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Indeed, Joseph O'Callaghan demonstrates that the crusades in Iberia and to the Middle East evolved in tandem, and that understanding one movement is requisite for understanding the other. The author scrutinizes the ecclesiastical sources of the period to establish the interconnection of papal and Iberian royal plans for warring against the Muslim opposition,. Highly recommended.

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Prices do not include postage and handling if applicable. Another facet of this question is whether the war prosecuted by the Christian kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula - both for territorial and religious reasons - can be classified within the more general field of confrontation between Christians and Muslims in the wider Mediterranean basin: that is, as a part of the Crusades. Again, recent scholarship has been proposing this new approach to the Reconquest.

Firstly, Joseph O'Callaghan discusses the problem of modern vocabulary as it is applied to medieval religious conflicts, in a chapter entitled 'Reconquest, Holy War and Crusade'.


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He continues with a good description of the Christian and Islamic sources he has used for this book. This chapter demands further comment and commendation. Far from limiting his survey to Spanish and Portuguese medieval sources, both in the vernacular and Latin, O'Callaghan has undertaken extensive research in Arabic material in translation , French, German and Pontifical records and chronicles in Latin. This wealth of sources gives a balanced view of the dilemma 'reconquest versus crusade' and helps to place the Iberian conflict in a world-wide perspective at least according to medieval standards.

Chapters two to five focus on a chronological overview of crusading in the Iberian Peninsula, from the late eleventh to the middle of the thirteenth centuries. Although the reason for such a time-frame is not given in the text, we can assume that the author is analysing the origins of the crusading phenomenon on both eastern and western sides of the Mediterranean, and tracing its history up to the Fifth crusade, that is, the era of splendour of the crusades.

The argument is clear: the precedent of crusade as a religious war can be found in the Spanish Reconquest notably at Barbastro, The concept was then elaborated by the Papacy for the first and second crusades, when the attack on Islam was envisaged as a double offensive on both sides of the Mediterranean.

When the crusades to the Holy Land became less frequent, Spanish crusades were at their apogee, the subject of bulls from several popes, and concentrating the efforts of native and foreign fighters. During all this period, the indulgences granted to the 'fighting pilgrims' were the same as those granted to those going to the Holy Land.

03.12.21, O'Callaghan, Reconquest and Crusade

The papacy always tried to keep Spanish knights preoccupied with engagements in their own territory, while offering the Church and faithful the possibility to finance crusading endeavours throughout the eastern and western territories. In this part of the work, the author uses papal bulls extensively to demonstrate that those issued for the Holy Land were very similar in their clauses to those issued for war against Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula.


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  • It would have been interesting to have the actual text of some of the bulls quoted so as to compare the style of those dealing with Spanish matters to those concerning the Holy Land. The stress is always placed on the fact that the papacy transformed the Reconquest into a crusade.

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    Nevertheless, there is also another question: whether the earlier Spanish propaganda affected the Roman curia and moved the then Pope Urban II to call for the First Crusade. The close contacts between the Papacy and the high clergy coming from the Iberian peninsula to Rome have been used by scholars to prove this, for example in Theresa Vann's 'Reconquest and the Origin of the Crusades' [in The Crusades: Other Experiences, Alternate Perspectives , ed.

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    Khalil Semaan Binghamton: Global Publications, in press ]. A further point needing clarification is why those French knights, who had already fought in Jerusalem, would have wanted to join the crusade in Spain afterwards Baleares, Zaragoza , if the remission of their sins was already achieved pp. Maybe more stress should be made on economic matters at this point. The last three chapters examine more earthly matters, such as the current state of warfare technology and armies, the financing of the crusade and the ritual accompanying the whole campaign, as sanctioned by Mozarabic and Roman liturgy.

    These three aspects were vital for the success of Christian campaigns, and should not be ignored. Indeed, the chapter on finance enlarged and changed, but inspired by a previous paper presented by the author in the conference which commemorated the conquest of Seville by Fernando III 2 is the clearest explanation of the variety of incomes used by the king to subsidise his wars one can read on this particular subject.

    Middle Ages for Kids: Reconquista and Islam in Spain

    However, I missed the detailed study of the changing meaning of ' tercias ' a term which is difficult to pin down, but which O'Callaghan has successfully elucidated , which was included in the article but not in this book. The eighth chapter, 'The Liturgy of Reconquest and Crusade', gives a groundbreaking approach to crusading campaigns in Spain, as it studies the development of a religious war step by step.


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    • This is a very convenient tool for students and public who are not experts in the field of crusades. Another interesting issue mentioned by the author is preaching.