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Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / Volume I: The first hundred years

II: Conflict in the Mediterranean before the First Crusade,   pp. [30]-[79] PDF (10.8 MB)

Page 33

internal organization of his dominions to some degree, the counts of Galicia
were by no means fully subjected and this northwest corner of Spain remained
for generations a center for recurring revolt against hereditary succession
and monarchical control. With the relaxation of their hold on the northwest,
the Moslems established a frontier of firmly held places which may be traced
from Coimbra through Coria, Talavera, Toledo, and Guadalajara to Pamplona.
The last, however, was soon lost. This line left a rough square in the northwest
corner of the peninsula, bounded by the northern wall of the Tagus valley
below Talavera and following up the course of the river east ward and northward
from that point to rest on the Pyrenees or, in the ninth century, on the
boundaries of the Spanish March or its succession states. 
 The boundaries of Christian and Moslem tenure were not contiguous. Until
the tenth century the line of the Douro was the outermost objective of durable
Christian reconquest. Prior to the eleventh century, it was only temporarily
and under the most favorable conditions that the Christian princes of the
northwest were able to penetrate southeastern Castile to the Guadarrama mountains.
Between the two cultures lay a noman's-land, a desert, subject to repeated
and destructive raids from both sides. 
 At the death of Alfonso I almost all Spain except the rectangle in the northwest
corner was held in Moslem hands. Little progress was made toward the expansion
of this territory during the next century and a half. Nevertheless, the Asturian
monarchy showed its ability to survive internal dissension and attack from
without. On the slopes of the Pyrenees and in Catalonia, Carolingian intervention
forced back the Moslem frontier to some extent, and laid the foundations
for Navarre, Aragon, and Catalonia. 
 In the Asturias, Alfonso II, "the Chaste" (791—842), had to sustain
three devastating Moslem attacks which carried deep into his own territory.
He was, however, able to take advantage of the internal disorders under al-Hakam
I to raid Moslem territory as far as Lisbon. He undertook the restoration
of Braga in northern Portugal, and carried back from his raids numerous Christian
subjects of the emir. These were used in repopulating the devastated areas
of the frontier. He established his capital at Oviedo and undertook to improve
the internal organization of the state by reactivating Gothic law, which
had fallen into disuse. The first raids of the Northmen struck the 

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