The Eleventh Century Reversal Causes and Consequences

The eleventh century, the most critical and significant of the Spanish middle ages, witnessed a change of sign in the peninsular balance of [47] power. After the death of al-Mansur, the Caliphate of Córdoba, still the strongest power in Europe, collapsed in ruins in a matter of years. After a period of struggle and shifting power relations (the fitna or anarchy of 1008-1031) the unitary Islamic state was replaced by a shifting constellation of two dozen or so small states, ruled by the so-called Party Kings (mulúk al- tawá'ij).(50)

The Christian countries were then able to take quick advantage of the fragmentation of Islamic power, by first establishing their suzerainty over the Party Kings by exacting tribute and then by renewing the conquest of Islamic territory. In the central and eastern regions the movement began in 1045, when

García de Nájera, king of Navarre, captured Calahorra, starting a penetration of the Ebro Valley, and ended with the capture of Tortosa (1148) and Lérida (1149) by the count of Barcelona, Ramón Berenguer. In the west, significant advances were made by Alfonso VI of Castile, beginning with the seizure of Coria in I079 and culminating in the capture of Toledo, the first major Islamic town to fall, in 1085. Here the Castilians were halted by the Almoravid invasion, but movement on the western coast continued, culminating in the capture of Santarem and Lisbon by Alfonso Henriques of Portugal in 1147.

The Taifa kings found themselves forced, in desperation, to call for help from the major power in the Magrib, the Almoravids, Berber camel nomads of the Sanhaja confederation who had extended their control over most of what is now Morocco during the 1080's. After the fall of Toledo, al-Mu'tamid of Seville in concert with other Taifa rulers invited Yusuf ibn Tashufin to cross the straits and save them from the Christian peril. In the late summer of 1086 the Almoravids met Alfonso VI's army at Sagrajas, near Badajoz, and inflicted a stunning defeat upon the Christians. Yusuf returned to North Africa, but when the Andalusis were unable to follow up on their victory, he returned in force, determined to remove from power the elites that had been unable to mobilize Islamic forces. Between 1090 and 1102,when Valencia, which Rodrigo Diaz "El Cid" had ruled as an autonomous principality, was captured, the Almoravids established control of all al-Andalus, converting it into a province of their Magribi empire.

The Almoravids were able to stabilize the situation for only two decades, their decline becoming evident when Alfonso I of Aragon captured Zaragoza, in the heartland of the middle Ebro Valley in 1118. Increasing pressure by Alfonso I and Alfonso VII of Castile exacerbated the [48] disaffection of the Andalusi masses with their Berber overlords, leading to a series of popular rebellions in 1144-1145 which ended Almoravid rule in Spain. Now, however, the Muslims were as fragmented as before, regional centers coalescing into a new constellation of seventeen Taifas. The cycle then repeated itself as the disarray of these kingdoms invited a new round of Christian victories (sieges of Córdoba and Almería, 1146-1147) which in turn led to the invasion of a new Berber dynasty, the Almohads, in 1171. Once again there was a great Muslim victory, when Abu Yusuf Ya'qub defeated Alfonso VIII of Castile in Alarcos, on the Córdoba-Toledo road in July 1195, and once again the battle wrought no change in the balance of power. Instead, the Christians were incited to regroup, to combine their forces, and finally to defeat the Almohads decisively at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212), near Bailén in northern Andalusia, the same spot where Scipio had defeated the Carthaginians more than a millennium before.

The stage was now set for the final stage of the conquest. In the west, Alfonso IX of León conquered Badajoz in 1230, and Portuguese victories in the lower Guadiana basin and the Algarve followed. Under Ferdinand III the Castilians occupied the heartland of al-Andalus, taking Córdoba in 1236, Jaén in 1246, and Seville in 1248. In the east, James I of Aragón had captured the Balearic Islands in 1229 and Valencia in 1238. Rights to the conquest of Murcia had been the subject of three distinct negotiations between the crowns of Castile and Aragón (Pacts of Tudilén, 1157; Cazola, 1179; and Almizra, 1244). Pursuant to treaty arrangements, Ferdinand's son Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, garrisoned Murcia in 1243, completing the submission of Lorca, Mula, and Cartagena the following year. After a rebellion in 1264, Alfonso had to call upon his father-in-law James I of Aragón to subdue the territory a second time. The result was that the kingdom of Murcia, although remaining within the Crown of Castile, was to become culturally hybrid.

Our analysis of Andalusi and Spanish Christian society ends when the organization of the conquered territories by the Christians is completed and patterns of adjustment between conquerors and conquered have been established. At this point, in the last quarter of the thirteenth century, we can say that the situations and processes that lent tonality to Iberian history in the high middle ages were completed and, although confrontation with the Muslims of Granada continued until 1492 and substantial numbers of Muslims remained behind to continue [49] interacting with Christians, the dynamics of Spanish society of the later middle ages were the result of quite different social phenomena.

Yet many of the elements which came to characterize that Spanish society followed directly from the reversal of the eleventh century. In the first place, the economic system of the Islamic imperium was severely disrupted by nomadic invasions. Tunisia, for example, which had been the major entrepot for Andalusi trade with the East was effectively cut off by the Hilali invasions. Iberian merchants now traded directly with Egypt, enduring increasing competition from Genoan and Pisan traders, who were the direct beneficiaries of the Tunisians'

loss of intermediary status. But eastern trade routes had also been disrupted by Mongol and Turkish warriors, and the fragile economy of the Islamic world, dependent upon a complex system of long-distance trade routes for the supply of raw materials and gold which underwrote the urban affluence of the Islamic high middle ages, was broken, initiating a long period of decline.(51)

The Berber invasions had paradoxical results. They made communication between Islamic Spain and the East more difficult and tended to draw al-Andalus in its waning years into a Magribi orbit. Heightened intolerance, the result of increasing Christian pressure on a now fully Islamized society, intensified the cultural isolation of al-Andalus (note the movement of Jews to the Islamic east or the Christian north, the practical disappearance of Christian minorities, and the rise of popular religious expressions with xenophobic overtones). Muslim intolerance was matched by the hardening of Christian attitudes,(52) as the movement of conquest gained force. Curiously, the general economic dislocation did not much affect the Iberian countries, as both Berber dynasties retained control of the Sudanese gold routes. The Almoravids and Almohads coined gold pieces of high value, which were copied by the Christians (e.g., the gold morabetinos of Alfonso VIII). In essence, this gold, when paid in tribute or captured in booty (the entire Almohad treasury was said to have been captured at Las Navas) fueled the Christian military effort.

At the same time as al-Andalus was moving into a markedly Moroccan cultural orbit, French influences made themselves felt in the Christian kingdoms. During the eleventh century the towns along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela became foci for the concentration and radiation of elements of French culture. As the Cluniac reform spread to [50] Christian Spain and the ecclesiastical hierarchy became permeated by French clerics, the cultural shift became obvious. Visigothic writing was replaced by the French style, inducing a break in traditional cultural links with the Visigothic-Mozarabic cultural tradition, as the codices written in the old hand became increasingly difficult to read. Two of the prime outward symbols of French influence were the substitution of the Mozarabic liturgy by the Roman rite and the diffusion of Romanesque art and architecture.(53)

The eleventh century also witnessed an economic turn-around in the Christian kingdoms. Urbanization, fueled by Sudanese gold and the international trading currents flowing along the road to Santiago, as well as by the opening of the western Mediterranean to Christian shipping, was in evidence everywhere, and with it the diffusion of commercial methods and craft techniques by the settling of foreigners (Andalusi Jews and Frenchmen -- francos). The French also were agents of the diffusion of feudal institutions and styles that had hitherto been underdeveloped in Spain. In part, this movement of feudalization was encouraged by the growing mastery of iron techniques and subsequent improvements in the quality of Spanish arms and tack.(54) The popular cavalries of the early phases of the frontier warfare tended in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries to cede in importance to more professionalized units (the military orders).

We have seen, in this rapid overview of the chronology of events in Spain from the eighth through the thirteenth centuries, that neither of the societies discussed developed in isolation, either from each other or from the larger world system or regional subsystems in which they found themselves embedded. The specific contours produced by these molding influences are the subject of the analytical chapters that follow.

Notes for Chapter 1

1. This section is based upon Philip Grierson, "Commerce in the Dark Ages: A Critique of the Evidence," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, 9 (1959), 123-140; Denys Hay, Europe: The Emergence of an Idea (New York: Harper and Row, 1966); Archibald R. Lewis, Naval Power and Trade in the Mediterranean, A.D. 500-1100 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951); Lombard, Espaces et réseaux du haut moyen âge; and Andrew M. Watson, "Back to Gold and Silver," The Economic History Review, 2nd series, 20 (1967), 1-34.

2. On the Islamic world as a medium of diffusion, see Andrew M. Watson, "The Arab Agricultural Revolution and its Diffusion, 700-1100," Journal of Economic History, 34 (1974), 19-23; see also Arnold Toynbee's remarks on the cultural conductivity of nomadism, A Study of History, 10 vols. (London: Oxford University Press, 1934-1964), III: 391-394.

3. One of the few to stress the Roman heritage is Harold Livermore, The Originsof Spain and Portugal (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1971), p. 302, where he describes the Islamic Empire, in its early stages at least, as a neoRoman system.

4. On Arabic response to Roman hydraulic monuments, see Lucie Bolens, "L'Eau et l'irrigation d'après les traités d'agronomie andalous au moyen-âge (Xle-XlIe siècles)," Options Méditerranéennes, 16 (December 1972), p. 77; Glick, Irrigation and Society in Medieval Valencia, p. 196; al-Himyarî, La péninsule ibérique au moyen-âge, ed. and trans. E. Lévi-Provençal (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1938), p. 153; and Norman Smith, Man and Water: A History of Hydro-Technology (New York: Scribner's, 1975), p. 22. On the plundering of building stones by nomads, see ibn Khaldûn, The Muqaddimah: 4n Introduction to History, ed. and trans. Franz Rosenthal, 3 vols. (New York: Pantheon, 1958), I: 303.

5. al-Mâwardî, Les statuts gouvernementaux, trans. E. Fagnan (Algiers: Adolphe Jourdan, 1915), p. 382.

6. On the place of Central Asia and the "focality" of the Islamic world in the process of technological diffusion, see Joseph Needham, "Central Asia and the History of Science and Technology," Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society, 36 (1949), 135-145; and idem, Science and Civilisation in China, vol. I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), especially p. 220. On Islam as an "intermediate" society, see S. D. Goitein, Studies in Islamic History and Institutions (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1966), pp. 59-60. On the cultural role of Persia, see Maurice Lombard Espaces et réseaux du haut moyen âge, p. 6o, and idem, L'Islam dans sa premièregrandeur (Paris: Flammarion, 1971), p. 105.

7. Needham, "Central Asia." For a summary of the nature of diffusion from a geographical perspective, see Peter Gould, Spatial Diiffusion, Commission on College Geography of the Association of American Geographers Resource Paper No. 4 (Washington, D.C., 1969); for an anthropological approach, see, for example, George M. Foster, Culture and Conquest (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1960), pp. 10-20.

8. Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, trans. Siân Reynolds, 2 vols. (New York: Harper and Row, 1972-1973), I: 282.

9. Siete Partidas, I.6.54; Gonzalo Menéndez Pidal, Los caminos en la historia de España (Madrid: Ediciones Cultura Hispánica, 1951), p. 57 (on the sestaferia, Friday, corvée in Asturias).

10. Albert C. Leighton, Transport and Communication in Early Medieval Europe (Newton Abbot: David and Charles, 1972), p. 57.

11. Jacinto Bosch Vilá, Historia de Albarracín y su sierra, Martin Almagro, ed. Vol.

11. Albarracín musulmana (Teruel: Instituto de Estudios Turolenses, 1959), p. 21 (see also ibid., p. 34, on the replacement of roads by rivers as arteries of communication where no Roman roads survived); Manuel González Garcia, Salamanca: La repoblaàén y la ciudad en la baia edad media (Salamanca: Centro de Estudios Salmantinos, 1973), p. 58; for Roman roads and bridges in a rural valley near León, see Justiniano Rodriguez Fernández, El monasterio de Ardón (León: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1964), p. 177; on the use of Roman roads by both Muslims and Christians, see Sánchez-Albornoz, Estampas de la vida en León hace mil años, 3rd ed. (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1934), p. 100 n. 88; p. 130 n. 4.

12. Lombard, Espaces et réseaux du haut moyen âge, p.81; José Angel Garcia de Cortázar, El dominio del monasterio de San Millán de la Cogolla (siglos X a XIII) (Salamanca: Universidad de Salamanca, 1969), pp. 151-152.

13. G. Menéndez Pidal, Los caminos en la historia de España, p. 41: "karro per que locum que sivit ambulare, si non abuerit kerrera directa, licentiam damus pergat per defesas per terras laboratas, per vineas, et limites frangere per via discurrente ad karro vel ad equs et mulas cargatas ambulare."

14. Richard W Bulliet, The Camel and the Wheel (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1975), p. 110. Bulliet makes no reference to climatic change; but if, as seems to have been the case especially in North Africa, the climate was becoming more arid from the third through the seventh century, such a shift would have reinforced the competitive edge of the camel over the cart in transport.

15. Sánchez-Albornoz, Despoblación y repoblación del valle del Duero (Buenos Aires:Instituto de Historia de España, 1966), p. 151 n. 57; Bulliet, The Camel andthe Wheel, pp. 229-230.

16. S. D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society, 2 vols. to date (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967- ), I: 275-276.

17. On structural features of medieval communications, see Lombard, Espaces et réseaux du haut moyen âge, pP. 50; Braudel, Mediterranean, I: 357, 360, 363. On specific traveling times, see G. Menéndez Pidal, Los caminos en la historia de España, p. 45; E. Lévi-Provenqal, España musulmana hasta la caida del califato de Córdoba. Instituciones y vida social e intelectual, trans. Emilio Garcia Gómez (vol. 5 of Historia de España directed by Ramon Menéndez Pidal) (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe,1957), p. 189.

18. G. Menéndez Pidal, Los caminos en la historia de España, pP. 46 (citing Poema de mio Cid, verses 1448-1609); Luis Vázquez de Parga, José M. Lacarra and Juan Uría Riu, Lasper-egrinaciones a Santiago de Compostela, 3 vols. (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1948-49), I: 61. The issue of the permeability of the frontier is also discussed in Chapter 2, section 6, below.

19. On the coordination of land and sea travel, see Goitein, Studies in Islamic History, p. 303; idem, Mediterranean Society, I: 276-277, 317. On the acceleration of pace during summer, see Braudel, Mediterranean, I: 256.

20. Goitein, Studies in Islamic History, pp. 301; also, idem, Mediterranean Society, I: 275.

21. Goitein, Mediterranean Society, I: 302, 318, 401; idem, Letters of MedievaJewish Traders (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), p. 55 n. 17; Mahmûd 'Ali Makkî, Ensayo sobre las aportaciones orientales en la España musulmana y su influencia en la fformación de la cultura hispano-árabe (Madrid: Instituto de Estudios Islámicos, 1968), p. 24.

22. Goitein, Studies in Islamic History, p. 299; Mediterranean Society, I: 43, 60, 69, 275, 344.

23. See Lombard, Espaces et réseaux du haut moyen âge, p. 194.

24. E. A. Thompson, The Goths in Spain (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), especially pp. 216-217.

25. Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz, "Repoblación del reino asturleonés. Proceso, dinámica y proyecciones," Cuadernos de Historia de España, 53-54 (1971), 406 n. 17.

26. Livermore , Origins of Spain and Portugal, p. 213.

2l. A brief summary of what little is known of Visigothic economy is found in Jaime Vicens Vives, An Economic History of Spain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), pp. 83-92.

28. Ignacio Olagüe, La revolución islámica en occidente (Barcelona: Guadarrama, l9l4), pp. l3-ll2, 224-282. One index of aridity in North Africa is the extension of qanat foggara) systems in Tunisia from the seventh through ninth centuries; see Olagüe, Revolución islámica, p. 91, and Jaime Oliver Asin, Historia del nombre "Madrid" (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1959), pp. 359-36l.

29. Leopoldo Torres Balbás, Ciudades hispano-musulmanas, Henri Terrasse, ed., 2 vols. (Madrid: Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, n.d.), I: 2l n. 38, 32-34.

30. Manuel Diaz y Diaz, "Metales y mineria en la época visigótica, a través de Isidoro de Sevilla," in La mineria hispana e iberoamericana, l vols. (León: Catedra de San Isidoro, l9l0), I: 26l-2l4.

31. José Maria Lacarra, "Panorama de la historia urbana en la peninsula ibérica desde el siglo V al X," in Estudios de alta edad media española (Valencia: Anubar, l9ll), p. 52; Glick, Irrigation and Society in Medieval Valencia, p. 195.

32. Antonio Ubieto Arteta, Ciclos económicos en la edad media española (Valencia: Anubar, 1969), pp. 19-20; Diaz y Diaz, "Metales y mineria,"passim. On Isidore generally, see William D. Sharpe, "Isidore of Seville," Dictionary of Scientific Biography (hereafter cited DSB), 13 vols. to date (New York: Scribner's, l9l0) l: 2l-28.

33. Toynbee, Study of History, III: 323; J. N. Hillgarth, "Visigothic Spain and EarlyChristian Ireland," Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section C, 62 (l962),ll0.

34. See the full account of the received view by Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz, Orígenes de la nación española. El reino de Asturias, 3 vols. (Oviedo: Instituto de Estudios Asturianos, l9l2-l9l5), I: 366-392, 413-458.

35. R. Dozy, Recherches sur I'histoire et la littirature des árabes d'Espagnependant le Moyen Age, 2 vols. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1881), I: especially 36-38; and Olagüe, Revolución islámica en occidente, p. 322 (invasion of Chaldeans with horses, from Habbakuk) and 334 (three and a half years of duration of conquest, from Daniel).

36. On Count Julian, see Livermore, Origins of Spain and Portugal, p. 281. According to Vallvé, "Algunos problemas de la invasión musulmana," p. 365, Julian was also a Goth, the governor of Cádiz. Sánchez-Albornoz, holding to the generally accepted view, follows ibn Khaldun in supposing Julian to have been a Christian Berber, a fidelis of Witiza and emir of the Gumara tribe; "Frente a unas páginas erróneas sobre la conquista de España por los musmulmanes," Cuadernos de Historia de España, 49-50 (1969), 306-307 n. 43. On Tarif, see Vallvé, "Algunos problemas," p. 365; tarifa in Arabic means point, utmost point (an obvious allusion to its location on the straits of Gibraltar). On Tariq, ibid., p. 356. Olagüe, Revolución islámica en occidente, pp. 274-275, believes Tariq to have been a Goth, governor (in name at least) of Tingitania. For fanciful views of Tariq and Julian as Jews, see references in Norman Roth, "The Jews and the Muslim Conquest of Spain," JewishSocialStudies, 38 (1976), 146, 148.

37. Vallvé, "Agunos problemas de la invasión musulmana," p. 367. The basis for Vallvé's critique, that the Arab chroniclers took place names of Cádiz Bay from classical sources and applied them mistakenly to the Bay of Algeciras, is convincing and must be better answered than by Sánchez-Albornoz's hysterical reply, cited in n.36, above.

38. See Olagüe, Revolución islámica en occidente, pp. 22-25: 10,000 war horses would have consumed 400,000 liters of water daily. If the number is reasonably accurate, it would have made sense to let the enemy advance rather than attempt a ride to Seville in mid-July.

39. The material on the curve of conversion comes from conversations with Richard W Bulliet and from his book Conversion to Islam in the Medieval Period: An Essay in Quantitative History, which I read in manuscript with his generous permission. For his method of analysis, see his chapter "Conversion to Islam and the Emergence of a Muslim Society in Iran," in A. Atmore and N. Levtzion, eds., Conversion to Islam: A Comparative Study of Islami%ation (in press). Bulliet's conversion curves are based on statistical analysis of names of Islamic jurisprudents compiled in biographical dictionaries, or tabaqát. He first derives a "curve of Muslim names," based on the tendency of converts to Islam to adopt for their children names readily identifiable as Muslim, drawn from a restricted list of such names (Muhammad, Ahmad, 'Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husain). Results from this sample can be checked against a smaller sample of ancestors with nonMuslim, non-Arab names (e.g., an Andalusi faqih of the tenth century with a grandfather or great-grandfather named Lub -- Lope). This sample yields a "curve of actual conversion," and there is a two-generation offset (about seventy-five years) between the two curves. Figures 1 and 7 show curves of actual conversion. Bulliet's sample for al-Andalus is too small to be statistically significant; yet it corresponds precisely to curves for other Islamic societies (Figure 7). In geographical diffusion literature, the logistic curve is the normal curve of innovation adoption; see Gould, Spatial Diffusion, pp. 19-21.

41. Revolución islámica en occidente, pp. 251-253.

42. Makki, Aportaciones orientales, p. 53 (al-Samh's letter) and 41 (baladiyyün); veterans were also called al-'arab al-aqdamün -- "Old Arabs."

43. Ibid., pp. 170-172, listing five pro-'Abbasid uprisings between 755 and 781.

44. A. Barbero and M. Vigil, Sobre los orígenes soaales de la reconquista (Barcelona:Ariel, 1974), p. 82.

45. Ibid., p. 48 n. 72: ut nolint esse Romani. Diaz y Diaz, "Metales y mineria," p.267, notes that Isidore omitted Cantabria from his account of mineral resources, perhaps because he did not consider that region part of Hispania.

46. Olagüe, Revolución islámica en occidente, p. 286; Sánchez-Albornoz, Despoblacióny repoblación del valle del Duero, pp. 180-183.

47. Sánchez-Albornoz, Despoblacióny repoblación del valle del Duero, p. 125. Ibn al-Qutiyya mentions a barren zone lying between Christian and Islamic territory in the ninth century (ibid., p. 251).

48. José Angel Garcia de Cortázar, La época medieval (Historia de España Alfaguara, 11) (Madrid: Alianza, 1973), p. 130. Note that the conversion of the Basques, once thrown into contact with an intrusive Christian population, would also follow a logistic curve.

49. Sánchez-Albornoz, Despoblación y repoblación del valle del Duero, pp. 53 n. 23, 215.

50. The social dynamics of this breakdown and realignment of forces is discussed in Chapter 4 and the changing pattern of political organization in Chapter 6.

51. Lombard, L'Islam, p. 202; Goitein, Studies in Islamic History, p. 310; and idem, Mediterranean Society, I: 32.

52. The symmetry is noted by Juan Verner, Los musulmanes españoles (Barcelona: Sayma, 1961), p. 59.

53. See the discussion of stylistic influences in Chapter 9. For summaries of eleventh-century changes, see J. M. Lacarra, "La repoblación de las ciudades en el camino de Santiago: Su trascendencia social, cultural y económica," in Vázquez de Parga et al, Peregrinaciones a Santiago, I: 465; and Ubieto, Ciclos económicos, p. 123.

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