University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume III: The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

XII: The Spanish and Portuguese reconquest, 1095-1492,   pp. 396-456 PDF (13.3 MB)

Page 398

of moving towards national autonomy; the similarly linked monar chies of
Aragon and Navarre; and the foremost Catalan counties of Barcelona and Urgel.
The Leonese-Castilian sovereigns Ferdinand I (1035/1038—1065) and Alfonso
VI (1065/1072—1109) had at tempted to construct a pan-Iberian federation
of both Christian and Moslem states based upon the ancient doctrine that
the rulers of Leon, as authentic heirs of the Visigothic kings, were both
reges and imperatores Hispaniae (or Hispaniarum), entitled to exercise an
im perial hegemony over all other peninsular princes. 1 But this thesis met
with considerable opposition from the other Christian states, so that in
the year of Clermont it was plain that Christian unity would remain a precarious
ideal and that the reconquest, conceptually the liberation of the peninsula
from Islam but in practice much more a contest for immediate secular prizes,
would be fought by indepen dent, often hostile, powers. Nevertheless, despite
such disunity, Christian Iberia's increasing population and resources, maturing
polit ical, social, and economic institutions, tightening religious, cultural,
and commercial ties with trans-Pyrenean Europe, and growing con fidence that
the reconquest was no longer a mere struggle for survival—all created
strong pressures to gain lands and spoils, power, prestige, and satisfaction
of religious ideals, across the open frontier to the south. 
 Under Alfonso VI indeed, especially after Toledo's capitulation (1085),
the reconquest had seemed destined to a quick success, with the Moorish principalities
of al-Andalus (Moslem Spain) all being reduced to vassalage as the prelude
to complete absorption. Instead Iberian Christendom—and this is the
second fundamental change affecting the reconquest of the late eleventh century—was
to be drawn into a protracted conflict with the three successive North African
Berber empires of the Murãbits, the Muwahhids, and the Marinids. From
the start, the Murãbit intrusion of Yüsuf ibn-Tashfin (1061—1106),
commencing in 1086, set the pattern: replacement of weak, divided Hispano-Moslem
"Taifa" (from Arabic mulük at tawã'if) kingdoms by an aggressive
imperial power based on the opposite side of the Strait of Gibraltar and
possessing abundant manpower reserves in the fighting tribes of the Maghrib
and the Sahara. Insofar as this meant Africanization of al-Andalus and of
the Islamic counter-reconquest, it rekindled in the peninsula, under Mo roccan
leadership incarnating Murãbit reformist fervor, the ideal of the
holy war (jihãd) against the Christians; and, to the extent that 
1. R. Menendez Pidal, El Imperio hispanico y los Cinco Reinos (Madrid, 1950).

Go up to Top of Page