Authored and published in 1993 by Bernard Reilly, The Medieval Spains covers a wide range of topics that are not only relevant to teachers but also students in learning institutions around the world. The topics and chapters of this book are systematically organized and discussed in the context of medieval history. The author further adopts both thematic and chronological approaches in realizing his intended purpose. The book was published by Cambridge University Press, a reputable publisher in the history of academic publishing. The seven chapters of the book are detailed to serve as reference material in medieval discoveries and history.
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This essay reviews the fourth chapter of the book, which covers The Christian Reconquista and African Empire. To achieve this task, the author’s critical issues in the chapter have been synthesized in a concise way that gives clarity to the ideas and discoveries. Under this topic, different theories have been developed to enhance the in-depth understanding of the study topic. Some of the areas covered include but are not limited to the savaging of the al-Andalus, proliferation of Christian kingdoms, the assault of Murabit Iberia, early societal structures, and the culture of Iberian people during the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
Christian reconquest of Iberian Peninsula
According to Reilly, Reconquista was characterized by the military invasion that was led by Christian rules with the aim of capturing the Iberian Peninsula. However, it is essential to note that the conquest was mainly inclined against Muslims, also known as the Moors, from 718 to 1492. During this time, there was a significant change that took place, affecting population patterns and stability. In this chapter, Reilly is convinced that the battles of 711 led to the capture of some regions as the military war further contributed to Visigoth kingdoms’ end (Reilly 90).
As mentioned above, the Reconquista had immense effects, especially about societal structures and organization. Although military wars purely dominated the period, repopulation was a common phenomenon as most people got united based on specific aspects of their lives. In seeking safer places for human habitation, most Christian kings and leaders considered relocating to regions that had been abandoned to promote border security through a high population.
This caused repopulation in most regions as kings focused on their people’s security against any form of intrusion from external forces. Although several areas were viewed to have experienced repopulation, Reilly notes that the Douro, the Ebro valley, and the central part of Catalonia (Reilly 90).
According to Reilly, these shifts were geared towards gaining equilibrium between Islam and Christianity. As a result, society witnessed enormous reorganizations of people and society. The influx of displaced people from strained relationships also contributed towards the increase of people in some regions and the fall of population numbers in others. As mentioned above, the Duero Basin was among the pieces of land which were left because of war. As a result, the land attracted most peasant farmers who moved to the region to carry out farming activities. He further argues that some of the decisions taken were triggered by Asturian laws (Reilly 100).
One of these laws was allocating land to landless people who were expected to guard it as part of their property. However, clergymen, Asturian and Galician had an opportunity to send their surveyors together with peasants who may have received working approval.
As discussed in the chapter, people’s movement led to the feudalized regions like Portugal and Leon. On the contrary, Castile was only inhabited by very few peasant farmers because of the harsh climate that could not allow successful farming. Also, Castile dwellers were considered to be hopeless in Biscay. As a result, Castile was not complicated in management and was smoothly governed by a lone count. Despite this uniqueness, it had several free peasant farmers, mainly hailed from the same region (Reilly 90).
As society continued to be transformed, there were several changes in terms of the impact of repopulation. Many cities and towns acquired power and status as business and population continued to rise. It is worth noting that people who contributed to the population of a town had recognized privileges that were mainly documented charters, also known as fueros (Reilly 125). One of the most recognized signs of fueros was that it gave golden opportunities for people to evade the feudal system even though these privileges were mainly granted by the monarch. This means that most town councils were independent of the monarch.
In this chapter, Reilly also underscores the fact that the war against the Moors was closely associated with fighting Christianity. As a result, Iberia was fought by several orders that were given for military action. Some of the orders, including but not limited to Temple Crusades, Montesa, and Santiago. Lastly, this merging of Christians and Muslims was officially dropped by modern laws of ethics.
Reilly, Bernard. The Medieval Spains. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Print.