre and Portugal.  However, members of the lay aristocracy also feature prominently in the narrative.  We learn of the nobles of León, Galicia and Castile who pledged their loyalty to Alfonso VII on his accession to the throne and of the magnates who put down rebellions on the king’s behalf.  It was Count Rodrigo Martínez and his brother Osorio, for example, who crushed the revolt of Pedro Díaz at Valle in 1130; and it was Count Suero Vermúdez and his nephew Pedro Alfonso who were charged by Alfonso VII with the task of bring the contumacious Count Gonzalo Pelaéz of the Asturias to heel in 1134.[63]  The prominent part played by lay magnates in the campaigns the king-emperor waged against his Christian neighbours likewise receives ample coverage.[64]

            With the notable exception of the account of the raiding party that Alfonso VII led into al-Andalus in 1133, the attention of the first book of the Chronica is focused squarely on the area north of the River Duero.  Book Two, however, is given over to ‘the disputes and battles that the emperor Alfonso and the nobles of Toledo and the leaders of Extremadura had with King Ali and with his son Tashufin and with the other kings and princes of the Moabites and Hagarenes.’[65]  Indeed, it is made abundantly clear elsewhere that the many campaigns that Alfonso VII was forced to wage against the rebels in his own kingdom, or against his Christian neighbours, were nothing less than a deflection from the true destiny God had prepared for him: to make war on ‘that abominable people’, as the Muslims of al-Andalus are dubbed.[66] In a dramatic if occasionally monotonous account our author describes with evident relish the scores of bloody campaigns that were waged by Christian and Muslim armies from the death of Alfonso VI in 1109 down to the occupation of Córdoba by Alfonso VII in 1146.  A spirit of reconquest burns brightly.[67]  The chronicler takes delight in enumerating the many victories that were won over the Almoravids and their allies, in the great booty that was seized, in the mosques and sacred Islamic texts that were burned, in the prisoners that were taken and in the Muslims that were put to the sword.[68]

            Although the first book of the Chronica makes frequent reference to the activities of the nobility, it is nonetheless the king-emperor who occupies centre-stage.  In Book II, however, the emphasis of the narrative shifts noticeably, for it is now the nobility which occupies an altogether higher profile.  Thus, of the one hundred chapters that make up Book II, very nearly a quarter are devoted to the exploits of the Galician warlord Muño Alfonso alone.[69]  We are given the impression that for much of the time Alfonso VII preferred to adopt a ‘hands-off’ approach to generalship, leaving the conduct of military campaigns and the limelight to his trusted magnates. The most notorious example of this occurred during the abortive siege of Coria in 1138, when the emperor went off to hunt bears in the mountains, leaving Count Rodrigo Martínez to launch an assault on the city walls, get himself killed, and steal the headlines into the bargain.[70]

            The Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris provides a strikingly positive portrayal of the aristocracy of its time.  The nobles of the Chronica are mostly presented as loyal and willing servants of the crown, eager to restore Alfonso VII’s authority within his own kingdom and to extend his power against his external foes, Christian and Muslim alike. Altogether lacking in its pages are the voices raised in outrage at the lawlessness and rapacity of the nobility that we repeatedly encounter in the Historia Compostellana. Though the Chronica might complain that the knights of Salamanca were tardy in paying their tithes to the cathedral of that city and paid the price in battle as a result, and that it was on account of their sins that some ‘foolish knights’ who went in search of plunder during a raid into al-Andalus in 1133 met a nasty end, the aggrieved polemical tone of the Historia Compostellana is mostly conspicuous by its absence.[71]  But if slow to criticise, the prose Chronica is notably sparing in its praise too. True, Count Suero Vermúdez is described as ‘a man strong in counsel and a seeker of truth’, and as ‘a lover of peace and truth and a faithful friend of the king’, while Fernando Yáñez is portrayed as a ‘brave knight and faithful friend of the king.’[72]  But for the most part, the chronicler refers to the deeds of the aristocracy in plain unvarnished style.

            Quite the opposite is true, however, of the poetic celebration of the conquest of Almería which follows the prose narrative of the Chronica.  In the opening verses of the poem, the narrator makes plain why the expedition against Almería had been launched.  In doom-laden tones the poet refers to ‘the evil pestilence of the Moors, whom neither the ebb and flow of the sea nor their land protected.  They cannot sink from sight nor escape upwards into the air; their life was sinful, and so they were defeated.  They did not know the Lord, and rightly perished.  This people was rightly doomed: they worship Baal, but Baal does not set them free.’[73]  The same theme is continued elsewhere in the poem: the decisive ruin of the Almoravids is heralded; omens predict that ‘the evil race of the Moors’ is about to perish; and we are assured that once battle was joined the Christian troops would have no qualms about slaughtering their enemies.[74]  Apart from the vein of hatred for the Muslims that runs throughout the whole poem, the work is also imbued with a strong crusading spirit.  We are told that the bishops of Toledo and León summoned the faithful to battle, pardoning the sins of those who joined the expedition and promising them the reward of both lives, as well as the prospect of earthly riches.  The peoples of Spain longed to make war on the Saracens, the poet tells us, as ‘trumpets of salvation sound throughout the regions of the world’; and when the bishop of Astorga got up to harangue the assembled troops, he assured those present that the gates of Paradise were open to them.[75]

            Most of what survives of the poem, however, is given over to a series of glowing portraits of ten of the chief lay magnates who had accompanied the emperor on the expedition to Almería.[76]  Count Ramiro Froilaz of León, for example, is portrayed as prudent and handsome, of royal descent and loved by Christ, a loyal servant of the emperor and skilled in war, and a wise counsellor and a just administrator.[77]  Count Ponce de Cabrera, the leader of the troops of Extremadura, is said to have possessed the strength of Samson and the sword of Gideon and he is compared to Jonathan.  He was a leader of the stature of Hector, strong and truthful like the invincible Ajax, fearless in battle and as wise as Solomon, but nevertheless humble enough to serve his knights at table.[78]  Alvaro Rodríguez is acclaimed for his illustrious ancestry and he is compared to Roland and the Cid, while his skill in war, his hatred of the Moors, his wealth and his generosity to the poor are all praised.[79]   And so on.

            So much for the Poem of Almería.  From these eulogistic portraits of the nobility there emerges a picture of the ideal aristocrat which the poet was keen to project: he should be of illustrious lineage, handsome and strong, wealthy and generous, brave and skilled in war, prudent and pious, humble and honest, a just administrator and a wise counsellor.  The whole mood of the poem is as far removed as could possibly be from the carping, critical tone of the Historia Compostellana.  The members of the lay aristocracy were perceived by the authors of the Historia, and doubtless by Archbishop Diego Gelmírez himself, not only as competitors for power, wealth and favour in a hostile world, but also, by their lawlessness and rapacity, as a positive threat to the good order of society.  They had to be made to account for their actions.  But by the time the history of the final years of the pontificate of Diego Gelmírez was being brought to a close, the political situation in Galicia and in León-Castile as a whole had already changed out of all recognition. The internecine warfare that had previously been such an ever-present feature of Galician society was by all accounts a thing of the past.  The resumption of military activity on the frontier with al-Andalus after 1133 meant that the energies of the nobility were now being increasingly directed elsewhere and the Galician magnates with whom Diego Gelmírez had so frequently crossed swords, and about whose conduct the Historia Compostellana complains so bitterly, can be seen accompanying the emperor on his annual expeditions south against the Muslims.  For example, among the notables who participated in the siege of Oreja in 1139 were the Galicians Count Fernando Pérez de Traba and his brothers García, Rodrigo and Vermudo, Count Rodrigo Vélaz, Fernando Yáñez and his son Pelayo Curvo.[80]   One Galician nobleman, Fernando Yáñez, lord of Limia, had even begun to assume important administrative and military responsibilities on the southern frontier, holding the lordship of Talavera on the Tagus by 1143, and that of nearby Maqueda by 1146, as well as the fortress of Montoro on the Guadalquivir between 1150 and 1154.[81]  With the struggle against the infidel on the frontiers of the kingdom now uppermost in men’s minds, aggressive talk by churchmen of curbing the lawlessness and rapacity of the nobility would have seemed strangely out of step with the times.  Now, the lay magnates with their economic and military clout were perceived as key players if the campaigns in al-Andalus were to be prosecuted successfully and they had to be wooed accordingly.  The Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris and the Poem of Almería appear to reflect a sea-change in social, political and military perceptions.

            The twelfth century in Spain has been widely portrayed as a crusading age.[82]  Influenced by successive papal pronouncements, which had gradually begun to compare the Spanish campaigns against the infidel with the eastern crusading theatre, by the views of Spanish bishops who had either attended papal councils or were well-informed about their deliberations, by the ideological impulses that were carried into Spain by French magnates who had fought on the First Crusade, and doubtless by the enthusiasm of Spanish nobles who had themselves taken part in armed pilgrimages to the Holy Land, contemporaries began to view their wars against the Muslims of al-Andalus in a completely new light.  This new-found ‘crusading enthusiasm’ was exemplified by Alfonso I of Aragon, who in later life campaigned long and hard against the Muslims of the Ebro valley, founded the military confraternities of Belchite and Monreal, in 1122 and c.1128 respectively, and in his remarkable will, drawn up in 1131, granted his kingdom to the military orders of the Temple, Hospital and Holy Sepulchre.[83]  Just as Archbishop Diego Gelmírez had done in 1125 when he called upon the laity to join as soldiers of Christ in a new military expedition against the Muslims, so Alfonso I, in his foundation-charter for the militia Christi of Monreal, spoke of defeating the Saracens of Spain and of opening up a new way to Jerusalem.[84]   However, we have seen that in the case of León-Castile domestic political considerations meant that large-scale military operations against the Muslims could not get under way until 1133.  Thereafter, until Alfonso VII’s death in 1157, spectacular sorties were dispatched south into al-Andalus with almost metronomic regularity.  It was at this time that contemporary chroniclers elsewhere in the West began to view the military struggle against the pagans in the Iberian peninsula in the same light as the campaigns that were being waged in the Holy Land.[85]  A similar line was taken by troubadour poets like Marcabru, who portrayed Spain as a lavador, or cleansing-place, where knights could purify their souls and win salvation, as well as honour, wealth and merit.[86]  And, of course, the Poem of Almería is itself redolent with the language of crusade.

            We will recall that back at the beginning of the twelfth century the popularity of the crusade ideal in aristocratic circles in León-Castile had been such that frantic appeals had had to be made to encourage would-be crusaders to the East to devote their energies towards the campaigns being waged against the infidel nearer to home.  Similarly, when, some time in the 1130s, Muño Alfonso expressed a wish to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Alfonso VII himself reportedly intervened to ask the archbishop of Toledo and other leading churchmen to dissuade the noble from his purpose.  The Galician noble was informed that he could do equal penance for his sins by fighting against the Saracens on the southern frontier, something he did with great distinction until his death in battle in 1143.[87]  In time, this message appears to have got through.  Partly, perhaps, because of the general disillusionment that set in after the fiasco of the Second Crusade in 1148, but more especially because of the quickening tempo of campaigning in al-Andalus during the latter part of the reign of Alfonso VII, we hear of few lay nobles travelling to the Holy Land after c.1150.[88]

            The second half of the twelfth century was to witness what has been dubbed the ‘institutionalization’ of the struggle against Islam in Spain, as the brunt of the fighting on the frontier with al-Andalus came to be borne by local military orders, notably those of Calatrava (founded 1158), Santiago (1170) and San Julián de Pereiro, later known as the Order of Alcántara, (prior to 1176).[89]  Lay nobles were enthusiastic patrons of the new military confraternities. One of the most generous among them was Count Pedro Manrique de Lara, who made no fewer than four munificent donations to the Knights of Calatrava between 1183 and 1189.[90]  And members of the nobility were also prominent amongst the ranks of those who joined the new Orders.  It was, for example, a Castilian knight Pedro Fernández who founded the Order of Santiago in 1170, while the Galician Count Rodrigo Alvarez was the impetus behind the ill-fated Order of Mountjoy that was established shortly afterwards.[91]  However, joining a military order called for particular qualities of dedication and self-sacrifice.  Although there were those among the Leonese-Castilian aristocracy who were prepared to renounce all of their worldly goods in order to carry on the fight against Islam, most nobles were doubtless quite happy to go along with the prevailing view that a willingness to wage war on the enemies of Christendom and the perennial quest for wealth and glory were far from incompatible activities.



End Notes

[1] Colección documental del archivo de la catedral de León (775-1230), v, ed. J. M. Fernández Catón (León, 1990), 90-3.

[2] Crónica del obispo Don Pelayo, ed. B. Sánchez Alonso (Madrid, 1924), 79-88.

[3] ‘Hoc signum nichil aliut protendit nisi luctus et tribulaciones que post mortem predicti regis euenerunt Hispanie; ideo plorauerunt lapides et manauerunt aquam’: Crónica de Pelayo, 85-6.

[4] See B. F. Reilly, The kingdom of León-Castilla under Queen Urraca 1109-1126 (Princeton, 1982); Crónicas anónimas de Sahagún, ed. A. Ubieto Arteta (Zaragoza, 1987), 26-129.

[5] Colección diplomática del monasterio de Sahagún (857-1300), iv, ed. J. A. Fernández Flórez (León, 1991), 135-7.

[6] ‘Predictam ecclesiam Legionis post mortem beate recordationis regis scilicet domni Adefonsi, interius exteriusque depredatam fuisse, multasque iniurias et calamitates, a terrigenis, et ab extraneis pertulisse, ac canonicam eiusdem ecclesie propter multos infelices euentus propterque suarum rerum amissionem, et proximorum neglectionem ad summam inopiam deuenisse, ac desolatam, et derelictam extitisse, omnibus fere Hesperie habitatoribus, sed maxime coepiscopis, clericis, et laicis, in circuitum conmorantibus est manifestum’: Colección documental de la catedral de León, v, 53-4.

[7] There is an excellent study of his career by R. A. Fletcher, St. James’s Catapult: the life and times of Diego Gelmírez of Santiago de Compostela (Oxford, 1984).

[8] Historia Compostellana, ed. E. Falque Rey, Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis, lxx (Turnhout, 1988), henceforth HC.  For a useful survey of recent research on the Historia, see HC, xiii-xxi. Cf. F. López Alsina, La ciudad de Santiago de Compostela en la alta Edad Media (Santiago de Compostela, 1988), 46-93.

[9] R. A. Fletcher, The episcopate in the kingdom of León in the twelfth century (Oxford, 1978), 27.

[10] HC, 191. On Count Pedro Froilaz and his kin, see Fletcher, St. James’s Catapult,  35-42; S. Barton, The aristocracy of twelfth-century León and Castile (Cambridge, 1997), 278-9.

[11] HC, 192-3.

[12] HC, 275-6.  On Fernando Pérez and Muño Peláez respectively, see Barton, The aristocracy, 241-2, 268.

[13] HC, 169-70, 429-30.

[14] HC, 447-8.

[15] HC, 16, 61-2, 460-1.

[16] HC, 155-60, 169-70, 429-30.

[17] ‘Quos omnes cum dominus Compostellanus in sua presentia congregatos uidisset, omnes Galletie terras crudeli tirannide oppressas et aggrauatas esse uidens et urticas scelerum falce iustitie extirpare uolens predicauit eis et consuluit et multis modis ammonuit, ut bene statuta per suas terras confirmarent et praua in melius corrigerent’: HC, 445-7.

[18] See H. E. J. Cowdrey, ‘The Peace and the Truce of God in the eleventh century’, Past and Present, xlvi (1970), 42-67; The Peace of God: social violence and religious response in France around the year 1000, ed. T. Head and R. Landen, (Ithaca, 1992).

[19] HC, 369-70.

[20] HC, 390, 60-1.

[21] HC, 424.

[22] HC, 421-2.

[23] See in this context B. H. Rosenwein and L. K. Little, ‘Social meaning in the monastic and mendicant spiritualities’, Past and Present, lxiii (1974), 4-32, at pp. 5-16; A. Murray, Reason and society in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1978), 331-7; cf. S. Airlie, ‘The anxiety of sanctity: St Gerald of Aurillac and his maker’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, xliii (1992), 372-95.

[24] Murray, Reason and society, 337.

[25] P. Van Luyn, ‘Les milites dans la France du XIe siècle: examen des sources narratives’, Le Moyen Age, lxxvii (1971), 5-51, 193-238, at pp. 220-24; Rosenwein and Little, ‘Social meaning’, 13-16.

[26] See, in particular, M. Bull, Knightly piety and the lay response to the First Crusade: the Limousin and Gascony, c.970-c.1130 (Oxford, 1993), chs. 4 and 6.  ‘Crusading motives, where religious, were solidly embedded in contemporary spiritual anxieties and aspirations’: C. J. Tyerman, ‘Were there any crusades in the twelfth century?’, English Historical Review, cx (1995), 553-77, at p. 555.

[27] Bull, Knightly piety, 20.

[28] Sigebert of Gembloux, ‘Chronica’, in MGH SS, vi, 367.  For the names of some of those who made their way to Jerusalem during this period, see, for example, Cartulario de Sant Cugat del Vallés, ed. J. Rius Serra, (Barcelona, 1945-7, 3 vols), iii,  26, 73-4, 81-3, 181; A. Ubieto Arteta, ‘La participación navarro-aragonesa en la primera cruzada’,Príncipe de Viana, viii (1947), 357-83; J. Mattoso, Ricos-homens, infanções e cavaleiros: a nobreza medieval portuguesa nos séculos XI e XII (Lisbon, 1985), 199.

[29] Colección diplomática del monasterio de Sahagún (857-1300), iii, ed. M. Herrero de la Fuente (León, 1988), 409-10.  On Count Fernando Díaz, see Barton, The aristocracy, 235.

[30] Colección diplomática de Sahagún, iii, 396-7, 403-4.

[31] HC, 253; Colección de documentos del archivo catedral de Orense, ed. M. Castro (Orense, 1922-3, 2 vols), i, 15-17; HC, 497; La colección diplomática de San Martín de Jubia, ed. S. Montero Díaz (Santiago de Compostela, 1935), 80-1.

[32] Madrid, Archivo Histórico Nacional, henceforth AHN, Clero, 527/6, 1126/6.

[33] Tyerman, ‘Were there any crusades?’, 567.

[34] ‘His ita peractis, consul Rodericus peregrinus factus est et abiit trans mare in Hierosolymis causa orationis …’: ‘Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris’, ed. A. Maya Sánchez, inChronica Hispana saeculi XII. Part I, Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis, lxxi (Turnhout, 1990), 109-248, henceforth CAI, Lib. ii, §30.  On Count Rodrigo González, see Barton, The aristocracy, 116 n. 80, 292-3.

[35] ‘Comes uero Rodericus Gundisalui, postquam osculatus est manum regis et gentibus et amicis suis ualere dixit, peregre profectus est Hierosilimis, ubi et commisit multa bella cum Sarracenis fecitque quoddam castellum ualde fortissimum a facie Ascalonie, quod dicitur Toron, et muniuit eum ualde militibus et peditibus et escis tradens illud militibus Templi’: CAI, i, §48.  The castle near Ascalon the chronicler refers to is that of Toron des Chevaliers, on which see D. Pringle, Secular buildings in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (Cambridge, 1997), no. 136, pp. 64-5.

[36] Papsturkunden in Spanien. I. Katalonien, ed. P. Kehr (Berlin, 1926), 287-8; translated by L. and J. Riley-Smith, The Crusades: idea and reality, 1095-1247 (London, 1981), 40.

[37] Urban II, ‘Epistolae et privilegia’, in PL, cli, 504-6; Bull, Knightly piety, 97.

[38] HC, 24-6.

[39] HC, 77-8.

[40] Colección diplomática de Pedro I de Aragón y Navarra, ed. A. Ubieto Arteta (Zaragoza, 1951), 113-15.

[41] Bull, Knightly piety,  97.

[42] J. Goñi Gaztambide, Historia de la bula de la cruzada en España (Vitoria, 1958), 68-70; Bull, Knightly piety, 108-10.  On the Zaragoza campaign, see also C. Stalls,Possessing the Land: Aragon’s expansion into Islam’s Ebro Frontier under Alfonso the Battler, 1104-1134 (Leyden, 1995), 35-40.

[43] Bullaire de Pape Calixte II, ed. U. Robert, (Paris, 1891, 2 vols), ii, 266-7; translated by L. and J. Riley-Smith, The Crusades, 73-4.

[44] ‘Postremo expeditionem super Mauros ad depressionem et confusionem paganismi et ad exaltationem atque edificationem Christianismi in eo concilio uiua uoce predicauit, laudauit et conmendauit et, omnibus in eam expeditionem accepta penitentia ituris, plenariam omnium suorum peccatorum absolutionem … concessit’: HC, 378.

[45] ‘Quemadmodum milites Christi, fideles Sancte Ecclesie filii iter Iherosolimitanum multo labore et multi sanguinis effusione aperuerunt, ita et nos Christi milites efficiamur et, eius hostibus debellatis pessimis Sarracenis, iter, quod per Hispanie partes breuius et multo minus laboriosum est, ad idem Domini sepulchrum ipsius subueniente gratia aperiamus’: HC, 379.

[46] For what follows, see B. F. Reilly, The Kingdom of León-Castilla under King Alfonso VII, 1126-1157 (Philadelphia, 1998).

[47] See Colección diplomática del monasterio de Sahagún (857-1300), iv, ed. J. A. Fernández Flórez (León, 1991), 110-11; HC, 396.

[48] CAI, i, §63, 67-8.  On the vassallage of the king of Navarre, see H. Grassotti, ‘Homenaje de García Ramírez a Alfonso VII’, Cuadernos de Historia de España xxxvii-xxxviii (1963), 318-29; rpr. in H. Grassotti, Miscelánea de estudios sobre instituciones castellano-leonesas (Bilbao, 1978), 311-22.

[49] CAI, i, §70.

[50] On the decline of Almoravid power, see J. Bosch Vilá, Los Almorávides (Tetuán, 1956; rpr. Granada, 1990), 193 et seq.

[51] CAI, i, §33-42; ii, §36-9, 50-61.

[52] CAI, ii, §64-6, 67-89, 92; Barton, The aristocracy, 122; Bosch Vilá, Los Almorávides, 292.

[53] On the Almería campaign, see Caffaro, De captione Almerie et Tortuose, ed. A.Ubieto Arteta (Valencia, 1973), 21-30; Reilly, Alfonso VII, 97-100.

[54] See De expugnatione Lyxbonensi, ed. C. W. David (New York, 1936).

[55] For details, see Reilly, Alfonso VII, 100-34.

[56] A charter of Alfonso VII issued on 24 August 1151 records that it had been drawn up ‘quando imperator iacebat super Gaen expectando naues Francorum que debebant uenire ad Sibiliam’: F. J. Hernández, Los cartularios de Toledo: catálogo documental (Madrid, 1985), no. 81.  The previous year, Bishop Gilbert of Lisbon is reported to have visited his native England in an attempt to recruit volunteers for the forthcoming campaign against Seville: John of Hexham, Historia, in Symeonis monachi opera omnia, ed. T. Arnold,  Rolls Series lxxv (London, 1885, 2 vols), ii, 324.

[57] On the rise and fall of the Almohad empire, see A. Huici Miranda, Historia política del imperio Almohade, (2 vols.,Tetuán, 1956-57); M. J. Viguera Molíns, Los reinos de taifas y las invasiones magrebíes (Al-Andalus del XI al XIII) (Madrid, 1992), 205-328.; H. Kennedy, Muslim Spain and Portugal. A political history of al-Andalus (London, 1996), 196-272.

[58] Crónica latina de los reyes de Castilla, ed. L. Charlo Brea (Cadiz, 1984), 6.

[59] supra, n. 34.

[60] ‘Prefatio de Almaria’, ed. J. Gil, in Chronica Hispana saeculi XII, 249-67, henceforth PA.

[61] For a summary of previous scholarship, see M. Pérez González, Cronica del Emperador Alfonso VII (León, 1997), 21-5; cf. the comments of P. A. Linehan in his review ofChronica Hispana saeculi XII. Part I, ed. E. Falque, J. Gil and A. Maya, in Journal of Theological Studies xliii (1992), 731-7.

[62] The witness-lists that were attached to the royal charters issued during the summer and autumn of 1147 fully corroborate the Poem’s description of the army that was assembled by Alfonso VII to attack Almería: Barton, The aristocracy, 178, 181.  It is worth noting in passing that Bishop Arnaldo of Astorga may be sighted among Alfonso VII’s entourage on 17 July 1147, when the emperor and his followers halted at Andújar by the Guadalquivir on their way to Almería: AHN, Códices, 1439B, f. 5r-v.  Moreover, the poet’s observation that the Asturian magnate Pedro Alfonso was not invested with comital rank until after the Almería campaign was over is also borne out by contemporary documentation: PA, vv. 126-32; Barton, The aristocracy, 273 n. 6.

[63] CAI, i, §19-21, 43-5.

[64] CAI, i, §75, 78, 81.

[65] ‘Incipit liber secundus historie Adefonsi Imperatoris. De dissensionibus et preliis que habuit ipse et Toletani principes et duces Extremature cum rege Ali et cum filio suo Texufino et cum ceteris regibus et principibus Moabitarum et Agarenorum’: CAI, ii, p. 195.

[66] CAI, ii, §7, 20.

[67] CAI, i, §33,72; ii, §107-8.

[68] CAI, i, §36-40; ii, §36, 72-9, 82, 92.

[69] CAI, ii, §17, 46, 48-9, 67-74, 76-9, 81, 83-91.

[70] CAI, ii, §40-4.

[71] CAI, ii, §27-9; i, §38.

[72] CAI, i, §2, 16, 75.

[73] ‘Extitit et testis Maurorum pessima pestis,

Quos maris aut estus non protegit aut sua tellus,

Nec possunt iusum mergi uel ad ethera sursum

Suspendi, uita scelerata fuit quia uicta.

Non cognouere Dominum, merito periere.

Ista creatura merito fuerat peritura:

Cum colunt Baalim, Baalim non liberat illos’: PA, vv. 21-7.

[74] PA, vv. 58, 164, 355.

[75] PA, vv. 38-53, 374-82.

[76] The nobles named are, in order of appearance, Count Fernando Pérez de Traba, Count Ramiro Froilaz, Pedro Alfonso, Count Ponce de Cabrera, Fernando Yáñez, Alvaro Rodríguez, Martín Fernández de Hita, Count Armengol VI of Urgel, Gutierre Fernández de Castro and Count Manrique Pérez de Lara.

[77] PA, vv. 100-13.

[78] PA, vv. 176-98.

[79] PA, vv. 217-45.

[80] Colección diplomática do mosteiro cisterciense de Santa María de Oseira (Ourense) (1025-1310), ed. M. Romaní Martínez (Santiago de Compostela, 1989, 2 vols), i, 18-20.

[81] Hernández, Los cartularios de Toledo, nos. 47n, 53, 56, 74, 91. On the career of Fernando Yáñez, see Barton, The aristocracy, 36-7, 175-8, 316-17; Reilly, Alfonso VII, 188-9.

[82] See, for example, A. MacKay, Spain in the Middle Ages: from frontier to empire, 1000-1500 (London, 1977), 26-35.  On the introduction of crusading ideology into Spain, see R.A. Fletcher, ‘Reconquest and crusade in Spain c.1050-1150’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, xxxvii (1987), 31-47; Bull, Knightly piety, 96-114.

[83] On the career and campaigns of Alfonso I, see J. M. Lacarra, Alfonso el Batallador (Zaragoza, 1978), and Stalls, Possessing the Landpassim.

[84] Documentos para el estudio de la reconquista y repoblación del valle del Ebro, ed. J. M. Lacarra (Zaragoza, 1982-5, 2 vols), i, 182-4.

[85] G. Constable, ‘The Second Crusade as seen by contemporaries’, Traditio ix (1953), 213-79, at p. 226.

[86] ‘Le “Vers del lavador” de Marcabru: édition critique, traduction et commentaire’, ed. E.J. Hathaway and P.T. Ricketts, Revue des Langues Romanes lxxvii (1966), 1-11. Cf. R. Harvey, ‘Marcabru and the Spanish Lavador’, Forum for Modern Language Studies xxii (1986), 123-44; and L. Kendrick, ‘Jongleur as propagandist: the ecclesiastical politics of Marcabru’s poetry’, in Cultures of power: lordship, status and process in twelfth-century Europe, ed. T. N. Bisson (Philadelphia, 1995), 259-86, at pp. 275-8.  On the career of Marcabru, see P. Boissonade, ‘Les personnages et les événements d’Allemagne, de France et d’Espagne dans l’oeuvre de Marcabru (1129-1150)’, Romania, xlviii (1922), 207-42.

[87] CAI, ii, §90.

[88] For three exceptions, see AHN, Códices, 1439B, f. 23v;  Colección documental de la catedral de León, v, 326-7; Tumbos del monasterio de Sobrado de los Monjes, ed. P. Loscertales de García de Valdeavellano (Madrid, 1976, 2 vols), i, 434-5.  On the remarkable case of Diego López de Haro, who resolved to go on crusade to the East but then had second thoughts and sought papal dispensation in 1195 to free him from his vow, see Colección diplomática medieval de La Rioja, ed. I. Rodríguez de Lama (Logroño, 1976-92, 4 vols), iii, 147-8.

[89] D. W. Lomax, The Reconquest of Spain (London, 1978), 109; A. J. Forey, ‘The military orders and the Spanish reconquest in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries’, Traditio, xl (1984), 197-234.

[90] L. Salazar y Castro, Pruebas de la historia de la Casa de Lara (Madrid, 1694), 11, 15-18.  On Count Pedro Manrique, see Barton, The aristocracy, 282-3.

[91] See J. M. Canal Sánchez-Pagín, ‘Don Pedro Fernández, primer maestre de la orden militar de Santiago: su familia, su vida’, Anuario de Estudios Medievales, xiv (1984), 33-71; and, by the same author, ‘El conde don Rodrigo Alvarez de Sarria, fundador de la orden militar de Monte Gaudio’, Compostellanum, xxviii (1983), 373-97; A. J. Forey, ‘The Order of Mountjoy’, Speculum, xlvi (1971), 250-66.

This article was first published in Nottingham Medieval Studies vol. 44 (2000).  We thank Simon Barton and the Center for Medieval Studies, University of Nottingham, for giving us permission to republish this article.

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