Subject: caballero knight as cruzado crusader militia
Culture: Iberian Catholic
Setting: Almohad war, Iberia 12-13thc
* Tallett & Trim eds. 2010 p34 (Kelly DeVries, "Warfare and the international state system," p27-49)
"For centuries, relations between the various Iberian kingdoms had been turbulent. While the medieval military history of Spain usually focuses on the reconquista of Muslim sultanates, it could as easily be perceived as a series of civil wars between Christian principalities, punctuated with periods of Christian-Muslim conflict."
Context (Event Photos, Period Sources)
* Nicolle ill. McBride 1988 p16-18
"The late 12th and 13th centuries were cultrually rich for the Christian kingdoms of Iberia. But it was a warlike era, not only between two faiths but also between Christian states as they squabbled over their spoils. The destruction, depopulation and agricultural decline of huge areas in what had been Muslim Andalus lasted well beyond the Middle Ages. [...]
"After 1148 the Iberian kingdoms got virtually no help from Europe, Crusading energies being channeled to the East. The Spaniards were left alone to cope with the problems of their own success. The major problems came after a great military breakthrough following victory over the Almohades at Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, yet they had begun much earlier. Conquered areas were not, of course, entirely abandoned. The great cities remained, with their sophisticated economic and political traditions. In New Castile new towns with new fuero charters sprang up. Here peones might still become caballeros if they could afford the equipment, while in Old Castile, society became more rigid. After Castile conquered the Andalusian heartland around Cordova, Seville and Murcia, even greater autonomy was given to military colonists. Cities like Cordova, Jaen and Baeza, which were to remain close to a war-torn frontier for another two centuries, established hermandad militias and leagues for mutual defence. These served not only against Muslim raids but also in the many Castilian civil wars."
* O'Callaghan 2003 p18-19
"In the twelfth century, ... given changing political conditions, the possibility of reconquest became very real and from that point on reconquest ideology fills the pages of the Christian chronicles. ... While an idea such as reconquest may not be tangible, it was nevertheless real in that it influenced the actions of Spanish kings and princes from the late eleventh century onward. ...
"Too often the reconquest has been presented in a monolithic, institutionalized way, without nuance or variation. On the contrary, it was a process unfolding in the context of the changing political, religious, social, and economic circumstances of each epoch. It was characterized by a slow and intermittent advance from one river frontier to another and was accompanied by the colonization or repopulation of occupied territory. ... "The reconquest has also been described as a crusade, although in a strict canonical sense crusades did not appear in Western Europe until the end of the eleventh century. Prior to that time northern Europeans had paid scant heed to peninsular events, but thereafter northern influences, including crusading ideology, permeated Spain in every way. In time the notion of crusading fueled traditionalist and nationalist fervor as generations of Spaniards were taught that for seven hundred years their ancestors almost singlehandedly had waged a crusade to hold back the Muslim hordes threatening to engulf Christian Europe."
* Harvey 1990 p9
"There did indeed take place an enormous change in attitudes between 1100 and 1300, and Christians in this period switch from the underdog mentality of the earlier Middle Ages to confidence in the rightness of their cause. Castilians and Aragonese alike possessed this confidence as they put into effect in the thirteenth century their plans to advance southwards. ... [B]y about 1250 Muslims were looking back on two centuries of catastrophic decline, retreat, and sinking population. Whereas Christians surely can hardly have believed in their good fortune."
* Bull 1993 p108
"Spain became a recognized crusading theatre quite gradually. It is unlikely that the peninsula could have been anything more than of peripheral concern to crusade strategists before the end of Bohemond of Taranto's crusade in the Balkans in 1108. The first direct evidence of assimilation by the papacy of the eastern and Spanish crusades comes in 1123, when Canon 10 of the First Lateran Council clarified the action which would be taken against those who were known to have fixed crosses to their clothing for either the iter to Jerusalem or that to Spain, but then had taken them off; in the same year Pope Calixtus II extended to Spain the same 'remission of sins' which he had offered to those who went out to defend the eastern church."
* O'Callaghan 2003 p130
"Both knights and footsoldiers used wooden or iron lances about six or seven feet long, and tipped with a long iron point. Footsoldiers also wielded a shorter javelin."
* Nicolle ill. McBride 1988 p20
"The mace was perhaps more of a symbol of rank than a real weapon ...."
* Ramon Lull's Book of Knighthood and Chivalry 2001 p67 (writing in 13thc Catalonia)
"The mace is given to the knights to signify strength and courage, for in likewise as a mace or pollaxe is strong against all arms and smites all parts, so force of strength in courage defends a knight from all vices, enforcing virtue and good customs by which knights maintain the order of chivalry in the honor which it is due and which pertains to it."
* O'Callaghan 2003 p129-130
"Knights ordinarily carried an iron sword, usually about three feet long, doublesided and with a hilt. The sword was primarily used for striking an enemy in the hope of cutting through his coat of mail, rather than piercing his body."
* O'Callaghan 2003 p130
"Shields or bucklers made of wood covered with leather or iron bands, were either round, or triangular, similar to a kite. [NOTE: The accompanying Figure 5 p131 shows heater shields rather than kite shields.] The coats of arms of kings and knights were painted on their shields. ...
"... A battle scene in the Cantiga 63 displays Christian knights wearing chain mail covered with surcoats, gloves, and bowled or square helmets shielding the entire face; their kite shields have distinctive markings such as a zig-zag pattern in black and white ...; they carry lances with triangular pennons and a red flag."
* Nicolle ill. McBride 1988 p43
"Christian warriors fought in many Muslim Iberian armies though Saragossa used them relatively rarely. In general Spanish troops carried French-style equipment though remaining lightly armoured compared to their northern neighbours. One very Spanish feature was, however, a series of helmets that protected much of the wearer's face. These predecessors of the great helm sometimes had an integral extension to the front of the helmet with eye-holes pierced through it. Others ... included a fixed visor riveted to the helmet rim."
* Puiggarí 1886 p105-106
"El armamento en todas los huestes, varió poco del ya conocido: cotas de malla, calzas de lo mismo, sobrequestas rodilleras y canijeras, alsbergos, perpuntes, almófar y cofia, yelmo de visera ó con barbote, guantes ó guanteletes, cotas y sobrevestas, ó velmezes blasonados, agudos acicates, escudos pendientes de tiracol, y grandes paveses para la infantería. La espada colgaba de un tahalí; las lanzas se adornaban con pendoncillos, y los caballos se defendían con lorigones de malla ó bardas de metal."
* Nicolle ill. McBride 1988 p19-20
"The role of Iberian urban militias continued ... to be more important, particularly in Castile. Such troops were present at the great victory of Las Navas de Tolosa, in the capture of Cordova in 1236, Valencia in 1238 and Seville in 1248. Militias along the frontier were also strengthened and reorganised in the late 12th and 13th centuries. Regulations concerning equipment became more specific: horses had to be of a minimum quality, caballeros had to have shields, lances, metal helmets, swords, mail hauberks and thigh defences. Certain troops such as standard-bearers must also have horse-armour. Other regulations dealt with the weaponry of infantry and mounted crossbowmen."
* Vestiduras Ricas 2005 p110-111
"En el Beato de San Adrés del Arroyo aparece representado un militar que viste un perpunte, prenda acolchada -- rellena de lana -- que se llevaba sobre la loriga para mayor proteccción. Este perpunte va cerrado con cordones en un costado y tiene el interés de mostrar el modelo militar en el que se inspiraron las sayas encordadas de los caballeros castellanos, tan insistentemente representadas en las miniaturas de los códices de Alfonso X el Sabio. En la historia de la indumentaria masculina la influencia del traje militar en el civil ha sido una constante y esta influencia ha determinado los cambios de moda más radicales."
* O'Callaghan 2003 p130
"Protective armor included the coat of mail, worn over a quilted jacket, and reaching the knees or even below; the helmet or iron cap, sometimes fitted with a nose guard, and worn over a cloth cap; and metal or leather braces protecting the arms and thighs. ... Body armor and arms varied greatly depending on the warrior's status. Magnates may have adorned their helmets with precious stones, as visual testimony of their triumphs.
"Several codices illustrate various types of weapons and protective gear. A twelfth-century miniature in Beatus's Commentary depicts soldiers on horseback and on foot, wearing conical iron caps and chain mail covering the body including the head and reaching to the knees; they carried swords, lances and round shields."
* Davenport 1948 p183-184 (describing the "Cantigas" of Alfonso the Wise, XIIIc)
"Against Moorish architecture, all the belongings of the knight are covered with a blazoned design as simple and effective as the patterns of Queen Mumadonna and her maids. It is used on the cap of the squire who holds his shield, and the lance with its vertical pendant; on the knight's surcoat and on his horse's caparison. ... His surcoat has cap sleeves like a XVc. tabard; like the other knights, he has a mittened hawberk, and a coif high about his chin; over this the knights wear a variety of small round helmets closed helms, one of which is crested. The significance of glove as gage appears almost simultaneously with the mitten of mail."
* Nicolle ill. McBride 1988 p20
"By the end of the 13th century ... [a]rmour and weapons grew heavier, horse armour was common, soft armour was worn over rather than under mail, and a greater use of scale armour reflected the threat from crossbows. Hardened leather armour for the limbs and coats-of-plates for the body were increasingly popular, but all-enveloping great helms and heavy iron plate armour never became as widespread as in neighbouring France. This presumably reflected climatic as much as tactical considerations. Islamic influence could still be seen in helmet decoration."
* Puiggarí 1886 p106
"La ballesta, prohibida por un concilio de año 1139, reapareció cuarenta años después, armados los ballesteros de coleto de piel cervuna, ó de tela emborrada, con nombres de huca y gambesón; capacete de hierro ó suela; gorguera de malla, y sobrecota sin mangas, no muy larga."
* O'Callaghan 2003 p130
"Although the bow and arrow enjoyed some popularity, the crossbow became the most important projectile weapon, employed by both knights and footsoldiers."