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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 407

at preventing Alfonso VII of Leon-Castile's exercise of authority over Portugal,
to pursue the reconquest. 
 By 1135, after fifty years of warfare against the Murãbits and their
Hispano-Moslem auxiliaries, it can be seen that in the western and eastern
halves of the peninsula the reconquest had so far followed a course quite
the reverse of that between Ferdinand I's reign and the fall of Toledo. In
the west, the frontier line had changed little from where it lay at Alfonso
VI's death: in Portugal it still ran along the Mondego, in Leon it clung
closely to the central sierras, and only in Castile, between Talavera and
Toledo, did it yet extend below the southern edge of the Tagus basin. By
contrast, in the once-diminutive eastern sectors notable progress had been
registered: the Moorish kingdom of Saragossa, with its incomparable capital,
had been won; great tracts on both sides of the middle Ebro were now in Aragon
ese-Navarrese possession; and the Catalans had marched from the Liobregat
to the Francoli. Now the picture was about to change again into one of vigorous
advance all across the peninsula from sea to sea, in part because of rapid
Murabit decline in Africa and therefore in Spain, in part by reason of the
emergence in Christian Iberia of new political and military leadership that
would take prompt advantage of the enemy's growing weakness. 
 At Alfonso the Warrior's death in 1134 Navarre again became an independent
kingdom, but cut off by its more powerful neighbors from direct contact with
the Moslem frontier, it thenceforth exer cised decreasing influence upon
the reconquest. Aragon, after Ra miro II's brief reign (1134—1137),
joined with Raymond Berenguer IV's Barcelonese county to establish the powerful
federation known as the Crown of Aragon. Alfonso VII, who had ruled Leon-Castile
since his mother Urraca's death in 1126, having been formally crowned emperor
in 1135, and protected on both his flanks by the peace treaties of Tuy with
Afonso Henriques (1137) and of Carrion with Raymond Berenguer IV (1140),
could turn his energies and those of his subjects back to the pursuit of
the old imperial objective of the liberation of Spain. In Portugal also count
Afonso, so soon to be a king, turned south toward the great prizes awaiting
him on the Tagus and beyond. 
 All this helps explain why by 1140 there developed an uncoördi nated
but simultaneous three-pronged Portuguese, Leonese-Castilian, and Aragonese-Catalan
offensive. In Portugal, as a preliminary, count Afonso Henriques began construction
in 1135 of a powerful new base at Leiria, below Coimbra, which attracted
and survived deter mined Moorish attacks in 1137 and 1140. At the same time

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