Published in the 2004, Reconquest and crusade in medieval Spain, illustrates how the clash between Muslims and Christians in the Iberian Peninsula later became a crusade.
According to the author, Joseph F. O’Callaghan, the clash, which took place between the 12th and 13th centuries, was propagated by the papacy. As described in the book, popes supported those Christian warriors that were willing to participate in the war against Muslims by allowing them to enjoy benefits equal to those who went to the Holy Land.
In his analysis, O’Callaghan affirms that any study involving the history of crusaders must factor in the Mediterranean approach in order to include the famous Medieval Spain (O’Callaghan 22). This essay focuses on the book, by synthesizing a summation of chapter two of the author’s main ideas that helped or led to the Reconquest.
The author exposes these events in a chronological manner throughout the period before proceeding to other aspects of military, finance and the impact of crusading. Towards the end of the book, O’Callaghan analyses the later stages of Reconquest and the entire Crusade, covering the fall of Granada in the year 1492.
By the time of the Second Vatican Council of 1963, several crusading bulls were still being used as offering to Spanish. Despite the fact that the events described by O’Callaghan took place several centuries ago, there are events that constantly remind the world of the impact of these occurrences, which led to the Holy War, Crusades, and the birth of Jihad among other factors (O’Callaghan 34).
The second chapter of this book covers a period that is considered central and significant in unraveling the events that led to the Reconquest. In this chapter, the author intensively covers crusading, reconquering ideologies and pilgrimage activities. Importantly, most of these activities happened simultaneously with the dissolving of the Caliphate and the rising of the taifas within Peninsula (O’Callaghan 25).
These uprising groups only fought smaller Christian groups but also intensified war among themselves. Notably, this period also refers to the strengthening of the Cid campaigns, a time when it was highly unusual to witness groups and kingdoms merge forces without strongly considering religious and cultural affiliations of the ruler or the entire population.
In the understanding of these events, it is equally essential to underscore the fact that many historians began recording the chronicles of this period when materials that were being collected played a major role in cleansing religious infidels. This created a healthy atmosphere for the growth and establishment of religion during the entire period.
This therefore does not sound alarming by the fact that Camino de Santiago immensely facilitated access to Peninsula, a move that promoted crusading in later stages. According to the author, the move was made possible through the tracing of the French pathway, traversing Pyrenees via the northern region of the Peninsula and connecting with Galicia. Moreover, this major historic event took place simultaneously with crusading to the Holy Land.
In this second chapter of the book, Barbastro has been used to refer to a city that was found in the north eastern part of Zaragoza (O’Callaghan 37). The city is highly remembered during this period because it was besieged by French knights in the year 1064, coming from the Moors direction.
It is recorded as the first time in the history of the Reconquest that foreign Christian representatives confronted the Hispano-Arabs at the heart of Peninsula. This is thought to be the origin of the crusading as it extended to Al-Andalus and escalated due to Papa’s support that continued later as other events unfolded.
As discussed by the author in the chapter, the repossession of land in Spain, which was meant for the Pope, was an absolute infringement against Christian kingdoms. Importantly this encroachment marked the clashing point for Crusade ideologies and Reconquest.
In the understanding of these events as described by the author in this chapter, it is essential to note that whilst population and protection solely emanated from local kingdoms, the role of the Pope was to give lifetime forgiveness to people (O’Callaghan 45). As a result, it was not easy for smaller kingdoms that were found on the east coast to decide the side that they would back during the battle.
In addition, there was conflict that stemmed from competing groups, which found it difficult to agree on whether to crusade in Jerusalem or Iberia (O’Callaghan 47).
On the other hand, it was clear in the minds of rulers who believed that it was meaningless for people to crusade in a place far away from Spain when there were nearer crusading areas. Furthermore, it is of immense significance to affirm that there were crusades in other places like Lisbon, Zaragoza, Baleares, Tortosa and Almeria. Although all these are never referred to as crusades, it is sensible to consider them in order to realize a concise understanding of the Reconquest phenomenon.
From this summary, it is clear that there are several events that transpired before the ultimate eruption of the Reconquest. The understanding of these events is essential in developing a chronological flow for better understanding of this historical event among Christians and Muslims.
O’Callaghan, Joseph. Reconquest and crusade in medieval Spain. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. Print.